I’m in my garden clearing out structures so the park district can till the plant matter back into the soil. The ground will wait over the long winter, chewing up vines and leaves and dead bugs and turning them into soft, dark loam. Physical work forces my brain to examine the latest events in my life.
A year ago, my world changed overnight when I started the full-time job. In nine years, I hadn’t worked outside the home. I had, until six months prior, worked a part-to-full-time job as an editor, but that was exclusively freelance, and out of my home. This job was a “come to the office” job, and the transition into the workplace shook my world.
With my husband’s help, I made the change and eased into a routine. I made some wonderful friends there with whom I’m in regular (and non-work) contact. I learned things about myself at that job that I had heretofore not realized; that unless I see something in writing, I can’t make sense of it; that I work very well with lots of different kinds of people; and that I have innate leadership qualities I have long been afraid to use.
I recently read that leadership starts with speaking up, and I spoke up at this job in a definite way. The lack of kindness exhibited by some co-workers was appalling, and I couldn’t let it lie. Among my other revelations, I developed an acute appreciation for kindness.
In the late fall of last year, one of the best friends I’ve ever had moved to India, upending me again. Because of the stability of having a job, I was able to carry on and eventually right myself, despite the crater left in my heart by my friend’s absence. I grew around it, but it’s still there.
And now, in the span of a week, the world has turned topsy-turvy again. With the loss of both my job and my husbands, and then my husband starting a new job in a city two states away, I’ve returned to my “stay-at-home mom” status. This time, without the cachet of “work from home” to minimize the blow.
My husband has given me a great gift. He has told me I don’t have to return to work. Financially, it will be difficult, but not impossible. Let’s face it–I didn’t earn even half of what he earns. Not even a fourth. People with language skill-sets like mine do not rake in even medium-sized bucks.
Whatever else his faults, which diminish rapidly as we both get older, supporting the family is something my husband does very well. We are by no means rolling in money, but we get by.
So as I clear my garden of bean trellis and tomato supports, I see that I am once again pulling up stakes in my life. The garden growing season is short, April to September. But in every life there’s growth and rest, forward movement and waiting. So now I wait again, this time forced by isolation and idleness to listen to the quiet. I need to force myself to not fear its voice.