Disclaimer: this post was written at the end of a lovely day of company, with a few alcoholic type bevvies involved. Please read it with that in mind...
For about the last, oh, I dunno, 8 weeks or so, people have been dropping in on Sunday afternoons for a drink with us. I have really come to relish and look forward to those afternoons. Sally and I had been doing it for a long time before that (usually Saturday - and sometimes as well as Sunday!), but lately other people have been dropping in.
From about 2pm each Sunday, people come around and have a drink, a chat, and sometimes something to eat with us (usually cheese and lots of yummy things like that). Our front deck is kind of perfect, as in summertime it's shaded and cool, but in wintertime the sun streams in (we have three huge grapevines covering it, which lose their leaves in the winter).
The company is always wonderful. We have fantastic conversations with groups of people that sometimes would never be together in the same place. What a great way to pass an afternoon, and forget your trouble for a while.
There are two hard things: knowing that Samuel will never be able to join us, and knowing that it probably wouldn't be happening if he hadn't died.
It's not that we weren't sociable, or that we didn't see people, because we did, but maybe not so regularly. You know how it is, you get busy doing pointless, repetative stuff that you have to do every weekend (I mean stuff like shopping, cleaning, work, not useful stuff like sports and other socialising), and then all of a sudden it's Monday again. Same old cycle begins.
We all try hard not to - we try to see each other and make time for each other, but life just gets in the way, doesn't it?
Well, I've resolved that it won't get in the way any more. As much as time (and finances) permits, I'm going to make time to share my time with the people that mean something to me. Because I don't want to go to their funeral thinking 'I wish I'd seen them more often'. I remember vividly when my mother-in-law's friend had a son who had a big role in a stage show a long way away. He didn't think he had the time or the money to go and see him perform, but she said something that has stuck with me since then. She said to him "you'd go to his funeral, go and see him now!"
Every time I start to think that way, that's the thought that runs through my head - and it's why I'm seriously considering a trip to Melbourne in the holidays to see my family.
I know that I have always tried to fit everyone in, but people and experiences have sometimes slipped through the cracks. Sometimes family, sometimes friends, sometimes even my own kids. And now, I know that my priorities have changed a heck a lot. And I'm glad that these Sunday sessions are the result of that. It's a testament to my new commitment to enjoying people and enjoying life that they go on, and that people keep coming, and that I make time for them. I know it might sound a little selfish that they're always coming to me, but it works for now (and we've got a fairly kid-friendly house - soon to become more so), and in the future I might start going elsewhere. Who knows??
In the past, I would have willingly done all the chore-type stuff, then spent most of the weekend working: marking work, assessing, writing reports, planning, reading etc. But I'm happy to say I'm not prepared to do that any more. I used to read (and hear) a lot about work/life balance, but really, I had no idea. Being able to spend a whole weekend playing board games and chatting with my son; gardening; socialising, and sitting on my deck on Sunday afternoon is work/life balance!
Thankfully the job that I am doing this year means that I can do this. Because I am working in a 'release role' (on paper as the teacher/librarian, but in reality something completely different!), I don't have to worry about marking, assessing, reporting, planning (as much). Any thought I had of seeking promotion is definitely on hold for now, and I'm enjoying working to live, not living to work.
When I started teaching (after finishing my degree), I thought it would be something I would do forever. I do love the job very much, but the workload that goes along with it (that I have cheerfully put up with for the past 4 years) is not something that (having seen where my priorities should lie) I am prepared to do forever.
As I've said before, it's too soon to make these types of decisions, but I do know that this is the most relaxed and happy (?ish?) I've been (while working) for a while. Not that I'm bludging - I still work hard (not sure I could do otherwise), but not for as long, and not as over the top.
But as for Sundays, they are wonderful. I love sitting and talking with people, it's one of my favourite acitivities! I'm so glad that people keep coming, and I hope it doesn't stop.
So if you're in the neighbourhood on a Sunday afternoon, we'd love to have you...