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.