Yesterday I had a very interesting phone call with my best friend. I love my best friend. She is one of the most intelligent, competent, hardworking, and compassionate people I know. I admire her greatly. She has proven to be a true friend these past couple of years.
It's not often that my friend catches me by surprise. Part of the reason our friendship is so strong is that we are alike in so many ways. This day, however, I was surprised.
Both of us have crazy busy lives. It's next to impossible for us to schedule face-to-face visits. I normally leave it to her to phone or arrange a get-together so the timing is convenient for her. This particular day we were discussing the possibility of signing up for yoga together. I heard her sigh, obviously frustrated with how difficult it was for her to schedule any time for herself. She finally said, "I wish I had all your free time."
Free time? I had never thought of myself as having an abundance of free time. I worked full-time as a teacher and also worked Saturdays (and some evenings and Sundays) at a second part-time job. Routinely working six or sometimes seven days a week meant days off were rare. Sadly, these days were usually occupied with glamourous tasks such as vacuuming, washing floors, and dealing with the pile of laundry that rivaled Everest in its height.
In all honesty, I had often envied her the time off that she had. While I work in excess of full-time and have no one to share the burden of household chores or finances, she works 3 or 4 days outside the home and then has the remainder of the week to devote herself to the important task of raising two children and running a household. I often dreamed of having 3 or 4 days a week to get stuff done around the house and spend with loved ones. To top it off, while I worked three to 5 days a week during the summer she had all ten weeks off. Ten weeks to spend playing with her kids, taking off to Vancouver for the weekend with her husband, taking the kids on an overnight adventure on the train to Victoria, escaping to Vernon for a few days to catch up with some old girlfriends, and even flying to Ontario to visit relatives for a couple weeks. I was lucky to get to the PNE in Vancouver and Butchart Gardens in Victria!
It got me thinking about the old saying, "The Grass is Always Greener on the Other Side of the Fence." I always understood that my best friend was busy and that raising a family was a time-consuming endeavour. That was why I tried not to take it personally when we weren't able to get together as often as I liked. I never dreamed she envied me my non-existent free-time! I suppose when you share a house with a husband and two kids under five, living by yourself with only a dog demanding your attention might have its appeal.....even if you are seldom home to enjoy the solitude.
So I vow to not take for granted the peace and quiet that I will likely one day long for. In return I ask those of you who are fortunate enough to only work part-time and have a partner to assist with household chores and finances....don't take for granted the time you have with your family or the fact that you don't have to do everything all alone.