Have you ever heard a retired person complain about how busy they are and how they do not know how they ever managed work and homelife when they had a full time job? Yeah, the young me was always rolling my eyes to the back of my head when I heard that. When you ARE balancing work/family/relationship/home it is too cruel to hear a non-working person complain about being busy. Imagine my surprise to discover when you stop working "real life" moves in to fill the void. Still, real life beats the hell out of working for a living. I am not gonna lie.
I sincerely do not know how I managed to conduct my personal life while working outside the home for 37 years. In fact, I think maybe I did not have a personal life then. Something had to go to make time for work. Working outside the home is all consuming. The workplace is unforgiving, demanding, and pretty much devours the majority of your daylight hours. I remember coming home from work and plopping myself on the couch just staring into space, night after night. "Shaken, not stirred" is how I felt. It inspired me to start making martinis. At least that got me up off the couch.
The last few years of working full-time I was unable to read a book because I was too stressed to focus on a page of text. Towards the end of my work years I rarely read an email word for word, skimming each one for the punchlines in order to get through them all in a timely fashion. Weekends were spent cleaning, cooking, shopping, catching up with friends and family. I guess I was lucky that we did not live near our grandkids then, because when would I have seen them? Would I have really wanted to add babysitting to that mix? There was never anytime for myself then. I ached for retirement so that I could relax and do all those things one is never able to accomplish on a measly weekend.
I went through the working mother routine, too - the years when raising children was supposed to be your top priority. And I only had one child. When do working mothers sleep? Actually, when they do lay down to sleep they are unable to relax because they are wracked with guilt for not spending enough time with their kids. But I had my kid when I was 20. I had an abundance of energy back then. I felt like I could do it all. What about the mothers who just start having children at 40? How do they keep from jumping off a cliff?
Aging is the issue. I simply do not have the energy I once had. My mind is going 100 miles per hour, but my body is meandering along at 20 mph. When I was young it was all a game, and I reveled in the challenge. Now the thought of being challenged makes me want to throw up. I want time. Lots of time. All to myself.