There is a saying that comes from Shakespeare about love being an act of will. I will find it again (I lose the reference like every 3 years and hope to find it again and always do)— the idea is that love is work. That humans choose to love. Relationships are a choice, not fate or God or any kind of intervention—there is no evidence that love at first site will last unless there is a will (or two wills) that is making it happen for the long term. We have to want it—we have to will it. (Careful here.)
I choose how to treat S—what words I use, how I ask, how I nurture, how I reprimand—those are my choices. With S, I am so careful and thoughtful about those things. She is so young, I don’t want to be too harsh or too pliable. I want to scold her and explain why she is being reprimanded and then give her hugs and kisses so she knows that it is because I love her that I discipline and correct her.
Yesterday she threw a small, black dish on the floor in a moment of anger and frustration. The dish didn’t break (luckily.) Little S knew it was wrong and she looked at me. I scooped her up and put her in time out (that’s new for us.) I explained to her that it’s not safe to throw things. After that we hugged. A few minutes later she went into the kitchen and swatted me with a dish towel and then threw it violently to ground. She took herself right back to time out. She got it. She was mad and wrong and needed a break. She (at 22 months old) made a choice. She wanted to smack me with a towel and release her frustration by throwing it to the ground. The punishment was worth the release. She self-corrected. Smart baby.
My choices with D aren’t as clear. I am less careful about the words I use, how to ask, how to nurture, how to reprimand. I am more hurtful and thoughtless. And in general in my personal adult relationships, I’m very lazy about how I communicate. I just assume that you are an adult and will ask if you don’t get it, or say something if I hurt your feelings. It’s different than with a child. Isn’t it? I don’t consciously make those choices. Maybe I should be more cautious, more thoughtful.
I am way more careful with people at work. I practice thinking before I speak at work more often than anywhere else. I don’t always get it right, but I try to shut up more in meetings, than to let it rip. That said, I am still known for being outspoken. What’s the choice in that?
What I am so long in getting at is that we have to treat our lives with will. Acts of willing---of doing. What do I want? How do I get it?
Work hard. Make your life good. Make your life better. (It’s not the American dream exactly, just a blurring version of it.) I still believe that I can make changes in my life. I know that I can. I have to know that and do that. I have to use my will to make my life the way that I want it to be. I cannot just let it happen. It will die like a relationship left to nothing. I have to do more.
This is petering out and I have more to say on this, but it’s not coming.