One of the wonderful things about being an "empty nester" is that you occasionally have blocks of time that aren't committed. You aren't driving anyone anywhere...unless, of course, the dog needs grooming or if the stars all align...one of the kids wants to go somewhere. It's actually pretty nice.
Big Dave and I really only emptied our nest last August...when we dropped our "baby boy" off at his first apartment in Huntsville. We held him back a year from entering school (June birthday) on the front end and then he stayed at a local college for his first two years on scholarship on the back end. Having bought nearly three extra years...we were pretty satisfied that we'd manage and would fill the hours doing wonderfully creative things like fixing up the house, becoming uber organized and sticking to a written budget.
What we did was spend three months trying to get our bearings. It took me that long to quit buying Totino's Party Pizzas that nobody was around to eat and realizing that I was no longer competing for a parking place by the door. The house was strangely quiet with no microwaving going on at midnight and I could actually go to bed when I wanted because nobody was coming in later on.
Then it was Christmas.
Then I started at the gym.
For the past five months, my life has been super basic. I get up, get on the computer (do lessons, write, catch up on what is going on in the world), take care of animals, get myself out the door for work, work, go to the gym, come home for an hour and go to bed. Five days a week.
I do laundry on weekends and at least a project or two toward getting my house/yard/car/finances dealt with and do what I can to nurture the friendships that I have. Most of this is managed with cell phone calls either headed in to work, during lunch, or on my way home at night.
So, now that I have all of this "extra time on my hands" I find that I virtually have none. And five less vacation days this year. But I'm employed...so just ignore that bitterness.
Actually, I am finding that the more I have to do, the more actually gets done. I am forced to focus, to plan and execute, and I let stuff I shouldn't be doing anyway go. There is less time to bemoan the fact that time is flying by and I keep getting older because I'm having entirely too much fun just living the adventure that is my life.
I have plans that get derailed like everyone else...and I have a lot of things that I wish I could get to...but they are having to wait. That's okay...because if they are still waiting for me to get to them...then they matter. I have long ago let that which does not...go.
Except, of course, the tendency to want to stock up on things that my son eats when they go on sale at Publix. When I actually have time to go to Publix. Which isn't often here lately, I'm afraid. In fact, I left the penny item - a box of Publix vanilla wafers at the store today because I forgot to stop. Never mind that I need to have this item in my house like I need another armpit.
I mean, it only cost a penny, right? Oh, and the $10 worth of groceries that will spiral into $50 if I am not accompanied by an adult (which would be Big Dave with a stopwatch and an attitude).
This point in my life when I have more time on my hands than I have in at least 20 years is when I find that I can't find the time to dust.
Not that I've ever been accused of being an excellent housekeeper. Or even a good one. I thought "decent" sufficed for our needs. Except the kitchen. I do spend what effort I can muster up cleaning up in there.
I'm not alone in this...as Big Dave put the chairs on the table so he could mop the floor a week ago. As I write this, there are still three chairs in that position and one of the two barstools. I'm so not kidding.
The wild thing is...nobody around here gives a rat's behind. The kitchen is clean, the pool is clean, and we have underwear. I have a trunk full of clean gym clothes and I have fresh towels for the week.
Nirvana. Or something like that.
I think that we all spend so much of our lives trying to do everything so well because we just think we should. I suppose the most beautiful thing about "empty nesting" is that the people we are trying to impress either don't live here anymore or will give us fair warning if they are coming to visit. If they don't...well, they're on their own.
In a few weeks, I'll have a couple of vacation days that will be filled with the laughter of my sister, Mom, niece and nephew and possibly one or both of my kids if they can work it out. It will be busy and fly by like it always does...and I will spend most of the next few weekends attempting to whip this house into shape so that they will feel welcome here. And it will be worth every bit of effort.
But in the meantime, I'm just trying to use all of this "extra time" to nourish my soul and take care of my sadly neglected body that is apparently attempting to forgive me by surprising me all of the time. I'm enjoying time with Big Dave and even the occasional day or so when I feel pressed to the wall with all that I have to do mixed in with what I want to do.
And yes, I even have to drive Riley to the groomer on Saturday to be beautified. Bless his hairy little heart. I'll spend the rest of the day making the house habitable for all of the company that we'll be having beginning July 4th weekend and the two after that.
I cannot wait.
I'll remind myself of that last statement as I am cleaning the toilets.
Maybe the truth is that I don't have "too much time on my hands" but that I have exactly enough. There is time to take care of myself, take care of others, and to have something to look forward to. Isn't that pretty much what I was hoping for all of those years when I thought that the carpools, cheer gym, spend the night parties, chaperoning, shopping, birthday parties, family get togethers, church activities, school events, ball games, and so on were going on? When I was grasping for five minutes of alone time so I could catch my breath?
Yes. Yes it is.
And it is glorious. About as organized as a train wreck...but glorious.