Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Never-Changing First Chair

The First Chair is a term of achievement - in most cases a prestigious accomplishment that accompanies hard work and a strong desire for success.

Orchestral first chair refers to the principal performer in each of the musical instrument sections.

Musicians in all sections vie for this metal, wood or plastic seat - proof of musical superiority.

In law the first chair indicates the lead attorney in a court case. He or she decides what actions, research and game plan are to be used to try and win. First chair in a victorious case can catapult an attorney's career.

Yet it isn't only musicians and attorneys that hold this, much sought after, blue-ribbon achievement. Every day many first chair persons of note are celebrated. In hospitals and bedrooms across the globe children are being born and women are becoming mothers. They do not have to work harder or train longer for this position. It is an automatic - like addressing her as Mrs. from the moment she becomes a married woman.

This is a position that does not receive the level of education that a classically trained musician receives. Nor is it preceded by a bachelor of science and law degree that are necessary for a lawyer to pursue his or her career.

As newborns are being welcomed into the world, all over the world, women are being placed into a first-chair position - no vying necessary. Some women become mothers unexpectedly while others have dreamed about it for years. Regardless, the position is filled by inexperienced women with no training or education to prepare them.

All of a sudden they are responsible for feeding, nurturing and caring for this infant. True, there are those who renounce the position and put their child up for adoption, as well as those who have professional nannies to help in sharing the daily responsibilities of raising the child. Others have great partners who share the workload fifty fifty. But to that child, there is only one person who answers to the call of Mommy.

Motherhood is the most prestigious, most important first chair position ever created.  Becoming a mother is special. A mother's watch is round the clock. There is no clocking out. Whether she is awake or sleeping, at home or at work, she answers to the call of her baby, her child, her teenager and her young adult. She never stops answering the call.

The woman who answers to the title, Mother, is not necessarily the woman who birthed the child. She is, however, the one the child calls Mom. She is the one who is there to kiss the boo-boos and chase away the monsters under the bed. She is the one who listens to the fears, wipes away the tears and rallies when her child is in need. She is everything to her child.

Remember, there was no manual available when she undertook this challenging position. It was on the job training ... and she moved forward, often blindly, trying to do the right thing and make the right decision.

Every day, as mothers, we are put to the test. Some days you feel you've done a great job and are deserving of first chair status, other days you're not so sure. You may often feel under appreciated or not worthy of being a mom. There are times when you make a decision that turns out to be the wrong one and you feel guilty and grieve. But think about this ...

Not once did your love waiver. Never did your confusion, frustration or anger deter you from being your child's biggest fan and most ardent advocate. Your unconditional love for your child has surrounded everything that you have done. Musicians and attorneys come and go as first chair.  Mothers are the directors of their children's future and, as we all know, no one sits in the director's chair but the director.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Dear Important Person (you know who you are)

Following an unfortunate loss, a young woman who took her own life when she could no longer cope, I write this open letter to each and every one of us ...

Dear Important Person,

Science and spirit do not occur exclusively. There is a distinct connection and coexistence to each. The yin and yang of it. The in and out, the up and down. The pull of gravity and the release of the helium-filled balloon. The life giving and the life taking. The inhaling of  oxygen and exhaling of carbon dioxide. 

The exchange is mutual, involuntary and essential to life, yet, sometimes life seems to be painfully fraught with one despair after the other. It doesn't appear to be worthwhile and it often appears insurmountable.

The natural way of life is this: it is given without asking and it is taken without choice. It is not our choice to take it. It never was and it never will be. It is God given and God taken.

From the very first breath drawn by a newborn to the last expelled by one leaving this physical earth, know this, even if nothing else makes sense: You Are Necessary. Your place here, your breath, your participation in the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. You are a part of the plan. Of the big picture. You.

That is the science of it. But what of the spirit? You are the warm, nestling, breathing body - the person that fills in another. Without you, someone, many in most cases, will be lost. You are their saving grace. You.

Make no mistake - each and every one of us is a part of the plan. Do not take this lightly. Your contribution is an integral part of the whole.

Today, as crazy, wonderful, challenging or deceptive as it might appear, know this one thing: You are necessary. So very necessary. You are a part of this world. No one belongs more than you. And no one belongs less than you. We are all the irrevocable heavenly dominions of the world.

Please, when despair sets in, place yourself in the big picture - the one that includes the sky, the stars, the grass, the trees, the people who love you and who are loved by you. If seeing the big picture doesn't do it for you, seek help. You are a much needed part, a beautiful person and there is help. The best gift you can give someone who loves you is getting help for yourself. Please, you are not alone.