For 13 years I was the only driver of our family of five. At one point, my children attended three different schools and my husband and I worked at two different schools. Five people, five schools — along with all the activities and meetings to go with them – and one driver. I often drove 5-6 hours a day, 500 miles in 3-4 days, within about a 10-mile radius of home.
When our son went to the east coast for school, I thought nothing of driving 13 hours to drop him off or pick him up. I appreciated getting out of the city and having time alone to think and listen to ‘my’ music. I cherished the alone time and the sense of temporary independence.
This past Thursday, after a few years’ break, I packed up lemonade, grabbed my iPod with the same 600+ songs, and drove alone from Chicago to New York to pick up our son. Funny thing is – I had no desire to pack up junk food and, as I drove, I realized I didn’t feel the need for ‘alone time’ or ‘independence’.
As a semi-empty nester, I have plenty of both time and independence. Maybe even too much.
With our son planning to live with us for the year, our daughter home for summer break, and our other son visiting next week from college – I’m excited to have a full house with their chuckles and always interesting conversation.
But at the same time, a little voice in the back of my mind is saying, “Be sure to find time for yourself.”
I wonder if setting my own schedule, having free time, and doing what I want pretty much whenever I want – is so new and fragile that I might get sucked into old habits of putting everyone else’s needs and desires before my own.
Of course, I love spending time with my children more than anything, and I will always meet their needs, even at my own expense – but while they are doing well and not in desperate need of my attention, I am hoping to maintain a sense of balance even as they surround me.
As you create your new midlife lifestyle, do you ever wonder if certain events or situations will throw you off balance?