“Two Kinds of Busy,” Jan. 28, 2020

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 it often 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 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.


  1. Mary Harrington says

    Facing a serious surgery tomorrow and as always your column touched my soul.
    My heart feels heavy but l will be blessed with support of my husband,sons, daughter in laws, sisters, grandkids and friends. Hopefully l will be busy with a recouperation and then return to the life l cherish and be busy with that. Always thanking God for his many tremendous blessings.

  2. Betty McNall says

    Yes today is a good day! Claire our granddaughter that is a senior and plays Basketball has senior night! Grandpa and I have a rose for her! She played hard and was overlooked at times as she is not pushy! She has been a mentor to JV girls! She was here to help us yesterday as it’s hard for us to get on our knees! Yep old age! Anyway she is a beautiful granddaughter! And today is a great day!

  3. Kate Sciacca says

    I can sure feel your pain…. both good and well…. not so good. How did we do it? That’s what I’m still trying to figure out. Kids, teams, birthdays (lots of those), breakfast, sack lunches, dinner, meetings, more meetings, school projects, permission slips, laundry (never ending laundry), sick days (theirs, not ours… we didn’t have time for that luxury)… and now I see the princess and my delightful daughters-in-law doing all of it, and I’m amazed at what they can do, totally amazed 🙂

  4. I’ve been retired for many years. My husband and I were both in law enforcement, he as a policeman for 44 years and me as a 911 emergency dispatcher for 30 years. We both loved it but were glad when it came time to retire. You are right about staying busy but as we grow older it gets a little harder to do but we certainly don’t want the alternative.😏. Thanks again for a wonderful column I look forward to all your future ones….so, sorry you can’t retire😁. We would all miss you a lot.

  5. Pat Marshall says

    Once upon a time I also did all tnose things. Even when my grands were little I worked full time and would baby sit on the week ends. Now that I’m 75 I wonder how I did all that. I am much slower and it takes longer to do things. As my mom used to those ritis brothers are tough.

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