“Why don’t you come back to Israel early?” my 17-year-old son texted me. He continued, “You must be SO BORED… I mean what are you doing there? Nothing?”
Well, almost nothing. My 9-year-old daughter and I are spending the summer visiting my family in California, and my 14-year-old son joined us for a couple of weeks to attend a wheelchair basketball camp. Nonetheless, compared to the last 18 years of my life, I do indeed feel like I am doing exactly what I need to do: a heck of a lot of nothing.
This period wasn’t supposed to turn out this way. I was planning to spend the summer in San Francisco working remotely while my daughter attended day camp. However, a day before my scheduled flight and a mere four days prior to my 48th birthday, I shocked myself. After eight years of service in a non-profit, I walked out of a particularly tumultuous work meeting and resigned my position.
In a matter of minutes, I was thrown into an abyss of “nothingness.” After 18 years of raising and advocating for four children, each with his/her unique needs, marriage to a wonderful partner but one whose professional life limited his time at home, and my own encompassing but “flexible” full-time employment, I was presented with an entire summer of “nothing”: one and a half kids, no work, and no husband.
I was flooded with previously unknown amounts of “me time” and I am relishing in it. In fact, I have been so busy doing nothing that I couldn’t write or even reflect until now.
Don’t get me wrong, I miss my family and assume that I will one day, soon, pursue a meaningful vocation, but this break is truly a gift (that I fully understand not many women are fortunate enough to be able to enjoy).
There are days I go to the gym, days I just hang with my parents or brother, days I meet old friends and sip cappuccinos, and days that I do literally nothing but drive around and enjoy my own company.
I am amazed at how much I am learning from all this “nothingness.” For the first time in nearly two decades, I am putting my own physical and emotional needs first, reaching for the oxygen mask before trying to help others.
Parenting and partnering inherently involve a degree of sacrifice but nonetheless, even after this summer of nothing, I intend to design a new and better paradigm whereby my role as a life partner and mother as well as my career will not erase my rediscovered self. Modeling these newly learned lessons for my children is in itself an independent goal.
I looked at my cell phone and answered my beloved son from across seas and continents, “No, honey, we won’t be coming home early. I have another 10 days of nothing to accomplish. I love you.”