Monday, April 18, 2011

Isn't It Interesting?

Isn't it interesting how life isn't the same for everyone?  How we all make our own choices?  And how what works for you may not work for me but it does work for you so it's all good?

Last night, I was thinking about the different families I know and the different choices these families have made.  I know I'm not on the inside of these families so there is no way for me to know if all are truly happy with life as they've chosen it or happened into it.  But it's fascinating to me to see how something that really wouldn't work for me can be such a good thing for someone else.  And that because we have all these different ways of raising kids and have all these different family dynamics, we end up with such an incredible array of personalities and gifts in the world.

And then I started to wonder why a situation is seen as more acceptable in one instance than it is in another.

For example, a family where dad travels often.

In family one, Dad is a soldier and is deployed to Afghanistan.  He's on his second tour.  He is obviously risking his life while he's away on a tour that lasts 6 months, 12 months. While he's been away, he's missed birthdays and anniversaries and even the birth of a child.  His spouse has struggled to keep the family going as a single parent who deeply misses that soldier and worries about that soldier's safety. 

In family two, Dad is the head of a high powered company.  He travels globally for business and is often gone for a couple of weeks at a time.  When he is home, work often keeps him at the office late and might even keep him busy on weekends.  He works hard to provide a lifestyle that guarantees that his children will never go without the best education, food, clothing, and opportunities.  He's missed his kids' birthday parties, his parents' 50th wedding anniversary, and doesn't have a connection to people in his community or neighborhood.

How different are those 2 situations?

I think there is a tendency to see the soldier as self-sacrificing, putting his own life at risk, and therefore his situation feels different than the guy we see as choosing money over his family. 

But do we know the background?  Do we know enough to make any conclusions?

Of course not.

Maybe that soldier is volunteering for deployment.  Does that make it different?  Maybe he's not active duty anymore and he's actually going overseas as a contract employee.  Does that make a difference?

Maybe that CEO grew up poor and will do anything to guarantee his family never knows how that feels.  Maybe he has a plan where he will get to retire within the next few years and will then be home practically full time. 

And all of that got me thinking about the Mommy Wars.  We fight about every possible choice a mom can make.  Breastfeeding, formula feeding, disposable diapers, cloth diapers, store bought baby food, homemade baby food, sleep schedule, natural sleep patterns, private school, public school, homeschool, unschool, gentle discipline, disciplinarian, 1 kid, 15 kids, working mom, stay at home mom, Christian mom, Muslim mom, Jewish mom, Pagan mom, Atheist mom. 

It's never ending.

Isn't the bottom line the same?  As long as a child isn't being hurt... as long as those kids are loved and cared for... aren't we all doing the best we can with what we have?

I'm sure there are people who look at my life and have plenty to criticize.  I don't clean house often enough.  There's too much clutter.  Our yard isn't the best on the block.  My daughter's hair isn't always brushed.  I work full time, as does my husband.  I go out with friends, I am busy with church, I run and do active things and rely on my husband to take care of our kids when I do those things.  He's a gamer and takes a weekend here and there to go out of town, he takes a week each summer- all away time for his hobby.  We eat out more than we eat at home.  We are often overwhelmed by a busy schedule.  We watch too much TV and enjoy our smart phones and laptops and cable. 

Even the things that can be seen as good to some can be seen with criticism by others- raising our kids in a church, focusing our diets to include fruits and veggies and controlling sugar intake and avoiding fast food, consistent bedtime as regularly as possible, teaching and practicing compassion and giving.

What on earth is my point in all of this rambling?

We all make choices.  The majority of us are doing the best we can with what we have.  Every person has goals and dreams.  We all have unique backgrounds and experiences.  We all have different talents and gifts. 

And if we'd all make an effort to focus our energy on developing ourselves and making our own best choices, there would be a lot less energy to spend on criticizing others and judging others and questioning others.  Do something positive with your energy- self focus and improvement- and you automatically put out positive energy to others.  You will end up inspiring someone, helping someone, connecting with someone.

Isn't it interesting?



Garret said...

Great post Liz. Very, very true. We simply don't know what happens or all the circumstances of why things are done the way they've chosen.

Now stop reading comments and brush Teagan's hair...

Call Me Cate said...

It's VERY interesting. I try hard not to judge the decisions of others. Just because they aren't the decisions I would make, that doesn't make them necessarily wrong. And as you point out, we very seldom know what's behind those decisions.

Very thoughtful post, Liz, as yours so often are.

Just Heather said...

It is interesting. I've never looked at it quite this way, but I did always wonder in fascination how people can criticize the choices I have made with my girls' best possible interest at heart.

Avoiding fast food, limiting sugar, enforcing a strict bedtime - how can anyone view those as *bad* things? Yet, I catch a lot of flack for all of it.

C. Beth said...

So true, Liz!!

Alison said...

Your two Dad examples remind me of a comment my mom made recently about my brother--he's the 2nd example! And for years my mother--a stay-at-home mom herself--has bemoaned how much business travel my SiL did when their first child was very young.

Mom's convinced the children have been traumatized and damaged...but when I visit, I see dynamic, active children in a household where education is stressed, and affection is obvious.

Most of us on the outside see what we're looking for, not necessarily what's really there.

Karen M. Peterson said...

i absolutely agree, Liz. If we could all just stop criticizing each other, we could learn a lot. And maybe we'll even learn some great new ways to handle things.

Anonymous said...

Two Thumbs Up!

Claudya Martinez said...

Yes, it's very interesting. Positivity is the only way.

Anne K. said...

It makes me so sad how many times mamas are faster to tear each other down than build each other up. I talked with a friend of mine the other day who just had a traumatic birth and breastfeeding is driving her out of her mind, yet she's still doing it because she thinks she *should.* In fact, so many things, she's doing cause she thinks she *should,* and not because it is what is best for her family. She ends up locking herself in a closet without the kids and calling me or anyone who will listen because she's at the end of her rope. I told her that when I am exasperated, I ask myself, "what would make me enjoy mothering and my kids again?" As long as my answers aren't truly harmful, I give myself permission to do whatever it is I need to do...and then I end up being the loving mama I want to be once again. I think mama relations (lol) would be so much better if we could encourage one another in that find what is truly best for *you* not merely copying what is best for me. What is right for me might just destroy you, you know?