Is your life good for you?

posted on: Thursday, 22 May 2014

OK so I did just spend a week pretty much on my own, pondering the meaning of life and wishing there was a cure for the flu virus (I so should have got a flu shot) so you catch me in pensive mood...but...I am wondering: is my life good for me? How does one know? Cue: existential panic!


I spent many years living a life that patently wasn't good for me. I was under the illusion that if I just worked really hard at everything, all the time, that it would all be OK. The net result? Eventually my body just said 'no' and I spent over three years in daily pain and not knowing why. In fact not only did I not know why, but every inkling that it was my life which was making me feel bad, I dismissed. It took me so long to figure out that my body was in revolt; rebelling as a cry for attention. It was the equivalent of a teenager acting out - my stressed muscles in uproar and the resulting tension and pain a daily reminder.

So I made lots of changes and got really serious about my well being. Now my life is a series of little events all held together by the belief that I am better. And I am better - the pain has virtually gone, which delights me, but I am left with some disquiet. I have skirted around this here for a while as it feels wrong to complain. I have been very lucky in that I was able to make changes when they mattered. I had that luxury; so really I have no right now to suggest there is anything wrong.

And there isn't - not really. But this disquiet - I am trying to identify it. I have a friend who stopped working shortly after I did and we speak often about how when we were working (she was a close colleague of mine) we longed for days at home, pottering about the house, sorting our lives in ordered piles. Now we can do this every day, interspersed by the school run, it isn't feeling quite right.

Is this a sign that I need to go back to work?! That feels kinda hasty and circumstances have changed around me, rendering my working like a did before to be an impossibility. I am now wed to being a housewife and I hold everything about our family life in my head like some sort of Mummy encyclopedia. So what now?

Those who know me well and even those who read what I write here will know that too much time to think is not good for me. But I am reaching the conclusion that by not working every day in paid employment I have too much time to think. Is this a common issue? I observe so many other women around me and on line who manage this effortlessly and I wonder - how do they do it? I can fill my time for sure, but these adjectives spring to mind: bored, lonely, questioning, ambivalent. It's not terminal, don't get me wrong, but it's niggling me.

Am I missing some enormous thing? Shouldn't this just be the best thing ever? I have freedom, I am well, I have a beautiful family, I am safe. Time to get a grip?!

Answers on a postcard please...

image via killian and co

8 comments:

  1. Oh we are so alike. I am absolutely nodding along while reading these words. I have so loved my time at home, and I have no problem filling the days. Yoga, coffee, errands...and of course there's always something to be done at home. But I am restless. Part of me doesn't want to admit it, because I really really really cannot go back to the way it was before. I get stressed just thinking about it. But if I am honest with myself, I can say that there is a part of me that is ready to go back to work. To do something anyway. I am worried about what that means and how we will work as a family and how I will make everything happen as a result, and I worry about what it means for the boys, but I am realizing that it is the right answer for us for many reasons. I think the best answer would be a part-time situation, but those are awfully hard to come by and come with their own share of stresses as well. I'm searching for the right thing.

    I do it too. I look around at the SAHMs and wonder if they feel the same thing. They must, at least at times. I see so many who immerse themselves in school volunteering and social planning and going to the gym and shuttling their kids from activity to activity...and I know their lives are full, or at least busy. I have friends who have added activities just for them (joining a chorus or training for races or odd jobs here and there), and perhaps this gives them the fulfillment and satisfaction they need. I can see it. But I haven't found it for myself. Perhaps because I always knew that I would be heading back to work.

    I could go on and on and on... Anyway I so do understand.

