History will judge our generation harshly, and rightly so.  All of our blather about choice, as if death’s venue matters.  The snuffing out of an innocent life is wrong whether it takes place in a concentration camp, a movie theater, or a mother’s womb.

Back in 2004, I took my oldest son, Aaron, to a “Phatmass” get together in Dallas, Texas.  Pro life organizations had booths set up and one table in particular had a business card sized hand-out with a picture on one side showing an aborted baby’s severed arm superimposed over the face of a dime.  The back side had a picture of a mass grave at Dachau.  That has stuck with me over the years.

Whenever I hear somebody start talking about a woman’s right to choose the death of the baby growing inside her, I think of the free southern gentleman’s right to own slaves.  I think of a corrupt government’s right to abduct and torture political dissidents.  I don’t think about hearts and flowers.

When I read popular accounts of satisfaction or regret over life decisions, I’ve focused more on the positive side, along the lines of the Facebook status update staple from Steven Covey:

How many on their deathbeds wished they’d spent more time at the office – or watching TV?  The answer is, No one.” ~ Stephen Covey

Well, I found one today.  Some strange bird on HuffPo (yes, I read widely) said this past summer:

 In some cosmic way I feel that I let down a generation of women who made it possible to dream big, even though I know the real goal of the Women’s Movement was to be able to dream anything. ~Lisa Endlich Heffernan

She’s talking about her regret about having decided to be a stay at home mom.  The subtle, underlying assumption, is an economic argument.  Only a career, money, and all the trappings can truly make a person happy.  It is a very one-sided article.  Her basic arguments were:

I let down those who went before me.  Therefore, it follows that so did every other SAHM who refused to jump on the radical feminist bandwagon.  Your misplaced devotion to people you never knew and don’t give a damn about you is stunning.

I used my driver’s license far more than my degrees.  Because stock trading is so much more important than parenting.  Points deducted for focusing on things instead of people.

My kids think I did nothing.  In the spirit of magnanimity, I’ll only say that no, they aren’t as vapid as you make them out to be.  One point of extra credit for at least focusing on people, even if it was in an icky, dysfunctional sort of way.

My world narrowed.  For the sole reason that you weren’t in the traditional workforce?  The world is as broad or as narrow as you make it.  No points deducted.  No extra credit.  Ten percent off coupon for an ADT alarm system to protect you from the suburban SAHMs you just accused of being Stepford Wives.

I got sucked into a mountain of volunteer work.  And that put you into contact with tons of all varieties of people, but since you didn’t get paid for it, it didn’t count.  Five point deduction for again focusing on things instead of people.

I worried more.  Focusing on your children at a granular level, I think you said.  When you’re commanding the trading floor for your company, you can afford to pay others to worry about your kids.  Actually, I see this as a positive, because worry can be productive.  We are becoming worse as a society because nobody is worrying about the kids.  At the granular level.  In fact, the more eyes we have on the children, on the street, the safer we all are.  Ten points of extra credit because you cared.

I slipped into a more traditional marriage.  This is the one that floored me.  Traditional marriage here is a bad thing, according to Lisa.  She’d rather come home from work in a “blinding haze of exhaustion” and too tired to pay attention to the kids, than to pick up her husband’s dry cleaning.

I became outdated.  She is angry that she didn’t get to keep up with the latest in cutting edge technology and software.  Taking back the ten points because (sigh) again, you focus on things and not people.  You’re bummed because Lotus Notes clutched its chest and died on somebody else’s watch?

I lowered my sights and lost confidence.  This is Lisa’s biggest regret, and she blames it on being a SAHM.  Confidence in what? Her value as a person.  She is upset because, during the time it took to raise her children, she became obsolete in her former profession.  Out of compassion, and because Lisa’s article was a culturally conditioned response, no points will be deducted, however no extra credit will be assigned.

