Monday, April 21, 2008

Mid-Life Crisis, No?

As I have whined mentioned 500 a few times, I am in a phase of transition... (don't mock, all of you, especially you stay at home mommas, with little babies and toddlers will eventually find yourself in a similar place) the kids are older and next year all 3 will be in school full time... how does one begin to fill the day? I have thought about a job, full or part time, I have thought about volunteer work and I have thought about becoming a slave to the gym and finally going after that perfect ass which can only be brought about by daily workouts or a plastic surgeon.

Yet, I have been loathe to take the plunge into any one commitment.

With regards to a j-o-b, I just. don't. want. one. Sure, my kids are older but I am still involved with their school and I want to keep myself available for them.

Now, as far as volunteering, this is the first year of my entire adult life (and by "adult", I mean, since about age 14) that I have not been consistently involved with a charitable project. This has been my year to write checks and slip cash into hopeful coffee cups. Partly because I needed a break from filling my life up with busy-ness... I needed to sort myself out.

Bring on the therapy and the annoying journaling.

All this self reflection has been both a nuisance and eye opening. I think what surprises me the most is how many of my personal issues, those things that bug me, that I didn't finish or sometimes even start, those things from 10, 15, 20 years ago which still make me sad, stem from having been a "sick" kid.

Which is made extra weird by the fact that I absolutely never thought of myself as sick in any way... I felt as normal as the next person which is the way it is when you have a congenital disease... you've never known life to be any different so how would a person know that being exhausted all the time, or too hot to participate in things, isn't normal?

Everything was so damn hard and I didn't even realize... I have a clear memory of walking up a hill with my boys, my friend Tori and her 4 girls and my friend Nicki... it was warm summer day in Devon, England and, although it was a bit of a climb, everyone scampered up, a little sticky, but none the worse for wear... it took me twice as long to make it to the top of the hill and I was red cheeked and sweating bullets by the time I made it there - do you know what I blamed it on? Being fat. I was convinced that if I was just thinner, I would be fine.

What a crock. I was slender and looking cute, but it never occurred to me that maybe the reason I felt like I was going to pass out was because my heart was working on overload. That I had an anyerusm about to rupture and a valve about to close and there was a very legit and valid reason why things were so fucking hard for me.

My freshman year of college saw me skipping many classes because I dreaded the walk, across a valley and up either a hill or a series of switchback stairs, to my classes. I knew by the time I got there I would be a hot mess (and not in a good kind of way, literally a hot mess)... maybe it sounds lame to you, but at the time, as an 18 year old girl, off at university and in a co-ed school for the first time in 8 years (there was only 1 boy in my classes through middle school, a nice deaf kid named Brenden who took me to a Hall & Oates concert in the 8th grade), arriving to class with hair plastered to my neck and my face flushed and my tank top sticking to my back, was a grim reality and one I tried to avoid.

I wish I had said to my parents, "Hey, help..." but I never opened my mouth because I never knew there was anything amiss... I blamed myself... if only I weren't such a fat slovenly creature, I wouldn't have these problems.

Want to see what a chunk I was in college? Here is a photo from my high school graduation (by the way, that dress was what we had to wear) and, when September rolled around and I left for school I was 10 pounds thinner.

Be impressed by my dry frizzy hair and monkey face.  Eating disorder, anyone?

And here I am, 21 years later, dealing with it.

Because the time has come for me to stop moving. I am not in school, I am not planning a wedding or having babies or having surgery or facing the surgery of my child or parenting 2 toddlers or adopting or adding on to our home or anything. I have the time.

And this time is for me to figure out what I am going to do... now that I am healthy and not quite too wack-a-doodle in the head.

I know that I never imagined the blessing raising children would be... that my self worth and self esteem would soar (and sometimes crash) through the process of helping my 3 kids grow into their lives and potential... and the harder it gets with each passing year brings me the understanding that whatever I do next needs to also be of value.

I also know that sometimes it is easier to keep moving because all of this introspection is exhausting to the point of boredom at times and tears at others... but if I don't face it now and truly assess my next move, from this point of clarity, I run the danger of morphing into one of those Housewives from the OC assholes... scheduling my days around Botox (which I do love), the gym and Neiman Marcus.

Maybe I should just buy a Ferrari and call it a day.


Mel said...

You could never be one of those women. Because you ask the questions of yourself, it means that you will never be able to get away with the lies it takes to live that shallow life.
And maybe because of your brushes with death, you have a deeper understanding of life, and value it enough to not become a shallow being.
Whatever you do next will be awesome. Just like you.

furiousBall said...

mel has it right. asking the questions and rechecking your moral compass is the key.

CDJ said...

Just because you don't know where you're going to end up doesn't mean you don't know where you're going, you know. Like the other two commenters have said, simply asking the questions and being as self aware as you are is a huge victory over boredom and Botox overload.

And, as I read through this post, which was so wonderfully honest and real, by the way, I couldln't help but think that maybe part of your calling is to help other young women avoid any traps you think you might have fallen into... I don't know how you would do that exactly. But what a rewarding way to "keep moving" and help heal some of your own wounds in the process.

Just a thought...

Chin up, butter cup :-)

Phoenix said...

Maybe you should write a book about your life. Hell, I'd read it. Truly, you're a great writer and you could do it. And it would leave you time to take care of the kids, cause you know that Eva won't stop needing you, just cause she goes into kindergarten. It will even leave time for Botox if you want. :)

Perrin said...

Don't call it a day and buy that Ferrari, I think from reading you that you are already beyond all that. It's a journey not a destination. Hang in there you've got a lot of great stuff to share. I wish you lived closer, I'd write the book with you. Ha.

