Friday, October 7, 2005

What is Success? 10-7-05

Another long day for me...but at least it is Friday.  I work for a federal agency so Monday is Columbus Day and a federal holiday....hooray....a long weekend.

My thought for today is that I'm hopeful that I will not be sitting at home tonight looking at my computer screen or worse yet, watching t.v. 

I was thinking today of success in life and how one measures it.  Do I have a successful career?  No.  I make a decent living but that's about it.  I graduated from high school in 1971.  The college years were just starting to become the thing to do.  Half of my friends went to college; the other half got clerical jobs and worked until they had their first child.  I did a little of each.  I went to college for two years, quit, opted for a clerical job, got married, and had a child two years later.  I worked for eight years and then quit to be a stay at home mom.  We struggled at first.  By the time number three was on the way, my ex had become quite successful.  We lived a very comfortable life.  The only problem was he had fallen in the abyss of alcoholism.  He never lost his job, just came home from work and drank until he passed out.  Weekends were a nightmare.  He lost his job when my youngest was 18 months old; not due to alcoholism but the company being sold.  I then went back to my old job at the federal agency part time. 

During the years I was off, upward mobility was in full scale.  By the time I went back, it was done.  By the time my ex was beyond control and put out of the house, I was working full time but had missed the promotions that would have made my life as comfortable as we had been used to.

So, I've wrestled with the meaning of success for a long time.  My conclusion that I reached was that we all have our goals and aspirations.  Mine was to be a mother first.  That was the way I was raised.  My mother could have arm wrestled with June Cleaver and won.    House immaculate, dinner on the table every night at 5 p.m., etc. sans the pearls and high heels.  Careers for women was not even a subject that was discussed when I was in high school.  Getting married and having a family was the thing.  Divorce was never discussed as it rarely happened 30+ years ago.  Young girls were not encouraged to pursue a career that would enable them to take care of themselves should they be left on their own.  I was 26 when I had my first child which was considered old at that time.  How I wish now in hindsight that I had known that marriages can and do fail; a lot of times due to no fault of our own. 

Then I wonder would I have done things differently.  I do know I would have finished my last two years of college.  At least my job situation would have been more promising after my divorce.  I still would have quit work to raise my children.  I have absolutely no regrets about that at all.  My children thrived in spite of the fact that home was a war zone.  Would I have left my ex sooner....I could of and should of but didn't.  That is a regret.  No child should have to suffer verbal abuse at the hands of an alcoholic parent.  It damages the psyche far more than can be imagined.  My two oldest are still dealing many years later with the after effects.

I measure my success by the way I raised three wonderful children singlehandedly even when their father was in the house.  I did an excellent job.  They are loving, hardworking kids.  They never drank, did drugs or got in trouble.  They are respectful and polite.  They are very close friends with each other.  They love and respect me because I love and respect them and put their needs above mine and still do.  They are beginning to understand the sacrifices I made for them.  I was always very open with them.  I was non-judgmental.  They could come to me with their problems without fear.  Not that I was always happy with them, nor they with me. But it was very important for me to keep the lines of communication open without fear of extreme reprisal.  Not that there were not consequences for their actions; there were and they knew it.  They also knew it was better far me to hear "bad news" from them first.  The consequences were far less severe.

I raised my daughters to be independent and to explore and pursue careers first; a future husband second.  That is just the way of the world now.  I never want them to have to struggle the way I have.  It's far too stressful, at times.  Most couples don't have the option of having the mom at home.  The world has changed enormously since I was making these decisions.

It will be a very long time before I have the luxury of even thinking of retiring or not working.  I had my eight years of rest and relaxation...LOL...with three children in 5 years to care for.  But, at least, for those eight years, I could devote myself full time to my children without having to juggle working with it.....one of the most difficult tasks women today face.

I am being very reflective right now.....I don't know why........

1 comment:

kendra122762 said...

I can't help but leave another comment. I love the way you write. I admire the way you say and handle things. I think you are a very smart lady. I absolutely agree with you about being able to be a stay at home mom, at least as long as she can. Sounds to me like you've done a fine job with your children. I believe I'll even take heed to some of your strategies. They seem to make so much sense to me and has obviously worked for you. For what I've read of your journal, I really must commend you. You seem very wise well beyond your years. Thank you!! Sincerely, Kendra