How goofy is this: I Love the part time job I’ve been given at my yoga studio. I love having somewhere to be. I love people smiling at me, and saying Thank You. I love the owners saying I’m doing a good job, and a client saying “I’m so happy I got you on the phone – I know you’ll fix this for me”. I love taking inventory, and changing light bulbs, and clearing out the kitchen, and arranging cabinets. I love sitting at the desk, checking people in – even when there are 6 of them standing there, and the one right in front of me needs something complicated. I love that little rush, that question of can I handle it or will I lose it? I love the fact that Work Exchange employees come to me for answers! Me! Imagine that! It’s been 20 years since I had answers that were appreciated. And, to top it all off, I get Paid!!
As I’m writing this I’m tearing up, because I am starting to realize, in the pit of my stomach, how dreadful the past 20 years have really been. (Yes, I have shut down this feeling so I can finish writing) I remember becoming a “housewife/full time mom”; i.e. giving up my career. I clearly remember how shocking it was. I went from all of the things I described above, to taking care of 3 young children full time, with a spouse who was rarely there. It is true that motherhood is rewarding, but let’s be honest: there is a reason men have held on to the working out the home role. I went from feeling competent, useful, productive and paid to ………Not.
This is life as a “housewife/full time mom”.
I got up early and fed the kids breakfast. I got the oldest off to school, came home and cleaned up breakfast and prepared lunch. After they ate lunch I put them down for naps and cleaned up from lunch. On a good day I was able to do about 1 hour of “productive” work, like painting a wall or cleaning out a closet. As soon as naps were over I’d start on dinner, homework, chores, baths & bedtime. It was exhausting and, unfortunately, extremely unfulfilling. I went from hearing Thank You on a daily basis to hearing “eww, not that again”, or “mom, he touched me” or “mommmmmm” (just whining) or simply “NO”. To top it all off, it never ended. I didn’t get to leave an office and put it all away for the night. It was 24/7. And finally, the proverbial cherry on top: I was no longer paid! I was doing the most exhausting, unfulfilling, mind numbing, relentless work of my life, but had to beg my spouse for money.
I feel like a villain for writing this. I adore my children, and the work I put into them has been paid back in spades. I would not change it. At all. I would still give up my career, my health & my sanity to raise those boys. But honestly, when in the thick of it, it’s sort of like banging your head against a wall – all day, every day, day after day. And, you do it for free. Not only do you do it for free, you substantially reduce your social security account. And, if you end up getting divorced like me……..well, it’s not good.
I know some people thrive on being with their kids full time. I admire them. I wish I was one of them. I wish I preferred the work you do with children to changing light bulbs, because ultimately it is the most important work any of us can do. Unfortunately, I need to finish things. I need to finish placing an order and know it’s done for a few weeks. I need to repair a table, then pat myself on the back because it is done, I won’t be doing it again tomorrow. That simply doesn’t happen when you are a full time mother/housewife. As my oldest takes on adulthood, I’m increasingly aware that this is a bitch of a job that will never be finished. And, while they certainly don’t mean to be cruel, the Thank You’s are few and far between. Perhaps I need to call my mother and simply say “thank you”.
Back to the job: the owners have asked me if I can pick up more hours. I want so badly to scream from the rooftops YES!!! Give me as many hours as you can! I can do it; I will do it; I want to do it. Alas, I come to home to days like today and realize what a toll it takes on me. It also clarifies the link between mind and body. Today, I wore out my body working. By the time I left the studio I was having trouble breathing.
Could I have worked a few more hours? Sure. Should I have worked more hours? NO. I needed to go home, curl up in bed, do a nebulizer treatment and relax. All of which I did. After I was done that, I started to cook dinner. A lame dinner, but a dinner. Half way through cooking, I got an email from my divorce attorney. Most of the letter was great, but he was also asking for a payment towards my account. Hence the mind part of the body/mind connection. I went into a tailspin. My mind went blank. I froze. I wanted to throw up. Or do vodka shots. Or take lots of Valium.
What was most interesting to me about this was yesterday. Yesterday I had an hour long call with my attorney. We talked about some really stressful things, yet during most of the call I was feeling great. I was relaxed, and even able to joke and laugh about some things.
What made the difference? Work.
As much as I love it, it wears me out. It’s as if I’m a house of cards. If I’ve been home and resting for a few days, I have my entire house to boost me up, so the issues of divorce, doctors’ appointments, problems with kids or the roof on the house can land on a strong foundation. On the days I work though, I’ve used up that foundation. All I have left on those days are the teetering upper levels of my house of cards, and without the foundation those cards fall fast.
I am going to pick up more hours, but we’re going to make sure I have at least 2 days between shifts to recuperate. That sounds so crazy, given I used to work 50 hour weeks while raising children, but that is my reality. Maybe I’ll reach a point in which I can work 2 days in a row and not get sick, not bring down my entire house, but I’m not there now though. Much to my chagrin.
I feel extremely lucky that I’ve stumbled on to this job. Not only is it flexible, the owners have taken the time to sit with me to discuss my physical limitations. Apparently they like me as much as I do them, and they are willing to work around my house of cards. For me, as of now, I kind of feel like I’ve died and gone to heaven.
Alas, I am not totally delirious. I understand, perhaps more than the average person, that life can change on the drop of a dime. I understand that I have to revel in these moments, because all hell might break loose tomorrow. In fact, given my history, all hell will break loose tomorrow!
So, I will appreciate these days I’ve been given. I’ll give my brightest smile to every customer, and I’ll say yes to every request, and I’ll go home and do my breathing treatments, and think back over the highlights of the day, basking in what I accomplished. I’ll recall every single Thank You and try to burn it into my memory, engrave it on the foundation of my house of cards. For others it might not seem like much, but for me……..it’s everything.