Thursday, March 12, 2009

On The Road To Find Out

It is strange how quickly life can change. I walk around the apartment in the morning, looking out windows and picking threads off the furniture while I brush my teeth. I have lost interest in all forms of housework lately. At the moment, there is a fine film of dust on everything and the carpet is a mass of stray fibers pulled loose by the cats, testing their claws. My morning ritual used to include doing a load of laundry each day before leaving for work. Now it piles up in the laundry closet off the bathroom, until I have run out of clean underwear. I used to hit the ground running each day, ironing with one hand and wiping the countertop down with the other.

Funny how the more time you have, the less motivation to get things done. Now there's always plenty of time later or tomorrow, so it's easy to put things off and leave them hanging.

After rising I sit on the couch eating breakfast, two eggs over-easy or a bowl of high-protein cereal with blueberries. Rigby waits expectantly nearby for her taste of my breakfast. The two cats sniff at my feet or gallop around the living room, biting each other. The weather is on the television like every morning and the white-haired anchor man's face and the tone of his voice is soothing to me. He seems like a gentleman...someone's sweet dad. Just watching him and listening to him talk makes the world seem like a better place to me. Sometimes I find myself staring at the screen in a fog and I realize that although I never looked away, I have no idea what the forecast is.

Everyone else has gone off for the day and this is how I like it. As previously noted, I like to be alone in the morning and not have to make small talk or answer any questions. I like to be able to get at the sink or the fridge or the bathroom without anyone getting in my way. I need to let my mind acclimate itself to being awake, shifting all the boring minutiae of my life into its proper focus before I have to function and actually think.

As I think about it, I realize that one of the problems with being cut adrift from your job is that it messes up your self-image. Who am I now if not the person that held that position and did that job? What should I say when someone asks what I do for a living?

I have been through this before when my children became adults. I saw my role as mother as my true lifelong occupation and career. Back then, a job was only a way to finance the true life I had with my family. Eventually I took five years off from working to stay home with my kids while they were little, despite the fact that it cast us into a state of near poverty. I loved the play dough, the dolls, the color forms, the water-color painting, the Lego’s, the story reading, Sesame Street, puzzles and puppets,....loved it all. Those were truly the best years of my life. I took great pride in being the best parent I could be. It was the biggest source of joy in my life. Those days flew by in a flash. That time is long gone now and I have to admit, I was surprised to grieve so hard at its passing.

Some years ago, I found myself staring into my daughter's closet and while trying to figure out which clothes still fit her, my eyes fell on several of her favorite toys stored on a shelf. I felt a sense of anxiety churning in the pit of my stomach, as I wondered when I would have some free time to spend playing with her. I suddenly remembered it was Saturday and I felt so relieved and happy that I could stay home and spend a happy day playing with my little girl. I was full of joyful anticipation of a fun day ahead with my baby. A noise outside my bedroom brought me back to consciousness just then, and I woke up to realize that I had been dreaming. It was indeed a Saturday morning, but my little girl was now eighteen years old and had plans of her own for the weekend. There would be no playing dolls or stuffed animals with her, that day, or ever again. I sat up in bed and cried my heart out. Words cannot express the sense of loss and despair I felt on that day. Sometimes I still feel it.

A psychic once told me I was the "root chakra" of my family, "the wellspring of its life force", she said. I felt the truth of that statement when she said it, but that was years ago. I'm glad they are healthy and on the road to being self-sufficient. But, I am sad that they are grown-up. They have little need or desire for my involvement in their lives now.

My husband Mac never really shared my enthusiasm for parenthood, as much as he loves his children. For him, parenthood was sort of harrowing, more like something to survive, rather than something to revel in. For me, it was everything, once upon a time.

I have been trying hard to re-invent myself for the past few years. I guess I had started to relate more to the person I was when I was at my job, and now that too has been yanked out from under me. So who am I now? Time to look deeper for the real me.


  1. I retired early on ill health and had similar feelings about who I was (or wasn't any more). I found it didn't take too long to acclimatise but although that was fifteen years ago I still haven't worked out who I am. I wonder if we ever do? Perhaps, being a parent or being in a job is really just a way of dodging the issue.

    But does it matter? Of one thing you can be sure - you are a success. Anyone whose children are grown-up and independent can be regarded as that!

    And if you're asked what you do for a living? Give them a knowing smile and answer 'I live life as it comes'.

  2. I think Scriptor Senex is absolutely correct in his comments to you... and I too felt the same when I left my job of 18 plus years... and my home and my country all in the space of one week... it is a totally disorientating experience. I also wonder if we ever work out 'who' we are - perhaps this is one reason why so many of us blog?? We (well at least I do) feel so good when someone else out there 'feels' the same way I do, experiences the same crazy things... it's a comfort to me to know that other people have the same issues!!

