I was laughing this morning because I dreamt last night that I met my blogging friends at a convention for bloggers, and it turned out that they all lived in the same city as me! It got me thinking that I am truly living anOTHER new life now, as the name of my blog site “itsmyotherlife” suggests.
In my old life, I had anxiety dreams. I was often running away from something or swimming in the water. I was told that water dreams suggest worries. I had a lot to worry about then. My children were young and I was at work most of the time. I suffered tremendous guilt because I couldn’t be with them in the mornings. I worried that nobody else would be able to ascertain like a mother if they woke up sick in the morning. Even during the periods where my husband was home in the mornings, he would assure me that “everyone was great,” trying to relieve my concerns, and I would come home to find out that one of the children had actually been sick. I realized that there is really no perfect substitute for a mother when children are little.
I used to worry about our finances. Money was always tight. Originally when I got my first job as a doctor, we bought a relatively expensive house because I thought that I would be financially comfortable. It came as a shock when I had my first child and was so strongly bitten by the mothering bug. Life changed dramatically as I gradually decreased my working hours to the point that we could just pay our bills. I did not save for retirement. We tried saving small amounts in our four children’s 529 accounts, but those accounts never reached their potential, especially after the economic downturn in 2008. I didn’t care as much about the money, though, as long as my children were emotionally healthy. We ended up selling our house and downsizing to a fixer upper.
I took parenting classes in the evenings over the phone and hoped that based on one piece of advice that I learned, that if I spent 10 minutes with each child every night, doing something mutually enjoyable, that I would fill their emotional needs. I hung on to that thought throughout the years that they were young, and it really helped carry me through the difficult emotional times. Somehow I think that sticking to that mantra, along with a lot of prayer, did work, as my children for the most part, seem to have come out alright. They could have been better students if I had been at home more, I think, but my biggest goal was achieved, that they should grow up with self esteem and emotional strength.
In my old life, my days were spent multitasking at work and then at home. As long as I continued running in the mornings, I had daily energy until at least 10 PM. I took on any challenge in addition, and felt like I could achieve anything. In this OTHER new life, my days are spent on the couch, and a good day is one where I manage to make dinner AND get the kitchen sink cleaned out! Some of my kids’ grades are truly floundering, but I’m not really worried because I know that my kids are intelligent. I know that when they mature enough and truly want something in life, that they have the mental and emotional tools to succeed. So for the most part in this new life, I don’t worry anymore and my dreams are now silly.
I used to be a very private person. I would have never “laid it all out” on the internet. In this other new life I just don’t care. Because when you’re not sure how long you will live or how long you will be able to enjoy life, little things stop mattering. I don’t care what people think of me much anymore. I mean, I still want to be liked and I still need my friends, but I don’t care that people know how my days are spent. This is just how it is for me now and I can’t do much about it. I have found plenty to keep me occupied on the couch! I’m so lucky to be happy with what I have.
There is just one thing that has the potential to bother me now, however. Strangely, it’s how I am perceived by my doctors. I need to know that they are taking me seriously because I just want to make sure that I continue to get the best care possible. As long as I continue to feel that I have a good relationship with my doctors, I am satisfied. (I think it’s really important for patients to keep searching for the right doctor, almost like dating!)
In my old life, I gave to others as a doctor. In this other new life, I learned that I can still give to others even as a patient. I didn’t start doing that intentionally. It came from understanding the caregiving side of medicine that I learned through my career. I am very patient with my caregivers. I understand what it’s like to miss an IV. That happens to me a lot. The nurse or tech always apologizes, but I sympathize with them because I remember how bad I felt when I missed an IV. My wonderful caregivers are so appreciative of my attitude, and that fulfills me too.
I’ve learned some things in this OTHER life, maybe too late, but hopefully I can distribute some advice to others. If I could change anything about my old life, I would have pursued the things that gave me fulfillment rather than running in the rat race to make ends meet financially. This new life changed how I advise my children based on that realization. I believe now that while it is important to have a skill and to be able to earn a living, there are many ways to achieve success. For some it might mean college. For others it might mean trade school. And for some it might mean a lot of creativity and failure before achieving what they are looking for. Ultimately, though, I don’t think that the amount of money earned matters. I believe that happiness can be achieved by acceptance and living within one’s means. The creative part of managing that can be fulfilling on its own. This is what I hope to pass on. Nothing says that we have to live life the way our parents did. We should know ourselves well enough to understand what makes us happy and look for a way to apply that knowledge to our everyday lives.
As always, thank you for reading and I hope it sparks your day!