I think I might be entering a new phase. In the early years, I was forever fending my children off, looking for escape. But now they don’t need me like they used to, or at least not in the same way. They occupy themselves for long stretches of time. Their interests are becoming more specific and independent of me. As a result, I have more space, both physically and mentally.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m still fully engaged with homeschooling and running a house (and I have absolutely no desire to toss these involvements aside), but the fact is, gardening, reading, hosting, cooking, cleaning, writing, shopping, homeschooling, blogging, visiting, etc. is just More Of The Same. It’s constant and it’s predictable (even when it’s not).
When I get in these moods, lines from Ecclesiastes plod monotonously through my brain. There is nothing new under the sun…nothing new under the sun…nothing new under the sun…nothing new…
But this time something feels different. It’s not a normal dry spell. There’s a weightiness to this one. And it’s in the shape of an extra-large question mark.
I’m a thrill junky, this we know. I’m always up for a challenge, the wackier the better. But right now I’m not sure what that challenge looks like.
I’m incredibly picky, plus I have a husband to consider. He’s already put his foot down about fostering, and he’s not too fond of my idea to move to Kenya or to travel around the country with Mennonite Disaster Service (he’d lead the work teams and I’d manage the team logistics, feed everyone, and homeschool the kids—wouldn’t that be great?). We’re talking about getting a milk cow, but that’s a long way off. We have two Fresh Air kids coming this summer, but again, that’s a long way off (plus, the kids only come for seven days—it’s a thrill fix, yes, but only of the band-aid sort). Maybe I should go back to school? Start a business? Open a girls’ home? Run away to Hollywood? (I told you I was desperate.)
What I wish is that someone would tell me, “Hey, you’d be awesome at (fill in the blank)” and, amazingly enough, they’d be right. Suddenly I’d know exactly what to do and how to do it. Excitement, inspiration, and fulfillment would be mine for the having.
I’ve been calling this most recent bout of malaise my “midlife crisis” which irritates my husband to no end.
“Don’t say that,” he snaps. “It makes you sound old. Besides, you’re not midlife yet, so stuff it.”
And then he points out that spring is just around the corner. Change is coming.
He’s right. It’s been a long winter and the change in seasons will be a relief. But still, the change in seasons is nothing new. It happens every year.
I get the feeling that Opportunity is lurking right around the corner. The suspense is making me crazy.
To keep myself from screaming and running in circles, I think. I talk. I whine. I go for walks and peer (figuratively speaking) into the crevices and crannies of my brain—what am I NOT thinking of?—in hopes that fresh oxygen will help solve the mystery.
I employ all sorts of tactics to help myself deal with this awkwardness.
1. I call it “a stage.” Stages aren’t for forever (hallelujah).
2. Boredom is good., right? This fallow time simply has to be a breeding ground for creativity.
3. Growth is uncomfortable. Love the pain. (Or at least endure it gracefully, snort.)
But the mystery remains.
Do other people spend excessive amounts of time scheming and searching for something meaningful to sink their claws into? Or has everyone else found their Life Work and the Energizing Contentment that accompanies it?
Is this an age thing?
Is this a side-effect of intentionally living life on the slow side? Maybe if I jumped into the rat race, I’d be too busy to notice the futility and sameness of everything. Or maybe people in the rat race notice it, too?
Maybe I’m giving too much weight to what might simply be a raging case of cabin fever. But I don’t think so. Like I said, this feels different. New possibilities and freedoms are looming, I just know it.
If I only knew what they were…
This same time, years previous: this will make your eyes hurt, the quotidian (4.2.12), three stories, oven fries, and my excuse.
The answer is so simple. You and others (myself included) who feel like we are in a waiting mode for a refreshing of seasons, times, experiences, etc., are really just longing for the Creator of our souls. He has placed that in our hearts and it is totally wonderful and right that we should feel this way. Do not be discouraged. He is coming soon. What you are feeling is what all of creation is longing for too (Romans 8:22-23). God Bless.
I think you should write – I mean more than a blog or a newspaper column. You're so smart and you're such a talented writer. Maybe there's a historical fiction, or kid lit book (like the kind they promote in the Heifer catalogs) lurking inside you.
Actually, an idea for kid lit popped into my head a couple days ago…
Kathy ~ Artful Accents
This post resonated with me in some ways, but I'm having a hard time articulating how. You and I are in similar stages with the ages of our kids, so I get the feeling of being not so needed but yet still necessary. In fact, mostly I feel like their taxi service and an occasional confidant for their current troubles. But mostly it's a ride in my van that they really want!
I'm not a thrill seeker, at all. But I resent being limited by my physical health even if I wanted to seek thrills; and in fact, I sit here today in a quiet house wishing that I was able to go along with my son on his field trip to DC, but I could never handle all the walking involved.
And by the way, I still wonder what it is I will be when I "grow up." I know what I'm good at, but I want someone to tell me how to be better at it!
