Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Over-ambitious

Tumble out of bed and stumble to the kitchen;
pour myself a cup of ambition,
and yawn, and stretch, and try to come to life...


-Dolly Parton, Nine to Five song lyrics

Originally posted 9/28/08, and still true (except for the coffee part... I now have maybe 3 cups a week...?)

I've done it. I actually plugged in, and started using... the coffee maker! A few months without regular doses of coffee, and I've been craving it. As much as I like to keep my counter tops clutter-free, I think this is a necessary contraption right now.

A nine-to-five life sounds like a dream vacation right now... But, the danger is, my workaholic personality would get me so tangled us in my life as a cog, that if I actually had a 9-to-5 (which is a rare schedule in New York City anyway), it would rapidly expand to 9-to-9 somehow, and the rest of the REAL stuff -- connecting, quality time with the kids, conversation, creativity, and other important details of life could whiz past in a blur as my spinning wheel accelerates.

On a rare outing about two weeks ago, with two women I really respect and admire, I found myself listening to their conversation about how stupid and pointless blogging is. "Who reads them, anyway?" they asked. (Guess they forgot... or I forgot to mention... I have one????) Rather than defend it, I just listened, and thought to myself, "Anyone who wants to read something specific, real, not necessarily motivated by the desire to sell you something, or push some agenda... Don't you ever long to read or participate in, appreciate, live vicariously, or just be a fly on the wall for, some one else's life?"

Okay, maybe the blogosphere isn't interesting to EVERYONE. I fully accept that. But it clearly isn't a waste of time, either.

I am a faithful reader of the www.Bittersweet.wordpress.com blog. The writing is so beautiful, I recently decided that there was probably some very astute marketing whiz with a talented team of writers and photographers creating the posts. But, whoa, Hannah has come out of the shadows, and if things are as she claims, this wonderful blog is the work of one exceptionally talented 19 year-old. I love spending time inside her creative brain every few days. Mind you, I've chosen an extreme example of greatness here... but it seems people who dismiss the blogging world don't know what they're missing.

But alas, I'm preaching to the choir, I guess!



Above, my daughter, and my GRAND (or is it "Great"?)niece and nephew. Yes, really!!!

In the weeks since my grandmother's death, I have come to realize a few things... It is only natural to want to slingshot past the accomplishments of my parents. I have been working hard and long at having more, doing more, blogging more and being more, in an endless attempt to build the perfect mom/wife/entrepreneur resume. And why? I have to learn to appreciate that we already have more than enough, and that everything else is just gravy.

My parents did the best they could, considering the opportunities they had. And they did a phenomenal job of that, too. Good gracious -- my own parents couldn't even choose which water fountain to drink from. My Mom-in-law just recently mentioned that the water fountains for "Colored" people in the North Carolina town of her childhood contained warm water. Imagine a hot day in the summer, stopping to quench your thirst with dirty, warm water from that fountain. The water in the "Whites Only" fountains was clean and cold. When my own mother was a child in Cincinnati, she could go to the local pool only on a specifically designated day of the week, after which, the pool would be promptly drained and cleaned, so that it would be suitable for use by White people again the next day. My own grandmother grew up in a town in North Carolina where she was a member of the only Black family living there. The town had a lynching tree.... Can you imagine? A lynching tree? In a town where there are only about seven people who are candidates to be hung there? Can you imagine the pressure?

Wow, when I look at our lives now, I am just AMAZED at how different my children's opportunities and experiences are. Ambition is good, and improvement is always good, but keeping it in perspective adds an attitude of gratitude to the people who, despite daily assaults on their self-esteem, sought to place their hopes and dreams in their children, raise them in an environment full of love and respect, and not harbor any ill-will towards those who treated them like second-class citizens. What a journey that must have been!

Maybe I've come to this realization later than most people do. But it gives a new meaning to a quilt made with pieces of a grandmother's house dress, a grandfather's work shirt, a baby's receiving blanket... It gives a new meaning to the recipes that have been handed down from generation to generation, the home remedies that got you back to work/school sooner, the dimples, hair color, or the gap-tooth smiles that characterize a whole line of descendants... It all matters. Much more that I realized.

I will not lament the absence of a 9-to-5. While I don't have an inbox filled with papers needing signatures and projects to complete, my inbox is full of lessons to pass on, children to raise and nurture, and a lot more to learn.

5 comments:

  1. Excellent post. You're absolutely right when you don't lament the absence of the 9 to 5. I've been on both sides of the fence, and let me tell you, I will be glad to get back to the other side in June when my school contract is done (I will not be returning in the fall, either). It always seems greener over on the 9 to 5 side, but it's definitely not as fullfilling or rewarding as doing the basic jobs you were given to do in taking care of your home and rearing your children and passing on your heritage to them.

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  2. I can't imagine a day without my coffee maker, then again, I am clearly an addict and I'm not ashamed of it. Thanks for sharing that blog, its great. Your little ones (daughter, niece and nephew.. are gorgeous!

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  3. I find it unfathomable to think that "coloured" people were treated in such a way (and still to a certain extent).

    As to 9 to 5 - I much prefer my days at home. Work in an office is meaningless compared to what you can give to your children

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  4. Great post, quite a bit to chew on. I've actually never done the 9-5 thing & think I'm most likely better off for it.

    I think it's amazing how far the past 2 generations have come in eradicating racism. My mom graduated from a segregated school (that existed in southern Arkansas AFTER desegregation!). I had a conversation with my daughter last year in which I realized that she doesn't even understand what race is. She was confused as to why someone at school called her friend "black". I tried to explain that perhaps she would better recognize the term "african american". no dice. She said "mom, that's just dumb. She (her friend) isn't black, she's brown." So we talked through all her friends of varying ethnicity & my daughter patiently explained to me that some of them were just "more browner" than others. But that meant nothing to her as far as who could or could not be her friend. In fact, the only skin color she's ever encountered that can be made fun of is mommy's. "mommy is as white as...casper...typing paper...glue. I see a ghost in the clouds...no, look, it's mommy!" Those jokes never seems to get old with my kids (who are "light brown" like their italian daddy). Anyway, I think the world our kids are going to create is going to be pretty amazing.

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  5. Yes, you are so right... my daughter and her rainbow of friends are absolutely amazed that people ever treated one another so cruelly based on skin color. Great thing is, they were ALL equally offended!

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