Recently, I read an article bemoaning the fact that we have become a “society of shut-ins.” I suppose the intent of the article was to shed a disparaging light on the trends of online shopping, food delivery services, and cyber friendships. People don’t ever have to leave their homes if they don’t want. In fact, most of the people in this article also worked from home. On the day I was reading this, it all sounded great to me. I had been away from home for almost a week. I came home to a messy house, an empty refrigerator, piles of laundry, and a broken dryer. The idea of sequestering myself away from the world in general sounded wonderful!
To be fair, T had been working crazy hours while I was out of town. He had prepared meals for the girls and tried to keep up with the laundry. Emily was back to work, but still recovering from her lengthy illness. She was sleeping almost every moment she was home.
I spent my Good Friday “holiday” calling around to find someone to repair the dryer, cleaning the house, and fighting traffic and crowds to buy groceries for my family. That evening I readied the house for company and the holiday. By the time I sat down late at night, I realized that almost every single moment of my life was claimed every single day. Work, the responsibilities of running a household, four kids…there was always something I needed to do.
When I finally collapsed in bed, I tossed and turned. I was back home from Atlanta, and the stress had been patiently waiting for me. Emily didn’t seem to be getting better, and I was worried about her. Luke sent me a text at 2:00 a.m. to let me know that his plane had landed in Arizona. He and Shannon were visiting his former college roommate for the holiday. At 8:00 a.m., my ringing phone pulled me out of a fitful sleep. Andrew wanted to know what the password was on our cellphone account. He was going to upgrade his phone. Thankfully, he had the sense to quickly tell me that he would be the one paying for the upgrade.
I had been allowed six hours to sleep, but I hadn’t done much sleeping. My mind had been busy swirling around from one thing to the next. It seems that the moment my eyes begin to close in sleep, the worries and concerns of the day crept in to wake me up. I pulled on my robe and shuffled out to the kitchen to get a cup of coffee. T was already gone. Although it was Saturday, he had gone to his office to catch up on work. Work. Our lives seemed to revolve around work – work at our jobs, work of being parents, work of maintaining our house and household. I sat down to drink my coffee in the morning quiet of the house. The girls were still asleep, and the cat curled up on my lap. I sat listening to the birds outside. Over the sounds of nature, I could hear traffic, and I remembered a time when our lives were not like this.
Once again, I missed our old home. I remembered other early mornings from years ago, mornings when I would walk outside and across the dewy grass in my nightgown. There were no neighbors to worry about. There was simply us, our home, our family, and nature. I could look across the fields and see nothing but earth, sun, and clouds. Of course, I am romanticizing things. Was it really like I remember? Yes and no. There were those perfect moments, but there was also stress and worry. There is always worry in life, the subject line simply changes. What I do know was that our focus, our driving force back then, was always the same, and that has changed. There was a time when we placed family first. Somehow that has shifted. Careers, success, material things, have crept up to a higher ranking in our list of priorities, and I don’t like that. I’m not even sure how it has happened.
We are here now, in this new place, our new home, and honestly I don’t want to leave. I have made friends here. In many ways, we are happier now. I don’t want to look back or try to recreate who we once were years ago. What we need to do is make adjustments and minor tweaks to our lives so that we can capture moments of happiness again. We need to look at what is possible to change and make those changes happen. We need to be proactive instead of reactive.
I can’t do it all. I can’t work all week and still be a housewife in the evenings and on weekends. I am NOT superwoman, and I don’t want to be. No one expects that of me. I have just kept doing it all, and that’s my own fault. As I sat there on Saturday morning, and I took my first stab at being a shut-in. I placed my first grocery order on Peapod.
My order arrived tonight. I was impressed by how easy and economical it was. Instead of fighting traffic and shopping for two hours, I spent ten minutes putting away a week’s worth of groceries. I stood in front of the pantry and marveled at the shelves full of food that I didn’t have to leave my house to buy. The next step is a cleaning service.
My goal is to reclaim my weekends, myself, and my happiness.