A common question to focus people unsure what to do with their lives is, "What would you do with your life if money were no object?" And when they said they'd be a professional parasailer or a gardener or open up a tortilla stand, you say, "then how can you make that happen anyway?"
I thought of a related question today: "What would I do with my life if I knew I only had 20 good years left?" This falls short of "the rest of your life" but involves more of a future than the cliche "live every day as though it is your last."
20 good years is a long time, but it's not so far off. My father was 20 years older than I am now when we started noticing some truly odd behaviors, beyond spacey, beyond normal aging -- things that were just off. At only 68, clear signs of Alzheimer's were setting in, and if he'd been willing to discuss the truth, let alone admit it, he'd likely have been genuinely diagnosed.
So rewind 20 years -- what if that were me? Would I spend this part of my life this way? I have young children, I'm creakier than I was but have no real physical impediments, I have so many ideas (boondoggles?) of things I'd want to do. I've thought a lot recently about what else I'd do, but not with the additional "...and if it were only 20 more years?"
My mother insightfully suggested that the answer might be much clearer if I took the plunge and quit. Let the things that are important bubble to the surface. Like clearing out a room completely before deciding how to rearrange the furniture that was in it.
And then there's having young children. They need me now more than ever, and more and more every year. It won't be long before Gabriel will need me in the distant grunting "don't talk to me mom" kind of way that 12-13 boys need from their mothers.
But I well remember that I wasn't fully content as a full-time mom either. I enjoyed so much about it, but missed the focused thinking I get at work. But now that I'm at work, I miss the time freedom and semi-flexible schedule full-time moms have. I really miss spending much of the day outside in the summer.
I've thought many times of making a list of all the things I'd do if I quit work...but it's so long it's overwhelming and once again my mind is in a room crammed with furniture to the top. I can't find -- heck, even think of -- the balance, so for now, it's status quo.