I’ve been reflecting a lot lately on the idea of choices. I started mulling over this idea when my husband cut these roses off the rosebush in the front yard. We have two rose bushes that we’ve picked out together. One’s along the idea of the fire-and-ice variety (which is one of my favorite types of roses) in the back yard and the one in the front is this pink one.
For those of you who know me better than others, you’ll know that I’m not a “pink” girl. Sure, I have a few pink shirts. But, my family will tell you that I didn’t really enjoy getting dressed up (ever) and was late to a lot of “girl” things (seriously, sometime take a look at the bad haircuts and styles that I’ve had over the years… wispy bangs? buckets of gel? <shudder>), and pink is definitely one of them. I chose this particular rose because it’s a softer pink and I thought it would look good in front of our house.
We all live with the choices that we make. I chose my husband and, thankfully, he chose me back. He chose a house not far from where we work. I choose whether or not to eat ice cream on a daily basis. I chose to go to grad school in the state where I currently live. I chose to not wear a heavier jacket this weekend and was therefore freezing during the Starlight Parade. I have lived with all of these choices.
I chose my current profession of teacher. This choice sometimes weighs a little heavier at some times than others. Working in the summer to help gain some extra funds. Staying up late grading. Giving up whole weekends to grading and planning. Going to fundraisers, dances, baseball games, and doing more grading when my non-teaching friends are going out to Happy Hour or on vacations to far away places during the school year that I may never see (Boston in the fall? Probably not). Having people tell me how great it must be to get to work at 8am, be done at 2:30pm, and have all those holidays off and four months of vacation in the summer! (This, by the way, couldn’t be further from the truth.) Getting to hear the response, “Oh, you’re just a teacher” a few more times than I care to think about. All of this in a choice.
And yet I continue to choose to be an educator. With my choice to educate comes the excitement of sharing my love of reading with my students, the pride when they “get it”, the funny notes and doodles they write for me on quizzes, the total and complete happiness on their faces when I am there to see them score a basket or perform in a play. All of this, too, in a choice.
Sometimes, it’s a matter of compromise: I’ll grade until 8pm and then I’m going to watch America’s Got Talent until it’s time for bed and, GOSH DARN IT, I have EARNED this ice cream today! We take a little bit of both options to make us feel better about the choices that we’re making. We work hard to rationalize and justify the choices that we make. But, why do we do this?
I think as humans we sometimes feel frustrated by the choices we make when other people don’t understand them or why we made them. The Internet is full of stay-at-home moms wanting to feel validated for the self-less choice they make every day to stay home with their children. It’s also full of moms who have no choice to be leave their children in the care of someone else (be that teacher, nanny, or day-care provider) who seek the same validation: Tell me I made the right choice.
But, rarely do we ever get to see if we made the “right” choice. Yes, the scale and my jeans will tell me that eating ice cream every day is not the “right” choice. But, your vocation? Your profession? Homeschooling? Private school? Public school? These things take years to reveal to you whether you made the right choice.
What do we do in the meantime? How do we learn to live with our choices? The best I think we can do is use our Faith to guide us and to take comfort in the knowledge that there is always Someone who understands. And, maybe, on the way, we can learn to be a little more graceful about the choices that others make, too.