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Sunday, 23 July 2017
 
 
SHES LIVING THE LIFE...That I thought Id live Print
An interesting thing happened to me a few weeks ago I ran into a friend downtown, and we stopped to catch up quickly. I asked how her job was going shes a Manager within a very large, multi-million dollar non-profit organization. Its great, shed said. I asked about her volunteer work shes no longer volunteering locally, but is the President-Elect for the national organization, and steps into the Chairperson role within this next year. On that day, she was hosting the current national President, regarding some potential projects that were in works. How about her oldest childs soccer? Great, again shes playing year round, has moved up into the rep team. Her youngest child discovered camping this summer, always happy and on the go. I was so pleased to hear not only about all of these achievements but also about her children, and said so as we said our goodbyes.

I thought back over the years. Id first met Ann when she was a teenager. She began volunteering in the organization Id worked in, and over the years we became friends. Although she was15 years younger than me, wed connected. She attended college to study the same career as mine. Upon graduation, I hired her. Ultimately, she left to begin with the non-profit shes stayed with. Id been her mentor, but she soon became a peer.

As we each went our own way, I was struck by the differences in our lives right now. Her role within the community has expanded and grown. My life seems to have shrunk. Her contribution to our society is immense. My life is centered around my work and home. Shes involved in the lives of many. My job has narrowed and my energies expended in smaller projects, and on trying to help our two children. Interesting, the difference. And then, I realized Shes living the life that I thought Id lead.

Wow time to think this one through. Prod, poke, examine. How did this happen? Well, that seems to be fairly simple. We wanted a family. We decided to adopt, first one child and then a second. Our children are beautiful, wonderful, and precious beyond belief. They are the most important part of my existence. But, as they grew and changed, we began to understand that there were challenges and issues. The oldest was diagnosed as a severe ADHD, when just a preschooler. Over the years weve added many more diagnoses, as we try to peel the onion and understand her situation. Number two daughter seemed to be so much more difficult. The medical profession missed the cues. After much much research and heart ache, we finally realized she was a RAD child anxious attachment disorder to be specific. When the diagnosis was confirmed, it took time again to find the resources and make the needed changes. I discontined my volunteer roles finally understanding that being a role model outside the home wasnt helping our children with coping in daily life. My husband found work that enabled him to have a flexible schedule, so that one of us was always home after school with the kids. I scaled back my work hours, and practiced saying no to my boss both of us realizing that there were limits to my ability to contribute in the workplace. We eliminated any programs that our youngest had been involved in, making her world small and focusing on our family. She and I both minimized her social commitments she simply couldnt cope. Our friendship circle grew smaller, and our lives simpler. Its a very different life, than what I had imagined.

I wondered how I thought about all of this. Poke, prod, examine. Am I sad? Am I jealous of Ann? She has the life I thought Id wanted. How do I feel about this?

Hmm, interesting, and perhaps a bit weird because, Im not sad.. or angry .or jealous.. That seems a little odd !!! Shouldnt I be?

Im actually kind of surprised. I dont seem to be driven towards the kinds of achievements that are part of Anns life. As a matter of fact, it makes me shudder since I dont actually want to be involved in those type of situations any more. It appears that Im not drawn in those directions. That is a big change. Does it mean that Ive given up my dreams? No, it sort of feels as though my dreams have shifted and changed. I need to think that one through.

Poke, prod, examine. Well, I had always thought Id lead the type of life that my own mother had led. She adored her career, it had been one of the primary areas of importance in her life. Shed continued studying throughout her life, aspiring to work positions with greater responsibilities. She was active, dynamic, and well respected. She volunteered with many organizations, contributing to our small town in grass roots initiatives. She helped organize a union for her profession. I realized that I had taken on her values and goals, Id aspired to the same contributions that she had. But, somehow our paths had diverged.

In the last couple of years, as weve worked hard on the attachment issues, the bond and connection between myself and our children has deepened and strengthened immensely. We have a much closer relationship, than Id had with my beloved mother. Hmm, thats interesting.

Poke, prod, examine. I began to understand how much Ive, kind of, acclimatized myself to our situation. In making our world smaller, my goals and dreams have become based on the needs of our children, rather than myself. I dream of getting our youngest to the point where she can cope without meltdowns, where she can leave the house without anxiety. I dream of raising our oldest to believe in herself, and to find her place in life, despite her challenges. I dream of raising children who are happy within themselves. My joys are no longer situated within the broader community they are in the simple things in life, in the notes that my daughters left me on the front door one evening this week When you come home from playing cards with your friends tonight Mommy, come in and kiss me even though Im sleeping.

Then, yesterday, I ran into Ann again, downtown at the lunch hour. I asked if she had two minutes, I wanted to talk to her about something. We sat, and I told her that Id been thinking of writing about this. I teared up, explaining how Id been thinking of her and us, and how life has evolved for each of us. In her wise and mature way (and with tears in her eyes), she summarized it well. Indeed, her life is impacting and helping in the lives of many. Yes, my life is impacting and helping deeply in the lives of a few that of my children. And what we each do, is immensely important, just simply in different ways.

I am so incredibly, inordinately proud of Ann. And, I am so incredibly and completely comfortable with the role and the life I lead. It is what I was meant to do. Im living the life that I need and want to live.

Hmm, that was interesting to think through.

Christine J.

Comments
Kudos to you
Written by Guest on 2010-03-29 11:50:57
Christine, thank you for sharing. Your life story has many similar experiences as mine. My world is much smaller and simpler than I imagined. I think your choices are profound and wonderful. And, no one else is qualified like you are to "be there" for your kids.  
 
Best to you,  
 
Iris Culp 
Mom to two wonderful kiddos!
And I am so proud of you!
Written by Jane S on 2011-01-15 15:03:29
Christine, you have captured so well what many of us have been through in a) thinking our lives are not as important than another's and b) realizing that they are indeed as important if not more important. Thanks for putting these feelings into words. Regards, Jane S.

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