The days since I had a profession are stretching out, as I enter month five of my retirement. Some days I miss the work I did. I don’t miss working per se, but I miss having a role, using my expertise, the feeling of purpose that comes with a job. I am not saying there is no purpose now, as there is, in spades. Hardly a day goes by when I am not thankful for not working right now. I don’t know whether it is the ages of my children, or the way we have chosen to live our lives but honestly, it feels like I could fill every waking hour just to keep on top of all that should be done. And ‘should’ is the operative word. I realise now just how much I edited our lives before, as there simply wasn’t time. There’s a blessing in being able to try both sides of this particular coin; each has pros and cons.
|painting entitled ‘now you see me’ by Jessica Cooper|
There is an ordinary-ness to my life at the moment that I like. However I am struck by how disdainful some people are of the ordinary. I meet mothers who make an art form of dispelling the myth of the ordinary. Mere moments of conversation are all it takes for them to spill pertinent but oh-so-relevant details on their own, or their children’s achievement and status. It never fails to amaze me how competitive we can be in such vanilla surroundings; the match sideline or the school pick up. The chance meeting when buying groceries. Even in these mundane settings one would think we were all running against each other in some kind of race. Although no one really knows what the prize is. Nor the purpose of the competition! I know I am guilty of it too; I wonder if by the time you have spent ten years with children in the school system you become an expert. Accolades roll off my tongue and I think internally ‘…what was THAT, Lou!?’ Ugh – and a chill runs down my spine and then I think too much about it, after the event.
What else do I notice about professional motherhood? There are some women who are, frankly, awesome at it. In much the same way as in the corporate world, I might have been assigned to a project where different team members would get introduced. Some would arrive with the reputation already in place: that they were ‘really good’. Really good can account for a multitude of things but if someone is really good it meant on top of it, sharp, focused; they got the job done. They had the ability to net down many details into fewer details that the rest of us needed to understand. Honestly those who were ‘really good’ were the difference between middle management and executives. Of course, the same applies in the field of motherhood.
There are mothers who glide through school drop off and pick up, usually accompanied by a gaggle of children of all ages, carrying sports kit and musical instruments and more. Always smiling. Always on it. One might think they are fictional characters in ‘chick lit’ books but I say they really do exist! I am not sure what qualifications you need to become one; all I know is that when I am in the presence of one I feel slightly humbled. Even with all of the time I now have, I am still not one of those mothers! I am getting better and I am only a few months in after all…
Interestingly, if I ask my kids what it was like when I worked, they can hardly remember it. I did have a steady and slow transition into this life phase, what with sabbaticals and part time working. But still, can they not recall at all? I find this bizarre – something that was so elemental to my earlier years of motherhood is a distant memory for them now! I guess what this shows is that what children understand is the now. This conclusion pleases me as I have learnt that it is in now that they need me most.