When my dear partner died, I vowed not to rush into anything new until I felt ready. Lately, I've been considering what my future options might be now that I am alone, again. It's not that I lack choices. I have many, perhaps too many. There are writing projects waiting. My apartment could use some redecorating. The sheet music files our choir uses need my attention. There are a lot of 'volunteer opportunities' available for someone like me - an older woman who is not currently a care-giver, is spouse-less, and has no dependent relatives. I am a VIP (visitor in the parish) for members of the church I attend, but I hesitate to add more 'opportunities'.
I suspect I'm not designed to be a pillar of the church, or a pillar or cornerstone in the community. I know and respect the people who are. I don't know what they are made of, but it is something above and beyond my mortal capacity. A lot of pillars are women. Women who care for dying family members at home never get mentioned; but they are family cornerstones. Women who make 300 pies and sandwiches routinely for church or community events and who turn out week after week to do the work that keeps churches and charities running are pillars. Women who chair committees in their spare time between caring for aging parents, and ferrying teens and adult children without cars to appointments are cornerstones.
The girls of my generation, the baby-buster generation born slightly before and during World War II, had as role models the young women and mothers who cared for family and community. They worked, if they needed to, or wanted to; and, if they were married, if their husbands agreed to it. In addition, they volunteered for many of the duties that keep society working as a matter of course. Also, because there was no other option, they looked after aged family members who needed care at home. A number of these role models are still around, or have left us very recently. Were they made of stronger material? Probably not. They did what they were sure they had to do. However; it worries me when a pillar falls ill, or dies.
A slightly older woman friend, who is also a member of the baby-buster generation and who is very active in her church and community spoke to me recently about her desire to slow down and guilt she feels about that possibility. Who will do it, if I don't? That's the unasked question. I don't have a glib answer.
Younger women today have a lot to do, and there are a zillion expectations placed on them. Have a fulfilling career! Have a perfect family! Have a perfect life! Don't forget to look fabulous, always! No wonder being a pillar doesn't fit in. But, maybe just doing one thing, adding one small brick and doing it consistently will be all that can be offered to the community and/or the church. Maybe if enough of us do that one thing, and continue to do it the small bricks will keep the building standing.