Tuesday, October 19, 2010


I finally figured it out. I know what it is that has been bothering me lately. Dennis suggested this a few months ago, but I kinda blew it off. However, after much thought and several tearful, late-night conversations, I have finally decided that he was right.


Sigh. Or good grief. Whichever you'd rather.

So you may want to stop reading now, because I think it's about to get pretty ugly. Consider yourself warned.

I have always been pretty happy with my lot in life. It's not a lot, but it's my life! (Totally stole that from "A Bug's Life") I have loved my home, my junk, my yard, my friends, my voice, my hair color...everything but my figure. And it goes without saying that I love my husband and my children. That point, I would like to make very clear, is not under discussion.

But lately, I'm not happy. I feel discontented. I am questioning decisions I made years ago. And I'm fussy. My house is too small, it's too cluttered, and it's not very clean. It is too full of too much junk that I have always loved but that now seems like too much junk. My yard is full of plants that don't grow the way I want them to. My friends don't like me (maybe they're just pretending or being nice out of pity). My voice is ugly and I can't sing and I wish that I could. (But Kate's voice is totally gorgeous and I'm totally jealous.) My "career" is unsatisfying, because I don't know if I'm doing the thing I am best at, or the thing that I really should be doing. And my beautiful red hair, of which I have always been secretly very proud, is fading to a plainer brown as it heads rather quickly toward good old gray.

I would like to make two things very clear.

1. I know that I am ridiculously blessed. In one of our late-night conversations, Dennis reminded me that I swim in a sea of blessings that I don't even realize I am in. When I fuss and whine, I KNOW I am being selfish and petty. I have EVERYTHING I need, and almost everything I want. Don't lecture me about being ungrateful, because I already know.

2. I am not sitting idly by and pitying my pitiful self. I have been actively trying to lift myself out of the doldrums. I've been doing things that make our family and our home better. I've been doing things that improve me. I've been paying attention to my spiritual, intellectual, and physical wellness. So don't tell me how I should be reading my scriptures, or having family home evening, or saying family prayer, or exercising, or eating healthy. For the most part, I am doing these things fairly regularly. Which is WAY better than I'd been doing in the past. And I know there is more to do, and I'm working on it.

OK, but here's the thing. There's other stuff I want to do, too. I want to spend more time playing my flute. I want to do crafts. I want to catch up on my albums. I want to wash the windows and make some new window treatments. I want to have time to talk with the kids when they get home from school. I want to have time to do a date night with Dennis (don't give me the "you have time for the things you make time for" spiel, because that really isn't entirely true, at least not if you want to get a good eight hours of sleep every night--which I do).

I do a lot of good things every day. Important things and not-so-important things. I spend a minimum of six hours at work, then I come home and most days, I teach for two or three hours. Help prepare dinner, help with homework, help prepare family home evening, get one off to scouts, get one off to Young Women, get one off to High Priest's meeting, get myself off to rehearsal, get someone to a concert, get someone to take a shower, clean the dishes, clean the floor, remind someone that there's a dog living in the backyard who probably needs some food, write to a missionary, clean up the toys, attend the Young Women or Scout or Ward activity, do some laundry.

And at this point, I can guarantee two things. First, that my foot is hurting and I need to GET OFF it, and second, that I am exhausted. It's probably only about 8:00.

This is the point in almost every day that it hits me. The million dollar question. Are you ready to know what it is? Here it comes...

DOES ANY OF THIS REALLY MATTER? Does the time I spend at work matter? Does the time I spend with my students matter? Does the time I spent getting that Master's Degree in Nothing Very Useful matter? Does the time I spend cleaning the floor or the sink or the toilet matter? Does playing in the local volunteer symphony really matter? Who will care about any of this when I'm gone? Who cares about it now??

I know what will matter. The game of Monopoly with Isaac. The time I spent helping Wade figure out how decimals work. A late-night talk with Paul. Karaoke WICKED with Kate, taking a walk (OK, let's be realistic here--a limping hobble) with Dennis. Family Night at the Corn Maze. But is this how I spend my time? No. It isn't. Not very often.

So at this point, in my mid-life, I ask myself, "Do you matter? Does what you do make any difference to anyone?"

My practical self says, "Of course, you nitwit. You matter. You matter alot."

