I spent seven February days in Chicago caring for my newly born granddaughter. Did I mention the February in Chicago part? The -14 degrees part? It was a fabulous week filled with so much love and delight. Such a point of connection for my son and me.
My daughter flew in as well. Scrambling eggs one morning, accompanied by David’s music playlist, I beheld my daughter cooing with baby Maya as her brother and sister-in-law perused family baby photos of yesteryear. This is why we have kids– for these moments of utter contentment and completeness.
Now, did you hear the “moments” part of the above sentence? Let’s be honest, to achieve those moments requires hours of energy expenditure, a/k/a work. Now, much of that work is joyful work. Feeling useful is so satisfying and contributes to one’s sense of well-being and happiness. Ok, all the benefits of hard work and self sacrifice aside, the work part is exhausting. I was assigned the early morning baby caring shift. That meant arising at 5:30 and trudging two blocks in the snow and -14 degree weather to fulfill my motherly/grandmotherly duties. Once in the warmth of the apartment, heaven awaited in the form of my baby girl. That intoxicating baby fragrance; the feel of her head tucked beneath my chin; to know I’ve not lost the ability to soothe a baby back to sleep. Priceless moments.
But there was also
- taking the dog out for exercise and elimination;
- climbing basement stairs on wounded knee with mounds of laundry;
- grocery shopping (organic only);
- car pooling;
- Starbuck’s drive-throughs;
- even hosting an Oscar night party.
Did I mention I’m 61?
I had coffee recently with a Lady Boomer friend. Her 92 year old father had recently passed away. While his passing was not a surprise given his age, the significance of the loss was profound. But she has not really been afforded the opportunity to sit with her grief. She is being pulled by so many sources and obligations. Her adult children and even her husband are making a lot of demands on her time and emotional resources. All these demands leave little space and stamina for one’s own needs and wants.
Even, or especially, being in our 60s, we still have dreams we want to pursue. I know when I returned from Chicago, I had little to no physical and psychic energy left for my own creative aspirations. I gave my friend a prescription, one I so hope I follow. Carve out 2-4 hours in the coming week for yourself. Seems simple, right? Not so much. You have to commit to the promise and build in accountability. Use the time to…
(1) meditate, (2) write in a journal, (3) take a walk or a bike ride, (4) wander through a museum or gallery, whatever you do, do it alone. You need to carve out time to hear your own thoughts and needs. Who knows, by creating this space, you might actually implement some of the things you hear from yourself.