Fall brought great changes to our family. To say that my work has been challenging is the understatement of a century. This is the first time that my work life balance has been thrown into complete upheaval. Throughout the month of October I was working 65+ hour weeks, traveling constantly, catching what few hours of sleep I could in hotel rooms, or sometimes just not even leaving the office. I have been running on auto pilot and my tank is empty.
You learn things about yourself when faced with these situations. I learned that my brain doesn’t function after 28 waking hours. I spent a good 20 minutes looking frantically for a pair of jeans that I was already wearing. When that happened I threw up the proverbial white flag and…poured myself another cup of coffee.
I can recall pulling all-nighters in college with little effort. That was because when my task was done I could easily crawl into my bunk the next afternoon and sleep it all away. When you have little ones counting on you, you just have to push through it.
So that’s what I did, but not without consequence. Things have finally started to settle down but my little guy still asks me when I am going to leave him again. I can’t tell you how many tears were shed, how many times they gripped at my legs begging me not to leave as I was hauling my suitcase, a.k.a. my Go Bag out the door. I have never minded being a full time working mother. I love to work, I need to work, and we generally manage it well. Until now my children have never felt my attention was lacking. But oh, after a few weeks of my absence their voices rang loud and clear. There’s a saying in my family that we have the ability to lay on a guilt trip in spades. My children in all of their honesty have got that trait down to a science. It was crushing.
Truly, I don’t know how parents who travel manage to get by without feeling a deep hole from the knowledge that they are missing something (or someone) important. During those weeks I felt like my children grew a foot in height and two shoe sizes between them, and I utterly missed it.
Eventually work calmed down, we moved on, my house which had been falling apart was rescued from its Hoarders Level 1 crisis mode, and life resumed some sort of normalcy. Then the end of October hit and my children’s homework started kicking in. All I can say about that is wow. Wow.
My first grader is in finals week right now and every night after I finish work I pick them up and bring them home, fashion some semblance of a healthy dinner, and spend the rest of the few evening hours we have together crammed around the kitchen table reviewing social studies, Spanish, and music theory. We still have science, math, and English to go, and while she seems to be doing fine my eyes have started to glaze over. This is just first grade! How on earth are we going to get them through the next 14 years? The task is beyond daunting.
Years after my days of studying were long completed I used have these dreams that I would show up at school and I would be handed a test that I was in no way prepared to take. Everyone around me would be furiously scribbling away their answers and I would be sitting there shaking and fumbling over a broken number 2 pencil. By the way, do they still require those? If I had read the huge stack of class newsletters that have been piling up on my table closely enough I would probably have that answer.
Paperwork. *hides* That in itself is a whole other bear.
I am so disorganized and drowning in career work, house work, laundry, parenting, mail, Friday Folders from school the size of chapter books, and all the parent participated home education required that comes with them. I have absolutely no disillusions here. I always knew that along with all the rewards parenting would bring, that there would be seemingly unconquerable mountains of hard work ahead of us. I do seriously get that. Not to be all misery loves company, but I guess I’m hoping that if you are with me this far, you are reading this and nodding your head with a “Hell yes! Amen, Sister”.
Suffice it to say, while I have also found wonderful pockets of relief recently (if you’re my friend on Facebook you’ve seen the pictures from my rocking NYC Girl weekend and fun filled day at the RI Comic Con), I am regardless feet shuffling, body slumping, eyes twitching, mind shatteringly exhausted. I struggle with the possibility that for a long time coming this may simply be our status quo.
So I trudge on, but trust me when I say that all I really want to do tonight instead of barraging a 7 year old with science questions, is sit my ass on the couch with something chocolaty and watch a Vampire Diaries marathon.
Hey man, don’t judge me. We all deserve our guilty pleasures; even if it’s just one late night episode of Ian Somerhalder at a time. BTW, seriously adding this guy to my laminated Top Five List.