What I did next

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Oh hey there! It’s been a long time, hasn’t it? I’ve had this post knocking about in my head for a while but it’s taken a bit of thinking to give it some coherence. It might sound like I’m talking to all the parents out there, particularly the mummas, but if you don’t have kids, DO NOT FEEL EXCLUDED, because it’s not about parenthood, but transition.

When you have a bub, there’s a dramatic change in lifestyle. Plenty’s been written about that, right? Where once you were heading out the door every morning in your schmicky clothes, stopping off to get a latte, having a bit of banter with the work colleagues, maybe drinks on Friday night, and were enjoying clearly defined bedtimes and sleep ins, that’s replaced by the scramble to sneak in a shower between feeds and bub waking up from a nap, half mugs of cold tea and coffee scattered around the house, and days and nights which lack shape and form as sleep is caught when the opportunity presents itself. It can be a tricky transition from being an independent person to the person upon whom another’s life depends. Your own purpose in life, your reason for being, completely shifts. But you adapt. You embrace the new purpose. The years pass as you’re living your new life – and then, as those who have gone before you have knowingly opined, that wistful little look in their eyes – your little chicks have grown their adult feathers more quickly than you ever thought they would, and they’re flying. And when you don’t have those little chicks to raise anymore, what do you do? Where do you find your purpose now?

For those of you who’ve read my little blog before, you’ll know that I’ve been a stay-at-home mum for all of my two kiddies lives. And I have loved it! Have there been times of mind-numbing boredom? Well, yes! Of course! The ‘woof, woof game’ my boy so often requested, which required me to make Wags the Dog say ‘woof, woof’ over…and over… and over…was not the height of intellectual stimulation! But then again, neither was trawling through decades-old copies of the Government Gazette looking for the mention of a specific chemical when I was a young lawyer. Boredom in life is inescapable. But for me, raising my kids was fulfilling – much more so than getting a great leasing deal for a client, or settling a mortgagee’s auction. I loved thinking about the different activities we could do, the places we could visit, what stories they might like to read, and to be by their side as they experienced both fabulous times and really shitty times. But now they have grown up. One has used her wings to fly over the seas and far away to study, and the other will use his to fly interstate for the same reason. And I love that too! I love that they have the courage and confidence to live their lives beyond the confines of our nest. But it also means I’ve slipped into semi-retirement from my twenty-ish year career – do I get a gold watch? – and I need to find something else to do. And that has been what I have been grappling with this year.

Ever the forward planner, I have attempted to prepare for this time! I’m not an ostrich. I knew it would come! I’ve cultivated my crafty side and undertaken volunteer roles over the years to help with the transition from ‘need-you-all-the-time-mumma’ to ‘you’re-quite-nice-to-have-around-for-a-chat-and-how-do-you-cook-that-mumma’. But I don’t think I really anticipated how the days would yawn and stretch before me without the routine of my boy and girl’s school/uni/work life shaping my week. Just as they did in the early days of parenthood, the days have lacked shape and form. But back then, what I was doing was fulfilling. Where do I find that fulfilment now? I can find things to do. That’s not a problem. There’s friends to catch up with, books to read (but gosh I’ve picked some dull ones this year!), wool to shop for, weavings to make, long walks and yoga, but it’s all felt a bit empty. I like to be able to look back on my day and think ‘well, I achieved that’ or ‘I helped…’ . Would having a job give me a sense of purpose? Could I even get a job? Should I go back to study? All in all I’ve been feeling a bit out of sorts this year, spending far too much time scrolling through social media, and asking all the existential questions! I know what I’m feeling is not unique. I’ve chatted with my friends. They feel it too. And not just about being a parent, but about work, career, about life’s shifting stages.

But this week there’s a new flicker to my spirit! I’ve started two new volunteer roles! One’s a reigniting of a past role, the other something completely new. I love coming home from those feeling like I’ve DONE something! I love that I have specific things to do on particular days of the week – there’s a purpose to these days. I love that around these commitments I have the time to catch up with friends and to have time to myself. I can see a shape and a purpose returning to my days. It feels good. Less schlepping, less scrolling! And a sense that I can look forward to the new year knowing what I am doing.

Transition is tricky, huh? How have you managed those times in your life? Are you completely adaptable? Do you flail around or sink into despair? What makes you feel good about your days and weeks?

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2 thoughts on “What I did next

  1. Thank you for writing this post, you have described my year completely. Although I do still have one young adult at home, I’m not needed in the same way and I’ve floundered a lot. It’s been a very confronting and challenging time for me. I don’t really want to go back to work and honestly I don’t think I’m very employable anyway, but I feel like I need to be needed, I need to feel like I’m contributing in some way. I’m working on trying to be ok with just being and not feeling like my worth is dependant on what I do rather than who I am. I think volunteering will be my thing next year, a way to give back, an opportunity to be out and mingle but also not locked too much into someone else’s schedule.
    Really I just wanted to say thank you, it’s good to know that I’m not alone and that this time of transition is normal.
    cheers kate

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    1. Definitely not alone, Kate! And I completely understand your feeling of ‘trying to be ok with just being’ – but like you, that just left me feeling a little hollow. And that is in no way devaluing my friendships, or the pleasure I get from my creative life. Nor is my desire to ‘contribute’ or ‘give back’ tied to providing me with a sense of achievement that can be thrown around in conversations or to be worn as some sort of badge of honour. It really is just something I find enjoyable and rewarding and satisfies my soul. And yes, the volunteering is great – there’s structure and commitment but not that absolutely ‘locked in’ commitment of paid employment. If my kids are going to be away, away, I’d like to have the flexibility to schedule times to visit! Good luck for next year! Onwards and upwards! xx

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