Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Regrets

One of the things that I love about my job is that my busiest time is when the kids are out of school for summer vacation. Sometimes, when I'm walking along with my mosquito dipper, a curious kid will catch sight of me, and stop to ask me what I'm doing. And I love to show them. As we crouch over a dipper of water, they listen as I explain what they're seeing. Never once have I had a kid who was not enthralled by this. Never. I always have extra plastic pipettes in my truck to hand out to kids. There are a few who become so interested that they recognize my truck, and come charging over excitedly to tell me about what they've seen. For them, I tend to collect stuff. When I see interesting things along the way, I pick them up. A blue jay feather, or an interesting leaf, or a four leaf clover pressed in my log book. I always make sure that I have something to show them, and stories to tell them. This is a small detail of my job that brings me immense satisfaction.

My children are all grown up now, and the thing that I regret the most is that when they were young, I felt as if I had nothing to offer them. Their father had a master's degree. By the time that he had gotten that degree, he had decided that he had married 'beneath himself' and that our marriage was a regrettable mistake. I cannot tell when I began to believe that I was a stupid woman, but by the time our marriage blew up, I was convinced of it. I have such an easy raport with kids now. I teach Sunday School. I banter with the kids I meet as I travel around the county. I listen to them, and they are excited to see me. I guess that it's one of those things that you learn along life's way: that every person has something to impart to the next generation.

I wish that I had known this when my own were still with me. I wish that I had been less ashamed of myself and my perceived deficiencies. It is one of the few regrets that I have in this life.

20 comments:

MuseSwings said...

You are far more intelligent than your children's father can ever hope to be. He sure got it wrong, didn't he. Although you may feel you did not share enough with your own children you are certainly enriching the lives of everyone around you - including moi. You're a natural, so my guess is you've been doing it all along, and your children were missing out on anything. Hugs to you!

Mrs. Spit said...

It's funny. I'm not sure those kids you see will remember a man with a Master's Degree. But they will remember a woman who stopped to hand out pipettes, taught them to enjoy feathers, 4 leaved clovers, the beauty around us.

It seems to me that we should change our definition of smart.

quid said...

Somehow, I think if they were polled, your children would be able to call up many memorable moments of wisdom and caring with you. I'm just sayin'....

Anonymous said...

I am sure you have been just the best mother your children could have had Deb. Just education does not assure wisdom, love and essential life knowledge. And you provide ample evidence that you are a very long way from 'not smart' too.
I think the best decision for you was the end of that relationship and the discovery of yourself. We are enjoying some of the results... and so are the kids you encounter on your way.
Glad to see you are enjoying your job. Barb

Pam said...

I know the feeling. I was denigrated and emotionally beat down during my own marriage. I often feel, even know, that I gave less of the "real" me to my own kids than I do, now, to my grandsons or even the children I work with on a daily basis.

Regrets, however, are counter productive. We can't go back or undo whatever has been done. It's what we make of today that matters.

I would bet that your children see you differently than you see yourself in the past.

Sometimes we don't become empowered or discover ourselves until we rise like a phoenix from the ashes of a destructive or withering relationship.

Mikey said...

Listening and being there are the most important things you can give a child. You have plenty to offer, you always have. I'm betting they don't think they missed anything. You were THERE for them.

Daria said...

I don't know why we beat ourselves up ... I know your children appreciated having you at home with them.

Be extra kind to yourself today.

jeanie said...

It is funny - very different post going to get a similar comment as over at BB.

Our own perception of our selves is quite tainted. It takes a lot (and we aren't talking doctorates here) of learning to find out what you like about yourself - we (especially women) are trained to feature on our flaws.

The perceptions of those who love us is so often based on focusing on what we love - it can be like they are looking at a different person.

I echo Mum - the best thing that you ever did, for yourself and your children, was to move away from a relationship where not only were your flaws examined by another but mined, and to learn and rejoice in being all the strengths that you are.

Kelly said...

Lots of good comments here. I want to echo what Pam said, though: regrets are counter productive.

Try not to go there.

A Novel Woman said...

I, too, was married to a so-called intellectual who made me feel stupid. Then I realized that no one can MAKE me feel inferior; I did it to myself. If I allowed it, that also meant I had the power to change. And I did.

To live a life fully and consciously is to make mistakes. What counts is that you learn from them but always, always, always without apologies, without regrets.

What I remember from my childhood are the moments when an adult took the time to speak to me on my level, figuratively and literally. And those are the things that have stayed with me - how to clean a fish, tip a poppy head like a salt shaker, fly a kite, turn a blade of grass into a whistle, bake sugar cookies, clean a window with vinegar and newspaper, peek into a robin's nest...

What your children might remember is that their mom became a whole and complete person despite her circumstances.

And besides, we get another kick at the cat. They're called grandchildren. (fingers crossed, someday)

Cara said...

Thats stupid mom, I can list hundreds of times when you used your bits of 'useless' knowledge to educate us. Sometime I regret not paying more attention. For instance, on any one of the numerous trips to the nature center you would point out birds and tell me what they were... But honestly I can only recognize about three or four anymore. You would use almost anything to tell us a story or a history lesson, or a science lecture. As I recall you and I went on many adventures before I entered school. Those were some of my fondest memories. The nature trips, the walks, the museums, the volcano building (remember when you bought me that smithsonian volcano kit, and I made a huge mess), the painting, the arts kits, the trips to the library, the reading, the time we went out and purchased prisms and those funny magnet marble things. I think that you've forgotton a great many things that I refuse to forget. I was an inquisitive kid, and you definitely managed to cultivate those interests. The truth is, you were always able to make something so simple as a trip to the grocery store into something that was special and worth while.

Lori said...

I don't think you're alone in that feeling or that history, unfortunately. There are so many women who have been made to feel unworthy or even worthless, when in fact they are bright, beautiful, and giving. I love the way you describe giving time to the children you meet when you're in the field. My daughter would be one of those who would be out there telling you or showing you what she's found since her last visit. Actually I can see her doing what you do when an adult. I admire you for cultivating the children's interests and giving of your time.

Bush Babe said...

OK - I just cried reading cara's comment. See Deb... nothing is lost. And even if you are a different person now, wiser and more confident, you still get to be there for them NOW. You are still being their Mum, despite the fact they are adults.

I'm glad Cara was here to set us straight. And set YOU straight. Gosh I love blogs!!!
:-)
BB

Bush Babe said...

OK - I just cried reading cara's comment. See Deb... nothing is lost. And even if you are a different person now, wiser and more confident, you still get to be there for them NOW. You are still being their Mum, despite the fact they are adults.

I'm glad Cara was here to set us straight. And set YOU straight. Gosh I love blogs!!!
:-)
BB

Bush Babe said...

OK - I just cried reading cara's comment. See Deb... nothing is lost. And even if you are a different person now, wiser and more confident, you still get to be there for them NOW. You are still being their Mum, despite the fact they are adults.

I'm glad Cara was here to set us straight. And set YOU straight. Gosh I love blogs!!!
:-)
BB

Nana Trish is Living the Dream said...

Debby, I feel like I know you so much better and I truly believe you have a special gift with teaching.

A Novel Woman said...

Yeah. What Cara said.

Hey, who raised that wonderful kid, anyway? If you know her, give her a pat on the back, will ya?

Debby said...

Cara? She's at college. Yeah. I was talking to her just the other day. And while we were talking, she suddenly bellowed, 'Yo, bitch, come back here and say that to my face'. Yeah. I know that kid. She sort of scares me...

A Novel Woman said...

HAHAHAHA! Love her.

Bob said...

I also cried reading Cara's comment.