She was smiling in the family photo enclosed with her Christmas card. But it was the one simple sentence my friend wrote in her annual newsletter that caught my attention. After listing the activities and accomplishments of her children and husband, she modestly wrote that she'd been busy working at a new job and keeping the family on track and organized with all their activities.
Oh, how I could relate!
Like any mother, my day is consumed with so many work and home responsibilities that it's next to impossible to cram it all into a mere 24 hours. The Rolling Stones were dead wrong-time is not on my side. And I'm guessing it's no friend to any mother, whether she's paid for her work or not.
My friends, who are all equally busy but seem to lead more exciting lives over on their side of the suburban pasture, always inquire as to what's new with me - the standard polite conversation opener. After some thought, my answer always is a lame "nothing," followed by the usual feelings of inadequacy and an ever-so-slight stab of regret for a life lived so not on the edge.
It truly amazes me that even though I feel absolutely Herculean at the end of each week, it's because I merely survived it. I work, take care of a home and family (including occasionally feeding them), and get the kids safely to and from all of their activities on time with all their necessary accoutrements (I'm so grateful my kids have grown out of the end-of-game snack tradition. Keeping track of our turn on the snack schedules alone required an MBA in strategy and planning-too much for this 40-something brain to remember on its own without a little electronic help.).
That basically sums up my entire life from sun up to pillow touch-down each day! Pretty pathetic, huh?
When asked this ubiquitous question of "What's new?" I do, however, take great comfort in the fact that I don't have news of any illness, death or imprisonment in my circle of friends and family to report. I'll take minutiae and monotony over malady and maelstrom any day.
I've heard that true happiness is knowing your life's purpose and living it. (OK, full disclosure, I think I may have heard it on Oprah, but it sounds good, doesn't it?) I still haven't figured out my purpose other than laundress, carpooler-in-chief, and dust bunny eradicator, but I am pretty happy and content and have many, many blessings for which I truly am thankful.
So why should I care that I don't always have a thrilling answer to the perpetual "What's new" question? All I ask for is just a shred of something new. How about "I narrowed down my paint choices for the living room to 12" or "I finally discovered a cleanser that gets the nasty ring out of the toilet bowl"? Boring, boring, boring.
I know I sound ungrateful and you're probably thinking I should take up salsa dancing or bungee jumping - anything to stop the complaining.
I really don't mean to complain. So the next time a friend asks me the inevitable conversation-opener, I'll revel in the fact that absolutely nothing is new. Which really is code for "My family is healthy and happy, we have a nice roof over our heads and food on the table (when I get around to actually cooking)."
I suppose, when I look at it that way, "nothing" doesn't seem so bad after all.
Nadine Novotny Cound lives in Wheaton with husband Tom, daughter Hailley and son Liam who are all healthy, happy, extremely busy and sometimes well fed.