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.
It is a MID-LIFE CRISIS.
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.
3 hours ago