“I feel so useless and unmotivated.” I was telling a friend of mine recently. She asked to remain anonymous because she didn’t think she was “giving good advice.” Or more likely, she didn’t want anyone to know she’s my friend (or relative – hint hint).
“You’re not suicidal, are you?” she asked concerned.
“I don’t have the motivation to be suicidal.” I said. “I’m stuck at motivating factors; like being fat, ugly, untalented, boring-”
“You’re not any of those things.” She said, cutting me off.
“You’re just saying that because you’re my friend. But, no, I’m not suicidal or depressed. I’m just… blah. And these jeans are giving me a wedgie!” I protested, then realized I was wearing my daughter’s jeans.
“I don’t feel passionate about anything.” I said switching into my jeans and writing an “M” on the pocket of hers with a sharpie so I could tell them apart next time. “I’m not one of those people that can make hateful signs and get arrested for a cause. I can’t summit Everest, or run a marathon. I can’t even wash the entire roof of my car.”
“Is that why there’s a gritty line down the center? Even on the hood?” She asked perplexed.
“I have short arms!” I whined. “Oh, why can’t my success at digital cribbage be reflected in my success in life?”
“You have an amazing knack for detecting natural gas leaks.” She said encouragingly.
“So? How does that reflect in having a successful life?”
“Otherwise, you’d be dead, right?” She said, trying to spin it.
It didn’t help.
“How am I going to survive being an empty nester?” I continued to moan.
“You’re not an empty nester.” She pointed out.
“Yes, but I will be in two years!”
“You know what you need?” she asked, perhaps rhetorically.
“Shock therapy?” I asked dreading the thought. Although if it would help, I wondered if I could get a home kit for ongoing treatment.
“You need a project.” She said, interrupting my shocking daydream.
She was right. I’m a project person. I admit it. I have to be productive. I see something that needs to be done and I figure a way to do it; even if I don’t know how, have the right tools, or a license to drive a bus full of retirees to Disneyland. But I didn’t have a project at the moment. There were no fires to put out, or airs to put on. The days of Room Mom were over and Doom Mom was left.
Before I could get any further into my pitty-party, my “friend” returned dragging a huge trash bag.
“I appreciate the support.” I said. “But if I was gonna suffocate myself with a plastic bag I’d use an empty one.”
“It’s my laundry.” She said. “I’ll pick it up tomorrow.”
“I’m not doing your laundry.” I said indignantly.
She stood there staring at me blankly for several moments then suddenly covered her face and began to sob.
“My washing machine is broken and I don’t have the money to get it fixed until my next pay check because I bought those expensive shoes you said looked silly.” She cried.
I rushed to comfort her, wracking my brain to remember what shoes she was talking about. I try never to discourage people from buying things I don’t think look good, because every person has their own opinion of what is attractive and what is – oh, yeah, I remember now, those shoes were hideous! I just said “silly” to be nice.
“I’m sorry. I’m happy to do your laundry. And, I’ll loan you the money to get your washer fixed.” I said grabbing my wallet.
“It’s okay. I’ll just put it on my credit card for now.” She said suddenly free of tears and was out the door before I could count the dollar bill in my wallet.
Well, at least I had cheered her up, I thought, as I hauled the bag of laundry to the utility room. I realized after all the laundry was washed, folded, a loose button resewn and everything spritzed with a little Fabreeze, she had just done this to pull me out of my funk. And, it had worked!