Cleaning off my rose-coloured glasses

by janevermeulen on August 6, 2014 · 0 comments

In the past few months, I have had the unique opportunity to answer the question “can you ever go back”. I discovered that when I became a mother, simple activities such as reading in the bath tub or perusing the newspaper in a coffee shop were no longer simple. I own an older “character” home in Esquimalt that slopes in one corner—the bathroom corner. I gave up baths for character. I also tried taking my toddler son for a leisurely coffee but soon discovered that my fellow coffee drinkers did not find him so leisurely. I now enjoy my leisurely coffee on my lunch breaks at work. Less time to enjoy but greater appreciation. But, I admit that I miss the simplicity of my single, child-free life.

In July, I was in Parksville and decided to detour to my first house. When I graduated from university, the housing market was very volatile and I was able to buy a small, fixer-uper for a very low cost. My days were spent at work, and my evenings were spent painting, scraping and shovelling. My favourite activity was shovelling dirt. There was a catharsis in moving my pile of dirt from the driveway to the backyard and I was sad when I swept up the last bits of soil. In the winter and autumn evenings, I would go to my favourite coffee shop and read magazines and eavesdrop on conversations. Afterwards, I would go home, take a bath and then read in bed before falling asleep with my cats at my feet. I remember my evenings being restful and quiet.

The house represented another time in my life. But as I stood before my house last month, I no longer recognized the house. The new owners were clearly gardeners and skilled renovators as every inch of the house and yard had been changed. And, it looked much better than anything I could have created with my limited funds.

As my son and I drove home to Victoria, I reflected on my life. I will admit that I miss my quiet evenings by myself. Reading for hours, sitting in coffee shops and going to bed early now seem like luxuries reserved for other people. Younger and child-free people. Not a middle-aged woman trying to manage a young child, busy career and elderly parents.

As I pondered the great question of “can I go back?” to a quiet and simpler life, I discovered that I cannot and do not want to go back to that life. Mainly, because that life frustrated me with it’s simplicity and quietness! And honestly, it was downright boring at times.

I was profoundly lonely living in Parksville. At times, the quietness in my house was deafening. I desperately wanted to be married and have children. Instead, I had three cats and a dog. I listened to people’s conversations in the coffee shop as their lives seemed so much more interesting than mine. When my employer offered me a transfer to Victoria, I could not pack up my house fast enough. The day I moved into my old house in Esquimalt was one the happiest day of my life!

Four months later, I met my husband. Nine years later, we are now parents of a 17 month old son. We are also children of aging parents and last week, I spoke with my son’s daycare and my mother-in-law’s care facility on the same day. We now have four cats and two chickens. Sometimes the chaos of my life is completely overwhelming and I struggle to catch my breath. Those are the times I long for a simpler life.

But, I have found a solution. We put a sandbox in our backyard for our son. Honestly, I am usually the one playing in it. Shovelling sand and moving it from side to another. I guess sometimes you can go back.

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