Tuesday, August 23, 2011

An A4 sheet on which to write my story.......

The sounds of a home are what I hear right now - the woosh woosh of the washing machine as it cleans the bed linen, the whir of the tumble drier,  the sound of gentle rain drops on the skylights of the kitchen (hence the whirring of the drier), the click of my fingers as they fly (stagger) over the computer keys, the ticking of the clock on the wall, the soft rumble of boiling water in the kettle, the sizzle of bratwurst cooking on the stove, the soft murmur of voices from the TV and the ring, now and then, of the phone.

An ordinary day. A comfortable day. The sound of the pen scratching through things on the ever present "to do" list.

Yesterday, I wrote a brief synopsis of my life from age 17-57 for the 40th School Reunion booklet being prepared for the November gathering  in South Africa. There will be many with a great number of accomplishments to relate. Interesting women. Daring women. Trail-blazers. Wonder women.



This is how I started it........

No great achievements here, girls – no awards, fancy bits or starring roles. I never did head a fortune 500 company either. Nor did I grace the runways of fashion houses (at this point I am bordering on hysteria here at the thought). No.

I have lived an ordinary life, which has included both hemispheres. I have travelled, seen a great deal, experienced more, and along the way, I raised 3 children which I count as my greatest achievement, and one which makes me very proud. My life is good, and filled with a million things for which I am deeply thankful. 

There have been spectacular “ups” and monumental “downs”. But retaining the ability to laugh, to believe, to hope, and a commitment to go and enjoy each and every moment of my days – these are what have shaped my life. Faith. Family. Friends. 

And then I wrote about other things. The things I love. The people who matter. Assessing one's life on an A4 page. Well. I have never had a problem dreaming up words. It is getting them to stop which is the problem.  The content is another story. 

I wonder what everyone else will write? I was speaking to a friend who is contemplating retirement one day in the not too distant future, and this was a comment made - "My work seems to define who I am. I have spent all my working life giving 150% to my job." I understand that. I have also always been unable to simply do what I have been expected to do. Paid or not. I have put in endless unpaid hours trying to be better, do more, and do the best I could possibly do. 

Take it away, and who is left? What is left? 

I know that when my father retired, he made it about a couple of months before he was back at work in an "advisory" capacity for supposedly 3 hours a day. He worked normal hours for him - 8am-5pm, 6pm, or maybe later. And got paid for 3 hours a day, but he was happy. His work defined who he was. 

So my chosen career, at 22, was that of mother. And I probably put in more than 150%. And it defined who I am too. It still does. There were no contracted office hours. Actually, the small print may have said something about life, but I was too busy being a mother to read it. I tried to do more than my best. I knew just what was riding on it, and it was the most important thing in the world. To me. ultimately, to my children as well.

The hobbies, and skills I have now were acquired along the way, alongside the mothering skills. Andrew needed exercise books stitched together. You can stitch paper? Really? Let's experiment. Diana needed her name embroidered on her sport shirts. Get a book and learn how, and ooh look, there are more fascinating stitches. Let's try some. The children wanted bright sweatshirts - so why don't I buy an overlocker (serger) and learn how to zap them up? David needs to have a Power Ranger costume, Diana needs a chicken costume, double-sided sticky tape is great for covering school books, but why don't I try fabric covered notebooks, Andrew wants a castle party....

And so the fanciful cakes happened by trial and error. I took cake icing classes. My friends and I taught each other. The clothes were made, the scraps used to make quilts, and so it all began. Because I was a mother. 

Now I am just talking about me here, but so many things the children were interested in triggered interests for me too, which became passions and delights. And then there was the house which needed to be altered to fit us all in, the garden, and so it went. More skills because I needed to make our home somewhere my family could enjoy being in. The books came and stayed. The machines came and stayed. The skills were fine-tuned and grow and keep growing. 

I taught myself to crochet last year because I wanted a ripple blanket. And then my daughter wanted a hat, and so I taught myself how to crochet a hat. There is no signing out time to motherhood. The hours don't count. I learned along with my children, and I hope they will keep doing the same with their kids too. 

