I have been thinking of late about how much time and brainpower I spend rationalising my choices, re-thinking my actions past, and wondering if I have said or done the right thing.
We were all to a certain extent brought up to be wary of others' feelings. But I really think most of us have been brought up to be wary of others' judgment. Just look around you. Bad behaviour is everywhere - why? It's because we all don't really have a true idea of why we should behave well. I think most people think we should behave well so that we don't get caught. Ah, my blood pressure.
It makes me so mad to be teaching my precocious, excited young children about why they shouldn't rubbish their surroundings. It is a hard, tedious job. I teach them from young because that is when they are actually curious about their world, and are eager to absorb and learn about morals and doing the right thing. So I discipline them when they trash the house. I nag at them when they consistently leave their clothes on the floor.
Why do I do this? If I let them be, simply because they are "young" and "don't know any better", then I am sending out the message to them that it is alright by me if they live in a pigsty, and that it is alright by me that they expect someone else (me, or the maid, certainly not themselves or their father) to pick up, clean and wash after them when there are things they can do themselves. And if I did that, I would be saying that its alright for them not to respect the environment that they live in, and not to respect me or the hired help at all.
My girls are entirely capable of taking their own rubbish to the bin, putting their dirty clothes in the laundry bag specially placed in their room for them, and blowing their own noses and washing themselves. I don't expect anything less of them, because I don't think they are idiots or slaves to emotional blackmail (something which I think always taints good familial relationships - when children or parents emotionally guilt others in the family into loving them or doing something for them).
So when I see people on the road casually littering out of their cars, spitting inches away from my feet, letting their children eat like garbage disposal trucks and scream obnoxiously, I wonder, if this is how they are when it comes to the easy stuff, what are they like when it comes to the real hard stuff? You only have to look at the state of our politics and the high divorce rates to see exactly what they are like. There is such a scarcity of civic and moral responsibility, that I wonder, do people really believe their one month of fasting will absolve them of the year-round decrepitude and rudeness and thoughtlessness?
When our leaders are rubbishing our lives with their rude, stupid, thoughtless, boorish and unconscionable thoughts, literally vomiting it out into the world, and proud of it, we really should stop and think.
When the public out there can barely understand their own civil and human rights, what chance is there of someone standing up to these horrid pollutants? Or is it that the public really do understand that others have rights, but like the harrassed families unable to control their errant children, are too tired, humiliated and worried about what their neighbours think, to actually say in a loud, authoritative voice, "Stop that! It is not acceptable to act like an obnoxious child!"
I say that more parents need to take control of their children, because they are just children and should not be left to bring themselves up. Parents are not simply caregivers or financial supporters. They shape the next generation. It cannot be left up to the schools, and tactics using force and humiliation do not a civic-minded adult make.
So this, and many other issues involving the stepping-over of personal, moral and political boundaries have been on my mind in the last few weeks. I turned thirty five this month. I will be forty soon and I realised I have spent so much of my life worrying about what people would think if I voiced my opinions too loudly, or simply just followed my own gut instincts. I have come to the conclusion that I am not a champion of issues: I prefer to sail below the radar when it comes to that. But I do mind terribly when my space gets clouded or crowded by people who cannot see past their own selves. These people make me feel judged. They make me feel guilty. They throw tantrums or get weepy and accusing if I decide that my path is not going to follow theirs. And I do believe that there are many of us out there who feel this about people in their lives - even close family members or friends. It's only natural, and maybe some of it is simply in our heads.
I say that no matter what you decide you want to do in your life, someone, somehow, to whatever extent, is going to feel hurt. If it's not your spouse, child, friend, parent or boss or co-worker, then it will be you. the difference comes when you realise that you can be strong enough to take it if someone disses you. And this is something that has come to me in the past few weeks.
I am way too old to care if someone invited me to their party or not, if someone is of a better race than me or not, if somone liked or did not like my husband's last movie/weight/hair/clothes or not. In the end, that someone is not going to pay my bills, not going to bathe my sick body if I get ill, and not going to care a whit if they trample me on their way to happiness.
And I have decided that, I love life, I love my friends, I love fashion, I am not highly religious, and I do not force my children to follow what others want them to do, especially when they feel uncomfortable, especially when they have been brought up to be free spirits (with great expectations of good behaviour).
So if you are of the belief that I should not be having too much fun, or loving my friends, or loving fashion, or making sure I get my kids to sleep on time and that they don't embarrass me or themselves by behaving like people who love to blow their own horn and make sure everyone hears it to the point of discomfort - then we are just different, and be thankful that I am not trying to force you into being like me. I suppose this earth would be too much of a happy but grounded place then, and boy, would that be awful.
And guess what? I can't wait to dance in the aisles during Mamma Mia when it opens!!