By: Talyn Terzian Gilmour
Bring back summer!!! It’s been nearly a month since school started and I long for those easy days of not shuttling people back and forth, not really having to be anywhere, and hanging out with all my friends who normally are incredibly busy with work. But back to school means back to reality and for me, back to figuring out what’s next.
I recently had morning coffee with a friend of mine whose “this is who I am, take it or leave it” attitude I deeply admire. She, like me, does not have a career and stays at home to take care of her family along with all of the responsibilities that go with managing a household. I, on the other hand, call my self a “momager” a “freelancer” a “former financial advisor who’s taking a break but still consulting on the very, very side” and so on…all because I’m still uneasy in this skin…
It’s very hard to reinvent oneself. Maybe you must because you’ve left your job, or perhaps it’s because you’ve overcome something – when our perspective changes, we must follow suit. Her advice to me was to just be happy. To just live life. Simple. And yet the hardest thing of all for someone so locked into their ‘big brains’. I said to her, “But what do you tell people when they inevitably ask, ‘What do you do all day long?’” and she said, “I tell them I’m counting sand.”
I’ve pondered this for a while…what exactly does that mean? Quite clearly it must be her way of suggesting that the question itself is completely out of line? In this role, I can tell you that there are 1,000,0001 things to do…and I dislike about 1,000,000 of them. OK, perhaps not. But why is it that there needs to be some sort of justification of worth when it comes to the hardest job on the planet: “Momager” (or “Popager” too with a nod out to all my male counterparts).
We don’t just “take care of the kids” but we run an entire household. I’m an accountant, general contractor, engineer, designer, chef, maid, chauffeur, caregiver, boo-boo fixer, and a whole host of other things all rolled into one.
Fortunately for me, I married Mr. Niceguy – he is tremendously well read (including being the reader of one tremendously witty and reflective column…) and seeks (is forced) to understand today’s woman’s plight of trying to be all things, at all times, while faced with an identity crisis. He appreciates that while I’m trying to figure out my next move (which is taking FOREVER and is an exceptionally tedious process) one thing I hate to be is “pigeonholed” into any one category. Yes…that’s the identity crisis part.
Yesterday, I received an email from Mr. Niceguy listing a series of dates basically letting me know when he will either (a) be out of town, or (b) be at a late event, or (c) just be plain unavailable. I read his list and at first, was so amazed with all the great things he’s got going on. Then I read: (a) confirmation that you are on dinner/homework/bedtime duties, and (b) you are the main source of entertainment/fun for a pair of tween/pre-tween boys, and (c) you’re ‘single-parenting’ quite regularly for the next 6 weeks!! Looks like my next move just got decided for me…hmmmppphhh!
Counting sand….counting sand……
So this morning, I’ve escaped to my happy place…I’ve escaped outside of the confines of the city and my home, and the cleaning and the cooking and the incessant tidying…I’ve escaped to my parents’ house. Surely here someone will wait on me hand and foot? Ply me with food? Focus on me? Surely here, I am the centre of the universe and the apple of my parents’ eye!
Within moments of my arrival my blood pressure is lower, I’m calmer, and I can sit still for a moment…until I’m asked what I’m preparing for dinner, what our Thanksgiving plans are, and how are the precious grandkids and oh no…it’s not all about me! Still…being here…there’s just some kind of magic. I love eavesdropping on my mom’s conversations with her friends and love watching how she (seemingly) effortlessly floats from task to task. I just love the tamber of her voice. And while the kitchen looks differently now compared to when I lived here, and my room has been converted to a guest room, this is still the place where I can find solace. And for now, I’m on pause. Until I’m asked to be the event planner, the tech person, the…etc., etc.…
So here’s what I’m thinking. While I keep looking for whatever it is I’m looking for, I still have a job to do. Counting sand takes patience. And it takes effort. It takes the realization that unlike my financing or mergers and acquisitions projects of the past, the results take much longer to come to fruition. Oh, and unlike those projects, it never really ends but eventually, the accomplishments can be far greater.