Do you remember when you were in high school? Your entire world consisted of your friends, your classes, your teachers and coaches and maybe, on the outer edge, your parents and siblings.
Everything that occupied your soul and your heart and your mind was contained within the smallest circle around you. You only thought about the people you came in contact with ever day.
In a way, that was a wonderful life. Relationships seemed so deep, perhaps because they were so few.
I know that when I was in high school I thought of myself as very worldly and aware. I read National Geographic every month. I sort of followed the news, because my parents did. I knew who was running for which public office.
But I never stayed awake at night worrying about the Middle East, or the Irish troubles or the cold war.
Nope. I stayed awake at night worrying about if he liked me or if he “LIKED ME” liked me. I worried about who was mad at whom, who was heartbroken this week, who made which team and what I should wear on any given day.
My world was small.
Then I grew up. I went to college and had a career. I had a family and a life in a community. My world expanded so much that I sometimes felt overwhelmed. How to balance the work relationships, the community relationships, the hockey mom connections, the girl scout friends, the family and neighbors….During those busy and crazy years of raising kids, I was also involved in local town politics, and to some extent in state and federal politics, too.
I read a lot. I listened to the news and watched the news and debated the various political points and positions with all of the bright and engaged people in my life at the time.
I learned every day, too. I learned from my colleagues in school, from the mentors I had in education, and from the parents and kids I interacted with every day.
I learned, I grew, I felt myself to be a part of a wide, interesting, challenging world.
My world was big. It knew no limits.
So you can see why I am struggling a little bit now, in my Nonni years. Now my world has shrunk so much that sometimes I wonder if there is a greater universe out there at all.
Now I find that my life, so much like the one I lead back in my teens, is composed uniquely of the people I love and interact with every single day. I don’t really follow local politics anymore, to my shame. I try to read and watch and listen to the political news from my state and from this country.
I’ve always been a follower of international relations, so I do my best to keep up with latest Brexit development.
But the truth is, when I lay myself down to sleep at night, my thoughts now are limited to questions of which toddler will like which art project. I worry about finding nutritious snacks that will pack in some extra calories.
I sometimes wake up at 3 AM thinking about Princess Poppy from Trolls.
My world has closed right in around me.
There are weeks when I honestly don’t leave my property from Monday through Saturday.
And this is where I struggle.
Is it bad that I don’t mind settling in quietly to my small, enclosed, circumscribed life? Am I being a coward when I simply stay in the house with the kids and make soup?
I miss being a part of a team. I miss the ongoing intellectual challenges that I knew as a teacher, and before that as an interpreter. I miss getting to each Friday feeling as if I’ve learned something that I didn’t know on Monday.
But I love shaking off the stress and fear and angst of trying to keep up with all of the needs of those around me. I love huddling in my safe little cocoon of babies and finger paints and preschool art projects.
What I worry about is this:
Am I closing myself off too much? How do I continue to grow and learn and stretch and challenge my mind when my days are filled with rocking and singing to my best beloved little ones?
How do I balance the big old world with my safe and happy little one?