In my experience, life is about getting up after you have been smacked down. Every privilege has an underbelly. Even a smack-down has an empowering attribute.
Of course, I am speaking from the position of society’s fortunate daughters.
Recently, I have witnessed or heard about profound loss, familial estrangement, financial issues, etc. The “imperfect” side of our perfect, privileged world.
A world, in which ten years ago, POB was edited out of our class alumni news.
SIDEBAR: Was it an issue of space in our alumni column? Nah. Other significant others, who were not alums, made it in print.
A world in which having a hard time raising kids is glossed over with pretty pictures of vacations in exotic places.
A world in which marriage is for keeps, no matter how those bond have disintegrated.
A world in which money woes don’t exist because everyone must be wildly successful.
A world in which one’s children must be the best and the brightest.
A world that doesn’t really exist, except in alumni bulletins.
Because life isn’t easy, except for the very few or the profoundly disconnected. I bet there are people struggling everyday under the weight of issues they never thought they would have — or should have — considering their pedigrees.
Life is hard. That is real. The prep school, college and/or graduate school alumni magazines are kicks for a peek into the world of the clueless.
I can’t keep up with our classmates’ glossies. My life is a mish-mash of love and estrangement, life and loss, money and not-so-much-money, health and illness, and a wonderful, yet imperfect kid (who has wonderful, yet wholly imperfect parents).
Sometimes, it is too damn hard to raise kids. And let’s be honest about that. Those who don’t know that haven’t gotten their hands dirty with the details of their children’s lives. We dip into our savings to give SOS all we can. We won’t go on vacation this year because it is more important that he go to camp. Ok, I am not rich in dollars this year. But, successful? Depends on how you measure it.
And, what have we — the perfect and imperfect, alike — done with our lives after 50 years? Have we inspired people to do good? Have we educated the next generation? Have we reached out a hand (and resources) to make a young person’s dream of higher education come true? Or will we have so many meaningless toys at the end of our lives and have squandered chances to make a real difference?
My mother, as she lie dying, blessed each of her children and said, “I had a good life. I wish it were longer. I love your father. And he is such a wonderful man. And I am proud of you [the kids], and I think I helped people and healed the world just a little. It was a good life.”
I want to be able to repeat my mother’s words about my life, when my time comes. I promise you I will not be rich in dollars and cents. I hope I am rich in what matters.