R & R

After working a more-than full week weekends can be either very restful as I try to unwind from the grind, or very productive as I rush to get lots of things done at home. This particular weekend was so restful it I was nearly on the verge of comatose. Not really. But I did spend quite a bit of time relaxing.

Don’t get me wrong, productivity is what life is all about most of the time. I want to feel accomplished. No, I almost always NEED to feel accomplished. When I am seriously embroiled in a project, whether it’s at work or at home, I throw myself into it zealously. Whether I am sewing or building something or putting together some print publication or event, my goals are twofold: get it done, and get it done right. (I am actually still troubled by the relatively minor imperfections in my major chair re-upholstery project from last spring, but have not mustered the will to do over the seat cushions yet.)

We installed a new screen on Mom's fireplace:  the most productive part of the weekend.

We installed a new screen on Mom’s fireplace: the most productive part of the weekend.

But this weekend has been all about relaxing. If you can’t relax in January, you can never relax. The bitter wind outside makes the indoors so appealing. So I did some reading, a little shopping with my husband (who may have actually learned how to go to the mall with me after just 32 years of marriage), spent a little time on some minor projects at Mom’s, and spent a whole lot of time looking at lovely photos on Pinterest to get inspired for some future projects. A great deal of the weekend was spent doing a whole lot of nothing.

Every once in a while a weekend spent lounging around without a plan or a project or a deadline or a need to do something can feel really great. I can’t let myself be drawn into too much nothingness or I may get hooked and become a serious couch potato. But an occasional weekend won’t hurt.

As the new work week begins, I’ll throw myself back into the grind and the chaos and the projects. But I’ll do it knowing that rest and relaxation are possible and therapeutic. And even as I plan some new creative projects, I will look forward to another weekend soon when a sweatshirt, old jeans, and warm slippers reign supreme and a whole lot of nothing fills the day.

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How It’s Supposed to Be

The past three weeks hurried by in a whirl of Christmas and New Year’s and entertaining and visiting and cooking. Our daughters arrived home within two days of one another, the older one staying for two weeks and the younger for three. When they arrive we immediately notice the accelerated energy level in our house. Each has a distinctly unique personality, yet together they still remain the silly sisters, the giggle girls, and the best of friends. I wish that will always be so.

family-webNow these moments are recognizably temporary, and that’s okay. Don’t get me wrong, I would not trade those two for anything in the world. I would not give up a single day as their mother or an ounce of love or a moment of frustrated or joyous parenthood. I am grateful for the temporary because it sometimes forces conversations that are more meaningful. We can discuss emotions and situations and watch their body language while we learn how they feel and what they think.

The past few years during their academic careers and as the elder one spent a full post-grad year living abroad and another living under our roof we have watched them grow into interesting and thoughtful adults. They have left and come back and left and come back and left and come back. Just as we would get used to the quiet of a two-person household, one of them would return for a weekend or a school break or a summer. Those returns set the cycle in motion all over again. We have learned to welcome them with open arms and hug them tight when we say goodbye.

It’s a little stressful getting ready for these visits, almost like having company. Not that our daughters will ever count as company, but we have found that it’s a little easier to let things go when it’s just the two of us. Meals are less formal, the clock is more flexible, and we tend to make more spur of the moment decisions. We no longer have to adjust to their lifestyles and schedules. It is, in fact, more than a little liberating to have no children at home.  Some of the weight of responsibility has been lifted.

Our youngest likes to tease that we must really be “empty-nesters” because when she comes home she finds new and different types of food in the fridge and sees evidence that one or the other of us has been working on some project.  She sees this as a time of experimentation for us.  That’s true.  Just as our girls have been trying out their adult life skills and getting ready for a complete move out of their childhood home, we have been trying out life without children. It can be challenging to embrace the changes after spending a couple of decades in full parent mode, but our trial runs have been pretty successful and I have confidence that we can do this.

Now their visits are growing farther apart. As the elder one transitions into a full time job she’ll have limited vacation time, and there are other places she is likely to choose for travel. The younger is beginning her final undergrad semester and is already making plans to spend spring break elsewhere. Her commencement in May is the next time we’ll be together as a family. I have no idea when the four of us will be at home together again, but it may be many months off.

So we adapt once more to a household that is more sedate and introspective. Eventually we will fall back into our routine as a pair. After all, this is how we started out and how we spent many years before our precious daughters were born, even though it’s hard for them to believe we actually had a life back in those days. I’m pretty sure we’ll have one again.

We tried to raise them to be self-sufficient and independent. I guess they were paying attention. But during these first few days following a full house and flurry of activity, I have to remind myself: this is how it’s supposed to be.