Life Lessons Age 20 - 30: Mercy Me, Mercy Everybody
Looking back in life to me from 20 to 30 years of age, I can only envy (in a way) those who sailed through without much struggle or trauma. Here we go, with a little context provided.
Life Lessons Learned from Twenty to Thirty Years:
- After my son Christian is born when I was 22, I realized the truth in the old adage about children, “One is like none, and two is like ten.” Where my daughter was extremely quiet-natured and portable, Christian was definitely not, not, not.
- No matter how much you love your children, being home with both all the time is hard. Being a mom to two children and having menial jobs is even worse.
- When two people marry under any premise other than that established by mature love based on self-knowledge, at least one is bound to be less mature than meets the eye; the one trying to be mature is often left with the bills, the tendency to justify (as in, “surely he did not intend that to happen,”) and explanations to others about whatever happened.
- In helping others, as in working with children with extremely disabling conditions, it is possible to discover parts of yourself and learn that whatever your folks said, you are not deficient or bad.
- For all I felt I'd failed myself, I learned that the powerful love one has for one’s children can keep you growing, and the power of love given to a foster child you know you’ll need to give up sometime is a good practice for enjoying every day for what it is.
- I learned how beautifully natured my own children and their friends could be – and how they naturally included their foster brothers in most everything. I also learned something I had not experienced first-hand myself—the pleasurable pride of parenthood.
- I learned that the process of education is a liberating event, but not everyone who says they love you sees it as so wonderful when you vocalize ideas of your own.
- I learned that there comes a time when, if you look carefully at what and who surrounds you most of the time, you should know that it is highly likely that you will live out your life in accordance with the unspoken rules and values reflected. This is fine if you want this, but if you feel wildly somehow “different than” the five or so people you are closest to – other than your children --you need to pay attention. Maybe you are different, and maybe that is not so bad.
- Some things in life are more important than financial stability – besides, it is amazing what you can do when you have to in order to pay the bills. Legitimate work that enables you to feel good about yourself can and does come along for those who believe. As I began to teach workshops and engage in meaningful work, I realized I could never have imagined myself with that much to give the world. But if you present yourself open-mindedly and take a few risks in applying to jobs that seem better than you are qualified to accomplish, opportunities do arrive.
- If someone you love appears to be dying, that might not be the case no matter who said it was so. One thing is certain – once you let go of your own desperate need for a given outcome in anything, life takes on a whole different order and it is possible to live life less afraid. If things happen to go the way you wish against all odds, you see life for the miracle it really is.
So, to summarize briefly the lessons of life in my twenties, it was that I had yet to scratch the surface of myself, and yet there I was the mother of two biological children and two foster children. What was I thinking? The journey of self-discovery, and uncovering the children’s gifts was sometimes terribly difficult at times but ultimately something I am so very grateful for today. But some of those days my life felt impossible to live well and meaningfully and it would be wrong to present myself as otherwise. I remember isolated periods of despair - like the time I entered Marklund Children’s Home to meet the kids and ended up crying in a linen closet. But I came out better I believe for emerging from all those unique experiences with a renewed perspective. What I could not understand, I required myself to encounter. Plus, I was blessed with naturally smart sisters who often were good to talk to.
Having said that, I would beg anyone considering having children to do the work of self-discovery first, because I do not believe I was the best mother I might have been had I done the proper self-work in advance; but I was considerably more present, capable and loving than my own mother had been to me or my siblings. Yet even as I write that, as a mother, I believe Mom suffered her whole life for the pain of all she’d been unable to offer us, and I have long ago forgiven her. As I watch my own daughter and son-in-law raising there children, I know, wherever Mom is, she is as proud as I am.
Hmmm, so far, every decade I am a different person with maybe some natural traits refined if not transformed a bit - yet always a work in progress to this very day.