Saturday, March 10, 2007

Priorities Maybe?

How do we order our priorities? Work, family friends, health, food, or entertainment?
For some part of our lives work has to be the priority because, whatever would we do with our days if we didn’t have someplace to go or something to do. And if work is not a priority when we’re young, then what will we have to complain about when we’re old? When I was growing up I never really thought about what I was going to do with my life. I supposed I would get married, have kids, retire to Miami and die – with a few pauses for a meal at the Rascal House. I had no career aspirations... it was too much work just thinking about working. After I graduated from College with a degree in Speech Education and Dramatic Literature, and I couldn’t find a job teaching (which was everyone’s fall back career.) I did get married, but it wasn’t a full time job. So I worked in a drug store and at an employment agency. But those were not careers and aside from being boring, they were low paying. What to do? Go back to school –which I did with the help of a Professor who awarded me a teaching fellowship.

In those days, (when you had to park you dinosaur in a big parking space), a teaching fellow got paid about $3200 per year. Together, my then husband and I, made $6400 a year. It was not a great deal of money but we were young and it was fun to struggle. But I still didn’t have a career goal. I got my Master’s in communication theory and decided that maybe I should be a lawyer. But I wanted to be Perry Mason and I didn’t want to have to go to school or work for it. Then I thought I wanted to work as a political guru in Presidential campaigns – but girls didn’t do that unless they were lawyers—I still don’t know why. Well I know about the girl part but not about why you would need to be a lawyer. My fallback became my fall front and I was hired to teach speech and English at Waltham High School—which was great until one of my students tried to push me down the stairs and some whacko administrator put me on library leave because I was against the war in Viet Nam. So I applied to teach at Boston University --which I did until they closed the Department and I had to start the search again. But it was OK because I was pregnant.

It was 1971 and I got pregnant on the first try although the tests kept coming back negative. I knew, however something was up because when I tried to light a cigarette it made me very sick to my stomach. And I couldn’t get enough Matzah with butter and salt and root beer soda. I quit smoking and I think drinking—in those days you could ingest anything –raw fish, cheese, booze—anything. Unless it made you feel bad, in which case you would certainly throw up. I had a wonderful baby and decided to put my non-career on hold, but I had already gotten involved in the McGovern campaign because I had a constituency (college students) who were of interest to the campaign. My career, while not exactly changing, did take a different direction and I thought I had found my niche in Presidential politics. But I had no specialty except being good at bull doody—which ultimately turned out to be the basis of my somewhat eclectic successful career. Seth is a lot like me but not in exactly the same way. It took him time to find his way, but once he realized he had talents (writing and music) that he could parlay into a career, he pursed them and he is a success at both.

David’s life was quite different. He knew what he wanted to do and went after it. He was totally focused on being a photojournalist and he never let anything interfere—not relationships or other interests. He had them but they did not distract him from his goal. He is recognized as one of the best in the business and that didn’t come without sacrifice—but to his credit he never sacrificed a relationship with his child for his work. He accommodated both and he did it successfully. Jordan has to be like David because her career of choice demands that she is totally focused on the theater and performing.

We try to encourage our children to pursue their dreams. But we don’t always encourage them to understand how we got to where we got. Is that clear. I think not. Our children often think it was easy for us to get where we got because we haven’t told them about the difficulties and, of course, we have tried to make their lives easy. They may have expectations of who and what we are that far exceed our ability to be that person. Sure we always try to be there for them but that’s not always possible. And certainly we try to love them without suffocating them or interfering, and that often leads to them thinking we don’t love them or we don’t care about their lives. We want them to be independent but at the same time we want to always remain a part of their lives. It’s a delicate balance. One that unfortunately or fortunately often tips to one side or the other. And children are not the only family issue. Often it includes parents and siblings. What roles do we play in their lives and the bottom line, how do we divide the problems.

Oh my, I didn’t get to discussing food, friends health or entertainment. They will have to be another blob. I guess this isn’t about priorities it’s about the way things work and I’m just too tired thinking about all the working. We’re just sayin...

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