In certain aspects, I don’t blame her for feeling as she does.  She probably still has a ton of student loan debt and her job training went to waste.  Lets not confuse this debt with having received an education, because they are two vastly different things and it appears she only received job training.  Had she received an education, she would have valued her SAHM status for what it was:  Freedom from the narrowly structured world of work, with all of the glorious possibilities that entails.  The world of work is still structured for men.  It punishes women for being women.  For having children.  For needing to breastfeed at inconvenient times.  And all sorts of other things.  The SAHM world, on the other hand, due much in part to the advancements in technology and all of these labor saving devices we have now, allows mom to explore, to learn, to grow, to home school, to volunteer, to acquire skills that allow for the upgrade from SAHM to WAHM.

Education should be seen as a lifelong endeavor that has value for its own sake.  Job training, and even the idea of a university degree, has some value but this value is limited.  It is becoming more and more limited the more expensive “education” becomes.

But education can be as cheap or as expensive as you let it become.  It can be as cheap as an on-loan library book or a downloaded public domain Google Books Project file on your e-book reader.  It can be as expensive as an Ivy League degree and the years of loan-slavery that ensue or as costly as the misguided notion that the only worthwhile work takes place in the external economy.

I would contend that in many cases today, if you’ve set aside a nice nest egg for your child’s education, you might instead buy them a house with it.  Make it a smaller house that is easy to heat and cool, and you’ll be doing them another favor.  They will be years ahead of the game.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that I am anti-education.  I’m two-thirds of a way through a master’s degree.  I’m attaining it with no educational debt, too.  I’m credentialed in my chosen field, and I read broadly and deeply.  Fiction and non-fiction.  Books and journals.  Also, don’t make the mistake of thinking that if you go to a college or university, that you’ll get an education.  What you will most likely get is saddled with massive debt.

“Police SWAT teams spent more than four hours combing Under Armour’s 530,000-square-foot headquarters in the Locust Point section of Baltimore after receiving a phone call Sunday afternoon with an unspecified threat to the building.”  -WSJ

I’m sorry, but a story that begins with “SWAT teams spent…hours combing Under Armour” is mega.  It just doesn’t get any more “money” than that.

image

I made a decision this week to return to blogging here at Uncommon Sense, instead of at the other venues I’ve been using, if for no other reason than simplicity’s sake.  If you recall, I began this blog on November 3rd way back in 2007, after taking a buy-out from the factory job I’d been at for 12 years, zipping off to San Antonio for a few months to work as a recruiting officer for the ROTC at UTSA, and then quitting that job and hightailing it back to the Hoosier State.  I sold insurance for almost a year the spring after starting the blog, quit the insurance job around the first anniversary of the blog because I was asked to take an active duty tour at National Guard Bureau in Arlington, Virginia.

Never quit your job until you have another one.

I say that because as soon as I quit my job, I was told there were problems with the funding for my NGB tour.  I didn’t end up going until July of 2009.  Did another temp gig during the wait as a recruiter for ROTC, this time at Western Illinois University.  Definitely been a whirlwind of activity since giving up the humdrum life of an assembly line worker all those years ago.

I’m just rambling a bit as I look back over those six years.  But there is a history chronicled here that I loathe to give up.  I can’t say that you’ll always find the content relevant to your life, but I will try to keep it interesting.  Stay tuned.

ImageKing Hussein hasn’t signed a single budget since he was crowned in 2008.  What we have had is a series of continuing resolutions.  Budget passage requires bipartisan support, and that is something that his majesty has never been able to muster.

Listen, we can live without this government.  When I say that, I am talking about the government in its current form where normal resembles blood in the streets of Benghazi, an attorney general who sells guns to Mexican drug cartels so they can kill U.S. citizens walks the streets a free man and a steward in the kingly court, wholesale federalization of a quarter of the nation’s economy was allowed to pass into law without a single vote from one of the two political parties, the NSA is given free rein to spy on its own citizens with abandon, the National Park Service police evidently think that because of the shut down they can forbid squirrels from collecting acorns and cars from traveling public roads that run past national monuments, and where the king’s leadership is of such a think gruel, we are about to default on our financial obligations.