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  2. Dear Lou,
    Well ……. I think ….. no, I KNOW that, whatever you were to do with your life, you will NEVER be satisfied { …. and, please don't think that it's a criticism …. it's just the way you are } If you were to go back to work, you will be worrying about whether your giving enough time to your children, your husband, the house, your friends and if you stay at home, you will wonder that you are not fulfilling yourself and not using your intelligence and you will think that you're 'just' a housewife. It must be hard for you ….. could you, maybe, think about going back to work part-time when your son goes to Senior School ? ….. and, just think of the opportunities that will be open to you when they are both at University, work and when they both leave home and have lives of their own ? You will still be young enough to pursue your career then without feeling that you're not giving them enough of your time ….. just a thought. You have just got to face the fact that you are who you are and will always be wondering if the other option is the best. Actually, because of the way you are, none of the options will be the best as you will always question your choices SO ….. you must choose and then, just try and embrace your choice and not worry about what might have been because you will do that whatever. I am lucky as I've never had your problem !!!! haha ….. I LOVE being at home and always have done. I gave up work when I had our children and have never been back to work. I don't feel unfulfilled, inadequate or bored….. but, that's me. You need to embrace who you are, make your choice and go with it and try not to question it.
    Well, that's my take on it but, hey, what do I know ?!! Perhaps you need to be so happy that you have a lovely family, home, health and, I think that I'm right in saying, a lovely lifestyle. Choose and embrace your choice.
    Lots of love and, don't take any notice of me if you think I'm talking a load of rubbish !!!! XXXX

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  3. Lou, please, please enjoy what you have in the here and now! Our lives are so short and you never know what is around the corner and to waste such precious time hankering for greener or just different is so sad. I have had four children who are all grown up now and I can tell you that the time you need to be there most of all for your children is their teenage years. It is a time when hormones rule and so much can go wrong. That doesn't mean you should sacrifice your happiness and well being but just embrace the time and enjoy it - it passes in the blink of an eye.

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  4. I have no idea what to say, I changed my life massively recently and it is almost great, or great almost all of the time but I think, really, that for me the thing that is missing is volunteering. For me doing something outside of myself would make the world of difference. I only say this in case this is the case for you. I hope you find a way to feel good in the now x

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  5. I know that as much as I wish I was home while I'm at work - that if it were possible, now that my child is older, I'd be bored. There is only so much housekeeping, online stuff, etc. that one can do. I would suggest volunteering. Find something dear to your heart and give some time to that, see if that helps.

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  6. give to others less fortunate.Your time perhaps? A friend of mine helps those who are terminally ill to write their life stories or messages for loved ones (she's also a graphic designer and illustrates too.)

    A really beautiful way of giving back whilst incorporating something you love?

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  7. It's like you are inside my head! I feel like this all the time, and I still have young kids that need me every minute! I am already in a panic wondering "what's next" when Gray goes off to kindergarten in two years. You know, I've written about feeling like I was less than, seeing all these women who were able to curate awesome careers while changing diapers, and wondering why can't I do that ?!?! I've had some real low points over that, but recently I've felt a shift. First, there was a post by a yoga teacher of mine (who I love) who was declaring "avid reader" as her job, and then I saw an interview with SJP who was talking about how she basically just reads in her downtime and plays with her kids and for some reason both of those resonated with me so much! I want to read... read like it's my job. Practice yoga like it's my job. I want to learn to take great photographs for my blog, study botany, clean out my closets, take an Asian fusion cooking class, etc, etc, etc. I feel so fortunate that soon I will be able to do those things, like it's some kind of dream world where some people have to work so incredibly hard every day, and I'm in a position where I am worried about what to do with my time. All with the support of my family? What????? Sure, running an empire has its perks, but so does climbing in bed after drop off on a rainy day, and nursing the flu for as long as you'd like. Of course, you know all this, and I sometimes find myself so amazed at how parallel our thoughts are, but I think changing the script in your head is the key. At least for me it was. I often get so worried about what an outsider would say if they knew I read a book all day, or did things just for me, but then I think of all the people without kids who do this every weekend, or those with flexible schedules. They have no qualms about brunching all day and window shopping, or lying in the sun reading. For me I think it comes down to feeling so much guilt that I am so privileged to be able to make these choices and coming to terms with that guilt really changed my outlook. If I wasn't doing it, someone else would, and why not me? I think whenever those feelings creep up I'd like to try to give back, use my time to help others. There really is no better gift you can give than your time, and the luxury of having time to give is the beauty of being in the situation we are.

    Hugs from across the Atlantic.

    xx

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  8. Listen to your heart and not the world. Stop feeling guilty, the time you spend nurturing your children is never wasted. before you know it, they will be gone and you'll have time for the next phase of your life. I speak from experience.

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