Monday, November 24, 2014

CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL: A mom’s blissful birthday locked in the bathroom

By AMY NEWMARK, Chicken Soup for the Soul | 8/8/2014

After 10 years of motherhood, Mimi Greenwood Knight’s taste in birthday presents from her husband had changed. “In the years before kids, he’d have gotten off easy with jewelry or clothes, dinner out and a gift certificate to a day spa,” Mimi wrote in her story “Ode to a Quiet Bathroom,” published in our book about multitasking moms. This year, her 40th birthday, would be different. “What I really want is four hours alone and uninterrupted in my own bathroom. Just peace and quiet and porcelain.”

An odd gift? I don’t think so. Being a mother is a full-time commitment, even if you have another job. And even though every moment with your kids is precious, sometimes for your emotional well-being — and to be the best parent possible in the long run — you need to escape. For Mimi, that meant time alone in her bathroom, a place that’s supposed to be private, but where, it seemed, she was never actually alone.

After 10 years of motherhood, Mimi Greenwood Knight’s taste in birthday presents from her husband had changed. “In the years before kids, he’d have gotten off easy with jewelry or clothes, dinner out and a gift certificate to a day spa,” Mimi wrote in her story “Ode to a Quiet Bathroom,” published in our book about multitasking moms. This year, her 40th birthday, would be different. “What I really want is four hours alone and uninterrupted in my own bathroom. Just peace and quiet and porcelain.”

An odd gift? I don’t think so. Being a mother is a full-time commitment, even if you have another job. And even though every moment with your kids is precious, sometimes for your emotional well-being — and to be the best parent possible in the long run — you need to escape. For Mimi, that meant time alone in her bathroom, a place that’s supposed to be private, but where, it seemed, she was never actually alone.

All she wanted was to spend an afternoon lazing in the tub without being surrounded by “action figures, stick-on alphabet letters and naked Barbies.” She wanted to get out of the tub without hearing, “Boy, the water goes down when you get out, Mommy!” She wanted to shave her legs “without delivering a safety lecture about my razor.” She wanted to “towel off without having to teach an anatomy lesson titled, ‘Why Mommy Looks Different From Daddy.’” Then she wanted to paint her nails — hers and no one else’s --give herself a facial and a pedicure, all without little people calling to her through the door.

What her husband did with the kids while she got her four hours alone was no concern of hers. As soon as they were back, she’d be re-energized and ready to dive back into being Mommy. And, in any case, she could remind him that his 50th was coming up. For his birthday, she was “toying with the idea of declaring the remote control off limits to anyone but Daddy for one long, glorious afternoon,” she wrote. “Consider the possibilities.”

•••

It was a tough job market for Cary G. Osborne. She was fresh out of school with a master’s degree in library studies and limited work experience. She was also worried about embarking on a new career at age 62, as she wrote in her story “When I Grow Up I Will Be a Professor,” published in our book about people finding their own path to happiness.

It had all started with some tough love from a friend during a lunch date. “You need to take control of your life,” her friend Gypsey had told her. Cary had been drifting from job to job since being widowed a few years earlier, and she was never satisfied. The story was always the same: an unpleasant boss, lousy pay and unfulfilling work. Gypsey knew Cary loved books, so she encouraged her to go back to school and get a library degree. As Cary resisted — “tuition, books, fees, I don’t have the money” — Gypsey laid out how it could be done. There were student jobs and graduate assistantships, she explained. As for after graduating, Gypsey asked, “Could you live on $30,000 a year?” “Sure,” Cary said. “Well, that’s probably what she would make in a university library,” Gypsey had said. “You make it sound possible,” Cary said.

Cary needed this push from her friend, but once she got it, she was off and running. She enrolled in school, got that graduate assistant job Gypsey had mentioned and studied alongside her classmates without worrying too much about the age difference. She also discovered her passion within the field. Although, much of her coursework revolved around digital information systems, she was more interested in working with paper, and she realized she wanted to be an archivist. After school, she started looking for jobs. Gypsey had told her not to worry about her age — it doesn’t go on your resume, she’d said — and soon Cary got the job she wanted. Working at a university library, her first project would be managing a U.S. senator’s papers. “I was 62 and as excited as a kid,” she wrote.

Syndicated by Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, online at www.chickensoup.com

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