Do you ever wish sometimes that you could step back from being an adult? On those days when adulting is particularly hard? Just for a while you could stop trying to be responsible and patient and sensible. You could hand over all decision-making to someone else. They would be perfectly trustworthy, look at your problems, and tell you exactly what to do. Just for a day or two it wouldn’t matter if your behaviour is a bit childish, your tears overly dramatic, and your fears groundless. It would be someone else’s job to be the adult. They’d give you a hug, solve your problems, and you’d happily go on your way.
That’s how I’ve been feeling this week. A bit down, and more than a bit lonely. Longing for some older and wiser person to ask me what’s wrong and then make everything all better.
Even in our splendid isolation on the river, I’ve been feeling melancholy. When the early morning sun glints off the water, and Hubby and I sip our lattés in the sun-room, watching a few ducks paddle by, trying to determine if they are merganzers or the more common mallards. Or on those dark days which I normally love, when the rain batters the windows, and I turn on the gas fire in the sun-room and curl up with a book and a cup of tea, cosy and safe and warm. Or even when I’m walking in the sunshine listening to an audio mystery read by a wonderful narrator, with a plot the ending of which will make me sigh and smile. Even then.
There’s nothing to be done about this. Not really. I’m well over the age when I can run to Mum for hugs and a band-aid. Or call my stepfather to come and fix whatever needs fixing.
The other day was the anniversary of my stepfather’s death. He’s been gone for more than a decade, but I still miss the sound of his slow, gravelly voice on the other end of the phone. As I said to Hubby last night, Lloyd excelled at adulting. He was always willing to be the adult in the room. Always.
When he was twelve or so he looked after his invalid grandmother because his mother was wrung out caring for his two younger brothers who both had muscular dystrophy. When he was twenty, like most young men his age, he went to war. He came home from the war and looked after his parents. Eventually moving his family into the old farmhouse after his father died. Three years after his wife died, he married my mum, and then he looked after us.
When I was a teenager, neighbours were always calling for Lloyd to come help with one thing or another. I remember clearly the day an elderly women who lived on a farm a few miles away phoned. Her husband had gone out to cut wood that morning and hadn’t returned. She was worried. So Lloyd drove down, and walked across the fields of their farm, to the small woodlot, to find her husband dead. Killed by a falling tree. And one day, when I had left home, my mum called to tell me about the death of the son of family friends. The young man had shot himself, and they called Lloyd to come. I cannot even imagine how difficult these requests were for him. But he always stepped up. Always.
My niece posted something on Facebook on the anniversary of Lloyd’s death, how she misses him every day. For even though he was a step-grandfather, and not a blood relative, he’ll always be Grampy to her. One of my fondest memories of her as a little girl is how she used to love to brush her grandfather’s hair. I remember one day as he sat in his chair at the kitchen table, patiently trying to drink his cup of tea, she stood behind him, brushing away. I think she must have been four or five. And as she brushed the few hairs he had on top, she said, “You know Grampy, there’s not much hair up here. But it’s growing real good on the sides.” That memory always makes me smile.
But this post is not about grief. Or about missing someone I love. I still have my mum to call, and for that I’m very grateful. It’s just that I’ve been feeling a bit melancholy for the past few days. And I am trying to figure out why. Or what can be done. If anything.
I tried to explain to Hubby yesterday morning how I’m feeling, but although he tries to understand, he really doesn’t get it. In fact as I tried to explain, I began to feel silly. I miss my friends… makes me sound as if I’m fourteen again. It made me remember the difficult days when we first moved to the farm, and I had left all my friends behind in Marysville. I came home from my new school in tears a lot that fall. “Nobody likes me,” I’d wail to Mum.
Understanding my emotional reaction to this social isolation thing has been a struggle for Hubby. He’s quite content because he’s not someone who needs a lot of social interaction. In fact, in recent years his chattiness with strangers when we travel has surprised me. Normally, he’s happy with my company, his garden, and his woodpile. As I write this, I can hear the chainsaw in the backyard as he cuts wood for next year’s fires. Yesterday, he tried suggesting things I might do. But as I told him, I’m not bored. I can come up with all kinds of things to do. But for the moment they all seem… well… not productive enough. Not necessary. Too … well… childish.
In many ways, I think I miss the days when I was working. I miss all the casual social interaction. The morning chatting and laughter before classes started. The purposeful discussion about course planning and student evaluation. Even the moaning and venting. As a department head, people always came to me for help with their problems. I used to joke that my name ended with a question mark… “Sue?” …followed by… “Do we have any…? Can you tell me…? What should I do when…?” And I kind of miss that.
Maybe what I’m feeling is not that adulting is hard. But that I miss being the adult in the room, helping to solve someone else’s problems.
I do hope you’re not getting exasperated with my musings. With these wobbly weekend, “poor me, I’m lonely” posts. I’m not looking for sympathy. I have too many things to be thankful for: safety, security, good health. And at least one person to talk to. Ha. It’s just that this blog has always been an outlet for me. Somewhere to write my thoughts. I’m not looking for solutions. Really, I’m not. Because unless someone can magic the world back to some sort of normal, there is no solution for me. Just patience.
I’m trying to be patient. I know that in a few days, I’ll be back writing posts about earth-shaking things like white tee-shirts. 🙂
Now it’s your turn, my friends.
Have you had days during this isolation thing when you’ve been sick to death of being an adult about everything?
Oh… and if you’re someone who used to say my name with a question mark at the end… and you need an extra adult in the room… call me, eh?