I recently had a discussion with our eldest daughter about time, specifically weekends. My husband and I have been retired for fourteen years and filled the first six years with the care of our grandson, born shortly after we retired. We were his caregivers on the weekdays from when he was one until he started school while our daughter worked a full-time job. It was the biggest privilege of our lives. A time I wouldn’t trade for anything. It kept us active and engaged watching this little human begin his exploration of life. So much better than when we had our own children and had all the responsibilities of parenthood along with making a living. We had time to enjoy each stage of his development, each triumph from first steps to first lost tooth, in a completely present way. No distractions. He is now a teen with all that entails and an interesting, lovable person. I could brag endlessly but that is for another time, another post. Now we are Sunday grandparents because he is busy with his school, sports, and social life. We all have brunch together and catch up on his activities and viewpoints. I learn something new from him each week.
Back to the discussion of time. I told our daughter we were having friends over for dinner on Monday. “Monday?” she asked. “Why a weekday?” The question took me by surprise. Monday for us is no different than Saturday. We’re retired, as are most of our friends. Our social schedule doesn’t have anything to do with days of the week. It reminded me of Maggie Smith’s question as Violet, the dowager Countess of Grantham on Downton Abbey. “Weekend? What is a weekend?” She is one of my favorite television characters and now I identify with her.
Days are weighted in value by our activity, no longer regulated by an employment schedule. When we were employed, weekdays had a significant importance and weekends were assessed very differently as precious free time. As a retiree, however, the distinction goes away quickly. Each day has its own importance depending on the plans we make. Our social schedule, balanced with workout time (nearly a full-time job for us) and other interests creates a varied shape to weeks and months. A trip to Home Depot or the grocery store can be done anytime, not scrunched into a few hours on weekends. A road trip to Tubac, Bisbee, Patagonia Lake or Mt. Lemmon is a fun outing taken whenever we choose and usually when employed people are at work. So, like the Countess, I no longer recognize the concept of weekend. My life is a weekend.
A few other salient quotes by the Countess:
At my age one much ration one’s excitement.
Don’t be defeatist dear, it’s very middle class.
Vulgarity is no substitute for wit.
Principles are like prayers, noble of course, but awkward at a party.
A lack of compassion can be as vulgar as an excess of tears.
Never complain, never explain
If reason fails, try force.
There can be too much truth in any relationship.
Hope is a tease designed to prevent us from reality.
You are a woman with a brain and reasonable ability. Stop whining and find something to do.
Meaning well is not enough.