Hard, too, not to be cynical given that I am fighting my way through what must be one of the longest divorces in history! The couple looked very happy, though, and may they remain so for the ‘ever after’ part, too … It does make one think about marriage today, however, and how much has changed. For my part, I always pictured myself married with a family; the natural sequel to my idyllic childhood. A country girl at heart, I hoped I might be lucky enough to live in one of the beautiful houses I played in as a child, when I went to visit school friends; you know, with a long daffodil-lined drive, vast lawns, animals everywhere and space to breathe. Well, the idyllic childhood … tick!
The events in my life over the last five years, however, have led me to question whether one ever really knows someone? I shared a bed with someone for 30 years only to discover that I had no idea who he was! How scary is that? A financial adviser, he used to produce several copies of documents for me to sign and, laughably, I used to comment – as I put pen to paper without a second glance – that I could be signing anything, aka Sue Ellen in Dallas. Even more laughable, I probably was! He was my best friend; I trusted him completely. Does that make me stupid or should we just put it down to naivety and an addiction to ‘The Waltons‘? Nobody, not even now, will convince me that Walton’s mountain does not exist …
The goal posts, today, have changed completely. One can afford to trust no-one and sadly, in my experience, that even includes one’s spouse. I grew up in a family in which the children came first – and we were made to feel that way. We were secure. Pop drove us the 10 miles to school in St Andrews, every morning – always adhering to our rota for the front seat – and, more often than not, collected us in the evening. His day would be spent, a mile or so up the country road from our house, at Stratheden, administering to the needs of his eventual ‘cures’. My mother didn’t work until we were in our teenage years and away all day and we always came home to a yummy home-cooked meal before the family gathered round the fire and the television for some good, wholesome viewing on one of the three channels. Something to discuss with your friends the next day! Then it was prep and bed listening to Radio Luxembourg under the covers. There was never a problem if one of us was ill – we stayed at home with our mother, confident in not being sent to school regardless. Halcyon days long, long gone. Cost of living, feminism, materialism? A combination of all three has destroyed the family of old and a mother at home, devoid of financial independence, is an accident waiting to happen.
Looking at Sarah on Saturday, and the family into which she has married, I am sure she is one of the lucky ones. Becca, however – as so many of her friends – can make no assumptions. Career-minded or not, there is no option for the girl who wants nothing more than to have a family and be a stay-at-home mother; no option for the girl secure enough in herself and her own self-worth to forgo the ‘coveted’ identity bestowed on her by a job. Instead, she must cover her back and ensure against potential betrayal by being financially independent. Those happy to succumb to the rat race may argue that being a stay-at-home mother is the easy option. Big mistake! Rather, it is a vocation and the most important job of all; one which impinges on everyone and everything and the demise of which has been – and will continue to be – far-reaching. The word ‘family’ has been broken and, thus, the very foundation upon which our values are based. The quest for money and the importance placed on image has meant that children can be regarded as little more than assets, farmed out from birth and destined to a life of nannies, breakfast, after-school and holiday clubs. Academic achievement is everything and that place at a top university in order to secure a lucrative position enabling the whole cycle to start again. At what price? Self worth. Put another way, the strength acquired in one’s childhood which is invaluable, enabling one to cope with the cruel realities of life. Take boundless love, security and those all-important family values gleaned from a childhood of nurturing and what emerges is a confident person who cares about others. Those who bully or try to hurt do so because they, themselves, are unhappy with their lot. Self-esteem is all-important and the seeds are planted in one’s childhood. It is not rocket science but the world, today, places no value on simplicity. There’s the rub …
This is my third day of dipping in and out of this and it is hard to recapture my train of thought. I suppose it all started with Sarah’s wedding, last Saturday, and then I found a newspaper excerpt pertaining to the untrustworthy (wonder why I kept that?!) and the inevitable character insight … Actually, it also reminded me of a discussion on ‘Loose Women’ re divorced/separated parents and how none of it should have any bearing on one’s ability to be a good mother or father. Well, forgive me if I have an opinion but it does depend on the circumstances! Let me produce the snippet which was written about a politician found guilty of infidelity:
‘Why should we trust the untrustworthy?
Family values of some have now been exposed.
When a married man has an affair, he cheats, lies, betrays trust and breaks a solemn promise. Conventional ‘wisdom’ seems to be that such a display of dishonesty and selfishness has no bearing on a person’s suitability for high public office. However, a man’s public and family life both demonstrate his value system and character qualities. Why should we trust a political leader who has shown themselves to be untrustworthy? How can a man claim that his child is his priority after destroying his family unit through utterly selfish adultery? …’
Aside from the obvious reason why I cut this out, it is so true.
‘No man is an island …’, my favourite John Donne quote, reminds us that everything one does impinges on somebody else. In the same way, everything one does reflects oneself; one’s character and, more importantly, one’s values. Back to those good, old family values … I wish we could go back.
‘… That’s why they invented families – so hopeless didn’t get the last word!’
Humour me! That’s a little quote from the loveliest of films … ‘Hope Floats‘ with Sandra Bullock. Definitely worth a watch.
Herewith endeth today’s sermon!
This is Trish, signing off.