What is it that gives a person “worth?” I’m old enough, and self aware enough, to know that worth is not measured by money.
Hey, I was a teacher! I’m married to a therapist. Money has never been our goal.
But what is it that lets us move through our days with a sense of self-worth?
At the tender and transitional age of 61, I’m struggling with this question once again.
You see, I used to find my sense of worth from my work. I have always worked, and had a purpose.
When I was only 22, I was a Russian interpreter. I took new immigrants to the doctor. I sat in therapy sessions, helping patient and doctor to understand each other. I helped with surgery, translating what the doctor wanted the patient to do during cataract surgery and cardiac catheterization.
I even helped to interpret at a baby’s birth. I was valued. I felt my worth.
Later, I became a speech pathologist, a job I held for 20 years. I helped families learn how to communicate with their disabled children. I helped those children to find their voices. I was valued. I knew that what I was doing was helpful and important.
And after many years I became a teacher. I taught fifth graders. I was a fun teacher. I was funny. I made learning interesting. No matter what, I will always know that I was very good at my job.
I felt so good about myself in those years. I felt worthy.
Then things changed. I lost my teaching job, and moved into retirement.
And this is where the question of worth has reappeared. When I have my granddaughter in my arms, I know that I am the most important person on earth. Ellie needs me. Ellie loves me. I am NONNI.
But it’s summer.
Ellie is home with her Mom and Dad and new baby brother. They are close by. I see them almost every day. I love them all more than I could ever express.
Now I have no role. I have no job. I have no way to measure my worth in this lovely world.
So, dear blog readers, I guess I’m fishing. (Phishing?)
Now I wonder, is a gray haired lady still useful if she isn’t physically able to manage her garden by herself? Is she still worth keeping if her husband works hard every day while she stays home and cleans things?
Does it count that this house has NEVER been this clean? Or that the closets are completely organized?
What do I do with myself on these long days? How do I define myself?
Is it legal to actually have three months of vacation while everyone else is working?
I swear, in September I will be back to working hard. I’ll have both two year old Ellie and three month old Johnnie. My arms, my heart and my day will all be full.
What about now? Do I earn some kind of Donna Reed points for the incredibly clean kitchen cabinets and the very fluffy towels in the bathroom? I was raised by one of the first feminists. I know that just being a “homemaker” isn’t an actual role in life.
But what else do I do while I’m waiting to go back to Nonni extraordinaire? How do I feel good about so many days where nothing is actually accomplished?
I have to admit. I think I’m nuts. I hate the fact that I do this to myself.
On the other hand, if anyone needs any alphabetized spices, come on over.