Saturday, November 30, 2013

Who Are You? Is That a Resolution?

I sometimes watch my adult children and wonder what genetic mix has created them with their energies, self-confidence, optimism, forgiveness and golden humor.  Where did they get the wisdom to see what is truly important.  I see these traits in the man I married, an only child, doted on and given opportunities galore to succeed or fail.  The only child of an aging couple in their second marriages who saw this child as their second and last chance to get it right.  And thus he sees himself as an important cog in the wheel of life.

I thought I had the above traits, but age has given me the wisdom to see I am a punctual, list adhering soul given to joy only when all has been completed and put away and failure is no longer an option.  Only when the small rest time that is given as reward for work well done, do I allow myself to be open and less attentive.  I do not like these traits in myself and this past decade as my adult children have held up this mirror, I have tried to change and mellow out just a bit.  It is hard work to change oneself and also is an embarrassment to do this.  It is hard to stop and remember to look at the view on the way up instead of waiting until you are at the very top to relish the hard work and share the joy of the view with others.

I was the oldest of five with many chores and responsibilities.  My mother was critical of much that I did and only gave praise for good grades as she knew this was the gateway for her children to a better life.  All else was expected and she did not forgive you if you became distracted by daydreaming.  Life was not a bowl of cherries but a tall cherry tree which must be climbed for any reward.  She focused most of her attention on the youngest as that was all that her remaining energies allowed and she expected me at an early age to be more of an adult.  I write this not to place blame but to see more clearly why I am the way that I am, why I am always the adult in my family, why I need down time, why going soft and making mistakes is scary for me and why I am critical of those who put fun before deadlines.

But I will keep trying and little by little I will not be so focused on clearing the path, but picking the flowers.

18 comments:

One Woman's Journey - a journal being written from Woodhaven - her cottage in the woods. said...

Tabor,
we are much alike :) I was the oldest of 3 and so much expected of me. I still expect more then I should of myself and trying to be different. Well aware that I have changed some but not enough.

Stephen Hayes said...

I don't think I'm as driven as you are, but when I set myself the task of doing something I can't stop until it's perfect. This has caused friction in my family, but not lately.

Hilary said...

Beautiful insight. I can't say that I'm the same as you, but I am very much alike when it comes to the pride I feel in how my sons turned out and how I very much want to strive to be like them. They got it so right. How did that happen? Must be their Dad (my ex). He's a good man.

messymimi said...

It's not easy being an oldest of siblings. It does seem to make the parents expect you to be the "little adult" of the bunch. It was my job to prevent my two younger brothers from fighting, as if that were possible.

Rain Trueax said...

I was also an oldest. I am not sure how old you are, Tabor but younger than me and in my 50s, i went through a lot of changes, being willing to explore and now at 70, I am quite happy with who I am-- give or take 20 lbs. It's not that I feel so much better physically but a lot of those questions about my identity got answered and the knowledge I didn't much are what others thought, that became part of my persona. Not that I want to hurt others, nor that I tell everybody every single thing about me, but overall I did the soul searching bit, which I'm of a belief has to come along now and then, and decided I had a life path that whether others liked it or not, it was mine. I think our 50s are part of that time and then we hit 60s and confirm it.

Celia said...

Eldest of four here and what you wrote really resonated with me. For a long time I couldn't work, cook, or whatever until my workspace was set up correctly. I made a job out of everything until I had two little boys who just wouldn't conform to my driven ways. They taught me to play, maybe for the first time. All my play was competitive sports until high school and in my forties. I have learned to relax and not push so hard. I have a sister who is 20 years younger than I and she says I am still her defacto mother as ours has been gone for 20 years. She is also teaching me to play in new ways.

Olga said...

I am the oldest of four. There must be something to birth order. I probably was whole lot less driven, and held back for fear of failure though.

colleen said...

I relate. Just had a big dream about my mother last night in which she said (and hurt my feelings) "she's trying to claim me." There was a dress for me that was never claimed and that we supposed she bought, but it did not fit or suit me.

Today a friend of Josh's was trying to figure me out because I guess I am a paradox (country girl who won't drink out of a mason jar for one thing). I wanted to say, listen when you get my age you don't care so much about fitting in with any one type. I just let the mixed bag of who I am all hang out.

Barbara Shallue said...

Having kids is like looking in a mirror, isn't it? Mine are always showing me ways I need to grow or improve, whether they know it or not. Good luck to all of us!

Midlife Roadtripper said...

I understand. Raised in a family of four, my mother made excuses for everyone else. I was expected to not need that grace.

Maybe someday we can pick flowers together.

Linda Reeder said...

I am you. Second in a family of seven children, we were poor and learned to work hard. "Always do your best" was ingrained in us.
I think we all would like to change things about ourselves, but we also need to embrace who we are and be ok with that. We have many traits that others admire.

Lonely Rivers said...

I had to mull this one over a bit. I am the oldest, but I must have missed out on the "driven" gene. I don't make myself crazy, but I do like to feel and be seen as "accomplished" and when I was a child and throughout my teens I would hide disappointments from my parents as I wanted them to always be pleased with me...I never wanted them to think I was hurt, or sad, or less than the perfect child they thought I was. Pretty sure this came from my post Victorian mom who showed little emotion. Now it is still difficult to be really honest about feelings, doubts, etc. Which leads me to say again how much I appreciate your beautiful writing. You are very real to me because you share your vulnerabilities, doubts and worries along with other ponderings..

Hattie said...

I was the elder of two but am not a driven person at all. There are a lot of things I take seriously and devote my time to, however.

Anita said...

It's interesting that the majority of us tend to look back at our parents and upbringing to figure out why we are the way we are, which is probably a good indicator.

Lately, I've asked myself if I need to change, or do others need to accept me for who I truly am.

Luckily, I'm not "extreme" in many areas of my life and don't hear too many complaints or too much advice.

I find your voice an important one, for you are able to push us into deeper thought for possible reevaluation.

Anvilcloud said...

I am glad Hilary hilited this piece. What I do know is that it takes all kinds and that every way of being in this world has merit. For example, I would presume that your drive and focus opens the door for others to be more contemplative. Both Mary and Martha had their uses and their faults.

Jackie said...

You speak from your heart...and from reading this, I think you have a tender one.

Gail Dixon said...

What a thoughtful post; very insightful. Our upbringing does impact us for much of our life, but we can always change, difficult though that may be. You sound like a very responsible, rule-following person and there is really nothing wrong with that. I say that because I'm the same way. :) Congrats on your POTW!

Kerry said...

This is a nice essay, Tabor. Mellowness is a quality that is difficult to increase or decrease. Seems like we're born, or perhaps nurtured to have a certain amount of it, period.

And of course in Aesop's fable of the ant and the grasshopper, you would be the well-rewarded ant in the end.

Congrats on your potw!