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Sharon Randall: Schedules include two kinds of busy

By Sharon Randall

Long ago — when I should’ve known better, but didn’t realize it would come back to haunt me — I laughed at old people who complained about being busy.

How could they possibly be busy? They were retired. Their kids were grown. Their houses never seemed to get dirty. They hardly even ate anything.

I, on the other hand, was the mother of three children; the wife of a coach; a reporter for a newspaper; and the caretaker for my kids, the house, the laundry, the cooking, the dog, the hamster and the iguana.

In my spare time (ha!) I taught Sunday school, kept score for Little League and hosted weekly potlucks for our church youth group. My kids all played sports. Between their games and their dad’s, I spent more hours sitting on bleachers than sleeping in a bed. I must’ve bathed once in a while, but don’t recall doing so.

Some people move mountains. Not me. I birthed them. Nursed them. Walked the floor with them when they were ill. I watched them grow into human Himalayas and become the most gorgeous mountains I’d ever seen. In those years, I wasn’t just busy. I was insane. And I loved most every minute of it.

That was then. This is now. I don’t laugh at old people any more. Except myself. And my husband. He’s retired. I’m not, but some days it looks like I am.

We spend as much time as we can with our grown kids and eight grandkids. When we’re not with them, we read texts and watch videos they send us. My husband plays his bass. I work on my writing. Our house is often a mess. If we had a dog, it would have fleas. And we eat basically all the time.

Some days, we feel busier than ever. Or maybe we’re just slower and everything takes longer.    

This weekend, my husband’s son and his wife and their three little ones came to spend a few days with us in our new home, which is half as big as our old one. Downsizing is great for two people, not so much for guests.

But we manage fine. It’s what families do. My grandparents’ house was tiny, and they often hosted their 10 married kids and too many grandkids. My cousin Linda and I slept in the bathtub and the boy cousins would sneak in and turn on the water.

Nobody sleeps in the tub at our house, but our guest room is wall-to-wall-mattresses.

January and February are big birthday months in our family. Yesterday we gathered for a party for 5-year-old Eleanor Rose. It was held at a park where my kids used to play.

I’d not been to that park in years, but it looked much the same. Same swings. Same slides. Same seemingly safe ways for a kid to get hurt.

The biggest change was me. Sitting there watching my grandkids, I recalled seeing my children do all those things. Eleanor’s hair flew like a flag in the wind the way my daughter’s once did.

My grandsons ran wild, chasing each other, just like my boys used to do. I still felt the same as I did 30 years ago. Until I tried to stand up.

There are moments in life that fill us with gratitude just to be alive. That was one of mine.

My life isn’t half as busy as it once was, but it’s still full. And I still love most every minute of it.

Everybody seems to be busy these days. But here’s what I’ve learned: We can be busy with good things or bad — with joyful celebrations or devastating heartaches. Both can be exhausting and stressful. But one lifts us up. The other brings us to our knees. I’ve done both. No doubt, so have you. Sometimes I complain about being busy when I really ought to be thankful that I’ve got nothing to complain about.

This weekend, I was blessed to be busy with good things.

I hope you were, too.

Sharon Randall can be reached at P.O. Box 416, Pacific Grove CA 93950 or on her website: www.sharonrandall.com.

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