...till Daddy takes the T-Bird away. Actually, for us, having the second child took the T-Bird away. No way were TWO car seats gonna fit in there. But since my pretty, red 1985 T-Bird - after morphing through a series of "family friendly" vehicles over the past twenty years - has now been replaced with our empty nest toy, a shiny blue Mustang, I'm mostly over it. Besides, today's topic is not cars, or even Beach Boys music, but "fun".
Twice in the past few weeks I've heard people lamenting the lack of "fun" in their lives. First was my college-freshman daughter who was unsure of her college choice because it wasn't as "fun" as she thought it would be. Of course it hurts my heart just a bit any time life isn't all aces for one of my kids and I'm still having some restless moments of worry for her. But, for the most part, I dismissed this as end-of-the-semester stress and fear of the future - that she was remembering only the ex-roommate conflicts, car break downs, and homesickness, and fearing the new semester with a new roommate and new challenges. Then she said, "It's sad when the only fun you have at school is sitting in your dorm room with your roommate." (This is her "twin" roommate who, sadly, isn't returning to KSU next semester; not the crazy, kleptomaniac one.) Now, we both know she had fun at other times, but a question began to buzz like a mosquito in my brain. What is "fun"?
A few days later, the ever inspiring Molly at My Cozy Book Nook posted about the ongoing scuffle between what we "should" be doing and what we "want" to be doing. Her thoughts are considerably deeper than that paraphrase and worth your time to read. Actually, they'll probably be the basis of another post here in a couple days, but the line that got that mosquito thought buzzing again was "I don't want to change who I am --- I just want to learn to enjoy who I am. I want to have some fun in life."
So, I went in search of the fun in my life. My first thoughts were related to holidays and special occasions when we travel to concerts, plays, sporting events, or to visit the kids/grandkids/extended-family. We even take occasional vacations to new and exotic locales. Most would agree that THAT is fun!
But those times are the exceptions. What about the average weekend? Well, weather permitting, we might play golf or go water-skiing (that's just fun for Dave, not for women with aversions to heat, bugs and large bodies of water) then in the evening, build a fire in the chiminea and sit on the porch with friends and neighbors for a beer, conversation and s'mores. In the colder months, we go to movies, watch the Cats or the Broncos/Cowboys on tv, eat meals in places where we don't have to do the dishes, or have friends over for hilarious games of "Apples to Apples". However, we might also mow the yard, take the dogs to be groomed, repaint the bathroom, pay bills, and grocery shop. Did the mundane outweigh the fun?
How about weekdays? In a typical work day, I get up around 7:00 a.m. to be at work by 9:00. Living four blocks from my job, and having my hair and make-up routine refined to the minimum, actual prep time is thirty minutes, but I don't wake up as quickly as I used to, so the other 90 minutes is for coffee and zombie impersonations. I spend eight hours working at a job I love. If our lunch breaks coincide, Dave and I usually work on a crossword puzzle together while we grab a sandwich. After work I return home to make supper and do a little laundry or housework, mixed with DVR episodes of Jeopardy, reading, sewing and chatting with Dave. That's just life - but is it fun?
I believe our daughter was referring to her former high-school lifestyle - spending the entire day with a group of friends, many privileges and few responsibilities - as compared to her new college life which requires more effort and accountability, when she was mourning the lack of fun. Molly, on the other hand, knows full well the obligations of adulthood. She wasn't asking to return to a carefree youth, but only, perhaps, to find more pleasure in the day-to-day. When given a "snow day" from work, she filled the time with some activities she rarely had enough time for, but found herself continually hurrying on to the next thing, trying to be efficient. (Again, I encourage you to read her entire post, because I'm not even close to doing it justice.) In her own words, "At the end of the day, I initially felt as though I had accomplished little, when in fact I had accomplished much but enjoyed little."
And therein lies the answer, I think. "Fun", as it applies to daily, responsible-adult living, is not about being constantly carefree and pampered. It's about a positive attitude towards the mundane and predictable, and focusing fully on the rest. Now, there is absolutely no way I'm ever going to enjoy mowing the lawn, but a cold drink and a book on the porch swing afterwards is fun.