Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Fallacy of Getting Organized -- Smartly

I have a new essay up today over at Smartly.  I tackle The Fallacy of Getting Organized.  I don't think it's the cure-all some people think it is.   You should check it out.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Doing It Out of Obligation

I read an interesting article today that has me thinking.  So, of course, that means I need to write.

This post by Jowita Bydlowska, A Failed Woman Out of the Kitchen: Why I Don't Cook, appears on The Huffington Post website.  It is one woman's explanation of why she doesn't cook.

I do not intend to pull apart her arguments.  I will say that if you say there is a difference between selfishness and self-interest (knowing that you have to state it because people will accuse you of one when you claim to be the other), you ought to at least try to define the difference.  I will also say that while she claims not to have a political agenda, with all her references to societal expectations about gender roles and how they make her feel like a failure sometimes, she has at least taken a political stance.  Also, her assertion that a painting or photograph is a higher art form than a beautifully prepared pie says a lot about her feelings toward women (and men) who consider food an art.

But none of this is what has me thinking.  The idea that bothers me from this essay is that doing something out of obligation is wrong.

Please understand, I don't like to cook either.  I don't cook well.  I don't derive satisfaction from a meal well prepared.  It's part of the reason I got the rest of my family cooking as soon as they were able.  I don't care if this woman cooks, bakes, or pickles.  It's her family and they can all work out what's best for them.

I am also in full support of taking care of one's self.  I believe there is an amount of selfishness in every healthy individual.  I believe it is appropriate.  We must meet our own needs, and that includes the need for creative outlet and relaxation.

I also believe that when I chose to start a family, I chose to accept the obligation to care for them.  My husband and I chose this together.  The obligation is shared.  It is up to us to decide how the obligations involved are to be met.  (And if something were to happen that he were no longer able or willing to fulfill his part of the obligation, I would assume his share as part of my obligation.)

In our case, he is the primary breadwinner and I am the primary nurturer.  It fits us.  I am happy in my role and he is happy in his.  Maybe not every day, but most days.

I think the point that is missing in this article is the idea that we choose to accept obligations.  I chose to have kids.  I chose to care for their well being.  My husband chose to work.  They are our obligations because we agreed to them.

I do not believe in society-dictated obligations, aside from obeying the law.  If society thinks I should cook, that doesn't make me believe that I should.  I weigh my options, listen to my heart, and do what I think is right.

Other people have expectations.  Other people have ideas about what or who I should be.  That does not mean I am obligated to fulfill those roles.

Obligations are something I choose when I make an agreement with someone.  Doing something out of obligation is not a bad thing.  It is a way for me to do my part.  It is how I earn my share of whatever I get in this life.  Fulfilling my obligations, those I chose to accept, makes me feel good about who I am and what I offer to the world.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

When I Was the Mean Girl -- Smartly

I have a new essay up over at Smartly about a time When I Was the Mean Girl.  It's not a moment I'm proud of.  Hopefully, I've finally learned my lesson.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Fly, Baby Bird

No one could have prepared me for how difficult it would be.  I had no way to know how much my heart would ache.

A little over a week ago, my oldest daughter left for Russia.  She will spend four months there, teaching English to young children.  And I miss her so much.

I am not generally an emotional person.  I have even been accused of being Vulcan because I don't get emotional when people think I should.

Because of this, I thought I'd be okay.  I knew I would worry and I would miss her.  I had no idea I'd be a basket case.

She's been planning this trip for over a year.  She's worked so hard to save the money and get everything done.  She's been so grown up in handling the details. 

But she's still my baby.  I don't care if she's twenty years old; she will always be my baby.

The days leading up to her leaving are still kind of a blur.  I was very busy with other things and other children.  That was a blessing.  Because every time I had a minute to think about it my heart would seize up with fear.  And pain.  And loss.

I thought it would get better after I knew she'd arrived safely.  And part of it did.  But there is so much more that still hurts.

Please don't misunderstand.  I am so thrilled that she gets to have this opportunity.  I know it is good for her.  I know it will help her to become an independent adult who will flourish on her own.  And I want that for her.

But my heart hurts.  And I am scared.

I worry that something will happen and she will need help and I won't be there to fix it.  I worry that she will be sad and scared.  I worry that she will get hurt.  And I worry that she will get a taste for adventure and make things like this a regular part of her future.

She needs to choose her own path.  She is so wise and chooses well.  I have to trust that.  But I will admit, I would be happier if she chose to live down the street for the rest of her life.

There was a time at the airport when we had to go our separate ways.  She entered the cattle lines waiting to go through security (after I finally quit hugging her).  We waited and watched.  She would move out of our vision and then, as the line progressed, back into it.  Around and around.  And each time she would look to find us and wave with a big smile on her face.  And we would wave back, letting her know we were still there.  Still watching out for her.

And I thought back to years ago, when she was on the carousel.  She would move out of our sight for a while.  Then when she came back she would wave and we would wave.  Each time she went around we would reconnect, knowing it would be over soon and we would be back together again.

But this time, when the round and round ended, she didn't come back to us.  She flew away.  To the other side of the world.  And my heart breaks missing her.

I trust her.  And I trust that God is watching over her.  But I want her back.

So, fly, baby bird.  Just remember where the nest is.