My dad has so many favorite expressions I could fill a book with them. Here’s one: “Youth is wasted on the young.” Sounds silly at first hearing, but think about it. All that energy and exuberance. Wow! My 22-year-old son shoveled a foot of snow off our porch, steps and down our long walk – in record time. I’d have a heart attack just thinking about doing it. I would never attempt it. But there he went, did it and is no worse for the wear.
Harnessing that energy at my age would be remarkable. But would I really want to go back and do it all again? I used to think I wanted to. I longed for a life do-over. To be able to go back with the knowledge that I have now. As youth diminishes, wisdom increases. That’s not a coincidence. And with the wisdom I have been accumulating of late I am sure I don’t want to go back. I don’t want to start over. I’m smarter than I was. A lot smarter. I can step back from situations and not get broiled into circumstances that don’t concern me. I can walk away in my mind – just disassociate. It’s a pretty neat trick actually.
I wouldn’t want to be a young adult these days. And I have four such creatures living under my roof! Lately though I truly have been able to step back to give my sons the needed space to succeed or fail. And I understand why I am able to do that: because I have a life of my own separate from theirs. I’m not “Mommy.” I’m Mom. I’m Maureen. I’m me without four little ones hanging on.
I like it. I’ve written about the niche I’ve carved for myself – my home within my home – my Happy Place upstairs away from the video game fighting and juvenile banter. Maybe this would have occurred earlier had I had girls. I’ve missed that side of life. But I’m not crying over spilled milk; I’m happy for what I am discovering these days.
Every week I buy myself a new bouquet of flowers and choose a vase from my extensive and dusty collection which for years has lain dormant 99.999% of the time. And I put those flowers right in front of me on my desk. They are mine. I’m big into mine right now. I really am. Maybe that sounds selfish, but that’s how I feel. For how many years had my primary concern been my children? 25. That’s right, 25.
Yesterday is a prime example of extracting some time for myself. My day had revolved around my mom and the pre-testing she needed done at the hospital. Returning home my sister-in-law and I noticed my dad’s dilemma. He had had something frozen off his forehead two days earlier. His eyes were red and swollen and he looked miserable. We got him squared away and we left, she to her house and me to mine. But mine is 45 minutes away on a sunny day.
We were just beginning to get the forecasted foot of snow. The temperature hovered right at 32 degrees. All that water on the road was about to turn to ice; it was just a matter of when. “When” happened to be at the exact time I was driving…crawling…toward home. I am not a wimp in the snow. I’ve lived in the Midwest my whole life. I have four-wheel drive. Nothing seemed to matter, except for the fact that I was smart enough to know I had to go 30 MPH if I wanted to get my Jeep and me home in one piece. Oh what a hideous drive! But I arrived safe and sound. Had to spend some time with my hubby even though all I wanted to do was climb to the solitude of my Happy Place.
At 8:30 I finally came up here and I must have subconsciously breathed a huge sigh of relief. I could finally do what I wanted to do, and that was write. I have a column due tomorrow. After about half an hour my son came home with his girlfriend. I went downstairs. I said hi. And I ran right back up for hours. I’m sure hubby thought me crazy and possibly rude. Too bad. Would I have wanted my parents hanging around my boyfriend and me when I was 24? I don’t think so!
I wrote and wrote and wrote. And writing makes me happy. I wish you the courage, because sometimes that’s what it takes, to do something that makes you happy today. The heck with everybody else. Make the time…for you.
Copyright 2010 Maureen Locher