Thursday, November 17, 2011

Time is the fire in which we burn. ~Delmore Schwartz

It’s been two months since my last post.  And since I’ve received a complaint from a follower that he’s tired of rereading my September 17th post, I’m motivated to write a new one.  My first thought is, Where have the last two months gone?  And for most people, the same answer applies:  just day to day “stuff.”  The daily (sometimes mind numbingly boring) details of running a household and parenting four children.  A few points of excitement:  Lucas broke his arm jumping from the playground equipment at school, Thomas enrolled in judo, and I took a girls’ Eid holiday to Istanbul (which ranks as one of my new favorite cities—blog to follow on the trip soon).
I follow a friend’s blog on Facebook and he’s an unofficial accountability person, of sorts.  I’ve known him for 15 years (that in itself is an appalling fact), but he’s one of the two people I go to for advice.  He’ll happily throw the “bullshit” flag.  Think about it, how many friends will give you the benefit of total honesty?  Support you--yes, but not let you wallow in self-pity when you’re fully capable of pulling yourself out of the mud.  This much wiser friend writes an incredible blog on happiness and inner truth.  The Ministry of Happiness page on Facebook:!/pages/Ministry-of-Happiness/155023134520961.  Quite often, I use it as a guide when I need a little help figuring out what I want, what I can change, what I can live with, and what will ultimately bring me the most happiness and allow me to be most at peace.  There’s a reason almost every culture has the adage, “If mama’s not happy. . .”
And as I review my last post, I'm slightly more encouraged.  I took some time to look at the issues I was unhappy with and tried to determine whether: a) I could change them b) if I couldn’t change them immediately, when would I be able to change them (as with most things, I find I work best with a timeline—perhaps the OCD in me just likes to check off things?).  Regardless, I’ve made a plan.
For starters, I’ve enrolled in a distance learning program at the University of Georgia in a reading education program.  This will fulfill the credit hours I need to reinstate my teaching license. 
But most importantly, I’ve taken some steps toward my goal of obtaining a doctorate in gender studies (the application’s finished, the GRE is scheduled for December 5th).  One of the main benefits presented in moving to Abu Dhabi was the suggestion that I would finally have the opportunity to go back to school.  Although, the idea has been met with a lukewarm reception.  I would have to take partial blame for that.  I work incredibly hard to make sure my family is comfortable.  And understandably, while I pursued a degree (and afterward, a career—hopefully, in six years, the job market will experience an upswing); this comfort level would inevitably change.  Perhaps that is for the best.  Millions of women have returned to the work force (or never left), and the family unit continues.  The family is forced to take on more responsibility (or rather divide it equally), the children become more independent, and hopefully everyone is happier, simply because “Mom” has a fulfilling career that involves something outside the home.
I’ve come to realize my children will not necessarily appreciate I’ve put off goals for parenthood.  Maybe they will as they age and maybe it won’t happen until after they become parents and realize how much is required to keep everything afloat, while madly treading water to prevent your own drowning.  My hope is: they’ll appreciate the independence they developed, they will admire the strength it took to start something new and only slightly terrifying, and finally will emulate the perseverance it takes to finish a task, while having to temporarily compromise other aspects of your identity.  Yes, my time as an active mother will decrease for a while, but ultimately, my goals will be met and I’ll have something that I can be excited to wake up to every morning.  To close, I read this quote and realized, this is what I want—respect for mad courage.  Mad courage is what it’s going to take to keep all these things afloat.
One of the very few reasons I had any respect for my mother when I was thirteen was because she would reach into the sink with her bare hands - bare hands - and pick up that lethal gunk and drop it into the garbage. To top that, I saw her reach into the wet garbage bag and fish around in there looking for a lost teaspoon. Bare hands - a kind of mad courage. ~Robert Fulghum