If there are any really long term readers of my blog out there who are still awake you will know that I agonised long and hard about giving up my previous job. I worked in London for a couple of days a week and from home for a day or so at a job that I had loved. But living here and being ill for a few months had made me acutely aware of how finite my time was and of how much I wanted to be here and not to go away every week. I wanted time to garden and to write. I wanted time to give to my family, both up and down the generations, up to my parents and down to my children and now my grandchildren. I hardly feel old enough to be a grandmother but amazingly I am one and it is very wonderful. I wanted time to sit on the grass with a two year old and let him dictate the pace of the day, just for a little while.
I agonised about giving up both the money and my financial independence. I agonised about losing my identity and "dwindling into a wife" (how silly that seems now). I agonised about the lack of purpose, of focus, of intellectual challenge. As a classic 70s seventies feminist (and proud of it still) I agonised about dependency and the folly of throwing away a lifetime's professional achievements, such as they were.
I still think these were all very fair things to agonise about but here I am, a year in, busier than ever with new challenges and new demands upon my time, feeling no less myself for having made the very odd choice to start again. I am still amazed by how much I have to do and how quickly the time goes and how little impact my choice has had upon my sense of having time to spare. Carpe diem. Time is very, very short indeed. Use it, love it, enjoy it. It will soon be gone. This is not a counsel of despair. It is simple pragmatism. We are all a long time dead.
I love being my own mistress. I have gone back to working, happily. I enjoyed my time off but it is good to be financially active again. But I don't think I could ever work for someone else again, accepting the relentlessness of nine to five, or eight to six or longer. I don't think I am working much less hard, surprisingly, but I wander down to spend ten minutes with the chickens, to deadhead the roses and water the pots. It is a huge privilege not to have to get on a train and commute, which must be one of the most soul destroying things to do. All sorts of surveys say that commuting is stressful, bad for your health, that commuters with a journey of longer than half an hour have higher blood pressure and lower job satisfaction than those whose travel is shorter and easier. I find that very easy to believe.
So here I am, with new things to do for work that I enjoy but with the flexibility to be able to get on the motorway and disappear off to Oxford for a few days. I shall see my son and his wife on the way down. I shall spend time with older daughter and her baby and with younger daughter who nows lives close to Oxford too. This is part of what I left my job for and tonight, when I stop sitting at the computer sorting out work things for next week, and stop wandering around the garden trying to work out what I might achieve tomorrow before I go, I remember that. I am extraordinarily lucky that I can get in the car and drive to spend time with the people I love, and that I live here with the person I love.
End of embarrasing attack of thankfulness.