What I Did With My Free Time

Carolyn Aspenson 

Iím supposed to be working on my column about GH for this weeks EOS update. So far this is as far as Iíve got.    

Nada. Nothing. Empty space on a white computer face. Itís not GHís fault. Itís mine. My thinking tank is all Ďthunkí out. The emotions, running on high for 14 days now, have finally all dried up, barely the size of a dried pea. I canít focus. These past few weeks were full of preteen crisis, elderly mother issues, years of sibling frustrations finally coming to a head, me finally deciding to not take crap thrown at me from people I donít truly like and much, much more. Last night I took a nap at 5pm (a rare pleasure for me since Iíve got three wonderfully loud children) and woke up again at 6:15. I then proceeded to eat some really unhealthy, sugary cereal and plopped myself back onto the bed to enjoy the ever sexy (but letís not talk about his personal life) Hugh Grant in ďAbout a BoyĒ. What a hilarious movie with a wonderful theme. If you havenít seen it, I strongly recommend you do. I loved it!  

The thing about ďAbout a BoyĒ is I could relate to Hugh's character in so many ways. Okay, so my dad didnít write some annoying Christmas song allowing me to live richly off its royalties. Iím not a single man with a huge ego and a shallow, empty soul. But, as Will (I think thatís Hugh's character name, but donít quote me) is attempting to find meaning in his life, Iím right there with him. Whatís funny about it is he finds meaning in a relationship with a child. Yes, I have three of those but Iím trying to find meaning outside of that arena of my life. Who am I apart from Mom and Wife? What happened to Carolyn? Woman with a career, good health, organized, independent life and financial independence? Where did her hobbies go? Her free time? Her small waist and proportioned hips and shoulders? And more importantly, will any of her ever return? (Iíd like the small waist and proportioned hips and shoulders first, please! Okay, so Iím a bit shallow, I admit it!) Where is the balance between that Carolyn and Mommy & Wife Carolyn?  

This weekend was Ďmy weekendí. My husband took the kids to Florida and Iíve got almost 40 hours of pure, uninterrupted FREE time. Itís my choice to do whatever, where ever, whenever and however I WANT. No kids. No husband. No nothing. Ugh. Just me, myself and I. This is the time for me to figure out what I want out of my life. Who I am, where Iím going, what Iím going to do for the rest of my time here on earth. Everyoneís calling and asking if Iím enjoying my free time. All of my friends with kids are jealous and envious and want to come over and bask in my freeness. I tell them itís great. They should all try it because Iím renewed. Iím refreshed and ready to get back into the swing of life as Mom. My kids will see a new me. No longer fussy, anal, quick tempered and somewhat high strung. Nope! Mom has rested! Sheís now happy go lucky, ready to go play in the park, jump on the trampoline and play soldier men all week long! Wait, not just for a week, forever! Yeah! Iím there! Count me in!  

What a load of crap! Iím still anxious, a bit jittering and high strung. I even found myself wandering throughout my house wondering ďWhat should I do?Ē No, I didnít want to paint the dining room. I didnít want to clean. I wanted to do something FUN! Something Iíve wanted to do for a long time but couldnít because of my other priorities or time constraints. So you know what I did? I watched Felicity. How overly pathetic is that? I couldnít think of a single thing I wanted to do. I shopped. At Target. Woo Hoo! Iím at Target practically daily. No big event there. I went to Barnes & Noble. Been there, done that. I had sushi. Okay, a bit off the beaten path but only because itís expensive and not something my family really enjoys for dinner. Thatís a point in the ďFreedom for CarolynĒ direction. Still, I really didnít do anything outside of my normal, everyday, mom life. I wasnít close to rediscovering the old Carolyn or even inventing some new Carolyn. I was simply still Mommy and Wife Carolyn. In truth, it was quite disconcerting, not because I donít like the current me but because the current me wants to be more, feel more, see more, do more and most importantly imagine more of the possibilities waiting out there for me to discover. The current me simply wants to live more.     

With that in mind, I pulled out the new journal Iíd just purchased at Barnes & Noble. Iíd decided to start keeping a journal to help me focus on who I am and what I want because itís obviously been weighing heavily on my mind lately. I started to write down all the things I like to do, Iím good at, my strong points, what I donít like and what Iíve always wanted to do but didnít. That one was the killer.

A few years ago my husband asked me what my goals are. What Iíve always wanted to do but hadnít. All I could think of was running in a marathon. I was 34 years old at the time and that was the single thing I could think of that Iíve always wanted to do but hadnít. So I did. Time to figure it out again so as I sat with pen in hand, I wrote the title for my journal section ďThings Iíve always wanted to do but havenítĒ. I stared at the heading and thought about it. I thought to myself, ďbungee jump?Ē Nope. Hate heights and that feeling of my stomach coming up through my esophagus. Cross that one out. Anything else? ďBe published?Ē Okay, so technically, with EOS, Iím doing that, for lack of a better term. Needless to say, I couldnít really write that in this section of the journal.    UmÖpenís still in hand, waiting for brain to tell it what to write. I stared at that journal page with its inspirational heading to no avail. I couldnít think of one simple thing. Except of course, bungee jumping.  Which I know for a fact will never happen!  

This journal thing simply wasnít working out as Iíd planned. I expected insights abound to fly from soul to pen. I thought Iíd have that journal filled before the end of Felicity. I was wrong. Maybe Iím more like Will in ĎAbout a Boyí than I thought. Maybe there really isnít much to me? Maybe when your children are being aggressively pulled out of you during child birth your current identity gets sucked right out with the kid. Maybe there is something in the epidural that kills off the independent cells and the meds create Mommy cells?   

Maybe itís simpler than that. Maybe, once you have a child (or two, or three) your priorities change. Things that were once important are somewhat backstaged by the immensely important rearing of that child. Maybe that Carolyn isnít really lost, sheís just sitting back and enjoying the ride, waiting to come back out and be rediscovered. Maybe sheís not even there anymore. Maybe sheís evolved into something more, a mother. And maybe sheíll keep evolving each day.  

Maybe, I think, there is more to me than meets the eye but right now my inner self canít allow all of that out because she doesnít want to interfere with Mommy and Wife Carolyn. She doesnít want my focus to change because raising my family is most important to her right now. Maybe sheís afraid that if I do find all this new stuff for me, the balance will be wrong. It will weigh in the wrong direction and I wonít be as focused on my family, who truly does need my ultimate attention right now. Maybe Carolyn is in there saying ďThere are a few things you like dear, a few things that will come to play in your life but you have to wait it out. Focus on what youíre doing now and be the best at it because once these kids are grown and gone, thatís it. Itís about you then. There is time for that. Keep writing in that journal. Itís not a one entry process. Itís a life process. Give it time and watch your kids develop. Before you know it that journal will be full and when you read it, youíll discover who you are, what you want from life and where your talents can and have a change to explode. Itís inside of you; itís just waiting for the right time to shine.Ē 

So as I sit here, writing this column, I think Iíve realized that even though I donít really know what I want to do with the rest of my life, this is the rest of my life. And Iím doing something productive. Something important. Iím being Mommy and Wife Carolyn. And though there are times that I want more than just that, I realize that time will come.  But right now my focus is directed to being the best Mom and Wife out there. That is who I am. Itís not a bad thing. It doesnít have to mean the Ďold Carolyní is gone. Is simply means that she has evolved and given her life more meaning. I guess these 40 hours alone really did help me after all.

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