Thursday, June 21, 2007

At a Loss for Words...

This post has been rattling around in my head for a few weeks. It follows a rather bizarre visit one afternoon from a friend I hadn't seen in awhile, which I will detail below, and, more importantly, the thoughts and feelings that her perspective on my life have invoked. She made me feel strange about my own position in life.....something I'm not used to.....and I've given it a lot of thought since that afternoon. The visit went something like this:

My friend showed up at our home early on a Friday afternoon, totally out of the blue. I got to know her through a parent-child thing, but neither of us participate in that activity anymore, so I don't see her much these days. She is someone that I always say "hello" to, wave at as we pass on the road, but not really someone that I've ever spent free time with. So...she shows up at my house and makes herself at home in the family room that adjoins my office. I kind of played along, curious what she was doing here, and tried to shut my looming deadlines out of my mind for a little while.

She started out with commenting how huge our house is. Okay? And how gorgeous our new kitchen is. Okay? And how cool the murals are in the girls' room that we had an artist paint. Okay? And how clean everything is. Wanting to be gracious and not make her think that I am Superwoman, I casually commented that our housekeeper had just left. Wrong thing to say. Of course, I got a wide-eyed response, "You have a housekeeper??!!??" Well, yeah......we have a housekeeper. We have four kids, two full-time jobs, I work a lot of late hours when deadlines are heavy, the boys play every sport under the sun........Yes. We have a housekeeper. No big deal. Its a very wise investment for a very busy family and I recommend it strongly.

Turns out, she has just lost her job. I'm pretty sure that she was here hoping I would have some extra work for her, but I had just hired Jennifer. And, honestly, I need someone with expertise in a very precise field of work. So.....thats a "no go." She rambles a bit at this point about how she's not really qualified to do much. She had her first child right out of high school, got married, had two more kids........

Moving on...her oldest child graduated from high school a year ago and has spent the ensuing 12 months lying on her parents' couch doing nothing. My friend wants to know what she did wrong raising her daughter not to be more motivated. Hmmmm. I don't know her well enough to answer honestly, don't know the situation well enough anyway, so I mumble something pleasant and semi-reassuring. She comments that she doubts I will ever have the same problem as our kids are all so competitive and highly motivated. I think to myself that our children would be motivated by a boot in their hind end if they thought about lying on our couch for a year after high school. Once high school is over, everyone in this house is on the "Earn-or-Learn" program. There is no free lunch here.

At this point, I'm beginning to squirm. This conversation seems to be going nowhere and I've got a TON of work to do. Much to my delight, our dogs suddenly start barking outside. Ah-Ha!! An excuse to get up and go to the window, and then maybe lead her outside onto the porch, and we can start inching our way to her car.........and she'll go away. We make it to the window, the dogs are chasing shadows, and she starts a new conversation on how lovely our backyard is, how much land we have, how nice our fenced dog area is with shed and doggie door......and how she wishes SHE could afford to have a nice fenced dog area, etc. This is beyond the beginning-to-get-annoying stage.

Now out on the front porch, she comments on the black gouge on our newly painted siding. Thoughtlessly, I comment that the roofers damaged it when they put the new roof on our house the week before. She comments that their roof is leaking really bad, but now that she's lost her job, they won't be able to afford the new roof they need. And isn't our house new? Why did we need a new roof?

I idly start picking at the blossoms on the hanging planters on our deck. She comments that they are pretty, but that plants are so expensive. I pleasantly agree......sort of.

She asks about the Suburban and comments that she had to borrow money from her mother-in-law to buy a new tire for her car because something was wrong with it.

She FINALLY left. I came back to my desk and attempted to get back to work. But this conversation has continued to plague me. She made me feel GUILTY somehow, because of what we have accomplished in life! And then I got angry.....

HOW DARE SHE!!! I'm sorry that she is at a low-point. Maybe she is always at a low-point. I don't really know. But I have made good choices with my life to get where I am!! Mike and I both work hard and don't rely on anyone but each other--financially or otherwise. While we are not wealthy, we are in a great place in life and, if we're making the most of it, I wish people could say, "GOOD FOR THEM!!"

Two weeks later........I am still at a loss for words.

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