Yesterday was my birthday, and naturally, I am in a reflective mood.
I’ve learned so much through The Boy about milestones and success, and how the social constructs that make us believe we aren’t quite achieving as much as we should (there’s that awful word) are a figment of our own imaginations. And yet…
I have to confess that as I step firmly into my 40s, I wonder what I have to show for myself. Not in terms of what I’ve accomplished, but where I am currently. Let me make perfectly clear that I am happy. I made a conscious decision to leave teaching to be with loved ones and for my own mental health. I made another conscious decision to leave my decent-paying job, again for my own mental health. But I can’t honestly say that working for minimum wage has done much for my own sense of self-worth.
I am very happy and grateful to be employed, don’t get me wrong. And my current position is just what I needed, really. The complete lack of stress, the laid back coworkers, the peace of mind are so valuable to me, I can’t really put it into words. But peace of mind doesn’t pay the bills, and I am not old enough to retire. In other words, I still have so much to give, so much to offer. But the job market here just won’t bear it.
On the continuum of employment, from stressful to no-stress, from meaningful to not-in-the-least-important-to-society, from almost $100K to minimum wage, I am still searching for that middle ground, and it is elusive. And work is important to me.
The Man and I have long considered creating our own business plan, not only for ourselves, but also to ensure that The Boy has meaningful employment, as well (I mean, if I can’t find employment, imagine how difficult it will be for a young man on the spectrum). If necessity is the mother of invention, we may be giving birth to our own opportunities very soon.
I just have to remind myself (continously) that if I start to walk down the path of “shoulds” (ie I should be making this much, I should be doing xyz), I will be in the weeds. That path was never right for The Boy, and can do nothing but harm to me. We will just need to blaze our own path to find that balance and meaning, and have faith that we will find our way.