This past year has been one of the more stressful of my life. Not because I turned fifty, but because life has just been Full (note the capital “F”)! Brian and I sat down recently and looked at the past year and it was astounding to see all that has been happening – no wonder I feel a little overwhelmed. There have been other momentously stressful years in my life: the year we graduated from college, started new jobs, bought our first house and had our first baby; the year my 16-year-old nephew committed suicide and a short six weeks later my dad died of a heart attack; the year my mom became terminally ill and we cared for her at home for several months before she died. Some stressful times are full of good things, some full of bad or sad, but the change in routine; the rising and plummeting emotions all take their toll.
This past year has been full of mostly good times: trips around the country and to Korea and Europe, a houseful of kids and young adults, activities galore. We had an adult niece spend four months with us while she settled in the Portland area. Our oldest son and his fiancé moved from Texas to also settle in the Portland area; they were here for eight months. Our middle son struggled to find his way out of the house and is now settled happily at school in Tacoma. We have an extra “unofficial” son still here who is also finding his way out. We are dealing with an aging parent and volunteer commitments. It has been wonderful to have the extra young people around. We know our niece and future daughter-in-law much better because of sharing a home with them. It’s gratifying to see our middle son and the “unofficial” one finding their paths and developing their own personal responsibility. The travel has been memorable and rewarding. Our younger children, their activities and our own personal goals and desires fill up most days on the calendar, but that’s better than boredom.
Last week we sat down for a family dinner. For the past year, dinner has meant eight, nine, ten or more people around the table on a regular basis. Last week there was my husband, our four youngest children and myself – only six of us. My husband looked around the table and said, “Is this it? Is this everyone?” It felt like such a small, easy-to-manage group. Life is looking simpler. We mentioned this change to an acquaintance and he said, “Six! I can’t imagine how I’d deal with six people in the house.” I realized then that this busy-life thing, this stress is really a matter of perspective. While we had a busy year, we didn’t have the upheaval of a major life change like becoming parents for the first time, no loved one died this year – we were just busy. And now, with all but one of the “extras” out of the house and with some major events behind us, we are looking forward to having our household back to a more normal state. Less stress, more quiet. Did I mention that we’re thinking of remodeling?