I have managed, and meted out, a lot of futility experiences over the years as it concerns my kids. So often I am in the position of having to say 'no' and it is healthy for them to experience the resoluteness of that and the sadness of not being able to effect change in their circumstances; these experiences help them to adapt and to know that they can survive the futility of those things they cannot change.
Sometimes, unwillingly, I face futility myself. And I suppose that's good for me to experience, too.
I recently experienced a disappointment that was the result of someone else's decision about me and my children. It was something that I really, really wanted, and it was going to impact how we do school in the coming year. But the answer was no and, given that I can do nothing to change or otherwise effect this outcome, I am faced with how to manage my own futility about the situation.
This 'no' brings up baggage issues for me...feelings of rejection mostly. I want to be clear that the decision I'm sad about had nothing to do with me at a personal level - I wasn't, in fact, being rejected at a personal level. But my baggage predisposes me to feeling it as a rejection and I struggle with this. I struggle with not feeling good enough. Just not enough.
As I've meandered my way through the first six years of being 40-something, I've actually become much more comfortable in my own skin than ever I was previously. I'm more comfortable being a larger woman (though not necessarily happy about it), I'm Ok knowing that not everyone is going to like me, I'm Ok having differences of opinion and even occasionally addressing issues of conflict that arise, I'm mostly Ok parenting in a style that is different than most other people in my life, and I'm usually Ok asserting my opinion.
But all of these things are slightly different than feeling the pain of rejection, whether intended or not. I've been stressed these last few days as I have begun to process this recent hurdle: I've noticed myself over-talking and even interrupting; I've offered a few too many opinions and critical comments; and I've been anxious and not sleeping well.
What I didn't do for a number of days was simply feel the sadness of that decision on my life, on our lives. And the truth of it is that I am sad more than any of those other feelings. I have no desire to get into the details of what happened, but it was something that I was really, really hoping for, something that I wanted to pour myself into, something that I wanted my children to experience, something that would have changed our next year and beyond. I'm sad that we're going to miss out on all of that. I'm sad that I won't be able to make the contributions I was gearing up to jump into. I'm sad that my kids will miss out on something that I thought would be really good for them as we foray a little into the world of unschooling.
I'll adapt, I know I will. And I'll be ok. Things are as they were meant to be, and my sadness about what I cannot change will orchestrate my adaptation and resilience. But for now, for just a little while, I think it's ok to just be sad because the answer wasn't what I so badly wanted to hear.