So What Did you Expect Part II

Week 40

So What Do You Expect? Part II

What is it about the so-called shortest day of the year that it feels as if it will never end? And it’s not only this year with the election farce playing out on the 24-hour news cycle; that alone has many people I know wanting to accept the invitation to move out of the country to an island near Nova Scotia.

No, there is something unpleasantly presumptuous about February. Two Presidents’ birthdays get lumped into a three-day weekend. Love takes on the definition of what can be bought (I’m still trying to understand the romance of a new gas-guzzling SUV) and offered with chocolate. And then there’s the short shrift given to African-American history every year. If the world is in a hurry the other eleven months of the year, it’s nothing to the desire to get through these turgid days of February.

But I digress.

After last week’s debate with Mrs. Should Be (n’t), I fell to reminiscing. Primarily, I thought about my mother and her mother and the women who came before. How did they get through it? Probably on advice, or the blind belief in advice.

It’s an odd thing, but we women are experts at telling each other we will survive. One of the “comforts” we offer one another in a first and/or difficult pregnancy is that women have been doing this for millennia and we will get through this, too. When the child is finally born, we say that s/he will survive the bumps and bruises of life as children have since time began. The majority of us swear that both parents and teenagers will survive each other and come out the stronger and wiser for the experience. We assure each other that we can and will survive the “Empty Nest” syndrome that comes after so many years fashioning our lives around those children, who have left us with photographs, memories, their college textbooks and other odds and ends they don’t have room for in their new apartments.

Still, we get through it. We survive, as women have done “from time immemorial,” whatever that means. But do we live?

My mom used to tell my sisters and me that she had always dreamed that, upon marrying, she would have a house already furnished. Given that she married a widower with 3 children, I guess she got more furnishings than she anticipated, but she strode into that ready-made role with what seemed to me an unwavering confidence that this was the Life she was meant to live. If she had doubts or even questions, we never knew about them. There was too much housework to do be done.

Perhaps it’s one of the many down sides to life in the 21st century, but the housework burden is somewhat lighter what with dishwashers, iRobot or central vacuum systems, floors that don’t need waxing so much as a run over with a damp mop, and so on. Even cooking has become convenient with vendors mailing us our groceries and recipes. We still have to put the meals together (though I’d bet there’s going to be an app soon to remedy that), but the effort and element of chance for disaster or serendipity diminishes with each “advance.”

Which gives too much time to think. To wonder, to ask more questions than there are answers.

There is a school of thought that claims wisdom comes not from the answers but from knowing enough to ask the question. Now, I’m not going to play the game of what questions should or should not be asked. That goes into a minefield of hidebound ideas; and I’m looking to survive here. No, more than that, I am looking to live.

P.S. All due respect to The Moody Blues, but I suspect the someone to change my life…is me.

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