Lost Opportunties

Lost Opportunties

I always wanted to travel, but have always carried a heavy load of responsibility, which kept me shackled to place and time. I do regret the lost opportunities for travel, and career advancement, which in my case was integrally linked to travel. Sometimes bad things happen to good people. Life goes on, if we are lucky.

For instance, I had a chance to spend a few weeks at Oxford University, but the host did not want my children along. It was a trip, not a move, so it would have been possible to take my children with me. All through graduate school I was a single Mom, my girls and I were a family, and of course my children would go wherever I needed to go. There was no one else to provide childcare while I pursued opportunities. The Oxford opportunity went to another female Graduate Student, who did not have children, and so was acceptable.

An ironic experience I had at an academic conference, where I was chairing a session on Feminism, was a lunch meeting involving Professors teaching feminism at Canadian Universities, all women, all individuals professing “equality” for women. The chair of the meeting made reservations for us at a restaurant. I had to bring my children with me to the conference, which the chair knew; there was no one else to care for them, and they could not be left alone. They behaved beautifully, particularly considering how monumentally boring the whole affair must have been for them. At the door to the restaurant where the lunch meeting had been planned, I was informed that the children would not be welcome there, and we were refused entry. The “Feminists” passed on by us as if we were not there, proceeded into the restaurant to the meeting, without me. I was chastised by a few Feminist colleagues for my lack of “collegiality”. This is a serious “black mark” in the academy. It seemed to me, on this and many other occasions, that “professional feminism” is oxymoronic. The corruptive nature of power and expediency is not gender specific. I do not respect “isms” that act out “the end justifies the means”; even if I am the intended beneficiary.

Occasionally my friends were in a position to help out with childcare. They know who they are, and hopefully how much their good will meant to me, and to the girls. They helped my little family believe in humanity through some very trying times.

Because I could not legally move from the location I lived in, I had to turn down many prestigious scholarships and opportunities for study and work, at home and abroad. To leave my children behind, so as to pursue these opportunities, was unthinkable. My first husband, the father of my daughters, was hostile to my career. His wish was to “trip” me up, which he stated on more than one occasion. He used every impediment legally available to attempt to place the children and myself in a subsidized housing development, Ontario Housing. He seemed unable to put the best interest of the children before his “vendetta” towards me, another term he used on several occasions. The threatening letters from him and his lawyers stopped at the same time Terra, the youngest, was no longer a dependent, and therefore no longer leverage for legal actions against me. He never succeeded in any legal action he instigated against me, or in forcing us into rough neighbourhoods. My girls grew up in pleasant neighbourhoods, paid for by my pension fund, which I exhausted in the process. I may not have had the opportunity to advance in my career, or save any pension for my old age, but I did my best for my girls.

I still would love to travel! Who knows, perhaps if I make it into my late seventies and early eighties I will be able to get around a bit!

Worldly Distractions


Date: 12:00 PM EST Thursday 16 January 2014
Condition: Cloudy
Pressure: 101.1 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -4.7°C
Dewpoint: -9.7°C
Humidity: 68%
Wind: SSE 28 gust 43 km/h
Wind Chill: -12


“There is nothing worse than aggressive stupidity.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
1749 – 1832


  1. Bex

    I’d support rounding up all the ex-husbands and putting them aboard one of those private rocket ships to the moon and leaving them up there to guard the place. Good place for them!

  2. It’s always a treat to hear more about your life, Maggie.
    Not all exes are A-holes, but it sure seems like a lot are.
    Which is why they were left in the first place.
    Too bad they’re so hard or even impossible to shake off.
    You (generic “you”) are still stuck with dealing with them in one way or another.
    Frustrating for so many.
    Been there!

  3. “The sins of the father” may have been written with unbalanced exes in mind; their misdemeanours can take on biblical proportions, in keeping with the subtle and not so subtle advantages males enjoy!

    Kate, I agree that there are some wonderfully balanced males, some of whom are fathers, out there, They are usually living in relative peace, harmony, and respect, with the people they love. My first marriage was more than unfortunate, I have forgiven myself, but the universe is not so forgiving. However, subsequent relationships with males have been rich and nourishing, for myself and miraculously for my daughters.

  4. Thanks Tom. I have been traveling the globe with Google Earth, which inspires the imagination. The real wonder of travel though, for me, would be meeting people, learning about them, witnessing their lives, and sharing mine.

  5. This essay evoked a range of emotions that made me dizzy. Seriously. I think my blood pressure reached a record peak.

    What the hell is wrong with people!

    I always joke that women started burning bras the week after I married – hence, I was not much affected by the feminist movement. I was the little wifey. I was okay with that really. I wasn’t very forward thinking, and because my own childhood was so non-traditional, I thrived on the perceived normalcy of my marriage. Of course there was n-o-t-h-i-n-g normal. I left after 22 years. As a single parent I continued my career of parenting. I took on lots of jobs, though, to provide shelter and food for David while the older two were in college. Life was tiny.

    The only time I slid into a controlled rage was when I brought David to a party attended by my closest friends. Like your children, David had impeccable manners. Even as a squirt he was engaging with interesting conversation. One of the men at the party chastised me for bringing David, while also in attendance a single father had brought his daughter and everyone thought it was adorable. Why is it that people find single fathers so adorable and we single mothers are yesterday’s hash? The slight I experienced was pabulum in comparison to yours. I was offended by the double standard, while your experience reeked of hypocrisy and uber insensitivity.

    I am so sorry about your missed opportunities. I think we all can look back at missed chapters that maybe would have better completed our story. Or maybe not.

    Maggie, I hope you have an opportunity to travel. People think I’ve traveled a lot and I haven’t. It just takes a few well chosen destinations to gather life-changing memories. xoxo

  6. I can see why the double standard applied to your David engendered rage! He was one bad apple, the man with the mouth. I notice though, that you, and David, are no worse for wear, and are leading happy and productive lives. The bad apple is stuck with himself, and the cloud of misery that he creates in his own aura follows him everywhere.

    Interesting about single fathers. In my experience, they get a lot more credit and a lot more support than single Mom’s. It is a dubious honour though, because as far as I can determine that generous support is based on the general perception that they aren’t supposed to be very good at what they are doing.

    I knew only one single father at grad school. His mother did most of the childcare though, and he lived with her, so he wasn’t really a single parent. But he did have some responsibility. I know this because I overheard a conversation between professors on his PhD committee, while they were collaborating over a few drinks in the bar, about his lack of collegiality, and how it was grounds to terminate his studies. His studies were terminated shortly thereafter, and lack of collegiality was one of the grounds used to support his termination. His supposed lack of collegiality, as I heard it discussed, was not being able to give a paper at a conference, because he was suddenly responsible for his child when his mother was hospitalized. It would have been interesting to know what kind of research interests the committee members based their careers on, hopefully they weren’t spouting humanitarian views in their work, but it would not surprise me. Many a career has been built on the backs of espoused beneficiaries.

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