Halfway to 18
I just had the gist of this conversation with someone the other day at the bus stop. She mentioned she’s halfway to 18 (meaning her kids) and wants time to slow down. She asked me if I ever felt that way or did I want to get it over with. I told her I am not in a hurry but the main thing I wonder is, “who am I without my kids?” She lit up. She said, “Yeah — I don’t even feel like I have any friends anymore.” While I don’t exactly feel that way, the number of true friends that I spend much time with has dwindled significantly as time goes on. I have my bus stop and neighborhood friends (two of which are more than acquaintances), my sports mom friends (that change with the season), and some cordial friends who are parents of my kids’ friends (one has become more than cordial and is a real gem in my life)…and a handful of longtime friends that I get together with once in a while and whose birthdays I remember (but not always!), my church friends, an my online friends.
I imagine social media gives a false perspective of friendship. My bus stop friend told me she feels bad about herself when she sees what other people are doing on facebook. I told her I thought facebook was mostly fake — it’s just what people want you to see. I am not really “friends” with most of my facebook friends. Or am I? Social media has been a good way to reconnect with old friends from the past, mostly high school friends. I have a few people I met online in a group that I have friended, but still, we’re not really friends. I don’t think I’d go out of my way if I were in their state or country to visit them. But that’s not really the point of this post. The point is, who am I without my kids? I have no real hobbies that I participate in with other people.
Yes, writing and taking long walks are hobbies, but they are not social hobbies.
I am happy about my job. I am grateful to be able to work at home and earn a good living. I do not feel that this job is a “calling,” though. I got a tea bag fortune last night that said something along the lines of “do what you love and love what you do.” I am not sure you can love what you do 100% of the time. I don’t, not in my professional or personal life. (Who likes cleaning bathrooms?)
Is it too much to ask for purpose and meaning in my life? I read other people’s essays and think some of them are so much more *je ne sais quoi* and wish I had the courage to come out and write about some of the things that I could, but would no doubt embarrass my children. I toy with the idea of an anonymous blog, but am not sure anything “out there” is truly anonymous.
Is my self-actualization on hold while I raise kids? Or is raising kids my self-actualization? In the sense that you have to be your best self to set an example for them, I suppose it is. And I suppose my job offers purpose and meaning — the purpose is to pay bills, the meaning is that I can stay home and enjoy everything we’re paying for and be here when everyone needs me. (I mentioned to another friend that I needed another hobby besides “chauffeur.” She thought it was funny, but it’s one of those if-you-don’t-laugh-you’ll-cry type of funnies.)
The other thing about my “new” job (it’s not all that new since I am working with the same company I used to work for, as a contractor), is that I don’t see any travel on the horizon. I used to really look forward to my yearly foray to Las Vegas for an event where I could at least wear grown up clothes and hang around with other professionals in real life. It feels like my world is shrinking a bit, even as my kids’ worlds expand (my oldest going to high school next year). He’s more than halfway to 18, but my youngest is not quite at the 50% mark (as he reminds me, his birthday is coming up.)
I guess I have the next nine years to figure it out who I am without my kids.