Thursday, August 16, 2012

Redefining Compromise: Finding A Place to Belong

Compromise: [kom-pruh-mayhz] N. A settlement of differences by reciprocal modification of demands

When I became a mother, one of the most surprising (and to be honest, challenging) traits I had to quickly embrace was flexibility.  When it's just you, and even after you're married for the most part, you live life according to what fits you. In my pre-child existence, I had a vision of what I wanted my life to be: what was important to me and what I believed. When children come into your life, compromise obviously becomes necessary, and indeed vital.  And when they're small, there are the obvious adjustments to your lifestyle - sleeping patterns, social life, etc. But as they grow older, compromise becomes deeper, more meaningful. Not only is flexibility demanded in how you live your life, but also in how you grow as a person.

My oldest son is an amazing child. He is quirky and hilarious, loving and empathetic. He has an imagination the size of the moon, and gives the best hugs in the world. But, my Big Guy also marches to the beat of his very own, distinctly unique, slightly awkward, drummer. And, although he has played soccer for four years now, I don't think that drummer plays a samba beat.

Now, if you know my husband and me, or have read this blog before, or have any sort of acquaintance with us at all, you know that we are obsessed with soccer is a lifeblood in our family unit.  But just recently, my Big Guy has admitted to us that he has only continued playing to please us. Looking back, it was fairly evident. He wasn't the goal-scorer or even the most determined defender. My son just doesn't have an aggressive bone in his body. While some boys his age thrive on competition, Big Guy doesn't see winning as the be-all, end-all. He just wants to run and learn and be a kid.

My dear, sweet boy isn't a soccer player. Talk about deviating from the vision...and the need for compromise.

The Big Guy is only 8 and although he hasn't found a passion for any 'traditional' sport, that doesn't necessarily mean he never will. Maybe his coordination and drive will mature along with him. He takes swim lessons and really enjoys it.  Perhaps he will want to continue with swimming beyond just instruction, but time will tell. But for now, it has to be hard for him, seeing his classmates and peers playing and excelling at soccer, baseball, basketball, you name it. And we certainly aren't going to be another source of pressure, pushing him to do something that doesn't (and may never) feel natural or fun for him.

Where to go from here? As parents, of course we are intent on finding something for my son that makes him happy. A place to explore his world. Somewhere that offers him a place to develop his own personality and grow at his own pace. An environment in which his seemingly endless compassion can blossom in service to others. A  place where he, wacky drummer and all, can flourish. Somewhere he fits.

And this is where it gets hard.

The place where he can find what he is seeking might be the Boy Scouts of America.

Compromise: [kom-pruh-mayz] V. To make a dishonorable or shameful concession.
Simple human rights for the LBGT community is something I have enormously strong feelings about.  I can't wrap my mind around the fact that this has ever been, and especially that it is STILL an issue. People are people in my book, and why would who they love matter to me? The more love in the world the better.  So it bewilders me that people want to restrict rights, discriminate and crucify (well, it seems that way!) It is the year 2012, right?

So herein lies the dilemma. The Boy Scouts of America deny membership to openly gay individuals. I swore up and down, from the time my first ultrasound showed I was carrying a boy, that he would never, EVER be part of such a discriminatory organization. I haven't exactly been reserved about sharing how I feel, either.

And yet, here we are. Can I get past this? Am I selling out? Because that's exactly what it feels like. I have struggled internally and prayed, I have solicited opinions, and discussed this ad nauseum with anyone willing to listen. Because while I want to teach both my sons the value of a compromise (N), I am also afraid of teaching them to compromise (V).

It's bottom line time. I like to think of myself as a person whose convictions are rock solid. But I also know myself as a mother whose first priority is and always will be her children - their heath, well-being and their happiness. When it comes right down to it, I have to do what is best for my child. If the Boy Scouts are the ones who will help my son find his place in this world, so be it. But should the Scouts become a long-term fixture in our lives, make no mistake -  someday I will have taught him to believe so strongly in what is right and human and decent, that he will use the character-building and leadership skills they teach him to affect change within their own organization. And work from the inside out to bring the Scouts into the future without prejudice.

It's been a long journey of soul-searching...from admitting to ourselves that our son is not exactly what we'd envisioned, but is perfect nonetheless; to realizing what our duties as parents are, and fulfilling them in spite of having to alter our approach to society's issues.

Compromise. If my son has found a place to belong, we've done it right.

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