I say let him default.

We don’t need this expansionist government, so let it fail.  Let it all fall down into pieces on the ground.  And when that happens, and the king without a country shows us that he doesn’t have what it takes to pick up the pieces and re-unite America, when he fails us on the global stage and in front of the whole world, maybe then we will begin to understand that we need leadership in D.C.

And that King Hussein is incapable of giving us the leadership we need.

Tawnya was putting some words down on paper today about a recent experience the family had, and probably didn’t know I was feeling the same thing.  Here’s my feeble attempt.  I’m sure many of you have experienced similar, since we all get attached to place, and to the constant landscape of our everyday surroundings.

ImageShe stood at the ready from the day we brought her home from Wabash, that shiny green Dodge Caravan with the ice cold air and power locks and windows.  It was only the second vehicle we’d ever bought new, but with the addition of Steven to the family, we needed something that could cart us all around.  From that day she was a constant part of our lives.  Until a couple of weeks ago, that is.  After fourteen years and over 200,000 miles, I turned my back on her and without so much as a Judas kiss, took a $200 check from the junkyard owners who said she’d be crushed within a week.

We never really named her, but she took us to the grocery store, to the hospital, to Universal Studios for a road trip the kids planned and enjoyed while we were home schooling them.  Aaron and Sierra, they still laugh about the Backstreet Boys cassette tape they played the entire trip.  She almost bit the dust when water from a flooded street got into the intake and shut the engine down.  Insurance revived her.  Almost lost her when she catapulted a deer off of her hood one frosty autumn morning while taking Tawnya to work at Burger King.  Insurance came to the rescue again and within a week she was back in the driveway.  She took us to Texas and back in 2004, to Washington D.C. and back in 2010, and if it weren’t for rust so bad you couldn’t slide the doors open, I swear to God I would have plunked down another wad of money to keep her around for another couple of years.  But it was time.  As I looked back through digital photo albums looking for a picture of her to post here (who takes pictures of their vehicles?), I realize just how much time has passed. 

I’ll get some sleep and this melancholy feeling will pass, and I’ll wonder later why I got so sentimental.  But really, I already know why.  Our DNA was smeared on her windows like the spit a mother uses to clean her children’s faces.  It was worn into the carpets where Steven and Megan’s crayons fell and got trapped in the seat tracks.  Smoothed like a caress where our fingers wore spots into the steering wheel.  Every scrape we painted, weather strip we lovingly tugged back into place, picture we smirkingly took of gape-mouthed sleepyheads in the back seat on long trips, she was just full of us.  Just a van, just an inanimate piece of Detroit workmanship.

Fourteen plus years, unless it was just me, we usually chose her to make the run and she was always there.  There’s another van in my driveway now, but there will always be a place in the driveway of my heart for her dear frame.  If I was even a bit emo, maybe I would have had the family gather around her to say goodbye before I took her to the crushing yard. 

Maybe being emo like that wouldn’t have been a bad thing.

20130801_072906I take back roads to work most days, following the Big Blue River route. After last year’s drought, this year’s corn is so high the de-tasselers are going to have to take step-ladders with them. The last part of July until now has been particularly cool, too, which allows easy fog formation in low lying areas.

August snuck up on us this year, and school starts on the fifth, so it will be just Sissy and me driving West Virginia for her college orientation.  The activity filled day coincided with the first day of school.  This is a far cry from the days when the school year ended after Memorial Day and didn’t start back up until after Labor Day.  Those summers used to stretch on forever, and I miss them terribly.

So many things have happened since the last time I posted an update, I don’t want to blast it all out in one sitting.  I’ll take my time, so come back soon.  I’ll put some coffee on and talk.

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