A friend of mine is leaving a company where he's been employed in various positions for the past several years. His most recent role was in a position that reported directly to the president of the company. He is not leaving because he was offered a better position at another company. In fact, he will be unemployed when he walks out the door on Friday.
When I asked him why he would make such a move, especially given this economy, his answer was simple.
"I was ineffective in my job because I'd been with the company so long."
In fact, he found that people from the bottom up to the top of the chain of command considered him to still be the expert on all of his former positions, and so he kept being asked to fill in if needed. It happened more often than not. My friend, not wanting to offend, obliged. And because he obliged so often, he found himself stuck in the mire of the past.
History is a powerful thing. Trying to break free from history is almost impossible. I know.
I have a volatile history when it comes to parenting my children. Divorced at 21 with a three-year-old, I was just growing up myself when I had to be the sole responsible adult for another life. I was a mistake waiting to happen. I had no skills, no money, and no patience for dealing with a child. More often than not, anger got the better of me out of sheer frustration at my inability to handle my life.
Later, when the next two came along, I was more mature but still had anger issues to deal with from my own childhood. Thankfully my husband was there to diffuse most of it. However, one common phrase I remember from the kids' childhood is "Mom's mad again."
Thankfully, those days are mostly in the past now. But like my friend who relives his past jobs, I find myself reliving my past angers through their eyes. Because they remember, these children of mine, what I used to be like. They project my past onto who and what I am today.
That history, it's a bugger.
The child who was three when I was 21 is now a father of two. While he takes care to parent his children with love, he has inherited the same frustration challenges I had at a much younger age. Every time I see him become angry with his children, I remember how I was with him and wish over and over I could take it back - each and every moment.
If I could, I swear I'd be more patient. I would listen more. I would love harder. I'd think less of myself and more of him. I would be a real mom.
My heart, and my mind, would change. And with it, my history.