First order of business: I’m tired of the photo of the day. Well, actually, I’m tired of posting a photo of the day. If someone else would take a photo of my life each day and post it for me, I’d enjoy looking at it. But doing it myself started to feel more like work than fun, so I’m done.
As for this post, do you ever have days that make you question your whole approach to life? I’ve spent the morning pondering weekend experiences that have me wondering if I am who I am, or if I should be someone else. I’m sure the conclusion will be the former, but it’s an interesting exercise none-the-less…
Case #1 — am I sophisticated enough?
We attended quite a little shindig Saturday night, hosted by someone Matt works with. The host makes about twice what we do, and is unmarried and childless, none of which matters except to say that his discretionary time and money are a bit more abundant than ours. Lovely, lovely old home. Not ostentatious, not gigantic, just restored very tastefully and beautiful in every detail. The party had an Italian theme, but no Stouffers’ lasagne to be found — “real” antipasto, gorgeous desserts, and gelato flown in from Italy.
As we nosed around the home, I found myself wondering what makes some people sophisticated, and others not. Or is it a continuum? (Can you be a little sophisticated?) It isn’t just about money — I certainly know people with more money than class — but can you be sophisticated without money? Is it just about appearances, or is there something deeper that makes you sophisticated? Do you have to be born into sophistication, or can it be learned? Do you have to be smart, or just stylish? Do you think people who appear sophisticated spend more time worrying about appearances than the rest of us, or does it just come easily to them? Can one be both “down to earth” and sophisticated, or are those mutually exclusive?
I’m mostly ok with who I am, who we are as a family. But once in awhile, I’m at a party to which I had “nothing to wear,” and wonder what it would be like to sit at the cool kids’ table.
Case #2 — am I pushing my children enough?
I had a discussion Sunday with a friend who married into a family of serious over-achievers. The bar was set high by the parents, and the children are, by any possible measurement, incredibly successful. This friend, who is one of the smartest, most accomplished people I know, often feels that she does not measure up.
We have spoken before about this, and I always wonder how she will tackle parenting her little children. She and I agree, I think, that there’s a point at which the pushing is too much and that happiness is more important than achievement. My children are older than hers, and I don’t think anyone would accuse me of pushy parenting. Yesterday, I began to wonder if I’m too hands-off. Would my older children benefit from a little more guidance? Should I challenge their decisions and their level of drive?
I believe that parenting is about helping children discover who they really are, and what their strengths and weaknesses are, and assisting them as they figure out how to make the most of what they have. I definitely do not believe that children can be made to fit one standard, or shaped into one mold. But today, I suspect there are times I need to focus more on the “making the most” and less on the “discovering who we are.”
Case #3 — am I environmentally conscious enough?
I actually think I’m a little above average when it comes to being green. We recycle more than we throw away, we don’t buy and consume as much as most Americans do, we don’t use a lot of harsh chemicals, and we avoid unnecessary driving. I’m even thinking about starting composting. But I was watching Dateline last night, and they were testing two families to see how much of certain chemicals was present in their blood. I have to admit, besides making sure my children don’t eat lead paint, this is not an area I spend a lot of time worrying about. The “greener” family actually didn’t do quite as well as they’d thought in these tests, at times coming out worse than the other “typical?” family. But what got me was when the “green” mother said that they have always avoided buying plastic toys for their children. Holy cow. I have not avoided that. I don’t know a single family who has. I’m trying to imagine how difficult it would be to eliminate plastic and chemicals from our life. I’m not even sure I need or want to do this, but it is an interesting idea. I suppose that as more research is done in this area, it will become easier, as “clean” products will be more readily available. But, just like with organic produce, it will surely be more expensive to live this kind of life.
Does it always come back to money? Being sophisticated, raising successful children, living green — it always comes down to what you can afford, doesn’t it? Do other people worry about these kinds of things, or do I just need to calm down and be content? What do you think — who the heck are you?