Responsibility Is A Natural Beauty

From infancy on, my parents instinctively did what most parents do:  teach kids to do for themselves.  First it was holding a spoon so I could eat when hungry (or so they didn’t have to play airplane with the smashed green beans and open their mouths wide to prompt me to do the same).  Then it progressed to walking, talking and potty training. 

As a parent, I can fully appreciate the job my parents did.  I’m a bit neurotic, paranoid and germ-phobic, but in spite of this, I think they did pretty well (considering what they had to work with).  I can empathize with the struggles they must have had, because I struggle too.  My parental urge is to “make it all better,” but my sensible side warns, “they need to feel the pain; they need to learn.” 

Earlier this week, my husband called me during my morning commute to work.

Hubby:  “Is <older son’s> backpack in your car?”

Me:  “I don’t know.”

Hubby:  “Can you check?”

Me:  “I’m on the freeway.  Hold on.  I’ll see if I can feel it.”  (It was still dark and people brake for no reason, so I wasn’t taking my eyes off the road.)

Me:  “Yep, it’s here.”

Hubby:  “Where are you?”

Me:  “Almost to work.”  (Which meant I was thirty miles away from home)

Hubby:  “Great.”  (Laced with sarcasm)

Me:  “Well, he needs to keep track of his stuff.  He’ll have to find something else to use.”

Backpack ready to be tripped over

For a split-second, I considered driving back home to take my son his backpack.  But “making it better” and saving the day would deprive him of a valuable learning experience.  He needed to know what accountability and consequences feel like.  (He got a taste of it when he lost his wallet and all of his Christmas money, but apparently he was due for a refresher.)

This got me thinking about the whole “responsibility” thing.  I’ve heard comments from adults lamenting the torture of responsibility.  How did responsibility get a bad rap, anyway?  Sure, some aspects of responsibility aren’t glamorous, like paying bills, making tough life decisions or going to work every day, but it has a beautiful side, too.

Responsibility creates an environment where we have an opportunity to manage our finances, so we can own a house, plan retirement savings, start college funds, plan vacations or schedule household projects.  Responsibility is the workhorse that is at the core of our family.  It does much of the work, gets very little credit and takes the blame when life isn’t the carefree existence we imagine it should be.

Responsibility allows me to handle the mundane necessities of life and leaves me (barely) enough time to chase dreams by writing blog posts, poems, short stories and novels.  My words have the potential to make a reader laugh, or cry (in a good way, I hope), or even prompt them into action when they think, “ick, I can do better than that.”  My words can be used to encourage others or strip them of hope – it is my responsibility to choose.

Responsibility is an ugly-beautiful package and I embrace it as such; just like I do my equally imperfect self (and neighbors).  Thank you for reading this post.  It is but one sliver of a larger dream and it was brought to you by the letter “R.”  Yay, responsibility!  Why am I the only one cheering?

image via Wikipedia

By the way, my son was the only kid walking home with his school work in a plastic grocery bag.  I bet he keeps better track of his back pack in the future.  Well, maybe for the next few weeks at least.

Tell me, do you see the “beauty” or the “beast” in responsibility?

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19 thoughts on “Responsibility Is A Natural Beauty

  1. Aligaeta February 10, 2011 / 7:56 AM

    Oh, no, not the dreaded plastic grocery bag! It was a tough lesson learned, I’m sure.

    As for the letter B: The “beauty” of responsibility comes with the pride of productivity and personal growth. Where as the “beast” of responsibility would be the tiresome effort and struggle which comes from meeting ones responsibility to self and society. How dreadful it would be if there were only the “beast” of responsibility without the “beauty”, the rewards.

    • jannatwrites February 10, 2011 / 9:44 PM

      Your comment sums it up beautifully, Aligaeta. I agree that responsibility is both, beauty and beast, even though sometimes it seems that the difficulties seem to outweigh the rewards. I do think that recognizing the good aspects of responsibility keeps the not-so-good parts from taking over our minds.

