I meet this lady everyday at the gym at 8.30 in the morning. She has a routine. She opens all the doors, keeps puts her stuff away, picks a coffee for herself and comes into the workout room with her vacuüm cleaner. She is the housekeeper. She makes sure everything is clean before a bunch of us come in the morning.
We like the tiny conversations we have with each other everyday. I don’t know her name and she doesn’t know mine. But we know a lot more about each other than that. Somehow we never really thought about introducing ourselves formally. The conversations just evolved. One day we talk about the pool; another day about baking. One day we discuss about Michigan and another she tells me about her kids. She likes to talk.
So yesterday morning, expecting a regular conversation about the weather or baking, I entered the gym. She just looked at me and said straight out, “You are so lucky to be able to come to the gym everyday. I wish I could workout and stay fit. I hardly find any time for myself. A full-time job with kids is difficult as it is. All the more difficult if the kids like to eat all the time. Cook for them, take care of them, be at home before they come from school and just be there for them. Top it off with all the cleaning, laundry and shopping. I am exhausted. I go to school three days a week too. Trust me, going back to school after 27 years is not easy at all. I just wish all this is over soon. You really are lucky”. Saying this, she got back to sweeping the floor. She did not say anything else to me the whole time I was there.
Now that was something I hadn’t expected that morning. But it was a moment of awakening. And why would it be? I am a stay-at-home wife. I have always been active in life either with school or work. Staying at home for the past two years has not been a breezy ride. I have had my moods. I sometimes sulk for no reason. Sometimes I just sit on the couch for the whole day not knowing how to spend my time. Sometimes I am all very excited about the freedom I have to do anything I want with the time I have. But all the while, the one thing that is always on my mind is finding a job. A full-time job that would pay me, keep me busy, make me feel independent again and use all my time effectively.
So when I heard her say that I was lucky to be able to spend time and take care of myself, I knew she was right. I knew I have more control over myself than ever before. I can do anything I want to and not feel tied down by deadlines and projects. I have a lot of possibilities to explore things that I have always wanted to. And the only person who can stop me is myself. I will still try to find a job for myself. But now I know that I would do it with a better attitude.
There are three things that I want to tell when I meet her tomorrow morning.
A My name and find out hers too.
B Ask her to drink that coffee she always keeps on the windowsill, before it gets cold.
C And thank her for teaching me one of life’s most valuable lessons.
Life isn’t that bad after all…