The Busy Years

Wide horizon, eager life,
Busy years of honest strife,
Ever seeking, ever founding,
Never ending, ever rounding,
Guarding tenderly the old,
Taking of the new glad hold,
Pure in purpose, bright in heart —
Thus we gain — at least a start!
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I remember during the busy years often wishing for a day to myself.  A day to wake up when I was ready, not when somebody else’s calendar of events said I had to; a day when I could do as I pleased without having to consider anybody else.

Well now I have those days.  And usually I can fill them with activities always of my choosing.  But just occasionally, on a wet Sunday afternoon, at home with my little dog companion, I really miss those busy years.

Those were the years when my late husband was making his way in the world and we didn’t know how long we would be in any one place or where the next transfer would take us.  They were also the years when the children were growing up and making friends wherever we found ourselves.

They were the years when I had to come to terms with leaving old friends and starting again in a new country.  And they were the years when I was surrounded by love and a loving family.

I clearly remember dinner time.  Dinner had always to be on time as somebody had another place to be – Girl Guides, Boy Scouts, gym, ballet, rugby practice, netball practice, squash et al.  And so dinner of necessity, was always something that I could produce easily and that I knew would be met without groans at something new.  Now I have time to try out the new recipes but don’t do this often as it is not much fun cooking a great dish for one.  So my friends become guinea pigs.   I always make dinner for myself each night but it is again, the easy things that I know and can produce easily.

I remember trying to juggle getting children to different places often at the same time.  Easy when Father was home; not so easy when he was away.  And then they got their driving licences and so could drive themselves.

I remember the hustle and bustle of mornings.  Getting young children up and ready for school.  Then as they were older, getting them out of their beds (have you tried this with teenagers?)  in time for breakfast before they left the house. This routine didn’t change much in any of the three continents in which we lived.

In Scotland, the children were at nursery school so they were only there in the mornings and came home for lunch.  In New Zealand children take packed lunches to school.  That was new to me and so much debate with myself over what to put in the lunchboxes.  So making lunches had to be factored into the morning rush.

In Canada they came home for lunch and then back to New Zealand for packed lunches again.  Once the children were in senior school they could buy their lunches.  That was a godsend for me because by then I was working.

I had a very busy job initially as a secretary/PA but within two months I was promoted and had my own secretary and the responsibility for all the female staff in four offices.  A huge jump considering that I hadn’t worked for 13 years.

These were the years when I returned to the workforce; sat and completed the Real Estate examinations; finished a diploma course at University and raised my children; ran the house and generally enjoyed myself.

During those years, I never stopped to think that they would end one day and what would I do then.

The not so busy years were when the children had left home to go their own way.  these were the years of the so-called ’empty nest’ but I was so busy starting my own business and caring for my husband that I really didn’t suffer the ’empty nest syndrome’.

And then my husband decided to retire early and we moved again to an idyllic spot far away from most of civilisation.  This move only lasted a very short time before we moved back.  These were fantastic years.  We had each other and could afford to do the things we wanted.  We travelled to other parts of the world and saw places we had always wanted to see.  Both children met and married their partners and in turn produced children of their own.  And I thought this time would go on and on.

But it was not to be.  And as I have said, one awful day I was left on my own. As Charles Aznavour  sings ‘Yesterday when I was young ….the thousand dreams I dreamed, the splendid things I planned..”

So now my wish for a day to myself has been granted.  And as I have said, I am usually very happy with my lot but sometimes I really miss those busy years.

“I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read and all the friends I want to see.”  John Burroughs, 1837 – 1921
American naturalist and essayist


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31 responses to “The Busy Years

  1. When your quiet times are not quite enough to fill your life and you start to yearn for the busy years … don’t forget – you’ll always have “us”.

  2. It sounds like one of those days to contemplate things…today is “Father’s Day” here in the states. It’s a day of contemplation for many…you are not alone.

  3. So many people I know – I’m among them — are going through this period of introspection. There really is no way to prepare for the different stages in our lives — it’s so personal, so individual, no-one could prepare us.
    I’m sure you’ll find something rewarding to fill the spaces.

  4. Thanks for the encouragement also. Guess I was feeling a little down this morning and have since spoken to my daughter who assures me I am still wanted in her life.

  5. Isn’t that a great feeling? My grown daughter still “needs” her mommy once in awhile. 🙂
    I like the John Burroughs quote. In his lifetime, he didn’t even have all the distractions that we do.

  6. My days are not as frantically busy now my children are adults and I watch others coping in that stage and I don’t envy them much. But I also know the feeling of having too much time on my hands on occasions and winter time with the long dark hours and often miserable weather seems to highlight that.

    My Mum found winter weekends and long weekends were her trickiest to manage after Dad died. She got better at having some projects to spend time on at home during winter and she sought out friends in similar circumstances to help fill the long weekends and public holidays.

    As InsideJourneys commented above it is all so personal and individual. Perhaps you could write an ebook of your experiences that would support others walking similar paths? And add in feedback from your blogging readers and friends etc as to how they fill in empty hours.

    I’m pleased you have loving family around you:-)
    Lynley

    • Thanks for the suggestion. As you know I love to write and this could be something to do on those wet, miserable Sunday afternoon that are still to come.

  7. Those were the years….. and my dad traveled and we followed and i worked very hard when I left home and much has changed here too… Blessings! 🙂

  8. I have always wondered how a poem translated form one language( in this case German) can possibly rhyme when translated into English.

  9. Our lives are so closely mirrored it seems. Today I was thinking..Chris you have everything you wanted..no alarm clock, time to do so many things and then I miss that old hustle and bustle….sigh
    Chris

  10. This post was very meaningful to me. It’s a reminder that the most important thing in life is to take each moment/day as it comes and make the most of it.

  11. It sounds like you have many happy memories, Judith…

    I love the fact that even though your husband is gone, you’ve continued to live a meaningful life, even though you miss him terribly!

    Wendy

  12. Wow, Judith. What a poignant picture you have painted for me, the mom who is in the throes of the busy years. Thank you.

    • When living the busy years life can be hard and frantic. But enjoy them as they pass oh so quickly. But then you will have happy memories of those years. 🙂

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  16. You had such an interesting life and you write so well about it. You still have a good life and you love to write about all your happy memories. If amongst your writings some not so happy memories creep in, do not worry. This is part of life. How we cope with misery makes for interesting stories. Please, write more about your life!

    • Thank you for taking the time to respond. I think it is so important that we do write our memories for those who come after us. “To live in lives we leave behind is not to die.”

  17. “To live in lives we leave behind is not to die.”
    Thank you for that. I’ll try to keep this in mind. Even if I don’t write a masterpiece, it may become important to some in my family who come
    after me.

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