Good luck in whatever you decide.

Amy Y said...

Oh, Mama ~ I know this is so tough to figure out but try not to feel too pressured... you have your whole life ahead of you and when you find the right thing, you'll go for it. Just take your time and don't stress out about it!

You were beautiful (despite the dress) ;)

Sudiegirl said...

You could buy me a Ferrari.

Just sayin'.

But'll find your niche. Slowing down sometimes is the best thing to do.

jenontheedge said...

Don't buy the Ferrari, buy a Prius.

I jest.

Seriously though, it's great that you'll have time next year. Time to read or to think or do yoga or sit on your butt or bake cookies every or whatever it is that makes you happy. Don't worry about what you're going to do. Just take things as they come and everything will sort itself out.

As for that photo, um, yeah, that definitely screams 1987. My graduation photo is eerily similar.

The Domesticator said...

I understand this more than you know.

Really. I just went through something similar. I think that once your days aren't full of "others centered" a little self reflection is in order. You're doing it, and that is a good thing (although painful at times)
You'll get through it and hopefully emerge with a newfound passion for something you never expected!

dgm said...

Sometimes we just stumble into things and it turns out it was what we were meant to do all along. So don't freak yourself out by thinking you have to make a plan now to "do something." Think about the things you loved when you were young, things you always thought you'd like to try. That might be a start.

And also, you look like a Barbie doll in that dress. I mean, how is that waistline even possible?

Kristin said...

I find it so interesting to put stuff out on the Internet that is more than a funny story or query because the feedback always helps me... I am always impressed by your comments.

Anonymous said...

My sister had kidney disease from the time we were very young and was always treated with kid gloves by my parents and she hated it because she wanted to be "normal". But, like you said, normal is different for children with a chronic condition.


Mamma said...

It's so overwhelming--trying to figure out what you want to be when you grow up.

I'm stressing out just reading about your consideration of it.

But it's true. I want to do something important. And though I work and have three kids, I still don't feel like what I'm doing matters.

Shit. Will you pick me up a Ferrari too?

Jodi said...

You are a good egg. No amount of money or idle time on your hands is going to change that simple fact. You will come into your own, I just know it.

Joe said...

Obviously I had no idea...

Having some heart problems and other issues myself, I can certainly understand what you're talking about. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

OMG, I just LOVE you! You are such a strong and smart woman and your family is so lucky to have you.

Shelley said...

Write. A. Book!

Seriously. You are smart to take your time. Just remember - there are no absolutes. You may decide to go in one direction and end up on a completely path. Just let go and trust those instincts of yours. You're a smart, intuitive cookie.

Might I suggest a good ol' fashioned friendly-fire brainstorming session with some wine and some of your gal pals ...those who can tell you their perceptions of your strengths and help point the way to some interesting avenues. At the very least, you'll have a great time. :)

Love and missed you. Sorry I've been so "absent."


slackermommy said...

It is so admirable how you are willing to take stock in your life and see what needs some fixing. So many people aren't willing to do that. They'd buy the Ferrari.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Wow. I came over from your comment on my blog--I see I'll need to check back. Maybe a year of introspection will be a good thing.

Los said...

Maybe you should be a full-time blogger ... you certainly have the talent to be that ... and it sounds like you enjoy blogging ... you could probably make some decent money doing this, don't you think?

Shelley said...

You know, los has a point. There are whole careers being built around being a professional blog content manager. I'm serious. Companies are starting to do these more and more, and they are hiring people to blog on their behalf and to ensure they are visible on other key sites.

Definitely fodder for our "whiteboard" session.


carrie said...

I think when we get to the point when our kids don't need us anymore and we aren't making any changes to our families, it is only normal to feel this way. I certainly do, and have been on a similar path myself.

And yes, dealing with the past will help -- and whatever you choose, even if it's doing yoga for 2 hours a day, it will ba okay. Focus on the journey, not the result. And you could never be one of those OC beyotches -- or the NY ones, for that matter, most of them are even more wack-a-doodle than the others! :)


Tori said...

Hey my BFF!

You are truly the best friend I have ever had.
Ok! How does that help?
Oh yes.... I just know something will fall your way and I agree with Shel that writing is a definite option! Go tell the story, or make it someone else's story....just include me!
I have watched your miraculous recovery from many surgeries and the trials and tribs that you have gone through over the years and quite frankly have always been blown away by your sheer 'Britishness' in dealing with your body's weaknesses. The mustn't grumble policy has always astounded me. So, right now, I would grumble a bit till you find something worthwhile that you really want to throw yourself into. You might not, but allowing yourself to feel a little shit about what you've suffered is definitely a way to heal a little bit of your restless soul.
And as always...I am there for the ride, wherever it takes us...
(was that a bit melodramatic - that last bit?)

Tori said...

oh by the way...

that picture of you is Jack in a dress!!!!


SSC said...

I think we all feel that way at some point in our lives. I still can't figure out what I am doing or who I am doing it for, then I realize its for my children and I wouldn't change anything. I could relate to SOOOO many things on this post.

I like reading your blog because you are real, honest, and sincere.

You know if you ever want to go for coffee let me know!

SSC said...

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do.
So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
Mark Twain

Kristin said...

Hmmm... how does one go about writing a book?

Ok, Where Was I? said...

This is my first time here, and what a great post to read! I can't believe you were able to lose another ten pounds before college. And 'a hot mess--not in a good way' LOL!

Jenn said...

Well, I have about 5 years to figure this out, but I'll be interested in what you do. =o)