So it’s the day after Mother’s Day and yesterday got me thinking about an experience I had not too long ago.
It was a really pretty, sunny day. And my mum and I were chatting away about nothing as we sauntered across the parking lot of our local grocery store when we spotted Rose, the young woman who works as the office administrator in Dr. V’s office. And in tow, she had three of the cutest little kids, a son, a daughter, and a nephew.
So we greeted her excitedly and I made the casual, small talk statement, “So there’s life outside of Dr. V’s office?!”
Rose’s reply was swift, definite, and full of pride of achievement: “Yes, there is. I am a wife and a mother too.”
Her words and the supreme confidence with which she stated them got me thinking and examining the idea of roles and how they have applied to my life.
All the world’s a stage. ~ WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
From the first moment our lungs expand with the acceptance of the breath of life, we begin playing our first, inescapable role: a daughter or a son.
Then, depending on how the roles are casted, you may be a sister or a brother too.
Next, as we grow into life, we hopefully become a loyal friend to someone and they to us.
And if you choose it and/or Lady Fortune has her way with you, you may play the role of a wife or a husband — legally or in spirit — and then, a mother or a father.
While there are other roles one can play on the stage that is a human life, these roles are fundamental. For most of us, these roles are a way of keeping up with the passage of time. That is, they provide evidence — milestones, if you will — that we are here, that we are engaged in the interplay of living, that we have given something back to life.
Like it or not, these fundamental roles often define us, for better or worse; provide us with structure; lend us purpose; and even give our existence a greater depth and range.
But the way of life and individual human nature is random and the path uneven and littered with obstacles and interference. For one reason or another and/or misfortune, we can fail to meet our destined co-stars.
Or, maybe like me, you had certain instructive experiences in your youth that coloured your entire perspective and, therefore, the choices you made along the way.
Since I had only witnessed indifferent or unhappy marriages and I had always sensed that life was a dark comedy with just a enough light moments and delusions interspersed between the dark to keep most of us in the play and on stage, I decided to not be a wife (what man could I trust with forever) or a mother (why would I pass on uncertainty, injustice, sickness, and death to another soul).
I don’t know, maybe life did send me the wife/mother script a time or two, but I had already said an emphatic “I’m not interested” to both early on.
And while I do not regret my choices and I have a pretty good idea of the pros and cons of what I missed out on, I can’t help but wonder sometimes: Am I no one if I have never been a wife or a mother? Have I lived an incomplete life? Did these choices make my life less?
Call to action: In the comments below, how do you feel about the fundamental roles and how they’ve played out in YOUR life?