Jen’s Mid-Life Crisis

As I somewhat alluded to in my Thoughts on “What If?” post, I’m feeling a little aimless. It has been 3 years since I jumped off of the merry-go-round and I’m still looking for that thing that will make me eager to jump out of bed every morning (oops – besides my family, of course), you know, My Purpose (I know that this is not an original quest). It dawned on me today that I’m 3 years into my mid-life crisis and I still haven’t made much progress. Don’t get me wrong, I am very blessed in my life – I have a wonderful husband, amazing children, loving parents and sister, etc. We have a home in a great neighborhood, my husband is doing well professionally and we have wonderful friends. I should feel fulfilled and not be this restless, yet here I am.

According to most people in my life, quitting my full-time job and going part-time has allowed me to be available to my children 24/7, you know, like a Meijer store (was I only available like 12/7 before?) – now I’m able to provide my children with untold benefits, experiences, etc. I get the fact that now it is a lot easier for my children to participate in more afterschool activities and to play with the neighborhood children more. So, now that also meant that I was more available to be the family’s social secretary, budget master, banker, tutor, taxi, chef, EMT, counselor, sports enthusiast, maid, judge & jury, taskmaster, etc. So, duh, THAT must be my purpose!  Whew, I’m glad we got that cleared up.

Wait a minute, if I’m doing such a great thing for the kids now, does that imply that I was doing a shitty job before? Hmmmm. I do think that would be the implication – what else could these well-meaning, yet back-handed, statements mean? Did my kids feel lonely, abandoned, unloved, ignored, and deprived when I was working full-time? (I don’t really believe that.) Because, of course, my husband working full-time apparently didn’t have that same impact. Yikes! Had I completely screwed up my kids already? They were 7, 10 & 13 when I quit the FT gig. I didn’t think we really started “ruining” their lives until they were in Jr. High. Oh Shoot, I was ahead of schedule!

I do want to stress that I have very much enjoyed being be able to hang out with my kids more. They are so interesting at the ages that they are now – we have really great conversations and I love the individuals that they are becoming. Rachel is near the end of her sophomore year and will be graduating in two years, Maddie is in junior high and we all remember what that is like, and Jack is my baby and in elementary school still, so I’m glad to be able to spend more time with all of them. BUT, why is it that I am considered a little nuts (maybe even whiny) for not being completely satisfied? Well, how could I not be 100% contented knowing that my mere presence (and now MORE of it!) brings boundless joy and happiness to my children everyday? YEAH, RIGHT! My daughter (I won’t tell you which one) disputes this statement every so often by stomping up the stairs yelling, “I HATE YOU!”. Yep, a therapist might be in her future (I actually think being around more has pretty much guaranteed it)!

I have repeatedly talked to my closest friends about this topic and, of course, we have determined that all women are not the same. Not really an “Aha!” moment, but it’s nice to confirm common sense notions aloud once in a while. I do enjoy working outside the home and contributing in that way – I always have. What I didn’t want to continue doing was working 50-55 hours per week. The part-time job I have now was a real blessing when I first quit my FT job. It is not stressful at all and it was exactly what the doctor ordered. But now, I think maybe I need something more and something different, but what?

Why did it take me this long to get to this realization? Well, I think it was because I have been trying to tell myself that I was fine because apparently there was really no reason to not be fine. Everyone else thought my situation was perfect, so it must be, right? I mean, I have a 30-hr a week job with a fantastic boss, I work during school hours so I can get my kids on and off the bus, I’m home in time to start the taxi service and usually cook a meal, AND I don’t have to work until midnight. Oh, and I can work from home whenever I need to. What’s not to like? (Wow, when I put it in writing, I am asking myself, “What is wrong with me?”)

Do I need a more interesting hobby or something different professionally? If I were to do something different professionally, what the heck would it be? I’ve been surfing small business idea websites just to brainstorm. Starting my own business has never really been a dream of mine – I don’t really think I have the moxy (or the fearlessness) required for that. The websites say to do something that you like (interests, hobbies, etc). When I was working full-time, I didn’t have time to develop any real hobbies that could lead to a career change. Okay, so what do I like to do? Hmmm . . . . .

Reading – I don’t see much of a job in this. A lot of people like to read. I’m not a literature major and I don’t have the qualifications to work in the editing field.

Crossword puzzles – I like solving them, not creating them.

Painting – I just started painting and I really don’t see a career blossoming from this hobby (see painting to the right).

Numbers – I was a math major and love to work with numbers. I’m always within arm’s reach of a calculator – I know, I know. Please don’t say it (Geek!).

Computers – I love computers (you can say it again, “Geek!”). I actually toyed with the idea of majoring in computers instead of math – why the heck didn’t I do that?!! However, I am mostly self-taught and I pay attention any time a computer professional is working on my computer. I’m not afraid to press a button! But, what can I really do with imitation computer skills?

Organization – What is there to say? I’m a fairly organized individual, but I’m not sure I would be very good at helping others get organized. Did you know that there is a National Association of Professional Organizers? Is there a college degree for that? Anyway, there is definitely something for everyone.

Cooking – I love cooking, but I follow other people’s recipes. I don’t create my own. Catering wouldn’t really be something I could do. What else can you do when you like cooking?

Should I go back to school? If I did, what would I study? I haven’t really pursued this option because we don’t have the finances for it – in two years we will be putting our first one through college. But, it does cross my mind once in a while.

If I were to gain a new hobby – what would it be? I’m doing oil painting classes now and that has been fun, but my classmates are intimidating. I know I shouldn’t be so hard on myself after 5 lessons, but my paintings look like caveman drawings or maybe kindergarten finger paintings (see pic above) compared to my fellow painters. It will be Y-E-A-R-S before something could actually develop from this hobby. I’ve also tried knitting; however, I haven’t developed beyond the basic dishcloth and winter scarf. I still don’t know how to pearl! I don’t think that selling kitschy knitted items is in my future anytime soon. My current problem with hobby-development is that I really don’t have any more time than I did when I was working full-time. It’s weird, but true (I have some theories on why that is, but I won’t expand on them here).

All I know is that I need to either accept my current status and drop it or create a plan to move forward. I guess this leads back to the “What If?” question. This question is really starting to annoy the crap out of me!

I guess I need to brainstorm a little more. . . . .



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