Forgive me my ramblings today. I’m in a reflective mood so feel free to skip over this. But in the event you are wondering what is going on in our lives, here it is:
Do you ever have those periods in life where everything is possible and nothing is possible at the same time? Here I sit on my son’s last day of 8th grade wondering what in the &^*# I’m doing. I have a soon-to-be high schooler! Four more years and he’s out the door. Four more Christmases, four more Easters, four more Mother’s Days where he’s obligated to attend. You get it. And the next one is cautiously entering middle school next year after listening to her brother complain about said school for the last 3 years. She’ll be better equipped to handle it, just like most younger siblings are. And then it’ll be just her in the house (most likely). All of our attention turned toward her? That can’t be a good thing.
Since I last wrote in this blog I left the car dealership to allow those much more talented than I to take over, and returned to nursing. School nursing, to be precise. So theoretically I have the entire summer off and stretched before me with very few obligations. Ahh, the pluses of being a school nurse. But I threw a monkey wrench in things. I decided not to return to Hellgate Elementary next year, so in reality I’m unemployed. Or does that not technically happen until the next school year starts? Can I still call this vacation? Or do I rename my occupation with a trendy moniker like SAHM (stay at home mom)? Am I between jobs? Taking a break? None of those fit me quite right; sort of like that piece of clothing you bought at that store you never go into but for some reason did that one day and it seemed like a good idea at the time to buy that outfit but somehow it has never fit quite right since you brought it home but you already cut the tags off so you’re stuck with it. Sure, it passes for those occasional times you venture out in it because you have no other options, but you relegate it to the back of the closet between times even though you should probably cut your losses and just give it away. So it’s hard to think about this time as vacation when I have no idea how far I’ll need to stretch my budget or when I may discover a new career that will start at some inopportune time, I’m sure. If I’m lucky. (Shannon is rolling his eyes right now. He doesn’t share my same fears). And what makes me think I have earned the right to take a break??? What about all those other people in the world who deserve it so much more than I do? What kind of wimp am I?
I’ve been thinking about Sheryl Sandberg and her Lean In philosophy quite a bit. I wonder if her perspective on that has changed since tragedy struck her family? Does she regret some of her decisions now? I certainly do not want to judge and for her sake, I hope she doesn’t have any regrets. But does she have new words of wisdom now? And where are we as a family in all this? Our lives became so hectic and most evening conversations became focused on logistics – who is going where when with whom and how? We were like an intro to journalism class that could never graduate to the next class. Yet, we’re only a family of 4 and have the support of family to help. We have a home, we have insurance, our kids are in a few activities they enjoy, and we’re all healthy. We are so incredibly fortunate. Why did it become so hard? Why is is suddenly so impossible to fit in hair cuts, dentist appointments, orthodontist appointments, wellness visits, soccer practice, gymnastics and piano, homework, the grocery store, lunch preparation? I gave up on most cleaning, home maintenance and social time long ago. It felt like we were both leaning in hard but somehow we were still slipping. HOW DO OTHER PEOPLE DO IT!?!
Where did my youthful optimism and mojo go that has somehow slowly been replaced by indecision and trepidation? While I love the idea that I have time to spend with my kids and can ferry them to where they need to go and life has suddenly opened up so everyone can breathe a bit, am I doing the right thing? Am I leaning in, as Sheryl asks? No. Have I fallen victim to the stereotypical female need to please? Probably. Am I living a good example for my kids? Who knows. I feel like I’m back in 2nd grade on the Monforton School playground merry-go-round. It was one of those old-fashioned ones with wood seats that you never see anymore. We’d get it spinning really fast and everyone would pile on at once before it got too fast and you risked missing the seat and getting knocked under and being hit by the hardware underneath; the unfortunate kids getting slivers in their legs if they picked the wrong seat to jump on. And then after a bit I’d start to feel sick from all the motion and eventually jump off, only to discover that even though my stomach felt better, it wasn’t much fun to stand and watch everyone else enjoying the ride. Yet staying on and throwing up didn’t seem like a great option, either. Quite the conundrum. I just didn’t realize at the time that life itself would sometimes be like that.
So where does that leave me? For now, I am trying my best to relax, to take pleasure in the little things in life, to take the dog for walks, to putter in the garden, and enjoy the opportunity to ferry kids around. It’s hit-or-miss right now as to whether I can give myself permission to do so but mostly it’s good. I applied for a job yesterday. It seemed like a very natural thing to do (although I hate applying for jobs) because I just can’t imagine us living off of one income ad infinitum, but Shannon perhaps summed it (me) best. “You’re one day into your vacation and you’ve already applied for a job? You’re lousy at taking a break.” Maybe I am rushing things a bit. Or not.