When you were a child being raised by responsible parents, you were given certain chores to do every day. This was supposedly done to instill a sense of self-worth and pride. Of course, at the time, you probably believed it was punishment for being born.
Your parents were mean and selfish but, no matter how much you complained, it was still expected of you to perform these duties. Remember thinking that you'd never force your child to work for their room and board? Why, it was perfectly barbaric. Was it necessary to make a bed every single morning? You'd just mess it up again that night. Seemed like a waste of time. Taking out the trash unless the container was overflowing was a waste of bags. So what if your mom fixed fish for dinner? There were lots of ways to plug up your nose. The ultimate unnecessary chore was cleaning your own room. It was your room, after all. You were the only one that had to look at the mess, and it didn't bother you at all. If your parents would let you keep the door closed and locked all the time, nobody else would notice the week-old pizza or wet towels thrown on the rug.
Now you're all grown up with kids of your own. All of a sudden, you're the bad guy. Not only do you work outside the home eight hours a day, you're also a full time mom, wife, cook and maid. All those promises you made yourself about not assigning chores to your children have come back to haunt you. You are now called all sorts of names from the meanest mom on earth to slave driver to "you'll be sorry when I run away and you won't have anybody to do your work." Nevertheless, you relentlessly proceed with the torture. You had to endure it at their age. The old, "I had to walk 10 miles in the snow to get to school" premise.
Years have passed and you and your spouse are having "empty nest" syndrome. Well, not really. You just want everybody to believe how sad you are that the last offspring has left home. Come on, it's not like you'll never see them again. Trust me, I know from experience they always come back to visit. It's a good thing, but by the time they've gone back to their own home or dorm room or whatever, the silence is wonderful.
You have also matured enough to realize you really don't have to make your bed every day, the trash (unless it truly smells raunchy) can wait until overflowing to be taken out, and it is OK to keep rooms in your home closed when company comes.
You've earned a little down time. Read a book every day. Go out to lunch with your buddies. Go to lots of movies. Take time for yourself. Life is short. Don't miss out on all the opportunities out there to travel. Get a bumper sticker that says, "I'm spending my children's inheritance."
Then go and do it.
(Pat Fickle is a Martinez resident.)
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