The other day I was walking the dog in the evening, a job I enjoy when I can do it, despite the cold and treacherous surfaces that our climate provides each winter. It was particularly enjoyable that night as it was unusually mild, the wind had died, and the streets were clear. I ran into a neighbour, just back from a trip south. We shared the usual banter, then he said, “when we retire, we’ll be heading to the warmth for the whole winter”. He made that “we” include me – to him it was obviously something my husband and I would be looking forward to, too.
I would, but I can’t. I started this earning adventure late. Money will always be tight. I doubt I will manage any significant vacations away over my children’s school years, never mind a retirement that includes somewhere warm.
I found that reminder of what other people’s plans entail, and how different they are from mine, a little hard to stomach.
I’m proud of how I’m managing now, of what I’ve accomplished, but damn, it would be nice to think there would be some real luxuries eventually. I never want to weigh the joy of my children against what I could have done, but I find myself regretting my earlier choices, the lack of focus that kept me from being gainfully employed till I was forty.
Then today, I came across a piece in an online magazine that really summed it up.
Just when you think you are coming to peace with how your life fits -—the way it drapes across your shoulders or falls over your hips, the way it catches the light when you twirl before the mirror -— is when you’re reminded of how much it cost. It is often when you begin to perceive its beauty, the way your choices and losses have purchased a surprising amount of contentment and even joy that you realize you still owe on the bill.
I loved this passage. The rest of the article is on point, too, about the yearning for earnings. The author explains how, despite being grateful for the economic support she found it hard that her husband out-earned her and always would.I feel for her, although my position is quite different. I make more than my husband. I always will. Not much more, but he has years and years of steady work behind him. That seems to makes his career easier for him, so that his work is something he does without the angst mine causes me. Besides the angst of enduring an extensive learning curve at this stage of my life, I have to get used to the harsh realities: I will never do anything particularly stellar in my job; I’ll never be an expert in my field, notable for my leadership or likely even promoted. I thought I had adjusted to that set of realizations. But sometimes, I wish I could have the economic bonuses that could come from that kind of career. Because my career started late, and my kids came so late, too, I won’t ever do those things. We won’t ever have the financial bonuses that would come with them. And every once in a while that makes me a little sad. Even when I am otherwise excessively grateful for the bountiful blessings in my life.