Boring: one that is wearingly dull, repetitive or tedious
When my boys were younger, I practically banned the word “bored” from our house. I think that when someone – particularly children – shouts out an “I’m bored!”, they are inadvertently admitting to be mentally lazy and to possess a sense of entitlement, as if it is someone else’s duty to entertain them. I have always told my kids that they are ingenious and resourceful enough to find distractions or employment for their time on their own. So, to be congruent with my own opinions, I should never feel bored, because I should always be able to occupy my time with something, be it fun or productive.
My time is occupied. That is true about my life even now, as the job of mothering is being phased out: I am still busy with chores, still full of responsibilities, and I do try to have plenty of exercise and fun. Yet, I did unexpectedly tell my friend that I was bored, and our unconscious doesn’t lie.
So the boredom I am feeling must be of a different kind, on a different level. It is not about business.
It is about purpose.
Am I bored?
Like my friend at the market, I have been a stay at home mom for the last 18 years, when my first son was born. I have always wanted to be a full time mother, and feel very lucky that I was able to do that. Being a parent is a challenging job, that demands utmost flexibility and adaptability. The role of a parent changes constantly as children grow, but never as dramatically as when the children approach adulthood. As much as we knew that from the start, though, parents often get caught by surprise when it actually happens. We never seem to be ready for that change in our job description that must occur when our children are ready for us to let them go. Their new developed autonomy and self-reliance force us into retirement from the role of CEO into that of their advisor or counselor.
That is actually a natural and positive change, one that we as parents should feel proud of because it shows that we did our job well preparing our children to be independent people. But perhaps because 18 years is not quite enough time to let go of that overwhelming protective instinct we instantly developed when we held them in our arms the very first time, this transition is seldom an easy one.
Suddenly our kids are grown and we have more time in our hands. We no longer need to frantically run around every day, with each moment of each day filled with children related chores. Our new and very challenging responsibilities of parenting adolescents and young adults are stressful and often emotionally draining, and they occupy our minds constantly, but take less time off our day. True.
So we have more time. Free time. So we are bored. Is that how it works?
Saw an old friend at the market
A few days ago I saw an old friend whom I hadn’t seen in a couple of years at the local farmers market. We first met when my son and her daughter started preschool, about 15 years ago. We excitedly went right into sharing some quick words about what had changed in our lives since we had last seen each other. We were having a lively little chat, but I wanted to go beyond the news report and engage in more significant conversation. I had missed her in the last couple of years, and wanted to know how she was doing personally. So I asked ” but so how are you?” a second time, this time a bit more emphatically, hoping that would elicit a more meaningful answer than the automatic “fine”, or “great” , or “ok” that it usually produces the first time around. I have found that to often be the case, and indeed, her answer this time was simple and to the point. She smiled and said: “I am bored.”
She didn’t mean bored with the market or with our conversation. She meant bored with her life. I was surprised by her openness, and admired her courage to admit that so naturally. Her answer made me feel very gratified as a friend. Her candor made me believe that the elapsed time had not significantly lessened the closeness we once shared. I felt an immediate re-connection, and that sudden sense of comfort in our re-discovered friendship must have lowered my consciousness defenses, because before I knew it, I blurted out words that surprised me as soon as I heard them out of my own mouth. I said I was bored too.
I had never thought that way about my life before.