I see my daughter-in-law baking with Missy and I grin, because there you are - motherhood in action. Not just one cake now and then, but regular baking and fun and enjoyment, and skills which keep growing for both of them. Daring to try something new and different, and finding what works, and what you want to forget too. There have been plenty of non-starters in my life. But, as I said, trial and error. You don't know until you try. . 

My work defines who I am too. Who I have become. And in a sense, this could be the time when I "retire" sort of, from full time motherhood. However, all those years of learning and growing - they are what fill my days now. Those skills. There is never enough time in a day.

Every job we do, whether paid or unpaid gets to define a huge part of who we are, doesn't it? Our character, the fibre inside us. Just as long as there is some balance in there, and the focus remains on the most important things in our lives - the people - then I reckon we are doing really well.  

So I will read about everyone with delight and interest but I have nothing to be ashamed of either. I have had a great job, and I have given it everything I had to give and more. 

And loved every moment. 


Fran Hill said...

That's an interesting exercise to have to do. We could probably all do with that every now and again.

Needled Mom said...

It will be interesting to see what others have written about themselves. Yes, the job of motherhood is far and away the most rewarding for me too. I doubt that we ever have a chance to retire from that one even though it changes a bit. It is the only job that I am glad to be able to work at for my whole life!!!

Crystal said...

I'm standing up over here and cheering and clapping as loud as I can for you!! You have done a WONDERFUL job of the most important career that God gave you - and you have all of your family as proof. What the world says is sometimes so contrary to what God asks of us and to what truly brings us pleasure and happiness. I suppose this means that you are taking a trip to SA soon?! I look forward to hearing all about it!

(waving pennants, shaking pom-poms and sending catcalls out to you :)

Kelli said...

Unfortunately, my work defined me and overtook me for 20 years- until life came crashing down around me and I heard words I thought I never would.

You cannot work anymore.

I did not run a Fortune 100 company, but I ran a major area for you. 200+ people looked to me for the right and fair decisions to keep them employees and growing.

Unfortunately, I had little time with my own kids. I see that now. I thought I was doing a good job, having it all. Now, looking back after 6 years of being home? Maybe I didn't do such a great job. The evidence and ramifications are just now starting to play out. I see where I blew it.

But, at the time, I thought I could do it all. But those 16 hour days and weekends and trips and and and and ... they all add up.

So, I am getting a late start in mothering. With two soon to be out the door on their own lives.

And I wonder, how can I catch up, repair, prepare where missed, make sure they will be ok.

Mothering is now my FT job, when they are around. And I am learning to treasure those moments, and give them something of me they never maybe got before.

And just hand the rest over to God.

Beautiful post, Linds. As always, your heart comes through so beautifully to the page. And makes me think.And want to be better.

Thanks, sweet sweet friend. I love you.

Edith said...

Beautiful post as usual Linds. And I love your perspective on motherhood. I have a mother who taught us (at least when we were home)...sometimes I wonder how she did so well with 4 of us. And I see the things that my boys are interested in that inspire other interests of my own.

Will you be getting to attend the reunion?

someone else said...

This is one of the best commentaries on motherhood that I've read! So well said, Linds. You have accomplished so much of lasting value in your life.

I find myself questioning my contribution to my world more often than I'd like these days. I don't question my devotion as a mother and wife, but where do I fit now? Except in my relationship with B, I feel so invisible. Apparently I have raised my children to be independent to the point that I'm not really on their radar screen much. If I am mistaken, it would be nice to know. I know they're busy raising their own children, but why do some children have time to talk to their mothers and mine don't seem to? They don't seem to realize that I need them in ways that don't include the grandchildren.

They do interesting things and have wonderful abilities, which I know they share with each other. Why not share them with me?

That sounds like a huge pity party, but it's my reality right now. Sorry for spilling it on your comments page.

Linds said...

Ah, Becky - I know just what you mean, and please keep saying just what you need to say. I am here to listen, and I think it helps the others who read this too. We did well. We raised independent children. They don't think they need us, you see, and I certainly don't want to have them think of me as a liability. I have a great friend in another country who says she rarely sees her daughter. She is too busy. My kids don't live anywhere near, and if I move closer to them, who will I be? I will lose what is here. But where do I go? They are all over the world. And my sister. And...... I feel another post coming on. It is a strange time of our lives, but just know you are not alone. Lots of love

someone else said...

You're such a dear person, Linds.