IntrepidWoman's Journey

Life in ‘the home’ continues, thank goodness. . .

Posted on: February 24, 2012

When I was young (I was going to write younger, but that is not accurate), life was full of drama. It seemed like one traumatic event right after another and some overlapping to keep me in a state of stress and frustration. I always felt like everything around me controlled me and I controlled very little (except maybe what was on the menu for the next meal and not even that very often was under my control.)Finances were out of control. My jobs were draining, never paying enough, and they kept me away from home too much. There was no such thing as free time or time for myself. Such is the life of a parent and more so for a single parent. The responsibility to do it all ‘right’ was overwhelming for all those years.

To those of the next generation who understand what I am saying, take notice! It actually does pass. You miss the joyful parts of those years after they are gone, but you finally get to stop and smell the flowers. It takes a long time to think of yourself first, but it eventually happens. I actually felt guilty If I ‘wasted time’ reading a book when I should have been doing something else like worrying about all the ‘what ifs’ when I was young.

For some reason (not sure why), I always put my job too high on the list of important things. I did my best and brought the rest home to think about after hours. I was still doing this until my second bout of cancer over a year ago. A health crisis really makes you come to a halt and examine the quality of your life. Best test – ask yourself this: “If I was to die today, would I be happy with where I am right now in my life?” The answer helps to put some things in perspective.

I currently work with an awesome team of women who are dedicated and passionate but work way too hard and way too much. I watch people putting their work ahead of their families and know I did that myself when my boys were growing up. I wonder why we do this.

This week, we lost a staff member who was laid off due to budget constraints. It was a shock. She worked hard and will be missed. Our team dynamic will not be the same. It made me very sad when I found out, but she will move on and so will our work team.

For me, it confirmed what I have been feeling rather strongly for the last year. A person is not their job. Your job is not your life. Your job should not define you.

When my sons were pre-teens I went to a teachers’ convention, and in one session we were asked to write down 10 things we did for fun. I sat there, looking at my blank paper and feeling a sense of guilt. I finally asked for a clarification. “What do you mean?” I queried. The presenter replied, “Things you do in your spare time for fun, just for you.”  I was devastated. There was not one thing I could think of. My days consisted of working long hours, coming home to cook, clean, chauffer, etc. etc. and fall into bed exhausted, only to begin again the next day. Weekends were catch-up for laundry, shopping, marking school work…

Even though this was hard to accept, there was nothing I could do about it. My circumstances controlled my life. When the boys all left home, I had an identity crisis. I could not figure out who I was. I was not a mother if they were grown and did not rely on me, and when I took early retirement from teaching, I was not a teacher anymore, but who was I? What was I? I struggled with that for a long time.

Now that I am old, and I say this ‘old’ word with great satisfaction, I realize that like all women, I am one with many hats. I have juggled hats since I turned 20 and got married at such a young age. Now I realize I do not have to wear a name tag and do not have to keep the same hat on.

Now that I am old, I can proclaim that my current job is awesome – totally satisfying, challenging and often overwhelming, but it is not who I am.

Now that I am old, I can decide to say ‘yes’ to requests and also say ‘no’ with only a bit of guilt when I am tired and need time to myself.

I live in ‘the home’ and it is lovely and serene. Each day I come home, turn the key in the lock, walk in, survey my oasis and thank God for my blessings. Each and every day since I moved in here I have been doing that.

When I have a week at work that knocks the stuffing out of me, I take a day of my weekend and stay in my jammies. I nap, read, knit, cook a little, watch a little “Big Bang Theory” and nap again. After 24 hours I feel rested, de-stressed and ready to tackle a few home chores. Or not.

Now that I am old, it is all about me. I am working on giving myself some nice things like massages and manicures. At least I think about it. I haven’t quite got there yet, but I am getting closer.

Life in the home continues, thank goodness. The ‘what ifs’ down the road do not matter at the moment. My contentment lies within each day, feeling grateful and keeping things in perspective.

There are lots of things I could worry about, but if I could get all the time back that I worried about things that never happened in my youth, it would amount to years. I know that does not mean that life is never going to throw another curve ball my way or bring pain and sorrow. There will be more valleys and more mountain tops. My goal is to stay in the now and be grateful for whatever comes my way.

I am old, but I still have dreams and plans for when I retire in a year and a half. I have learned that my plans may fly out the window and my dreams may disappear because of life’s curve balls, but I will not worry about that now.

Right now, I am old and content. My life is what I make it. I expect tomorrow to be a good day and if it is not so much, then I will rejoice at its’ end and look forward to the day after.

And there is always Bailey’s and ice. In a tall glass.

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2 Responses to "Life in ‘the home’ continues, thank goodness. . ."

I think we work way too hard and then others work on playing way too hard. I think we should strive for balance but that’s hard to do. Good for you that you are happy with where you are. I hope to get there again, maybe not soon, but eventually. That is my wish before I die.

Balance in life is a difficult thing to find but a good goal to have when you are young and as you continue to age. Whether you are good at finding it or not, never beat yourself up about it. We all need to be kinder and more forgiving of ourselves. Life is hard and we do the best we can at the time!

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