Life has been moving along at a quiet hum, reasonably steady but at a swift pace. I enrolled in an ambitious course for myself this spring which has impacted our schedule and my own peace of mind considerably. It was still a good idea but certainly highlighted the role I play in our home and what happens when hours are diverted from that role on a daily basis. Like any worthwhile project I am glad to have undertaken it, but also looking forward to reestablishing a more restorative rhythm once this initial push is past.
My husband meanwhile has begun a rigorous training program to prepare for his first triathlon. It might seem exceptionally unwise for both of us to commit to challenging exterprises simultaneously but it's actually helped us to be intentional about our time.
We have always divided up home chores but over the past several months have made after dinner clean up a group effort. Assigning the kitchen to the children was a bad idea. It meant waking up to at least a couple pots still soaking or counters half wiped. Truth is, no one enjoys working alone and many jobs were done haphazardly. I took the room back in the end. My husband didnt think that seemed right so he rolled up his sleeves and worked alongside, making sure the older boys were in the kitchen as long as we were. It's not a new idea. My friend Jenny advised many years ago that working WITH the children, even older children, was far more effective than 'assigning' work to them. We find this to be true. It is a huge morale boost to wake up to a tidy kitchen and coffee ready to go.
After dinner cleanup is finished we say the rosary and then some part of the family runs over to the athletic center. The younger children sometimes go along to swim or run or play ball. The olders use the machines or weights. If I have worked out early in the day then I catch some study time. Between warmer weather and the gym there isn't much time or interest in the TV, for any of us. All the better.
It definitely stretches you in all sorts of sometimes uncomfortable ways to move in new directions at the midcentury point in life. I know we are not alone. A good friend has recently reentered the workforce. Others have taken on care of parents. More than a few friends entered college at this stage of life for completely new career paths. Some have relocated and are starting new lives in other communities and new climates. Not gonna lie, brains and bodies sometimes resist thinking and moving in unfamiliar directions, at least initially. There have been tears and a lot of sabotaging self talk:
I'm too old for this.
Perhaps you can't teach old dogs new tricks.
Wasn't I doing just fine and had plenty on my plate already?
Should it be taking THIS long?
One of our son's shot this note to me:
"Fulfillment means embracing and conquering your mental blocks, and constantly stretching the boundaries of your comfort zone. Especially when it's a healthy discomfort that won't harm you, and just frustrates."
He was right. I was way out of my comfort zone and not enjoying myself at all but this is not a harmful pain. It is simply frustrating and in time, with consistent effort, this will pass. At least I am pretty sure it will lol. If not I will die trying and there are far worse ways to go.
New moves are hard y'all. By this point in life it is much more comforting to carry on in the ruts of well worn paths. While listening to a pop singer on the radio however, we were discussing how this artist is still performing many years later. (which is a wonderful thing) The catch was that the performances were all repeats of those early hits. I knew in my heart while we were talking that I don't want to simply revel in our glory days. If God is granting us more healthy years then hopefully we can continue to explore and develop new skills and new ideas. This is how we can experience some springtime in the autumn of life.
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
A story that encouraged me this week here.