But my scared, insecure self, who still feels about fifteen years old, says, "Hmm. I don't know. I don't know if you matter. I don't know if the way you spend your time is going to make any difference to anyone."

So what do you think? Is it a mid-life crisis?

I think it is, and I think it will pass, and I think I'll keep working on spending more time doing the things that really matter.

Monopoly, anyone?


Nicole said...

i just want to say..i love you lots

t.t.turner said...

Just reading that post proves how amazing you really are, Marianne. I can't believe all that you can fit into one day! Women truly are given the trial of multi-tasking, doing everything for everyone, and then somehow we're supposed to look like supermodels doing all of that? And take time for ourselves, too?

Hang in there. I love you. Come to Seattle, and we can eat and cry together. :)

Erin said...

I'll echo Tally in saying that you are definitely amazing. I'm feeling like a lazy bum after reading the list of all you do in a day.

Like you said, it'll pass. I went through a crisis time after having Gareth. I had to learn to set some boundaries (especially about church stuff) based on what I decided my priorities were. And it took me a while to work through, but I've sorta got things figured out now. Until another point of crisis comes up in my life at least. :) So there will be a light at the end of the tunnel.

And we'll likely be moving to Seattle in a few months, so you can come visit me as well as Tally!

Rachel said...

You know, those times are hard. I feel you...even if what we are going through is different, I know what hard means. But you'll make it. I know it. :)

And I love you. :)

Sharon said...

I just want to let you know that I'm glad you got that not-so-useful-masters-degree, because if you hadn't, I wouldn't have met you, and you taught me a lot that I'm sure you never realized (or even would argue isn't really anything you taught me). I learned a lot from you, especially while on tour, from observing how great you are in so many situations, and I decided then that I wanted to be more like you. So, while that may have been a few years ago, I am sure that I'm not the only one that could say the same things about you now.

And I'm glad that I get to see a happy and familiar face whenever I go to concerts. :)

Susan said...

I've been struggling with some of the same thoughts you mentioned. Will anyone (my husband included) notice or care if I don't mop the kitchen floor? Why did I get a masters degree since I spend a large chunk of my days cleaning house, running errands, and cooking meals? I've found that being a wife and mother can be a thankless job at times, but also the greatest job of all. I think we just have to take the good with the bad. I KNOW that what you do matters. You work to support your family. You have shown to them the importance of education by going back to further your own. You are an example by being active in church activities. In short - you are an amazing woman, Marianne. You do SO much. You have done SO much. I admire you.


Meredith said...

Lunch mattered to me. Thanks for making the time!!!

Erica said...

I love what you have to say. I wish I could write on my blog like that and get away with it (some people are sick of hearing my pity sob story which is not over). I LOVE when people are honest about how they feel.

You are amazing. You are SO busy. That is why you don't have time to get everything done. You work and are a full time house runner and mother. (I would suggest quitting your job but that may not be ideal). Quitting your job may not make things better. If you really want to focus on losing weight (you said that you had troubles with weight) approach it like practicing. Practice isn't always fun but you know you feel better and do better even if you do.

I am not going to say I know how you feel at all because if someone said that to me I would be annoyed because they have no idea. Just don't compare yourself to others. You are SO great. (wow why am i telling you to not compare. it is completely ingrained in us flute players).

Keep doing everything that you can that is right and you will eventually feel better.

Love your sweet face :)

Anna B said...

your blog matters to me! thanks for all the wonderful and honest posts!

my mom used to say that she wanted to frame her MA diploma and hang it up in the laundry room since she spent so much time in there.

you're the coolest!

The Blackham3 said...

You are A...MA...ZING!!!! Thanks for being so honest. What really matters? Celluite,varicose veins, a spotless modern house? NO! I say NO!!! I love you girl! Thanks for putting into words {{{HUGS}}}

Kim said...

You really are amazing, Marianne. You have a beautiful, sweet, funny, and admirable family...I would definitely say that everything you do matters VERY much. :) You are one of the most giving and unselfish people I know. Hang in there and just do your best! You'll figure things out. :) Hugs!

Kazzy said...

I vote that it IS a mid-life crisis, but I think it is natural and even healthy. Asking ourselves questions and re-evaluating are not bad things. We want to make sure we are centered and balanced.

Now, if I see you out driving a red corvette with some boy toy in the passenger seat, then I will worry.