Over the course of the year, normalcy has set in and after years of observing the stay-at-home-mother from across the fence, I found myself neck-deep in all things to do with children and home. The combination of teenage daughter, house build, busy husband, inquisitive, active son left little room for many of the pursuits I had imagined. Not due to lack of time necessarily, but what I found was that all of the things that I longed to do when I was working; have a super-organised house, cook delightful meals, attend every recital and sports match, keep up with friends, be groomed and have painted toenails, they became strangely 'normal' in a fairly short time. This is no bad thing but what I realised is that when you are working and you long for an extended holiday, it's all the sweeter because of the contrast. If there is no contrast in life, the straight-line sameness of it can become cloying.
With our friends on holiday, we had one of those defining, red wine-enhanced conversations. Do you ever find that you can get more of an insight on what your spouse is thinking from hearing him in conversation with others? I think this is a symptom of having been together for over 20 years (yes, really!) where you no longer spend hours and hours discussing your feelings. When you have a life and kids and a house and a million things that need doing, discussions are short-lived and interspersed with other stuff like logistics and cooking and in laws dropping in. So anyway, we got talking about retirement and what it meant. Now to be clear what we meant by 'retirement' was the point at which we will no longer need to work. And I accept that the day we decide we no longer need an income might be a long, long, long way away but nevertheless, we starting discussing what we might do and where we might live.
Of course my first statement was that I wanted to live somewhere with palm trees (see previous post). This is the single biggest requirement for me. And a beach. But beyond that, what I hadn't considered is what I will actually be doing with my time. All of the frantic scheduling and dropping off/picking up of the now will fade away over time. What a thought?! I am not sure what to make of that! Family life becomes so very in-the-moment that it's near impossible to imagine a day without putting the needs of others before mine.
Increasingly since the mid life crisis set up home in my head, I have thought about where we will go when we no longer have to stay at home. Now home is all; it's the hub around which the children's lives whirl and in that spin I am the key facilitator. I make it all happen. But the idea of free-form days somewhere else, with no real agenda is tantalising but also terrifying!
What I do know from my current status is that two things are becoming increasingly important; one is to have company and the other is to have occupation. That may or may not be paid occupation but having something to do is starting to be a requirement. I look around at my peers and see women who have spent years in this state I am in now. They revel in it and to some extent I do too; there is nothing as liberating as knowing you have time tomorrow if it doesn't happen today. But increasingly I consider the possibility of another forty years of this and feel that I have more in me to give.
The big question is: what shall I do??!!