Sunday, October 21, 2012

Incremental Improvement

Many years ago, I read that businesses don't succeed by inventing something new; they succeed by improving something already in existence by ten percent. I also learned from the Girl Scouts that we should leave everywhere a bit better than we found it. I decided to combine these two teachings for success at parenting and being fully human. Because both my faith background and my country's constitution advocate freedom of choice and rebirth, I have been able to start over several times, striving to better my existing world by ten percent.

I do believe that the generation that I came from improved our country by at least ten percent. Before the sixties, we in America believed that fear-based religion, maleness, whiteness, and war were superior to all the alternatives. We believed that it was right to persecute and prosecute any that disagreed with our views. We came, in my generation, to look for alternatives to war and accept differences of opinion, skin tones, gender boundaries, and paths to eternal peace.

We now seem to be facing the alternative of going backward to our fantasy of our country's former reality or forward to a further enlightened set of values. I will probably not live to see the realization of world peace. I only pray that each succeeding generation of my America will move at least ten percent closer to the peace that comes from a respectful Spirit.

My first husband was the father of my children, who adored his mother to the point of being her "little man." I had no shot at being strong enough for his undying trust and affections as a partner. This failing on my part was only exacerbated by his mother's death after our first year of marriage.

Her impending death came with the accompanying injunction that her oldest son should take over her protective role for her children, his siblings, even though their father was still alive. My parents also looked to us to parent their children. Our young marriage was crushed under the burdens.

My second "husband" had none of the attributes that would make him a parenting partner, but at least he offered some stability without threatening my children. He was, however, intensely jealous of my affection for them. He chose to go rather than grow.

My third husband helped heal my mothering self. This man knew what he expected of a marriage partner, and was able to eloquently articulate his values. It was only through his respect for the right role of a wife and mother that I became able to face myself.  He also honored the place my mothering played in his life, having developed extreme self-control, which served him well in allowing me to mother so many in need.

Many years ago, marriageable men had to prove that they had the resources to protect their women. In my opinion, the greatest among men is the man who will husband the resources to protect his woman from those who want to overpower her and leave defenseless children and suffering women in their wakes. No matter what we may now think, we are all made vulnerable by our motherhood.

Perhaps it is time for women to honor our men for their valiant efforts at partnering and parenting, at their own great emotional and physical expense. Women typically outlive their men, which gives women many years of following late-in-life missions. Is it too much to ask that women offer our men our gratitude for protecting us while we mother? Mutual respect and gratitude would likely improve our families by ten percent.

I know that my children are at least ten percent better at being parents than I was. I am so grateful for this. Will this count as my ten percent contribution to a better world? I will probably never know for sure, but I hope so.

1 comment:

  1. A good and honorable theory to follow. Leave it better than you found it.
    I actually try to do that physically. Mentally, I( am not sure.
    But empowering those around us is VERY important for stability after life.