Taking the Road you Never Wished to Travel

Intellectually, we know John Lennon nailed it, ” Life is what happens to you when you are busy making other plans.” Truly owning that sentiment is something else. For me, an inveterate planner (right down to March and May babies for Kindergarten-readiness) with a proven track record of turning the plan into a reality, this lesson required radical acceptance.

The Plan

Loving, supportive, husband and dedicated family man? Check. White picket fence? Check. Large, loving and functional family?  Check. Enough money to make choices? Check.  After a chaotic childhood, this girl was going by the rulebook.

 Psychoanalyze Much?

I come from a biological family with an unbroken chain of generational dysfunction as deep as the roots on the family tree. Alcoholism and mental illness and their attendant heartbreak and drama were my schema. I wanted out.  As luck would have it, I turned out to be both a bootstrap puller and gifted by the universe with a fairly sturdy set of bootstraps. Healthy coping skills and resiliency enabled me to be the one to slither from the water to the mud and take the next evolutionary step in my family’s lineage.

Turning Form Into Function

I can’t say enough about making a great choice in a mate. Hubs and I have been a solid team from the start; we celebrate 27 years of marriage August 1. When we married at 23 and 24, he went in eyes wide open to my family situation. We raised our four children with purpose—they are now 19, 21, 24 and 29—and lived a largely joy-filled suburban life enjoying our children and our families, friends and neighbors, our home and each other. We weathered, with sadness and grief, but in appropriate doses, the premature lung cancer deaths of my mother and sister.

Ummm, Where Are You Going With This?

This is the first post in a series and serves as an introduction.  Many of you will have a story with parallels to mine. In fact, I believe Tolstoy got it wrong with his pronouncement “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” I think the truth is that families, like life, exist on a continuum. It’s more about spending as much time as you can on the happiness end. Sometimes life will require you do a stint at the opposite end; the best you can hope for is to show some grace while you’re there. At least that’s what life is teaching me; what have been your big life lessons?

Published on: July 21, 2014
About the Author
Photo of Jennifer Denise Ouellette

Jennifer Denise Ouellette is the author of the blog Juggling Life, which is also her two-word autobiography. She is the mother of four, an Allied Health Program Director for a vocational school, and an activist who uses social media to draw attention to the needs of those with eating disorders and their families.

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