Prudent vs. Pluck

My mom didn’t always play it safe. Her tales of partying and drug use back in college are wild enough to scare… well, her mom. Okay, my mom has played it pretty close to safe her whole life.

For someone so similar to her in looks, interests, and hobbies, I couldn’t be more different. Hi, I’m Pluck, and my mother is Prudent.

I do things that terrify my mother. When I was little, it was my love of heights and complete disregard for my own safety. As a teenager, I decided my sport of choice was going to be pole vaulting, and my mother’s risk of heart attack grew.

pole vault freeze frame
(All this with spiky shoes)

College was crazy. Can anybody really look back at college and remember it as anything but? After college, though, my mom thought she could finally stop worrying about me when I got my teaching credential. I’d have steady employment, I’d be happy, I’d be doing exactly the same things every day that she had been doing literally my entire life.

My mom went to college, and then between having three babies, of which I am number two, she got her teaching credential, got a job at the same place she did her student teaching, and is still teaching there 28 years later. She’s rocking it. She’s the department head, she mentors new teachers, she’s well loved by all her students. She also teaches college classes at night because she’s just that good.

My first teaching job, however, was at an international school in Malaysia. Between being offered the job and landing in Asia, I had exactly 10 days. 10 days for my mom to process the idea that my life was going to be far from stable and predictable. That she’d be worried indefinitely.

After Malaysia came Boy Scout camp, and after that came Morocco. It wasn’t until after my teaching career crashed and burned in Morocco and I came home with my tail between my legs that my Mother and I started to understand each other.

I’m not calm. I’m not content. She is. You know all the things that they tell you you’re supposed to do to learn how to be happy? My mother does all those things naturally. She’s optimistic, she appreciates small things, she’s grateful, she takes moments to breathe and calm herself, she’s basically a far-Eastern guru without the yoga.

I, however, run from idea to idea trying to make the most of this one life I get to live… or have to live, depending on my state of mind. She understands this about me now. She told me recently that she spent my entire childhood trying to get me to calm down because she was trying to give me the best life possible. And if I would just take a breath, look around, and see that everything is good here, I’d be fine. I’d be happy. I just couldn’t do that, though. I still can’t, though, believe me, I try. All the time. My mom said that she wishes she would have helped me channel all my energy rather than try to suppress it. “I should have helped you be the best Lorelle you can be,” she told me recently.

Turns out, neither of us is exactly right. That stable life that my mom was trying to offer me just doesn’t exist any more. The job market is so volatile, and the structure of the working world changes so rapidly that once stable careers are now obsolete, and who knows how long the new job titles will stay relevant? I quit teaching, and am now trying to change careers. Nothing makes you crave prudence like unemployment. But, I’m still me. I’ve got pluck. I’m going to need both to survive another day.





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