Professor Jennifer aka treewoman operating in the field (literally)

Decision: a conclusion or resolution reached after consideration

Synonyms – resolution, conclusion, settlement, comittment, determination

All decisions have consequences. The fact of this, the realization, gives rise to similar feelings in all of us. Fear, anxiety, self-doubt, alarm, insecurity and a host of other things with a similar potential to induce paralysis. On the craggy precipice of a decision we can take a backward step, fail to make the jump and allow instead circumstances to follow a path beyond our influence, whether we like what that amounts to or not. We can look around for someone to share the responsibility with, making it easier to be directive knowing the consequences aren’t our own fault entirely. Or we can excuse ourselves, passing the buck to someone else and cloaking the refusal in a feigned sensibility of our own limitations – ‘he or she is the only one who can make that sort of decision…’ ‘He or she is far better at evaluating that sort of thing….’ Sometimes there’s truth in this, and sometimes there isn’t.

Of course, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with seeking good counsel, listening to advice and soliciting plenty of information before making a decision – it’s the best thing a person can do, whatever their level of competence. But, ultimately, a decision, whatever it concerns, is a very personal way-point in the journey of our individual experience. We are the decisions we make.

For the purposes of my ephemeral blog, the above is simply preamble (what a brilliant word? A Pre-Amble. Just an early stroll around the bonny landscape of a subject, stopping to smell the flowers, dawdling at the foot of the steps to Serious Pondering…). Where I’m actually headed with this is into the realm of decision-making as a single parent, particularly of teenagers. It’s a bit of a leap I know, but I think we may have just successfully made the jump – everybody ok?

I have to make decisions every day, very serious ones, about the nuts and bolts of Planning submissions, about the present and future wellbeing of trees, about the processes of my small business and so on, and so on. In other words I have to make decisions rooted in my professional experiences every day of my life, but what I want to get off my chest, to admit, is that none of them are in any way as difficult as the complex decision-making requirement one encounters as a single mum. This is just the truth.

In my professional life I’ve been described as ‘Bossy’, ‘Blunt’, ‘Brusque (? not totally sure what that one means…)’, ‘Uncompromising’, and ‘Bold’. Probably also a good many other things behind my back but that’s a blog for another wet Sunday. It interests me that this collection of terms, though they may appear superficially critical, are actually quite accurate and not really that negative at work. But I didn’t learn to be this kind of a decision-maker at work. No, no. I’ve had to be the last-word for my small family, knowing that, if I’m wrong, there’s only me to deal with the fallout. I’ve had to deal with the painful tension between my endlessly supportive maternal role and my responsibility to give calm, clear, logical advice even when I know such advice is likely to meet with dismay and resistance. I’ve had to momentarily wonder what the best thing for me personally would be in a given situation, then dismiss the thought as utterly irrelevant while I pursue someone else’s best interests. I’ve lost sleep over what to do for the best, and I’ve been angry at myself. I’ve despaired at what I knew I had to do but done it anyway. And then I’ve found a way to let go. I’ve learned that being wrong is never the end of something, it’s just the beginning of a runaway shit-storm that requires further urgent decisive intervention, often involving the hasty scoffing of a massive humble-pie, before it spirals into full-on disaster. If I’m what you might call a successful parent it’s because I’ve learned, and learned,and learned and I’m still here, learning.

It really irritates me then, to be asked when filling out a form for whatever reason, “Mr, Mrs or Ms?”. Whoa! here’s another 90 degree pivot around a static central point but I think it’s worth it. This irritates me to such a degree that I’m likely to take issue with whoever wants to know. Why is my marital or non-marital status noteworthy? Who’s business is it but my own? What does a particular honorific signify?

“Oh well,” they sometimes say nervously, “It’s just so that, if we call you, we know how best to address you…” At this point I usually offer Professor or The Right Honorable. But you know, I do have a name. And most derivations of it are acceptable to me. Jacqueline, Jacks, Jacqui, JW, Jaydubbs and even Jennifer, which is what one acquaintance stubbornly insists on calling me even though I’ve corrected him several times over several years 🙂 .

I think what I’d like is the invention of a titular prefix to my name that acknowledges the huge impact on my identity that the conscientious, single-handed raising of my off-spring has delivered. Something signalling that impudent fools will be vigorously put down, a lack of common sense in our exchanges will not be tolerated and talking to me like I’m the second best thing to my (invisible) husband could result in actual bodily harm.

Ok, that’s it, I’m uncompromisingly done now.


The Right Responsible