I go to the fridge and look to see what can become the ingredients for today’s special meals. I decide to make my family favourite – chicken cordon bleu, green beans au gratin, waldorf salad, and a cherry torte for dessert. I grab the chicken breast tucked neatly behind the kale and place it …. wait, wait. Stop! I don’t cook; I hate cooking. I hate all things related to elaborate meals. Please, wake me from this culinary nightmare!
Lately I have been dreaming of me playing the role of domestic diva – a role I have always eschewed, and never wanted. I have struggled to figure out their source. Perhaps it is the pending arrival of Mack who will soon finish university for the summer. Will I be expected to cook supper, prepare lunches, and do laundry? Probably not, but I worry that I should want to do so. I feel I should do something, especially now that I am no longer working. I of course want to make my son’s time at home special. I don’t get to seem him very much so I should feel excited about taking on the role of traditional mother to him while he is home. I have never been that type of mother, so why do I think I need to be one now? I’m not sure.
Everyone else seems to think that I should be happy to be domesticated now that I am free of the daily grind. I should want to bake muffins and reorganize my shelves. I should feel wonderful that I finally have time to make healthy, nutritious meals from scratch – with ingredients I have either grown myself, or laboured over while perusing the organic section of the grocery store. But I’m not thrilled. I don’t like being thrust back into that continual pull of traditional vs modern role. I have worked very hard to break free of stereotypes. But suddenly I find myself thrust back decades. Discussions at seniors curling often imply that I should have the homebody role – that I should be thrilled to no longer need to work. Moreover, I should be really happy now that my hubby makes a good living so I don’t have to worry my pretty little head over such silly things as a career. Arrrrgggggghhhhh!
I am becoming more comfortable with the non-working role. I am learning to enjoy my time at home by myself. But I am still not fully adapted. I still haven’t found the thing that gives me the need to jump excitedly out of bed in the morning. I’m filling time, I finding great happiness in the moment. I am loving having time to steep my tea properly, to do a few minutes of yoga when I want – and to make my bed in the middle of the afternoon if I feel like it. These are the small delights I know many of us longed for during our careers.
But what comes next? What do I do when I have had months, or years of taking my time in the morning? What will I be? What will I do? What will I have accomplished of value?
I am still adjusting to the role of retiree. I am still trying to define what it means for me. Right now, I still need to wake from the nightmare of others’ domesticated expectations of women who retire. In the meantime, I will try to “let it go” and just be. I think for rich now, I’m make a cup of tea, check Facebook, look for cute April Fools jokes online – and just enjoy the moment. For now….