Our resident hound asked, “At some point in your past, was there a year – or a significant period of time – that you consider your “favorite” time (or, at least, one of your favorites)? What was going on?”
I’ve been told I’m an optimist. I do get sad and occasionally shed tears, but in general I’ve always been content. So I had to really think about this topic. There are a few special “seasons” of my life that stand out to me.
Elementary School Years
I don’t know why this time in my life comes to mind when I think about happy times. Maybe it’s because I didn’t have any of the worries or responsibilities that came later. At home, I was free to read as long as I wanted, as long as I did my chores and got up in time to go to school each day. My wardrobe was somewhat limited because we didn’t have a lot of money, but my mom sewed most of my clothes and she let me pick the fabric. It was a very stress-free childhood. I think part of it was because my mom is an excessive worrier, so I probably figured that as long as she worried about anything and everything, I didn’t have to.
Time at home with babies (months)
I enjoy being busy. I guess I’ve always been that way. But the one thing that made me want to slow down was having children. The time I spent at home after the birth of each of my kids was precious. With my older daughter, I worked until two days before her birth in January and then used up all my accumulated sick days in order to stay home until spring break. She was three months old when I returned to teaching and I cried the whole way there. With my second daughter, I stayed home for two months – she was born in July and I went back to work at the end of September. During this time of getting to know these tiny humans, I learned a lot about myself. Mostly, I learned that my many years of babysitting and looking out for my brothers did NOT prepare me to be a mom. And I learned to make more efficient use of my time, since I knew I’d be returning to work.
I retired from full-time teaching in 2005, so this period includes the last seventeen years. There have been some difficult times – I’ve lost four family members, and there were some financial challenges when I first retired, but in general life has been good. Both daughters have graduated from college and lead successful lives, but do remember their mom most of the time. My step-children and their children are also good to me. Thanks to my years of teaching (and my husband’s years of work), I have no money worries, but then I don’t really have any expensive habits or hobbies. I have the time and the means to go where I want, when I want, and for as long as I want. I have lots of friends with whom I communicate, both in-person and virtually.
If I had to choose a favorite from these three eras of my life, I’d have to say the current period is my favorite. Yes, I miss my husband and the other family members who’ve left us, but I have lots of great memories. And I realize that my happiness in this current situation is due in part to the positive experiences that came before it.