  2. 2blu2btru February 10, 2011 / 9:47 AM

    At the moment, I see the beast. I don’t have the job or pay to see the beauty most days. I see bills and deadlines instead of a nice emergency fund, fully funded retirement fund, paid of student loans, the ability to take trips…I basically work for my supper and to keep a roof over my head and a running car at my disposal. I’d probably trade in responsibility for time to write my novel/ short stories and give this writing thing an honest try.

    • jannatwrites February 10, 2011 / 10:00 PM

      Money is a big part of responsibility, but responsibility stretches into other areas of our life, as well – like writing. Abundance of money isn’t a requirement for responsibility to blossom. For us, there will be no family vacation that doesn’t involve dropping in on relatives, and our emergency fund and retirement plans are undernourished, but responsibility prompts us to do the best with what we’ve got.

      You’ve got responsibility in your writing to choose your words – you’ve got the power to make the reader FEEL something. You’re responsible for arranging the words to tell a story that needs to be told in a way that only you can tell it. Your words can make a lasting impression. That’s the pretty side of responsibility and it can’t be taken away by the not-so-pleasant parts of responsibility 🙂

  3. 36x37 February 10, 2011 / 11:07 AM

    I sometimes thing responsibility is THE most important thing a parent can teach a child. Without a basic understanding of what responsibility is and how it feels, an adult’s ability to survive in a social and financial sense suddenly becomes infinitely harder.

    Very well written, thought provoking post. Nicely done!

    • jannatwrites February 10, 2011 / 10:03 PM

      Thank you for your nice and supportive comment, 36×37. Responsibility is a huge thing for a child to learn (and for me to teach, it turns out.) I’ll know how it turns out in fifteen years or so 🙂

  4. Carol Ann Hoel February 10, 2011 / 11:14 AM

    Thank you for sharing words of wisdom, Janna.

    When hard times hit my life, my sense of responsibility kept me coping. Honoring my God-given responsibilities kept me from dwelling only on my sorrows. The sad opposite is also true: Responsibilities shunned are sure to lead to a ruined life. Blessings to you, Janna…

    • jannatwrites February 10, 2011 / 10:10 PM

      My words and ‘wisdom’ aren’t generally used in the same sentence, so I appreciate you doing that, Carol!

      You’ve got a great attitude about responsibility. It serves a purpose and it’s only as miserable as we let our minds make it out to be. Thank you for sharing your spiritual take on responsibility – fits perfectly with the post 😉

  5. nrhatch February 10, 2011 / 12:15 PM

    Loved this post, Janna.

    Learning to manage our thoughts, feelings, actions, deeds, and emotions by making Response-Able choices can be difficult, but it’s worth it . . . after all, our freedom is at stake.

    • jannatwrites February 10, 2011 / 10:14 PM

      Thank you, Nancy. I am glad that you enjoyed it.

      “Response-Able” – I like that! I agree that resonsibility and personal freedom go hand-in-hand.

  6. Hilary Clark February 10, 2011 / 12:59 PM

    I’m grateful my parents taught me responsibility. Because they did their “job”, following through on my responsibilities affords me the freedom to play, to veg, to write, and to work.

    It also allows me to make the occasional “frivolous” purchase because being responsible, to me, means weighing the pros and cons of purchasing something that would ordinarily qualify as an impulse buy. (They also taught me to frugal, which I interpret as “responsible with money”.)

    Responsibility keeps me honest and there is tremendous beauty in honesty.

    • jannatwrites February 10, 2011 / 10:16 PM

      Great comment, Hilary. It sounds like your parents did well. I’m sure they are proud of how you are.

      By the way, I really like the last line: “Responsibility keeps me honest and there is tremendous beauty in honesty.” So true!

  7. Brown Eyed Mystic February 10, 2011 / 5:09 PM

    Lovely post!

    I consider the R word as a mix of both worlds–it’s more like the way I twist it, you know? For example, if it’s dinner time and I am supposed to cook, I may think of it as a beast. Because, well, otherwise I could have been reading some interesting book, or perhaps “researching” online (all of which I love).

