Conundrum

kids shoes

I have two kids. My son is nineteen and my daughter is eight. Yes, you counted right, that’s an eleven year gap.  No, it was not a happy mistake.  Early in our marriage my husband and I made a decision not to have any more kids.  But life changes and feelings change and we both knew our family wasn’t quite complete yet.

More often than not when I tell people about the age difference they say,  “Wow, really? That’s quite a gap. Is it difficult?”

It actually hasn’t been all that difficult.  My son was pretty close to being self sufficient by the time my daughter was born.  Well, as self sufficient as an eleven year old can be.  The first couple of years were a bit challenging but once he was in high school things got easier.  The hardest single thing has been planning vacations.  How many things do teenagers and toddlers both want to do?  Not very many.

But for me, the most problematic thing is that it creates a bit of a time warp.

time warp

The friends I made when my son was little are still very much in my life.  Over the years we’ve been through so many things with our now young adults.  Without activities to bring us together our connections are now more about us, than our kids.  Many of these friends are now starting to think about retiring.  Not next year, but maybe in the next five or ten years?

Their kids are in university or working and some are already empty nesters if their kids have chosen to go to school back east or in the US.  No more early morning soccer practices, no need for babysitters, no late night pick ups from parties.  They have more free time and less day to day responsibility.  They can travel or even take up a hobby.  They have moved into the next stage or their lives and it’s pretty sweet.

My daughter is eight and the friends that I have made in these past few years are who I spend most of my time with.  Hanging out at the dance studio (for hours), commiserating over school yard politics at the park or escaping to the pub occasionally after bed time.

These friends are still in the small children stage of life and considerable work is still involved on a daily basis.  Some are new home owners or starting new businesses with their future stretching out ahead of them.  Job opportunities and career changes are still top of mind options.  The concept of retiring is a distant goal. Most are still planning their fortieth birthdays.  (My fortieth was…..a while ago).

The fact is I feel a bit torn?  No, that’s not right.  I think confused would be a better word for it.  In some ways it is contributing to my ambiguity on Finding my Thing.

Half of me feels should I SHOULD be getting ready for the next next chapter of my life.  Investing, getting my shit together.  You know, getting organized for getting older.  And enjoying the fruit of many years of parental labour.  The other half of me feels like I’m still a Spring chicken whose got loads of time to do anything BUT worry about RRSPs.

To be honest, I’m  not sure what The Best Thing in Life is about this conundrum.  Maybe it’s simply the fact that I got to use the word conundrum.

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Climbing the Corporate Ladder

ladder

“I have a head for business and a bod for sin”

My favorite line from the Melanie Griffith movie Working Girl.  An ’80s movie about climbing the corporate ladder.  But is climbing the corporate ladder still all it’s cracked up to be.

Many years ago I worked for a very successful consulting firm.  Lots of young beautiful smart people charging clients lots of money.  Think LA Law.  One of the ladies I worked with was, for all intents and purposes, a clerk.  She processed payments and  benefits for a group of companies.  I remember being in meetings with her department and hearing the consultants encouraging her to take some courses and improve her position within the company.

“I’ll look into that” she would say.

At lunch in the bar (hey, don’t judge) we would find out that wasn’t exactly how she felt.  We discovered that she wasn’t really interested in “moving up”.  She was perfectly happy in her cubicle doing her routine, rather mundane job.

“I like what I do.  There’s no stress and I like the work.  Why would I want to change that?”

A small gasp could be heard around the table.  Who didn’t want to climb the ladder?

I recently took on a part-time temporary job. The woman I work with is the sole office worker for the company.  It’s a small office.  Well it’s not really an office.  It’s more of a workshop with two desks.  She brings her dog to work with her every day and enjoys the two months off every January when the business shuts down for winter. She is a smart cookie, but more importantly she seems to be able to handle any situation that is thrown her way.  Difficult customers, techs who don’t show up for jobs and an owner who is……challenging.  She is a problem solver extraordinaire .  She would be an asset to any customer service company.

As I drove home from work the other day I wondered if she was happy in her job.  Happy in her small “office” with her dog and the same routine every year.  Wasn’t she interested in taking the talent she had and maximizing it?  It got me thinking about my friend from years ago and whether or not pursuing the dream of a corner office and a “career” position is actually worth it or not.

Is it an outdated concept or have I just moved into a different demographic that just doesn’t care?  It seems to me that women these days are more interested in being able to enjoy life than they are donning a power suit and having their subordinates quaking in their boots.  We’ve all worked for one haven’t we?

working at home

In my search for my thing I know that the corporate world isn’t even a consideration.  I would much rather work in my den than have an office or a boardroom.  I would rather talk to my cat than have an assistant.  If I’m stuck with a difficult situation I would rather go for a run and figure it out than sit a computer and debate policy.

Would I like the salary of a corporate level job?  Absolutely.  I’m a bit lost but I’m not stupid.

So that’s what I’m thinking about these days.  The Best Thing in Life would be to know what all of you think.

PS:  The downside of returning to work is that I have no time to read all the other blogs out there or have coffee with any of my great friends.  My sincere apologies.