Like it or not, most women throughout time (though certainly not all) have spent much of their lives as caretakers - caring for houses, pets, gardens, children, grandchildren, spouses, friends, siblings and aging parents. However, in the olden days, when girls tended to get married right out of school and start having babies a year or two later, if things went according to plan, they were usually allowed two small windows of opportunity - brief periods when they were able to focus on some quality "me" time. One period began as their younger kids started driving, thus becoming fairly independent. It lasted as long as their aging parents were able to remain self-sufficient. The second window began when all four parents had passed away, and lasted as long as both the woman and her spouse were able to retain their own health and independence.

I myself, and many other women these days, missed out on that first window altogether. John's parents were both 30 when he was born, and he was 33 when our first child came along. Add to this the fact that his parents were both smokers, and what you end up with is a mother-in-law who had her first heart attack when our daughter was only a year or two old, and a father-in-law who started having strokes when our youngest was still in preschool. That became my era, not for me-ness, but for learning how to juggle. By the time the kids were pre-teens - not able to drive yet, but always needing to be five places at once - when I was back in school myself, with a part-time job and a husband who spent most of his time abroad, and my own parents were starting to go downhill as well, it was all I could do to keep the balls in the air.

My second "window of opportunity" has been a bit nebulous, kind of hard to pin down. We moved my mother-in-law in with us when my youngest was in high school, and Theda had been diagnosed with lung cancer. Within a year of her passing, John had his first chest pains and needed several stints. That's when I realized that if I didn't get proactive about things, I could miss my second window as well, and our dreams of a life outside the suburbs might never see the light of day. So, here I am in the Hill Country, grabbing for all the gusto I can, for as long as I can. This window may not be open long, but I've always preferred quality over quantity. Besides, it's really not good to have too much me time. My mother missed out on her first window too, but more than made up for it with her second, which stretched out for about 25 years. She went so deep into me-ness that she eventually became pretty much oblivious to anyone's feelings or point-of-view other than her own. Personally, I'd just as soon not end up like that.

Our parents have all passed, and the kids are out on their own, but there's still one thing missing from this picture - John. We had hoped he would have segued into occasional consulting by now, but due to recent events in the world of oil, he is still in Houston, working even more than full-time. Our parents had so much anger, so many regrets and disappointments regarding their golden years. All I ask is a few good years - time to build up some great memories in this bit of heaven for the both of us, and for John to experience his own window of me-ness. Memories that will see us through that final rough patch, and which will one day comfort our kids with the knowledge that we left with no regrets whatsoever. We emptied our bucket list. We had it all!
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Reviewed by juragan asem
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Rating : 4.5