    So when the R word urges me to do something I don’t particularly enjoy, it becomes a beastie 😉 And when it urges me to, say, write, or read, it becomes a dear, dear friend.

    I know I shouldn’t be biased. But what the heck. I shouldn’t be dishonest while commenting either!

    -BrownEyed

    • jannatwrites February 10, 2011 / 10:21 PM

      Thank you, BrownEyed! You’ve hit on a key thing about responsibility – it is all in how we perceive it. Our mind affects whether we think it’s good or bad (just like it does with other areas in our life – and even our physical health.)

      It sounds like you’ve got a healthy love-hate relationship with responsibility. I do appreciate your honesty 😉

  8. Desi February 23, 2011 / 10:02 PM

    When you mentioned about your son’s backpack, my mind was directed to recall an event that took place during my senior year in high school. There came a day when study sessions were not conducted, because my school organized a thanksgiving program at the church (the church is in vicinity of the school). Since not all of the students in my school are christians, they were allowed to step out of the program on one condition, the rest of the students not taking part must be good boys and girls in their respective classrooms, and nobody was excused to be absent from school that day! For some reasons, I have decided to have nothing to do with the program, though I’m a christian myself, and even meditated on not going to school. The teachers won’t be teaching, what’s the point? So I wound up staying at home away from school on that day, although the teachers initially sent out warnings and “threats” to those who dared to do so, unless they were sick or confronted with unavoidable circumstances. I wasn’t afraid, because others were doing just the same thing. It wasn’t out of the ordinary to be absent from school, was it? 🙂 After all, the teachers can’t be that serious. They wouldn’t bother to extort letters from my parents! But I was wrong. My teacher was really serious when he said he expected a sick letter from parents in any case of absence. I thought I could “talked” Mum to write a letter stating I’m sick or anything to cover me up. When my Mum knew about it, she did the same thing as you when your son forgot his backpack. My Mum wanted me to see the consequences of my actions and bear it. She won’t lie for me. She did write a letter to my teacher, but it’s not a sick letter. SHE TOLD HIM THE TRUTH!

    • jannatwrites February 23, 2011 / 10:20 PM

      Ouch. Too bad you misjudged that one! Did you get in a lot of trouble with the teacher?

      I don’t think my parents would have covered for me either. My only hope would’ve been to ask ahead of time. At my high school, they had “Senior Ditch Day” where the Seniors skipped school to go to the lake. It wasn’t much of a secret when the day rolled around, because, like your teacher, there were threats of consequences. I was the biggest chicken ever, so I ended up at school while about half of the senior class did who-knows-what all day at the lake.

      • Desi February 23, 2011 / 10:38 PM

        Well, luckily, I didn’t get into trouble when he read the letter. I didn’t have any choice because he said I must, in any way, present a letter or some acceptable excuse to justify my absence. In the letter, my Mum mentioned that my absence was a deliberate action and that, to my surprise, she even acknowledged that she was part of the scheme as well because she didn’t try hard enough to stop me from not going to school. She stated her regrets, and promised it won’t be repeated. My jaw dropped open. Not literally though! 🙂 Apparently, my teacher was quite amazed with such honest letter and later, he spotted me with a puzzling look and asked “why did your Mum write that way?”. I briefly explained that it was because she wouldn’t lie for me. He accepted what I said. Game over. 🙂

        • jannatwrites February 23, 2011 / 10:47 PM

          Ha! That worked out well. I like the way she did the letter, though. It gave credibility to your absence, but didn’t get you completely off the responsibility hook. This experience has another good lesson, though. It’s a reminder that honesty, though painful at times, results in better outcomes (and lighter conscience) than a well-spun lie.

          Thanks for sharing the the outcome of your experience, Desi. I feel like I just read the ending to a really good book and now I can close my eyes and welcome a good night’s sleep and pleasant dreams.

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