I love my children so much that, at times, I fear my heart will explode. But let’s be honest, spending 24 hours a day caring for an infant and a three-year-old may stimulate my heart and my emotions, but it does very little in the way of keeping me intellectually alert. I can no longer finish the Sunday crossword. I have no idea who I will be voting for in the upcoming presidential primaries. And the thought of being around adults and trying to have an intelligent conversation about current events makes me break out in a cold sweat.
Instead of reading three newspapers a day, I now read only the local articles in one local newspaper. And when I say ‘local,’ I mean only those stories which concern a two-county area. Except, of course, for the Wednesday New York Times Dining section, and the Thursday Atlanta Journal Food section. And I’m not exaggerating (a fairly unusual event in and of itself) when I claim I can’t remember the last time I watched a news program on TV. My world just keeps getting smaller and smaller.
I realized this morning that I haven’t left my property in three days. Today is Day Four, if things go according to plan. I’ll leave tomorrow to go to church, but let’s be honest, that is only about a mile away, so close that I could walk there if I didn’t insist on wearing four-inch stilettos.
There was a single month, albeit six years ago, when I spent a week in California, a week in Miami, and a long weekend in Las Vegas, coming home for a few days in between each trip to see The Carnivore and to re-pack my suitcase. This past month, the furthest from home that I’ve found myself is 15 miles away. Oh, how my life has changed.
Granted, the changes have been good. This is, I suppose, precisely what the phrase ‘settling down’ means (although in my case I may have taken this TOO literally). My twenties were all about having fun, going places, meeting people, and learning as much as I could about as many things as possible. It appears that my thirties will be about my marriage, my children and my home, which can all be contained in one VERY small section of the world. Not that there's anything wrong with that...
Okay, I know that it sounds as if I’m restless and making a desperate attempt to justify my life to myself. And sure, maybe I DO go a wee bit stir crazy at times, but I’m all too aware of how quickly time goes by, and I don’t want to rush through these precious few years that I get with my children while they’re still babies and toddlers (and completely loving and innocent and hilarious). Truly, I only even bring these thoughts up at all because it struck me this morning, when The Big Boy woke up after spending THE ENTIRE NIGHT in his own bed, that it won’t be long before Little Miss Piggy wants her own bed as well. And then they’ll start school. And (here's the rub) it will be time for me to re-evaluate my own daytime life when I’m no longer needed as the hausfrau/stay-at-home-mom. Of course, I’ll be nearly forty by then…
So maybe that’s what all this is about. I’m back to the what-do-I-want-to-do-with-my-life question. And I don't mean it in the context of faith and contentment and happiness. Rather, for me, this question always smacks of measurable accomplishments or, in my case, the lack thereof. Someday, I hope to find a career I can stick with so that I can maybe ACTUALLY accomplish something with it. Retail management suited me for nearly ten years, but frankly I got tired of living by The Corporate Rulebook, which was why I (finally) went back to school and (finally) chose a major and (finally) followed through with higher education. And I don’t know why I didn’t see it coming, but I am already utterly bored with my chosen profession in business and, other than using it to manage the financial side of The Carnivore’s HVAC company, I find myself with very little use for this degree. Clearly, my original plan of going to grad school after the kids are both in elementary school is pointless, since I have absolutely zero interest in learning anything more about accounting and finance. And sitting for the CPA exam ranks pretty low on the priority list, right down there with dusting the baseboards or watching paint dry. So obviously I'm going to need to re-think my career choice. Again.
Lately, as a matter of fact, all I’ve really cared to learn about has been food. The books I’ve been reading recently have all been non-fiction food lit, like The Soul of a Chef, Service Included, Alice Waters and Chez Panisse, and California Dish. And I’m waiting for my fashion and beauty magazine subscriptions to expire, since I would rather be spending time with my Fine Cooking, Cooking Light, Edible Atlanta and Cook’s Illustrated issues. I can get a little obsessive.
Which is why I’m now staring at a stack of books on recipe writing, digital food photography, resources in food writing, etc. Come to think of it, I may have been on to something 16 years ago, when I first started college with a major in pre-journalism. Coming full circle is not, I can say without a doubt, all its cracked up to be. I am a walking exercise in frustration.