I think everybody wants to feel that there are people in the world who really get them, who understand them deeply on every level. Not “Oh, you’re that cranky mom who is always complaining about something at daycare,” or “You’re always fighting authority.” That’s one-dimensional. We are all more than that.
Who could ever imagine my children would be the people who would turn out to know me best, better than I knew myself? A few months ago, I was going through a personal crisis. I wrote a blog post about my dilemma: whether to fight for justice (long and difficult, no guarantee of success) or to just lie low and hope the problem would go away (easier on the psyche, but allowing injustice to stand could be more painful in the long run). I asked a lot of friends and colleagues. Nearly everyone said, “Nah, let it go. Get on with your life. Keep your head down and try to live with it until it fades into an unpleasant memory.” This seemed very appealing at the time. I was worn out, beaten down and really hurting. I didn’t know if I had the energy to mount a fight. It seemed as though my friends were giving me permission to give up – something I really appreciated because I knew it came from a place of concern for my emotional well-being.
Not my sons, though. “Mom, you have to fight,” they each said to me, in separate conversations. “Don’t let them get away with it. If you do, they will keep on taking shots at you. You have to show them they can’t do this to you ever again.” I tried to explain that I was feeling tired and old and needed to preserve my energy for them and the rest of the family. “No,” they each said. “This isn’t you. YOU don’t let injustice stand. I know you will regret it later.”
So I fought back. I had to file a formal complaint and go through two meetings to defend my position. It was horrible, even though I had excellent representation by a brilliant friend. Although I knew that the natural response of an opponent is to pull out all the stops and talk serious trash about the person fighting back, it really hurt a lot.
By the time of the second meeting, I was ready to just quit. My friend convinced me to go through with it, as he had done some research and had new angles to discuss. I agreed, but after an hour and a half in the meeting, I had had enough. We took a break and I said to my friend, “I’m ready to plea bargain.”
I never understood why innocent people would plea bargain. I always thought it was the fear of a longer sentence, but NOW I KNOW. It’s to end the unbearable routine of gearing up for hearings/meetings and then having to listen while others say awful untrue things about you, while you remain civil and try not to cry and/or gouge out their eyeballs.
In my situation, I was not even risking a longer “sentence” – I was seeking rescission of the “sentence” entirely. Even if I did not prevail at this second meeting, there were several further avenues through which to seek justice and there was really nothing to lose by pressing onward – EXCEPT MY SANITY. So I told my friend that I was willing to have the “sentence” stand, but with a reduced time frame. In other words, I would stop fighting if the authorities removed the “sentence” after a shorter period of time than they had originally decreed. I told him I trusted him to do his best on my behalf, and I went home.
My masterful friend let me know later that evening that our offer of a shortened sentence had been accepted. By their willingness to make a deal, I knew the authorities had heard me. They saw another side to the scenario – my side – and acted accordingly. This acknowledgement was crucial to my quest for justice.
The next morning, I woke up without a huge knot in my stomach for the first time in 5 months. NOW I could get back to living my life, doing my work, helping my family, healing my soul and moving on.
But there were more rewards to come, far beyond a shortened sentence and the absence of stomach knots. I told MYS-27 about the deal and thanked him for his support and wisdom. He said, “Mom, you know why I knew you had to fight this? Because you fought for MOS-32 and for me all of our lives, when we needed help or were wronged or misunderstood. It’s the way you’re made.” I then told MOS-32 and thanked him for his help also. He said, “Mom, I’m really proud of you for seeing this through and finding justice you could live with. You did the right thing.”
Oh my. In my wildest dreams, I never thought I would hear such affirming words coming from my children. When I was changing their diapers and driving them hither and yon, as all of you young moms are doing now for your kids, I could never have imagined that those little boys would grow up not only to love me, but to know and understand me so profoundly.
The next time you feel overwhelmed or incompetent, my dear fellow moms, please remember that this is what awaits you. It’s totally worth it.