I have had a nasty cold. For the past three days I have coughed so hard I thought I would rip my throat open. I’ve seen the doctor now and am on my way to recovery.
Thursday night I stayed awake all night coughing uncontrollably.
In the past if I had missed a full night of sleep, I would have had to get up the next morning at the usual time and either start taking care of my kids or start making arrangements to miss work.
Last Friday when I got up, exhausted, the only pressing responsibility on my mind was making an appointment to see a doctor.
This is the best thing about being retired: Fewer have-to’s.
Yes, I had other activities planned for the day. I was scheduled to babysit my sweet little eight-month-old granddaughter (I’ll call her Glitter.) for several hours in the afternoon.
Though I hated doing it, I called Glitter’s parents and told them I could not babysit.
Years ago, I would have been the person receiving the “sorry-but-I-can’t-babysit” call, not the one making the call. Though the last minute change was inconvenient for my son and daughter-in-law, they rolled with it, as all good parents roll with unexpected events..
I am called upon to do much less “rolling with it” today than I once was. My obligations are fewer and less important. What once were pressing obligations to a job or to a growing family are now volunteer activities and lunches with friends.
I lived my whole life in order to get to this point, and it is nice.
But it came at a price. I did my share of changing diapers, settling arguments, administering medicines, scheduling play dates, hosting birthday parties, and picnicking among bees.
Though it was difficult at the time, I am glad to have had those days. A mom is eternally love-bonded to the child she nursed through three months of colic.
Those days allowed me to feel a love so intense I thought I might die every time I looked at the faces of my sleeping children.
I am thankful for the sacrifices that brought me through those days, thankful that I persevered, improvised, finagled, and wrestled my way to where I am today.
Those past days grew me up. They revealed to me strengths I didn’t know I had. They showed me that I could, when called upon, be unselfish and strong. They proved to me that “Oh, yes, I can.”
And those days went a long way toward making me who I am today: a woman with a degree of maturity, accomplishment, and confidence she might not otherwise have achieved. A woman who is now freer to do what she wants to do. A woman who is tired, but in a restful way.
Yes, retirement is good. But it is good because of the days that came before.
So, if you are in the throes of diaper changing and all that comes after that, stay the course. You will never be sorry you did.
Then, when you are where I am today, you’ll be grateful for the freedom that comes with fewer responsibilities. You will enjoy carefree lunches with friends where you will talk about little else but the days that brought you here.