I am a little wiser and a lot happier. Today I turn 40! Lucky for me I chose to have my "mid-life crises" a few years early and now get to smoothly transition to 40. I can only hope each decade after brings more wisdom and just as much joy!
At 40 I'm very fortunate to be living my dream life - working as a full-time artist, which allows me to fit my work around the lives of my children, who are my greatest joys at 9 (going on 13) and 6. I must say, though, it was the most frustrating time in my life that forced me to take this leap and pursue what was in my heart and re-invent myself along the way.
At 35 I had been working on my 10th year as an "information systems manager", working 50+ hours for about 30- hours of pay while trying to raise my 2 small children. It was frustrating and thankless work. To top it off, I lived in a cubicle in the basement (and at 1 point the warehouse) unless I was traveling somewhere that I didn't care to be. I missed seeing the sun. Really missed it. Oddly enough, it was my employer that I ultimately get to thank for making life difficult enough that I finally had to quit. I never expected such an outcome. I figured I was a "lifer" stuck in this job until retirement. In the few months before I left, however, I re-kindled my love of art and painting. I then took a transitional job as a computer consultant (although I didn't realize that was what it was at the time) for a very nice company where I was allowed to work semi-part time (30 hours that were actually 30 hours) while still getting paid enough to let my husband quit his job and stay home with kids - yea! It also allowed me the time I needed to consider how to bring art into a greater focus in my life.
With the very generous support of my spouse (and some scary financial decisions), I finally made the complete transition to full-time artist in 2006 which then allowed us to move to the destination of our choosing - Corvallis, Oregon. We LOVE it! Though we're not settled all the way and still have many boxes in storage, we are thoroughly enjoying this community - the downtown, the bike trails, the schools, the scenery, the weather, the people, and so much more. I wish today, though, that I had my box with my journals from years past, as I would most likely share something from that crazy mom-in-crises time like this:
"What a day! Today was my Friday off from work - yea! I thought I would treat the kids to a donut at our favorite little donut shop before heading out to day-care, but as we drove by the bus stop and saw all the kindergartners in my son's class I realized that it was NOT our Friday off day from school - yikes! So, I turned around and went back to the house and got my son all ready for school and rushed him there just before it started. I went back home, fed my daughter some breakfast and realized - oh no - I never fed breakfast to my son! I fixed up a pb&j and threw my daughter back in the car and ran up to school. After trying to explain to the office that I'm a terrible mother and I forgot to feed my son breakfast, and if I could just get him out of class for a second I would feed him, I walked down to his class (daughter following) and pulled him out of class and sat in the hallway with him while he ate a sandwich. Whew. I feel much better now.. not so sure he does. I then headed back to the house happy that my son wouldn't starve. What do I find? The dog has escaped - again. As I walk around the neighborhood calling for the dog work calls. Emergency. Please call back. I call. Talk on the phone forever. Get stressed. Not so sure it's an emergency. Wish they hadn't called. By now I see the dog running by the house - 'GET IN HERE'. Dog gets in the house. Well, lunch time. I get us fed, changed, ready for nap. Nope no nap today. Time to pick up my son from the bus stop. I don't see him. Where is he??? My neighbor taps on my shoulder as I begin full panic mode (he's right here). Head back to the house. Snack time. Time to clean. Time to get dinner ready. Husband gets home and we have a nice dinner. Yea."
The thing about being in a job you don't like and working when you would rather be with your children is that it affects every aspect of your life. My adrenaline was fired up all the time from the stress of work and the stress of too little time with the kids. I couldn't think straight, and every little problem became a huge problem. I couldn't just enjoy each moment or day as it's own entity. I can do that now, and it's a beautiful thing. I am very grateful to be able to live my life as an artist today.
I have been many things in my life, but I firmly believe I am finally on the path I was meant to follow. We are perceived in a variety of ways by others, and only we can know our true selves. I started when I was young as an artist, became known as a science/math student in school, then back to being an artist in college (and thankfully graduating with a BFA), then briefly art teacher, office worker, computer consultant, and then back to my roots - an artist.
As a new 40 year old person, if I have any wisdom to share at all, it's to follow your heart and get the "crises" over in your 30s - It makes 40 so much more rewarding!
Friday, January 9, 2009
Posted by Jennifer Lommers at 1:43 PM