Monday, September 24, 2012

Quitting



I have been spending a great deal of time thinking about quitting.  Quit.  It is a word that has such negative connotations.  Winners never quit and quitters never win.  Quit actually has two definitions, to stop, cease or discontinue and to give up or resign.    The meaning that is assigned to the situation often is determined by the judgement that someone passes on the situation.  Why is it that we think that nothing is to be learned from quitting?  I can’t tell you how many times I have heard that “you can’t just quit when you're in the real world”, as if being 10 and 12 or 21 or 42 is not real enough?  
I have quit jobs.  I have quit relationships.  I have quit bad habits.  I have quit sports.  I have never regretted my decisions.  I have been wondering why quitting is associated with lacking a certain skill set for life.  I was allowed as a child to quit certain things. Most of the time my decision to quit was based on a principal I held.    My mom let me skip school on the day frogs were dissected in biology because I could not stomach the thought of cutting into something that was once alive.  I quit gymnastics after several years for the very same reasons Grace quit gymnastics when she was 6.  Our bodies are not meant for that sport!  We are too tall and lack the flexibility required to be competitive.  I quit a job when I was sexually harassed by the owner.  No sense in staying in that position!   I quit my teaching career in favor of my family.  I quit the school system in favor of a more healthy way for my daughter.  Wow.  I have quit many things.
When I was working, I was often the first one in and the last one to go home.  I rarely complained about being on call on weekends, even when it interrupted my engagement dinner celebration in Manhattan and a weekend getaway with Greg in Virginia.  I had the highest caseload of relocation counselors.  When I was teaching, I would seek the kids that had “labels”.  We worked well together.  I did not take shortcuts and I tried to find a way to balance work and family, but that is very hard to do with a husband who is gone from 6am until 9pm.  Now that I am home, working to maintain a happy, healthy home and educate my daughters, I never ever consider myself a quitter, despite the fact that I have quit several things over the years.  
So why was I able to develop such a strong work ethic?  Why did quitting not make me a failure at life.....as if quitting a childhood activity or sport ever would?  I have given this much though and I came up with the answer.  My parents.  My parents are responsible for the way I am and the dedication I have for what I believe in.  I grew up with a Dad who worked 60+ hours a week owning and operating his own business (which he built BY HIMSELF) and also worked a second job in a band on the weekends for extra money for my gymnastics lessons...and piano lessons....and art lessons.  My Mom kept our house clean, fed us healthy meals, shuttled us to and from our lessons and our friends houses, was President of the PTA, taught Sunday School, and like me, tried to go back to work when we were in school but found that like me, she could not balance the responsibilities she had at home with those in the workplace.  Now she is in her mid sixties, dresses like Meryl Streep in Devil Wears Prada and is the Executive Assistant to  the President of a major home design company in NYC.  You probably get their catalog delivered in the mail.  She did not even go back to work full time until I went to college!  
It does not matter that I quit karate in my 20s, half way to black belt.  It does not matter that I quit being a vegetarian when I realized I felt better eating some meat.  I does not matter that Lilah quit Destination Imagination because she felt it too stressful.  It does not matter that Grace may very well quit the history class I had such high hopes for because it is very, very stressful for the both of us.  I got straight As in college and I took the practice test for chapter 1 and let’s just say I did not do so well.....  I could teach her the tricks to acing a multiple choice test because frankly, I could use the review!  However, I don’t want her to lose sleep over memorizing dates and names.  Isn’t that why most of us hated history?  I want her to love history, the way she did when we were studying Story of the World, when she was memorizing the lyrics to The History Teacher’s song, Charlemagne, and when she was reading about the Black Plague for fun.  
Do I think that allowing them to quit these activities will negatively impact the rest of their lives?  Certainly not.  If the impact my parents had on me is any indication of how we form our work ethics, then looking at how Greg works his fingers to the bone all week for us and how I pour my heart and soul into creating a loving, nurturing, stable, healthy home....I think they will turn out be okay.  The are pretty awesome already.

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