I talked to West last night. He hates his job. He hates his life. He wants a girlfriend. He wants a wife.
“What do I have to get up in the morning for?,” he asks. A sob catching in his voice.
He is 32 and lonely. And tired. Of a life in which he feels he carries the responsibility of 12 million people’s accounts on his back and a management that just doesn’t give a F*** about anything but making a name for themselves. That and big bonuses. They love those more than the people they are suppose to protect.
“What would you like to do?” I ask.
“I would like to build houses. Go from point A to point Z and in the end see the product of my work standing there, something to behold. Something that is meaningful and will bring a few people joy.”
“So you are looking to do something tangible, ” I say.
And I think back to all the days of child raising I have done. Days of toys strewn about, laundry piles a mile high and someone tantruming loudly through out the house. And sometimes that person was me. I remember struggling to see if what I have said and done had made a difference. I still wonder now even as the kids get older, their needs not so intense and demanding as they once were, is anyone listening? Is anyone learning something meaningful? Has what I have done mattered? Has what I have given up to be a SAH mother been worth it for anyone? I am not sure I know the answer to those questions.
I think back upon all the mistakes I have made. Ones so shameful that I glance around to see if someone can see the pink stains of guilt still written upon my face. Yet, I also see the times where I did the exact thing without preaching that made my child learn a valuable lesson that they desperately needed to know. And if I am truly honest with myself, my goods HAVE outnumbered my bads by a large margin but it is so much easier to remember the mistakes. Why is that? Why do those errors in judgement reside in the front of our minds while the things we should rejoice about slip silently away? Why do we crucify ourselves for things that were long ago forgotten as if the thorns embedded in us make our lives more noble in some sort of sadistic way? I don’t believe suffering brings about clarity so why play this game?
I wonder if is there ever a time when you can sit back and feel your job is done and you retire from parenting? You’ve done well, you know it. Instead of a gold watch all of a sudden a grandchild appears at your hip and she is your new timekeeper as you see things winding down. The minute hand of your life speeding around the dial while hers is still being wound.
Maybe all of this letting go of guilt, worry and wonder whether it has all been worth it happens when you are truly old. I must not be there yet.
I wonder if it will ever happen and I will rejoice on the day it does.