Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Little life lessons learned from mom

Still thinking (this could be a problem) so I'm just gonna go with it people. When I was in college I wrote a paper about how divorce affects the attitude about relationships and marriage for kids who were the product of divorce vs. those who still have married parents. I thought it would be really cut and dry, that those who were from divorced marriages would never want to get married or at least be more cautious before doing so, and those that still had married parents would be totally into the idea of marriage and want to get married like. right. now.

It appears its not totally that way. And my dreams of becoming a famous researcher on the effects of divorce were thus very quickly crushed. So I was thinking back about how my parents divorce when I was 9 affected me and how a few of my friends, including the boy feel about marriage when their parents are still together. It got complicated.

When I was in high school I spent all of my time with my 3 best friends and we never left each others sides. we were our own little microcosm of ideas and goals for what we wanted in life. Two of us (#1 and #2) were from divorced single mom households, and 2 (#3 and #4) were from married households (one marriage was very traditional catholic (#3), and one was uber liberal, independent mom who traveled the world doing research and obtaining her PhD and dad was a psychologist(#4)...this will matter in a minute).

It seemed to me looking back on it, that the ones that were from married homes would want to get married right away and the ones that were from single mom homes wouldn't. None of us are married yet, but the one that wanted to get married and have kids the most was #2, who's mom had been single and divorced like since #2 was born. And I would bet if she weren't dating a 40 year old man who's divorced with commitment issues she'd be married by now. #3 with her super traditional catholic family wanted to get married and have babies just as bad and she's still out there looking for the right guy. #4 just graduated with her masters in international public health and is in a serious relationship but more interested in travelling and saving the world. As for me, I never wanted to get married. I wasn't interested in dating or being committed to someone, my mom appeared to carry on and even do better on her own. She indirectly sent me messages and set an example for me, I learned from her without really knowing it, she was my one example of what it was like to be or not be married that I had to learn from.

I learned a lot from my mom about the right and wrong things to do in my own life as well as a life with someone else. I learned to always be prepared and to exercise independence and never lose my own dreams, to have my own bank account with a "rainy day" fund set aside for any "just in case" situations in life (not just divorce), I learned to get an education and have my own career, not to lose myself in my marriage and my children because those things may not last forever and what do you have left when it's all gone? Yourself and the things you worked for to provide for yourself (that could be anything, your emotional stability and financial stability).

But she became a good example of what a woman should be after he was gone, she was independent, did whatever made her happy, she learned how to navigate her way around a toolbox (quite well I might add), got a good job and stood up for herself, she had no one to depend on but herself. She had no one to depend on to make her happy, so she learned how to do it herself. It appeared she got on perfectly fine without being married and without having a man in her life and that showed me it was ok not to "need" a man, to be proud and happy to be a woman on her own and to stand up for myself and what I believe in, and not let anyone take that away from me, even the man I love. Even from a really young age I didn't want to be married and be a mom, I wanted to be a career woman, a total power B*itch, who was single and independent and didn't give a crap about men. That's changed a bit, I found someone who encourages my dreams, tolerates my attitude and someone I can see myself being able to be with for a long time; but, I still have the foundation of what my mom indirectly taught me and that will never change.

It is true though that people who have parents that are still married have a much more positive outlook on marriage and long term commitments. But on the other hand do they lack the realistic understanding that once you get married things don't become perfect? That a marriage is 2 people who are trying to navigate through life together, but they're still 2 seperate people who have seperate ideals, and goals and attitudes, and they'll fight and get angry and that's ok? We're so in love with the idea of love and forget that relationships are hard. I might be more of a cynic than that woman who grew up in a happily married home but i feel like I got a preview into the hardships of life and relationships and I feel like I'm well prepared to look out for and deal with the rough patches and more cautious in my choosing of a life partner to avoid making the same mistakes a lot of women do.

So how did your parents, single, married, dating or otherwise set an example for you? What indirect messages about marriage and relationships did you get from them? Have those changed since you've grown? We learn so much as women from our moms and dads as we grow up and marriage and relationships are no acception to the rule, what lessons did you gain, and do you wish they'd been more honest with you and told you more?

Photo by Pink Sherbet Photography

1 comment:

  1. ooo i love your thinking this week - lots of good subjects.

    i came from a married household - but my parents were very VERY independent people. My dad traveled 1-2 weeks/month, sometimes more. They were very set in their ways of kind of running their own lives along side each other (if that makes sense). In a way that has been good and bad for me as newly married person. i didnt like my dad being gone a lot from a daughters perspective - so i like that my husband is less of a 'roamer'. on the flipside i realize why my mom could enjoy that time where she had her own routine.

    i will say that i dated a guy that was from a divorced home and it affected MY view of our relationship more than his (or at least that he realized). He joked around a lot about his 'second wife' and his 'next wedding' etc etc - it was joking but it was weirdly implying to me that he was totally unsure of whether or not he believed in 'always'. he had a weird anger towards that permanence.

    its strange in so many ways that our parents affect how we are long after we leave their homes.