On the dual nature of decisions and other reasons why it sucks to be an adult
Do you remember the focus of desire we had as children? You know, the wanting something so clearly, the life of black and white decisions.
For example, if I wanted a bite of my sister's huge sucker that she had worked for weeks to judiciously preserve after a trip to Disneyland (torturing me piece by piece, I might add) then I wanted that and only that. I wasn't concerned with the injustice she must have felt when my mother suggested she share (when I had been given the very same sucker at Disneyland, but didn't make it home with it. "I ate mine all gone"). I had no knowledge of the long day at work my mom probably had, only to come home to a bratty child insisting on candy and having to be patient and kind enough to give both my sister and I the attention required at that moment (at a moment where, no doubt, dinner needed making. Did I mention she was a single parent of four?!). I didn't at all think of the sugar I had already enjoyed that day, nor was I concerned with my health or figure in general. Hell, I wasn't even aware of the cost of the lollipop, not to mention the immense financial hardship of a day at Disneyland (which my mom scrimped and scrounged all year to give her four children). I never thought that if I chose to eat a sucker, I would no longer get a popsicle after dinner.
Perhaps that is one of the many objects of parenting, to assist your offspring in seeing all sides of a situation, to become well-rounded, considerate, gracious, and open-minded, to point out the feelings of all parties involved. But perhaps the flip side to this is that it creates a bunch of indecisive ninnies. If only we had been allowed our narcissistic future, perhaps we could have ended up a despot or celebrity at the very least. Now those crazy fools know what they want, damn it.
I did nothing wrong in this situation. I was a child with a child's perspective, "I want what I want when I want it." But that, my friends, that's what I miss. I haven't heard anything even remotely focused emerge from my soul since the days in college where I knew I wanted to be a teacher or in my 20s when I met and wanted to jump all over Joel. I wish I knew desire in single-mindedness again. I want to see only one side of the coin, to stare at it long enough, to be gifted just enough oblivion to believe there really is such a thing as a right choice.
I keep thinking about several of my friends who are on the brink of major life changes. They have immense anxieties even concerning decisions they feel good about. If only us MAKING the decision meant in turn that we BELIEVED it was the right one with zero creeping doubts. But we are forced to make choices that mean turning our backs on other choices and it can be so exhausting - this spinning about, this dual nature of decisions.
This currently hits me in my gut because I am still undecided about being a working mother. In my early pregnancy, I spent several nights tossing and turning with the inability to decide what I truly wanted. Was I going to join the ranks of women having children only to have someone else raise them? Or would I decide that the financial sacrifice would be worth the joy of being home with Bowie, seeing her first laugh, catching her first steps? My therapist and I decided that I would wait to make the decision until I was actually on maternity leave and had all the information necessary to make an informed decision. That was very relieving at the time.
But I am now on maternity leave and the decision is not any easier. I was laid off in July, so I suppose the universe did weigh in on the decision, but I also don't want to just let life happen to me, reacting to its changes like a pinball in a crazy maze. I want to be proactive, to intend my life.
Sidenote: you can learn a lot about a person by how they make decisions.
I want to scream from the skyscrapers of life, "I WANT IT ALL."
And so I go about my days trying to conjure up a career that will give me everything I want...money, purpose, and intellectual/interpersonal stimulation; I also want family life, quiet time at home, and an uncomplicated schedule. Instead of truly committing to one or the other, I waver in the between because more accurately than wanting it all, I actually have no idea what I want. I never imagined I would say this, but I miss being told what to do by teachers, parents, and authority figures. However, the minute anyone tries to, I buck up like an unbroke stallion (horsey people, is that a thing?).
So we make blind choices, jumping into new chapters with nothing but blind faith and a sloshing martini to give us courage. Right or wrong (which I cannot believe exists with life choices anymore - perhaps it's more precise to say right or wrong for each person), that's what it means to be human.
Today I think I choose to hide in my house, throw my hair back in a pony tail, read a book, and hold my crying baby (because yesterday I chose to ingest more than a fair portion of chocolate torte).