Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Validation

I was all set to rant about the Michigan primaries today when something more profound occur ed today upon which I wanted to take some time to reflect. We all have those pivotal points in our life where we have to make a major life decision. You know the ones I'm talking about, they have major downline consequences, they're difficult (if not impossible at times) to make, and you hate being in the situation that has cause the need for the decision.

Regrets? I've had a few. Actually, at age 44 I probably have more than Frank Sinatra did when he sang it (but we know he's not the one who actually wrote the song!). Hindsight is a cruel thing at times, but I guess it's how we learn. It's how we grow. When I'm getting down on myself I often review those pivotal decisions and imagine how my life would be different if only...

If only I hadn't married my first husband at the tender age of 19 (mostly to spite my parents). If only I had taken my parents offer for the ivy league education. If only I had continued on to the Ph.D. program instead of changing career paths. If only, if only. I could "if only" myself to death!

I recently saw the movie Charlie Wilson's War. The movie is all about the real life story of how we (the USA) secretly funded the Freedom Fighters in Afghanistan against the Russians, but in hindsight we can see now that it laid the groundwork for the Taliban, and we all know the downline consequences of that action. In an interview with the real Charlie Wilson, the interviewer asked if he regretted his actions in that effort considering what happened on 9/11. Charlie answered by saying absolutely not, it was the right thing to do at the time.

I have, however, never regretted having my children. I have, certainly, regretted various and sundry decisions I've made in my parenting, but I know I'm not alone in that and I can honestly say I always tried to do right by them, even at my expense. That's what a mom's supposed to do, but it's usually a thankless job.

Today, however, I experienced some validation for a decision I made about a decade ago. In 1997, my girl's father and I were divorced. It wasn't something I wanted. I was angry. I was hurt. I suddenly knew and understood why people who divorced had ugly relationships - the anger gets in the way. I was faced with a decision back then about how to interact with my ex. Would I take the road so many before me had taken and be vengeful and spiteful? It would have been so soothing to my person. But, I knew it was not the best thing for my girls. I decided that I had to "make nice" with him. I had to try and have a positive relationship with him, for their sake.

I knew it wouldn't be easy. But I never dreamed the "making nice" would evolve into a genuine relationship. Once the anger subsides and you move on - the healing takes over. Mark now lives in Australia, working for 3M there. The girls haven't seen him since last fall, and he flew into town tonight.

Here's where I got my warm fuzzy tonight. Both girls were so excited to see him. They have missed him and couldn't wait to surprise him at the airport. I am not taking credit for their relationship with their dad, he has a lot to do with that. But what hit me tonight was that they feel comfortable sharing their joy and excitement with me. They don't feel the need (as I've seen in other families) to protect me and not share this moment with me. In hindsight I can see that my attitude towards him and actions in how we dealt with the divorce was the right decision. In the midst of all those "if onlys" it's so nice to look back on one decision that had a positive impact downline, one that I can be proud of. And, as Charlie Wilson said - it was the right thing to do!

4 comments:

iguana banana said...

You amaze me! You always have. You and your positive attitude and can do spirit. The world is definitely a better place because you are in it. I know that my world is better. And to hear this about your girls and your ex - it's obvious that they are better for it, too.
Thank you for sharing this great experience. Luv ya!

Nonna said...

AB - thanks for your kind words, they really mean a lot to me. I feel the same about you, only wish we could see each other more often. Miss you! Come visit us soon...

Julia

Billy Bob said...

Hey Kiddo,

Long time no talk. I heard from Jane at Harrah's today and she asked about you. I told her Hi for ya.

I think it's great that you are getting along with the ex. I get along with all of mine much much better than before they were exes. By the time I get to number 4 or five I'm going to have it down to a fine science :>)

Did you go see all your old friends at Royal Adventure while you were in the neighborhood? I bet they will me mad if you didn't.

So email me sometime!

Angela WD said...

That's a beautiful story, and I'm glad your kids were blessed by your actions. Isn't it wonderful when we finally get to see the results of our parenting?