what has been upNovember 1, 2010 at 1:05 pm | Posted in little bug, Little O, the firm, Uncategorized | 7 Comments
It has been, just about to the day, six months since I’ve posted here. I don’t know if anyone still reads this, but, in a way, that’s why I’m writing again: I don’t care. One of the many things I’ve realized in the past six months (along with the epiphany that exercise, for me, is not so much about weight control as sanity — more on that another time…) is that I love to write. I miss it. My husband joked at one point several months ago that I was “competitive blogging.” It was funny, yes, but also kind of true. When you have had a blog for a while, and read other people’s blogs, and then start talking to those bloggers, you can get caught up in how many unique page views and comments you have. Being a competitive person by nature, it was hard for me to separate why I was writing in this space from the need to “write on my blog,” if that makes any sense. Still, in the past few weeks I’ve gotten a couple of nice comments and emails from both strangers and friends asking me where my on-line self has been.
It’s hard to say. In the past half-year, I went from having a three-month-old infant to a nine-month-old who crawls up stairs. My a two-year-old with chubby cheeks has become a tall, precocious pre-schooler who somehow knows who Hannah Montana is. (Note to self: WTF?) I came out of the dark woods of sleepless nights and tantrums. I’m still not sleeping, and the preschooler is still throwing tantrums, but now these things are not shocks to my system. They are part of my new reality.
Most significant, I went back to work. Same law firm, same job. I came very close to not doing so, and much of the past six months I spent debating (1) whether to take a new, totally different job (I didn’t, for reasons that I can’t quite articulate but I think in the long run made/make sense) and (2) whether to spend some time at home with my children or return to my job as a tax associate at all. I never felt quite sure about my ultimate decision to go back to my firm job (and still don’t in fact), and so then I spent the weeks leading up to my return in a state of heightened anxiety. I didn’t really feel like writing about any of this, and my head and heart were so preoccupied with this BIG MILESTONE (i.e., returning to work after seven months off), that I knew I wasn’t capable of blogging without discussing the minutiae of my indecision and anxiety ad nauseum.
And then I started back at work, at the beginning of September. Several wise people told me that I’d feel better on my second day of work than I did the day before I went back, and that was largely true: the unknown is, of course, always worse than the known. But it hasn’t been a smooth transition by any means. I decided not to hire a nanny (I can go into detail if anyone really cares, but, in short, my one really huge debilitating fear is someone else driving my children around, especially if that someone is a 20-something nanny who may or may not be texting the entire time). Anyway, the immediate repercussions of this were that Little O kept getting sick at daycare, and I’d be called home to get him because he had a 102 fever or something, which then necessitated him staying home for at least another 24 hours. Tim and I were scrambling for back up care, and luckily my mother and sisters and his mother and sister were available at key moments. Once Little O got better, Little Buggy would get whatever he had, and we’d go through the same dash-home-to-get-from-school-scramble-for-backup-care dance. Meanwhile, Little O still doesn’t sleep through the night, we’re both exhausted, and dinner still had to be made, baths given, stories read. And then: kitchens cleaned, lunches packed and, on top of all of that, memos written and work emails sent late into the evening. So we hired a nanny, who started last week, and things are much calmer on the home front. This juggle is not new to any parent, working or not, but somehow I thought I was organized and yet flexible enough that it wouldn’t get to me.
That’s where I’ve been. I had a wonderful summer home with my children. In retrospect, I wish I hadn’t let my anxiety about starting back at work cloud so much of it. I wish I could just do my job, take it day by day, and be happy and grateful that I have a coveted job in a shaky economy and that my children are healthy as in capital “H” Healthy. But I’m a grass-is-greener kind of person. Even though I’m temporarily working a reduced-hours schedule, as I dash out the door at 4:30 p.m. I feel slightly anxious and guilty because my peers are getting the memos finished and the research completed. When I leave work at 1 p.m. because I have gotten a call that someone is sick, I cancel conference calls and rearrange meetings and am quite sure that I am becoming known as “that” co-worker — the one who always has sick kids and has to reschedule. I like what I do, and I want to be good at it — and I just cannot be “good” at the level I’d like to be. I wish I could accept that, but I’m not very good at accepting mediocrity, especially when it comes to myself.
When I get home, I feel guilty that I’m checking my blackberry when the children are in the bath. That I don’t have a very nice bedtime routine for my son, who has not gotten a hang of sleeping through the night. That I cut my daughter off at one or two stories because I have to go finish a memo.
My song is that same as so many others’; I know I’m being highly unoriginal (read a smattering of any blogs written by women and you’ll see!). My personal details and travails are different, but many parents feel that we can’t do either Work or Home as well as we’d like. (Side note: if we all truly felt this way, then wouldn’t there be some adjustment of the starting line, some collective lowering of the bar?) Still, I feel like I should be able to do it. I should be able to wake up at 6 a.m. and have quality time baking muffins with Little Buggy or whatever before I leave for work. I should be able to play games before bed instead of turning on Dora the Explorer for the 100th time so that I can collapse on the couch.
I know we’ll get through it — the days are long but the years are short blahblahblah — but the fatigue seems endless and my inability to be either present or happy seems endemic. Now, I didn’t write this post to complain, but rather to fill you in. I have much more to say about all of this. But this is just to catch you (whoever you are) up. To establish the baseline. So we’ll start from here and move on. And I hope, by turning back to the one thing that comes effortlessly for me — writing — I can sort my way through all of this. Anyway, the Muse seems to have returned. I’m itchy to write, my mind full of ideas. And as any writer or poet or artist knows: don’t mess with the Muse.