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Learning to be selfish

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The kid's club team had another soccer game today, against an opponent they play every season. Usually they get blown out - the other team is very deep in talent and very physical. But today, somehow, the kid's team kept it close, and lost by a narrow 3-4. The kid scored the first goal and made the assist for the third, and had a very good game. The team's two goalies also made some heroic saves to keep them in it. I cheered loudly, screamed out some "woo hoo"s, and celebrated the dramatic goalie saves as enthusiastically as the goalies' parents.

We picked up a few groceries afterward and met at the checkout line a soccer mom from our older kid's playing days. The hub asked her: "How is it being an empty nester?" And she replied: "Honestly, it's just awful." She also has 2 kids, college freshman and senior. And honestly, she seemed so less energetic, so less vibrant, than I remember from hanging out with her on the soccer sidelines years ago. And she said to us: "You'll find out soon enough."

Later, in the car, the hub said to me: "I hope that's not us in three years" - which is when the kid will head off to college. I have been thinking about this the last couple of years - what will I do when being Mom no longer requires much of my active effort? The hub has hobbies but I don't. In our pre-kid days, we just worked longer hours. I guess I could go back to doing that.

Or I could develop some hobbies and interests. I could do a better job of exercising. I am a terrible swimmer; maybe I could look for adult swimming lessons and tick that off my bucket list. It would require my putting on a swimming suit, which would in turn require that I have a drink or two to get over my shyness/embarrassment! (Not really serious, no worries!) I have a list of things I'm looking forward to doing in retirement, should I last that long. But now I think I might want to think about starting on that list when our younger gets to college.

I've been raised to prioritize being a good daughter, and have spent the last couple of decades trying hard to be a good Mom. Doing something fun for myself, with no direct benefit to my family and taking time away from family responsibilities, seems a bit selfish. But I think I need to get over this. If doing things that improve my physical and mental health are "selfish" then perhaps "selfish" is not always a bad thing.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Not selfish at all, but necessary. When you take the time to do things just for you, you are taking care of YOU and that makes you a better wife, mom, person. If you find something you enjoy, something that pleases you, that gives you satisfaction, you will be happier overall and that can only be good for your family. My experience was a little backwards. The kids would not move out and so I did! My daughter and grandchildren were living with me, I met my now Hubby, and I left the nest. My nest is still full, technically. It's a good idea for you to prepare yourself, because living without children really is different. After you get used to it, you find all the perks. You don't HAVE TO cook dinner. You don't have tons of laundry. You can have quiet in the house. You can watch what you want on tv. There are definitely advantages. You'll see. Plus, you will have the satisfaction of knowing you did you part, you did your job, and they are growing up and moving on, as it should be. --Pam
    1968 days ago
    It never hurts to take a bit of time for yourself. Three years will fly by before you know it and now is a good time to try something new. Have some fun! emoticon
    1969 days ago
    A couple of days ago on the way home from work in the evening, I was walking past houses in a neighborhood of mostly elderly people whose children are long gone, and I could hear the sound of the TV coming from behind the walls of several. For me, this was a lonely image. It got me thinking about the lives of the people for whom silly TV shows (and TV shows are mostly silly here in Japan) are apparently their only link to the outside world.

    Not all old people here are alone and isolated, but many of them are. There are a lot of VERY healthy old people in Japan who can walk much farther than I can, but there are few opportunities for them to make new friends, unless they join a fitness club or go to a "culture center," where various activities are conducted for the huge senior-citizen population here. I thought about the old people in their houses watching TV at night after going to the doctor in the morning (a popular hobby among the elderly here, where there's national health insurance and no appointments are required) and clipping a few bushes in the garden in the afternoon, and that would be the extent of their day. This train of thought set off a slight panic in me--that could be ME in a few years! I remember how idle my grandfather was when we would go on childhood visits to Atlanta; his life revolved around breakfast, lunch, and dinner (well, to be fair, so does mine, but in a different way).

    Anyway, I'm rambling again, but what I want to say is that your blog really touched a nerve with me today because I've been thinking about this problem. We really, really need to find what it is we love to do, because the demand for our services as mothers is about to be drastically reduced (mine has dwindled a great deal already). If work is what you love most, Bemused, then work would be a good outlet, but I have a feeling that it might be something else, something more fun. I hope you find something you really love and will become passionate about!

    P.S. I know what you mean about needing a drink before donning a swimsuit. Haven't done that in years!
    1969 days ago
    Three years will be here before you know it! I remember when I became an empty nester and it was quite the rude awakening. Suddenly the job of being a full time mom was over, I had to discover a new normal in my life. I keep busy with my friends(I'm divorced.) I volunteer, work and spend time with my dog. I also take very good care of myself. My days are filled and I did miss my children at first. But as time went by, I started getting use to the new phase of being a different kind of mom for older kids. They grew up and so did I. Be prepared, it is a huge change in your life!
    1969 days ago
    No, and I think thinking about it now will help you be ready in 3 years. I have more time to get ready for it, but I'm a low-energy person and selfishness comes easy...haha.
    1969 days ago
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