The Coronavirus has done what nothing else has been able to do. It has kept me away from my grandchildren. April 2020 is the first month that I have missed seeing my grandchildren in more than fifteen years. While the reason for this is out of my control, that does not make it any easier. The oldest grandchildren are granddaughters who are fifteen, thirteen, and seven, who lives in Georgia, and they are used to my monthly visits. Our youngest is grandson Drew who lives in Raleigh.
Our oldest grandchild, Mary Grace, was born in March 2005. I made a commitment when she was born that I have not broken, until this April. The commitment I made was that I would not miss a month seeing her. All of these fifteen years our daughter Tara, Mary Grace’s mother, and her family have lived in Georgia and we have lived in North Carolina, a more than six-hour drive apart. The time it takes to fly between our cities, which I have sometimes done, does not save much time, so I usually make the trip by driving. Until April 2020, when our governor’s stay-at-home order due to the Coronavirus kept me in Raleigh.
While some months our families are together for holidays and other celebrations in Raleigh, most months I make the decision to get in the car and drive to Georgia. The amount of time for my visit varies. Sometimes Mike accompanies me, but for various reasons, including our different schedules, I often make these trips alone.
When Mary Grace was born and I made this commitment, there was no endpoint. I did not determine how long the commitment would last. Two years after Mary Grace was born, Elsie came along, then five years after Elsie, Virginia, and five years later again, Drew. The commitment with Drew is certainly easier since he lives in Raleigh.
I suppose the reason for the commitment is obvious, to be a part of our grandchildren’s lives. As busy as we all are, it would be easy for us to go for several months and not see each other, but we would miss so much if we let that happen. We travel for other reasons, and I decided that there is no better reason to travel than to see these precious children.
There have been a few times in these fifteen years that it has been difficult to make the trip, yet I have done so anyway. I have always thought that once the commitment is broken it will be easier for it to no longer be a commitment. Since the reason I missed this month was totally outside of my control, I am assuming that this will not be the case.
The difference in a commitment and a decision is significant to me. A commitment is much stronger than a decision. The definition of a decision is “making a choice.” The definition of commitment is “a promise, being dedicated, and an obligation that restricts freedom of action.” I read more of a “call to action” in “commitment” than in “decision.”
While I have made many decisions, I have only made three commitments that I have kept for many years. April 28 was the anniversary of my first and longest commitment, my thirty-six-year marriage to Mike. Most people will agree that at the time of marriage, we think we are making a commitment. Whether the marriage is a decision or a commitment will be borne out through the years as life’s trials occur, and we decide to divorce or commit to remaining married.
The second commitment I have made is that of seeing my grandchildren at least once a month, regardless of other activities or even priorities. The months that other priorities have made it very difficult to keep this promise are the times that it is obvious that it is a commitment and not just a decision.
My third commitment is this weekly blog, which I have been writing for more than five years. During these years, I have only missed publishing the weekly blog a few times, and most of those times were in the very beginning. Having this as a commitment has resulted in me writing and posting some weeks when it was not easy to do so, and when I did not really have the energy to do so. Had this been just a decision, it would probably have run its course before now. Similar to not having an endpoint to seeing the grandchildren at least once a month, I do not have an endpoint for the blog. I think I will know when it’s time. Until then, my goal is to continue to “Inspire Positive Change in Work, Life, and Family” through this venue.
There are two other decisions that I made that I hope are commitments, but not enough time has passed for me to be sure that they are in fact commitments. These two are my decisions to not drink alcohol and to maintain my more than fifty-pound weight loss.
Today, May 7, is the one-year anniversary of my decision to not drink alcohol. At that time, I was not making a decision to never drink alcohol again. It was a decision I made for a day at a time. The reason for the decision was to see if it made any difference in me being able to lose weight. One year later and fifty-three pounds lighter is proof that it does. The more time that passes, and the more I see and feel the difference in me due to not drinking alcohol, the closer I get to wanting this to be a commitment, not just a decision. But I am not yet ready to commit to that! I believe that more time must pass before this becomes a commitment.
Time will tell if my weight loss will be maintained. I hope so. I plan for it to be. But I must maintain the weight loss for a longer period of time for it to be a commitment and not just a decision. I will know when I have reached that point.
What about you? Have you made some decisions that are really commitments? If not, do you need to? Your answer to yourself to that question is the only one that matters.