Why I need Challenge Right Now!
The last year or so has been a bit of a strange time for me. My youngest son has just completed his GCSE’s and moved on to college to start his A-Levels marking the end of an era for me. My children are on the cusp of adulthood and they don’t need me as they once did.
It’s time for me to step back and let them get on with it. But it’s hard, really hard.
I have been a mum since I was 18 years old. I’ve spent 18 years mothering, juggling study, work, family, and now I feel a bit redundant. It’s a real conflict of emotions, part of me is excited for them, proud of the amazing young men they have become but yet another part of me is desperate for them to babies again, so that I can hold on to them for just a little bit longer.
Now that my boys are men… (Oh I feel a 90’s classic coming on here!)
So, a few months ago I was talking to a really good friend of mine. I was moaning about not really knowing what to do with myself, feeling seriously meh, a bit adrift. You know as if life was just passing me by…
We talked, as you do, and she was quite right when she pointed out the obvious. I was bored! My children are all off at college and working. I work from home doing a job I love, but life certainly no longer has the demands that it once did. Quite clearly, I needed to find something to ‘get my teeth into’. But also, I needed to find something to do that I enjoyed and that would help me to embrace this next stage of my life…
Ladies… Sometimes you’ve just got to be brutal! And if I’m brutally honest then the long and short of it is that basically, I just need to get a life of my own! (To replace the one that has been defined by the needs and desires of my offspring!!)
So, it got me thinking. What do I really enjoy about my life? What have I enjoyed in the past? What do I want for my future as the mum of adults.
Suddenly I had a bit of a light bulb moment… What I was missing from my life was a goal, a challenge.
Personally, I am at my happiest and most fulfilled when I have some kind of goal to focus on, something that challenges and engages me.
Setting myself challenges is something I have pretty much done the whole of my adult life, they have been all kinds of things and to be honest most, if not all of those the challenges have generally been quite impulsive ideas, some big, some small… But they have all, without a doubt improved my quality of life…
Plus, I tend to find that for me major life changes and challenges go hand in hand. But not necessarily in the way you might think. Obviously major life changes present challenges in themselves. But I seem to see those changes as the perfect time to introduce even more challenge to my life, or as I prefer to see it, opportunity!
Let me explain,
My love for the challenge really kicked in when I had just turned 21…
Back then I was Mum to two little boys aged 2 years and 3 weeks. My baby had been born with congenital fixed bi-lateral talipes and needed what would turn out to be weekly hospital treatment for the next 4 years, 2 big ops and regular check-ups until the age of 15. So, I made the decision not to return to my job as a bank cashier, it was just too impractical. But what would I do to keep my mind busy now?!
A normal person would just crack on with the daily routine of child rearing and hospital visits… Yeah… Not me! I decided (with some input from my younger sister. Thank you by the way xx) that clearly this was the ideal opportunity for me to check out returning to education and set about getting myself a degree, and as luck would have it, it was August… Woo hoo! Time, for clearing!
Now there was only one other teeny, tiny little hurdle in my way. No A-Levels. Just a clutch of really good GCSE’s that demonstrated my potential had I not decided to have baby no. 1 aged 18.
But as luck would have it I had found a loop hole! As I was now 21, I could apply for a degree course as a ‘mature student’ (oh how I laughed at that phrase!!). As a mature student the entry requirements were assessed on an individual basis… I just needed to convince the admissions tutor I was up to it! So, I wrote an essay, had an interview, provided a reference and whoop!! The place was mine! So, there I was three weeks later enrolled on a degree course. Just in time for my six-week post-natal check!
Those three years were utterly brilliant. When I started, I never for a second thought I would graduate; but I did and it taught me that it’s good to push yourself, not to the limit, but to achieve whatever it is that gives your life meaning and fulfilment. For me at that time, it was all about setting the groundwork so I could build a better life for my sons, setting them a good example by educating myself.
That wasn’t the last time that major life changes instigated change… Almost ten years ago we had to relocate to the West Country from the South East for Mr Challenge’s job… We moved in the July, which (as far as I saw it!!) was perfect timing for me to begin my teacher training in the September!
So, it seemed only right and proper that as I approach my next change, my empty nest, with my youngest son hurtling towards adulthood at breakneck speed that the time is right for a new challenge.
A New Challenge
My blog is just that… My new challenge!
If you have read my ‘about’ page you will know that the focus for Challenge Clare is about being true to yourself and choosing to challenge yourself in a way that helps you to find whatever it is that gives you a sense of purpose and satisfaction… Whatever it is that will make YOU happy!
So, as I enter the next stage of my life without the responsibility of children. I have thought long and hard about what I want from my life. It’s a huge change for me and I need to have something to focus on as I move forward. So, in the spirit of Challenge Clare I have identified 5 challenges that I think embody that philosophy.
Fit at 40, The World by Train, DIY Queen, Mortgage Free at 50 and Empty Nest Survivor! (You can read updates on my challenges here)
So now I have my challenges, it’s time to crack on with it! I hope that what you find here is useful to you and that it provides you with some inspiration and advice for your next goal, challenge or adventure!
Here are some more thoughts on why being challenged is a good thing!
Be Challenged, Be Happy xx