I have just finished reading a book called “Weird—Because Normal Isn’t Working.” I freely admit that this book is written from a Christian perspective (certainly applicable to other religions also), there are some things in it that have hit me. Actually, I am pretty “weird.”
|My closet. I have enough!|
This is not a book report. But it is about the busyness of life and how much TIME we spend working for THINGS and how it’s all out of balance. This book claims “normal” in our culture is crazy-busy.
I am past the stage where kids are wearing me out but even at that time of life, we had (financially forced, I will admit) guidelines as to how much we as a family were going to allow. I have alluded to the “grades first” and for us, that wasn’t such a difficult thing, but if it had been more challenging, that’s where the focus would have been. I have known educators whose kids were failing and I never quite understood how this happened in an educator’s family, especially when we had computers to check our kids’ grades weekly. If there was an issue, we were on it EARLY!
Enough of that. People ask me how I have time to do the things I have done with the Reunion and I am going to tackle this.
- I work part time. I am able to do this because my husband and I have agreed to spend this season of life living beneath the former income. We do not spend much money on entertainment, although we do like to visit with folks and we like to take walks.
- I work for a classmate who gives me flexibility in some of the things we are doing, the perfect example being our luncheons. If I worked in a normal situation, I would not be attending the luncheons and I would not be able to do all the things I do. It’s simple as that.
- I have a partner who does a lot around the house. Although I hesitate to use the word “demand” and I am not some kind of witch, the answer to this is simple; a sweet smile and “I can quit my job and take care of all of this and I will be happy to do that!” Because he still wants me working, he holds up his end of the deal. This frees me for other activities too
- I do not help my kids. They are both independent of me. My son lives with us as I write this, but we rarely see him and honestly have to seek him out. He comes in from—let’s say, umpiring a baseball game—and he usually has a story about that, he gets something to eat and heads to the basement where the only conversation I may have with him the rest of the night is on Facebook. He could live in Alaska! We see our new granddaughter approximately every 7-10 days, but when Jess settles back into her work routine soon, we might see Kyah once a month. Both kids email and text me regularly. I am not out of the loop, but I am not “involved” in their lives and dramas. They are independent of me and both have partners that they share their lives with.
- I count the cost of each activity I take part in. This is “reunion year” so I have taken a leave from choir and praise team, my Thursday night Bible study, teaching Vacation Bible School and taking a dance class; but have kept reunion meetings and teaching my adult ladies Sunday school class. This really is fundamentally what we did with kids; only one sport or activity a season, and church, and that was all.
- For this time period, I am free of worrying about my mother’s health and/or my husband’s health (and it goes without saying my own!). I realize that in another year, five years, ten years, I may be in a different place. I will reorder priorities. I plan to retire completely in 2015. Hopefully there is no overlap.
Each of us as individuals and as households must make these decisions, but I hear time and again how “we HAVE” to work these hours, only to be too exhausted to enjoy any leisure time. We are all reminded we are not spring chickens anymore! Other than the necessity of health insurance, which I know IS the hot topic of our generation, I have to ask, why are we doing this? To have an extra (vacation) home? To take more trips? To provide for our grown children? To have pretty things (whatever that means)? To have more “toys?” (Yes, we still do not have a High Def TV but I’ll admit I would like one) Maybe it’s just me, but I see a lot of these desires, and it comes at the cost of health and stress levels.
As many of my closest friends know, I don’t have much stuff and I don’t do much stuff. Going to luncheons is a big deal for me. Going to see James Taylor and Carole King last year was HUGE! Going to see Paul McCartney this year is my HUGE thing for the year! But I am not stressed either. There are the day-to-day household chores and plenty of time to do them; I do have some “toys” I need to do upkeep on (think the computer, iPod and smart phone) and there are days I do feel like my things own me; and when life gets back to normal after the reunion I will be back to other activities. With each activity I add back to life, I will evaluate how it affects the whole.
There are times I wish I had more clothes, jewelry, and just some fun things. Then I realize those things come at a cost! Good things—such as having people in for meals, or making a meal for a bereaved family—all come at a cost! We balance. I am still planning on having the Christmas party that we started the tradition of last year, but rest assured it WILL be pot luck! Given my cooking ability, that’s the best way!