I recently went through a slowing down phase, not by my own doing but several things left my daily routine at about the same time. I knew the time of quiet was intentional on God's part and I had to remind myself "change or activity" is coming. It did and I am glad for the time of quiet. I can identify with your "stage in life" as even with all the changes in our household, I have the same longing for some excitement. I want it to be external, but sometimes I think I need to be inwardly focused to see what my real longing is for. Either way, each day nighttime comes and then there is sleep and a new day begins and something will be a little different that day.
L in Elkton
If you had an empty nest, I could relate to this. However, with four children, a house, pets, a husband, homeschooling, an active religious life, a camera and a blog, I don't know what you would call this! I would say be thankful for the joys and challenges around you that you still get to experience, since so many cannot. In other words…..grow up! I really don't expect you to allow this comment, but I don't really care, your whining is a waste of my time. Adios!
Dear Debbie Downer,
It doesn't matter how "busy" ones life seems from the outside looking in, some of us happen to THRIVE on the roller coaster of life and are always on the lookout for the something new.
JJ, your posts ARE worth my time. 🙂
Anonymous, your comment made me chuckle because this is exactly how I talk to myself much of the time. Problem is, I can't just sign off on my emotions (wouldn't THAT be nice!).
I hesitated to publish this post for exactly this reason: I didn't want to sound whiny. But it's my truth, so I decided to risk my image and be honest. And I'm glad I did. I feel more normal now that I know I'm not the only one.
I hit that point in 2008, and I still haven't figured out an answer. Let me know if you find one.
Oh man, you have articulated my own feelings so well (and these feelings are often contradictory and hard to adequately express). I don't necessarily want MORE things to do, but I love being challenged (although not a thrill seeker like you) both mentally and physically. I've added some things to my schedule (I work part time from home and all kids are in school), but it frankly doesn't cut that feeling of being held back or stuck. It sounds weird to say, "bored," but that actually captures it (despite that fact that we all probably hate it when our kids say they're bored!). I struggle with then feeling ungrateful for a wonderful life. Anyway, sorry for the novel, but thanks for sharing your experience in such a thoughtful way.
I am sort of in the rat race. I think we get it too. For me, it's still the same commute, the same reports to write, the same groceries to buy. xoxo
It's good to hear this. Gives me perspective.
I am a stay at home wife. I home schooled for 23 years and graduated the last one almost 5 years ago. My days can be long and sometimes lonely but I have no desire to get a job and hubby does not really want me to. When I get in that funk is when I start redecorating a room. Since I am so picky and cheap, I mean frugal, it takes me months to complete the project.
Six months ago I started mentoring women coming out of prison. That does occupy my time and my mind, A LOT.
It can also be a hormone shift. I use natural progesterone cream and would not be without the stuff. Hubby calls it my 'happy cream'. I started using it when I was 45 and it changed my life.
Last year, I started planning to go to med school in Suriname. I'm not even kidding. My husband could work freelance and I could become a doctor. Obviously, it's not happening.
I get into these funks, too, needing something interesting to look forward to. Just planning shenanigans can help, although I'd like for some of them to happen…otherwise it's a let down!
Dan and Diione Murch
Settle into that feeling. I think the unrest prepares us to jump into things we wouldn't be willing to try if we were content, like starting a school for example….. :). You're resourceful and creative. You;ll figure something out 🙂 .
I read this article recently. I think you'll like it. Tangentially it mentions the "life gap" which you may or may not find helpful as a term to describe waiting for the next big thing. http://www.theguardian.com/film/2013/jun/23/sarah-polley-stories-we-tell-interview
Also I was appreciating the subtle beauty of that picture right before I read the caption. Worn out and dull, organic flow…it's all the same right?
And it's not an age thing. As always, thanks for sharing.
"Life gap" – yes, that's a good way to describe this feeling.
I don't think you need a new adventure, Jennifer. What you do need is new eyes – eyes that are not inwardly focused, but that look around and see the everyday magic of your life. ~Sherry
You are not alone – I have been discussing with a few friends how BORED we are. Our kids still need us, but not like they did. My life is blessed, beyond what I deserve. But that does not give me the thrill some part of me seems to need (Yes I am a total thrill seeker). It's hard to trust God has a plan for me with some meaning and purpose. Not that my kids are not purpose, etc…. you know what I mean. If you come up with an answer – let me know! There are more of us out here. Hmmmm. Should we begin a support group? "My name is Kimberlee and I am bored….."
The Domestic Fringe
I get the whole cabin fever thing going on every single winter. In fact, I can't wait for spring and it's not only because I'm sick of winter. I just feel better when the sun shines and it's warm. I'm more content and happy. It's probably all mind over matter, but t happens every year.
You're good at so many things, everything you do it seems. If you really want to start something new, the possibilities are endless. I'm sure you could have a thriving business in any of your areas of interest.
Well, I hope a wonderful opportunity comes your way and chases away the mid-life crisis. I just applied for a job at my library. My hopes aren't too high, because no one else in town will hire me. True story. I even have a descent resume.
I hope you get the job at the library. Libraries rock.