The way we spend our time has a great deal to do with the people in our lives. That can be with a significant other, children, adult parents, friends, co-workers, and even our pets. Yes those adorable goldfish swimming around have a true purpose in our lives. You get up in the morning and before you have even combed your hair, you are feeding the fish, checking their bubbler, and changing the light settings. They create your first distraction of the day - you are their grocery cart.
For those who have raised children (that’s a step up from goldfish), you understand distraction in an entirely different way. Distraction is part of the morning ritual of just getting your kids out of bed, fed, and off to the school bus; and hoping you aren't late for work as well. Lunch hour isn't much different, and to your children you are there to serve, and they highly resent the fact that you want them to clean up after themselves. After all, they are now the ones in a rush.
There is no “set norm” when you have children. They make up their own reality as they go. The fact that you need to go to work doesn't really register in their minds, as they are too busy contemplating h
ow best to spend that “magic money” on sporting or shopping events; or lounging around eating all the food you so graciously just provided for them in the cabinets.
Dinner time, at least in my household was the one meal that we all seemed to come together for, at least for 20 or 30 minutes. Like most teens they quickly gobble down their evening meal and head to the living room for TV; but not before fighting over the best way to do the dishes. The scheduling of such dishwashing rituals was often a creative and festive event to say the least. Beautiful distractions - and life goes on.
There is no “set norm” when you have children.
Then it happens one day out of the blue, graduation comes along, and the oldest of three walked down the aisle and accepted her diploma. Her life's journey had just begun. Almost as quickly as the first, a second graduation was upon us. Life and college were now teaching them lessons they couldn't learn at home. Two birds had proudly flown from this nest.
With the second child gone, I can remember the youngest quickly took over the entire household, eyeballing the checkbook, and seemed to think our home should be the party pad every weekend for all her friends. So went life – another beautiful distraction. Then came graduation once again, and another trip to a university. There stood my youngest with a big smile on her face as she waved proudly and said “bye mom”. La-da-dee-la-de-da, and she turned into her dorm and disappeared.
Driving back 5 hours towards home, I did what a lot of working parents probably did. I stopped at the mall, and didn’t buy a thing. Later I stopped to get something to eat, and only bought some water and a small bag of peanuts. There were no distractions on the way home, not one.
Getting up to go back to work that first week of empty nest was less than gratifying. I fed the fish. It was different that week when I didn’t get any calls at work asking for me to come pick anyone up, or giggly reports about some boy who had just asked them out.
I fed the fish.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner soon became a training ground for me. I had to teach myself how to cook for one. To those at work I just looked the same. No one knew about the empty nest pain that had just parked its miserable backside upon my heart.
Then finally the calls started to come, but they were to report of things well done. It is true that the minute your kids all leave home, your job is done. You work all those years and then poof they're gone, your children are making lives of their own. All the things you worked for have flown out of the nest. It's one job well done.
Then finally the calls started to come, but they were to report of things well done
So what do you? I joined a gym, I lost weight. I got a dog, and then I got two. I started volunteering and meeting people- ones I didn't know lived in my hometown. It was very odd.
I went back to school and got a masters degree, I found a favorite sitcom, and I go out to the movies. No one knows what I do, so I can eat all the popcorn I want to. I now like someone.
It could all end here if life would let it. But life is a beautiful distraction that had a fix for what was ailing me – tiny little bundles times three. Little bundles of additional beautiful distractions that would one day look up at me and call me grandma, and then ask to feed the fish and go to the park. That’s what I work for, tiny little bundles – and I'm hoping for four more. That's a good start.
I'm a professional woman, always have been, always will. But understanding the barriers between heart and work is important. Fill those moments when you are free with people that care about you and your needs.
I hope each and every one of you has a great day at work today. By the way, the goldfish are fine. None of them are floating upside down.