    I love the comment of 'I live life as it comes' - and I wish I'd thought of that one!!!

    Remember ' you are a success' - and a lovely person on top of it... warm wishes to you, Vxx

  3. My cat leaves tufts of what used to be a very nice oriental rug, all over. No matter what my intention, the rug's real purpose is revealed to me with time.
    So with you..your real purpose..a creative, compassionate woman..If you have to say what you do, say you're a writer, or better yet, that you're working on a script, jot a few words down so you won't be lying. If you lived in NY or LA, this would come naturally to you.
    Your that from an old Cat Stevens song?

  4. Today is Friday the 13th. It's also the last day of my current contract assignment as a technical writer. Was unemployed for awhile in 2008.

    Reading your profile, you "have a husband, two grown kids, two cats and the world's cutest dog." Reading your blog, you're a writer with talent and a growing internet presence. These are real blessings. And as my mother's grown daughter, I hope I can assure you that your grown children still need you ... if they're like me, they just don't show it as well as they should.

    From an earlier blog post, it appears you're Catholic? Do you have a Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration Chapel you can visit? Or maybe a church is open during the daytime? You can go and ask the Lord what to do. The prayer can be as simple as that. It's the listening for an answer that can get tricky ... we tend to put up barriers.

    I have a chapel I visit. I bring with me a bread basket / prayer basket with slips of paper containing the names of people from my parish seeking employment, and the job title they would like. If you would like, I can write down your name and add it to the basket.

  5. Dearest got an e-mail address lady. I have a little something to send you that I know will cheer you up a little and I need your address.
    You are a beautiful person...........

    Steady On
    Reggie Girl

  6. Hi Deedee, your post really touched me, I can sympathize with you so much, but on a different level. I recently had knee surgery and will be on crutches for 6 weeks, no walking on the leg until then. So, for now, I am not much help in the house and hubby/kids have had to take over all my chores. I try where I can to help, but am most times just in the way. Well, somehow I MISS my housework. Yes, chuckle away, but like you without your job, not being able to do MY part of keeping this house and family going is effecting me in an odd way. I don't feel like I am worth anything. AND, some how my daily schedule of chores keeps me grounded!! Without that daily list of things to do, I too am cut adrift for now. I feel like a big lump of nothing-ness, and can not wait until I am able to pull my own weight around here! I feel for you. Take care and have a good weekend in spite of it all, Debby (here is an idea tho, perhaps volunteer your time and services some place, it would give you something to look forward to,give your days purpose, and you would be making other happy.). When I get down in the dumps, I make a change, I go find something in my days that will make me smile again. Not always easy, but somehow it works for me.

  7. You made me cry, but that's all right. It's a cleansing. I related to your sense of loss at your children's growing up. And now, I feel the same as each of my grandchildren reach their teens and no longer think Grandma is the greatest. That's why my writing is so important to me now: it gives me a new identity.

  8. I was always reluctant to give up my job, even through pregnancies and babies and beyond; it is the one constant in my life - something I am good at and appreciated for. And I understand it. I didn't understand babies or toddlers.

    I can't even imagine how devastating it would be to lose my job.

    Have you thought about going back to school? Taking classes that really interest you or further your job skills? When the economy is in the toilet, it's a good time to learn.

    Good luck DeeDee!

  9. Jane is right, I should be going back to school myself! Hang in there Deedee.

  10. You guys are the best. One great thing has come from my being laid off -I started to blog, and because of that, I've met all of you incredible people. That alone makes everything else worthwhile-thank you, one and all :)

  11. What beautiful thoughts about the meaning of life and our connections with others, and how appropriate to reflect on life as we circle round and lean toward the sun for another spring and summer.

    Jan & I just brought our wee babe (of 19 years) to the airport--back to college. Nancy Griffith in the CD player on the way home (it's a one hour drive)--when Turn Around ("Where are you going, my little one, little one...") came on, there wasn't a dry eye in the car.

  12. Dear Deedee, I really liked your post and I understand the situation. Motherhood is a goal for many years for parents, especially women. However, when children grow up, most women have to face to other goals and objectives.It is really hard. Anyway, there are excellent suggestions here. You are very intelligent, sweet and nice. You can handle this.

    Best wishes,

  13. Hugs just look at all the lives you touch every day with your words. Has to amount for something right. Hang in there. The sun shines bright on sunny days and shines high above the clouds on rainy one's. So always remember the sunshine is still there and you got it!