People ask me all the time? “How are the girls doing with your new work schedule?” I sit back and I think for a minute. I know in my head I should offer some sort of mixed bag of suffering sprinkled with a little bit of they know it will get better. But nope….my girls have handled it good. Sure they miss me not being there when they get home. Occasionally, they will have a tiny tear or two but mostly what I have seen is a whole lot more reliance on their Daddy. I have been accidentally called “daddy” probably about twenty times this week. And while it does cause me to wince a little, I am finding ways to be okay with it.
I have spent the last 11 years being the main one and they accidentally called him “Mommy”. They have these new people in their lives that they are learning to rely on and even more importantly they are relying on themselves more. All of these are good things, right?
Then why am I struggling so? I tried talking to my guy about it and in natural “I am a guy I will fix it way” he says, “Well you can quit.” But that doesn’t solve anything. I don’t want to quit. I love my job. I love being a graduate student. I love being a mom. But I cannot seem to put it all together and make it work.
Yesterday I woke up with the weight of the world on my shoulders. My friends lives have continued on. They operate on normal mode. My family life seems to operate just fine without me. But my life it feels like one big juggling match and I keep dropping the ball. It was too much. I cried. I finally admitted that I may have finally bit off more than I can chew. How can I do and be all that I am supposed to be and do it to the standards that I have set for myself and that people have come to expect? I can’t.
I did what any grown adult would do in this situation. I began crying in a crying hiccup hissy fit and I called my mom. I confessed, “It is too much. I can’t do it all. I am overwhelmed so much that I can do nothing.” I think that was the first time in my adult life I have ever proclaimed such. She was silent. What words of wisdom did you have for me sweet mother?
She says, “Shannon, you need to lower your expectations on yourself. And know this is not forever.” No it didn’t really help but I don’t think it is ironic that that would be the fourth time I have heard that in two weeks. I know what it means and I know it is the solution but that does not make it easier. I have such high expectations for everything I do. But I will never survive this season in life if I don’t follow her advice.
My OCD is over the top and my hands are raw as hamburger because often when my life feels out of control my way of controlling it is through antibacterial soaps and sanitizer. Thankfully, I have MommyJargon who has listened to me endlessly proclaim it is getting better despite the fact that I am not always sure I buy it. She pretends like she does every time.
My mom told me, “Give it 90 days…In 90 days it will feel different.” I am holding her to that. It is so hard to be good at anything when you feel like you suck at everything. The hardest part is the people who I thought would support me and love me through this are already tired of asking, “Are you okay?” I know it is easy, I am not normally a high maintenance person to have around. But I am lately. I know it.
The most difficult part of this transition is going from the mom I was to the new mom I am. I cannot be the first person there always. And I realize that is on me. I add my own guilt and I need to find a way to excuse myself. But I can’t. I am just not there yet. It says way less about those taking care of my child than it does me.
But I know this is a season and I know there is nothing I would change to alleviate this hard part. I know that when you are uncomfortable that you are being pushed to the brink of who you are and the only way to make it the other side and is to hang the heck on. So I hang on. I cry a lot. I hope a lot and I know I am right where I belong.
“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.”
― Eric Roth, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button screenplay