Tag Archives: retirement

Unexpected catharsis

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I woke up this morning with one goal in my mind: clear off and put away the items on the love seat and two small chairs in my bedroom that have been serving as “hot spots” for the last several months! It is now 12:45, I haven’t even gotten to the first item on the love seat because my morning has been filled with other more urgent matters that were not on my agenda.

First, I needed to reply to a couple of important messages. Then my husband asked if I would call the glasses place to see if his new eyewear was in (it wasn’t). We have had some guests for the last couple of weeks so I gathered and took the linens to the laundry room to get rid of that item quickly. In the meantime, I noticed that my kitchen counter was looking rather shabby so I stopped and began to clear the counter of all the dust and debris collecting there despite the fact that I have a once-a-week cleaning person. She never cleans the counter and I never have time to do it properly. I didn’t have time to do it properly today either but I just couldn’t stand to look at the dust anymore. I expected to be done in 5 minutes, it took 35 minutes because it is a very large counter with much clutter…I understand why she doesn’t do it, although truth be told, I was very resentful today that we pay her…

As I was going on about my household business today, cleaning, wiping down, discarding the odds and ends that have no rhyme or reason to end up on the kitchen counter, I thought about my childhood. I am currently reading J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy. I am not sure how I happened upon it but reading it has allowed me a glimpse into a world that I have seen portrayed in movies or sitcoms but have never really experienced to that personal a degree. My mother was not a good housekeeper. She made no apologies for that. My parents moved to “America” in 1963 with four kids and a brother in tow in order for us to have a “better life”. I was only 8, I never really knew at that point that my life was anything but idyllic. Moving to the States was a shock that I don’t think I have ever recovered from.

Although we were not dirt poor, my parents did have to resort to boarding people, working extra hours and using their credit cards creatively in order to attain a middle class existence. We did not have a maid; we did have chores that were expected to be done in exchange for an allowance. I don’t think I appreciated that at the time, it just suddenly dawned on me this morning that my mother’s expectation that household chores would be done was not unrealistic. I remember always doing my chores and having to often do my sister’s chores to avoid the screaming and fighting that would ensue and make me feel so anxious. I remember my mother’s words (“What do I have here? Four mortgages?”) when referring to us after she found that we had not done what was expected. I hated that feeling of being a burden, she made no effort to hide it. But what I realized today is that she was not wrong in her expectations, I have been wrong in my interpretation. I have been so wrapped up in being resentful that I did not give sufficient credit to her for being willing to pay for the chores to be done. She was not exploiting us, she was simply exchanging money for work, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

My husband and I are retired now. Well, he is semi-retired but his work does not take him from home, he can do it from the comfort of our beautiful estate. He has always worked with his mind, physical labor has never been his thing. I do not fault him for that, he is generous and has never balked at paying for household or gardening help. He would rather pay for anything than have to do it himself. I knew this when I married him, I worked with him, I was familiar with the fact that here was a guy who could literally do nothing all day long but read and watch television. He is a very educated and intelligent person, he just doesn’t have ambitions or hobbies that venture into the realm of building furniture for example or learning to fix simple electrical or plumbing issues.

As I was gathering the clothes for the laundry and wiping down counters, I could see him in bed reading. I could feel myself getting annoyed because I felt oppressed while he is wonderfully relaxed. Then I dug deep into the real reasons for my resentment and can honestly say that my feelings have zero to do with him and 100 percent to do with me. I too could lie down and read my books, it is my choice not to do so.  In fact, aren’t I this minute spending time writing? Tomorrow is the cleaning lady’s day. She is not great at her job but she needs the money and frankly, does a better job than I do on the floors. I could speak to her about the counters and debris but I prefer to keep the status quo.

A lot of things are going on with me right now, I think it is best to accept that I have had a tremendous catharsis today regarding my mother and that is a really good thing. I am going now to clear off at least the love seat!

 

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Another weekend …

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They come so quickly, the weekends! On Sunday afternoons, I usually feel the blahs that so
many of us are prone to as we start to make the switch from two days of (mostly) relaxing
to the upcoming obligations of work, school and general parenting.

When I was a young, single gal in “like” with a co-worker, I used to hate weekends and love
Monday mornings! Naturally, it was because my quasi SO would be there to greet me. I am
happy that I have those memories because sometimes I can remember what it felt like to be
excited about Mondays and try to “fool” my brain into thinking all those things that made me
feel giddy will be mine again.

I have not been writing in this blog, although I have been quite busy writing everywhere else.
Ever since I was a child, I have placed many responsibilities on my shoulders, something that
I can’t explain and maybe I shouldn’t try. The reality is that while my siblings were out there
enjoying their allotted 1/3 of the day of “their” time, I was busy doing whatever it took to keep
the home fires burning and the household running smoothly. It was not my job, and in fact
try as I may, I cannot place any blame on my parents for this self-imposed mandate. My
mother worried sometimes that I was not social enough. I never thought of myself as a wall-
flower but I can look back and see that indeed when all my friends were out having fun, I could
be found listening to music in the background while I vacuumed, loaded or emptied the dish-
washer, did the laundry, started dinner, etc. I guess I felt needed in a way and then it just
became a habit so ingrained in me that to this day, I feel I am wasting time if I am not doing
something I consider “productive”.

My life is very different right now. At this moment, my children are grown and living in another
country. We have a wonderful relationship and communicate almost on a daily basis. My husband
in away for the next 12 days or so. We have a dog who is about to turn 8 and of course, I have my
dad who is 89. These are my very strong connections and I love them all. Today, after the cleaning
lady left (my house is spotless for one day!), I realized that I have a very blessed existence. I can
do or not do anything I want after I meet my obligations. I have fed my dog, turned off the water
that is making the lawn a lovely green in this dry weather and am eating a comforting lentil soup
that I made earlier this week. My kitchen is spotless, just the way I like it, no dishes in the sink.
My food plan has been successful this week and for that I am also very glad.

I look forward to this particular weekend because I get to indulge in a massage tomorrow. It has
become a necessity rather than a luxury and I am blessed to be living in a country where household
help and massages are affordable. My writing is coming along and hopefully this weekend will have
me taking out my latest attempt at a novel and begin again to work on it. My protagonist needs to
get some attention, he is so superficial I can’t even fall in love with him, how do I expect my readers
to do so.

Let’s all have a great weekend, and us writers especially!

 

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Retirement

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I will retire next year when I turn 62! It is a decision that took me a bit
of time to make but one which I am glad I have taken. This means that I will
get out of the pro-bono community work I have been doing for the last +20 years!
I feel a little guilty, knowing I have many more years and many more ideas to feed
to the county but I also feel it is time for someone else to have the chance to
improve life around here as I have tried to do for years.

Now, of course, I am left with the task of finding things I can do. I will no
longer have the excuse of “working” to procrastinate on writing my “novel”…well
maybe not novel but certainly some uplifting and inspiring non-fiction especially
geared to the ever-increasing aging population.

Ah, what a relief!

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