Friday, February 8, 2008

Exit strategy – daring to dream of another life

One of the commenters to my post on Mommy-tracking and the exit strategy indicated that it was too soon for her to consider the idea because she was not ready for the school years separations yet. I heard separately someone voice the opinion that motherhood was different from other careers or life work and that once a woman became a mother (through any route) that she never really stopped being a mother.

These were real concerns spoken from the heart and the women who expressed them are likely not alone in these ways of thinking. I would first like to say that I am not suggesting that enjoying one’s children should be offset by the reality that one day they will move out to live separate lives. Secondly I concur that there is a sense of the irreversibility of becoming a mother in that one does not just revert to the never been stage regardless of the reason the mothering phase ends.

Suggesting that mothers might benefit from the process of preparing for the natural shifts of dependence to independence of children by planning a graceful relinquishing of control as well as an exit strategy from full-time hands-on mothering to occasional confidante and sought out advisor with a second-life plan and interests of her own does not have to imply a diminishing of the mothering role.

The point is not to minimize motherhood, or the specialness of that role and the relationship between mother and child. Rather the point is about accepting that the child’s growth will bring about changes and determine to cooperate with the inevitable. Accepting that change is unavoidable and choosing to see it as good sets the stage to creating a satisfying second-life with no regrets.

The movie You’ve Got Mail is not exactly great cinema but it has a couple of notable moments of dialog. One of those is the luncheon where Meg Ryan’s character decides to close the “Shop Around the Corner.” Jean Stapleton counters that “closing the store is the brave thing to do… (because)…you’re daring to dream that you could have another life.” This is the first step toward thinking about a future exit strategy from full-time hands-on mothering; dream that you could have another life. Later on a few details could be added to the strategy but the first to-do item is to dream.

6 comments:

Mrs_Scotsman said...

Your post got me thinking of the exit strategies in my life. Upto this point I have mostly had 'exiting' things thrusted upon me or quickly made decision. Examples of these are getting laid off from a job and decided that my first engagement was wrong and I need to get out NOW.
My first opportunity to plan and execute an exit strategy was in the professional world. When I got married I chose to give up the extra money offered nights and weekends and stuck to my daytime hours. I picked this because I wanted to have time with my husband. My next plan was to goto part time while I was pregnant with the ulimate goal of resigning when the baby was born. Both of these plans worked smoothly and I only had to deal with some balking by my employer about taking a year sabbatical and then deciding. I had already decided I was staying home. This was the right decision for me.
I think if we are going to talk about exit strategies then that naturally leads into entrance strategies. Currently the entrance strategy I'm working on is homeschooling preschool starting next year and then each year after that deciding whether or not to continue. Eventually that will end whether in 2 years or 10 (I am so NOT doing High School). I will then have to come up with an exit strategy for what that part of my life will look like. Will I go back to work (because I want to)? Will I volunteer places I don't have time for now? Not a decision for today...I'm still in the terrible twos. But something that will need to be considered in the not too distant future.

AuthorMomWithDogs said...

Excellent point. So much of life -- and certainly of motherhood -- is about knowing when and how to let go and evolve.

I like mrs scotsman idea of an entrance strategy too.

Pieces of Me said...

I took a sabbatical frommy teaching post back in Israel to write a book that is near and dear to me. I moved across from Israel during very uncertain and unsettling times with my husband and two year old son. This is really a post that speaks to me every day. I am riddled with choices yet I do not have any more exit strategies as I am living one.

Technically, I am supposed to tell my employer (back in Israel) whether I want to return. That is not an exit strategy for me as I really don't want to. I much rather stay at 'home' in the country, I thought I knew so well. Writing is slowly opened a few doors. Life is sometimes worth the chance; who knows what will hapen tomorrow?
-Dorit

Michele said...

A lot of interesting points here, Deb! I'm glad I stopped by. ;-)

Smiles,
Michele

Peg said...

"Suggesting that mothers might benefit from the process of preparing for the natural shifts of dependence to independence of children by planning a graceful relinquishing of control as well as an exit strategy from full-time hands-on mothering to occasional confidante and sought out advisor with a second-life plan and interests of her own does not have to imply a diminishing of the mothering role."

Quite the contrary: I would say having dreams, interests of one's own, and ideas about a second-life enrich the mothering.

Good posts.

chelle said...

I agree that one needs to be prepared for the shifts in their life, I guess I am just living for the now instead of the later at the moment.

I feel like my time with them is so limited, but that is only my perception. My preschooler is reminding me lately that she has all the time in the world, in fact is willing to give it away.

I will prepare when the time is right. Not to say I do not find the topic interesting.