Long time, no write.
Which will likely be the way it goes for the next few months. As planned, I started a 40 hour a week job on January 6th. I’ve already waxed poetic about the job search process. I didn’t love it, folks! But, I seem to have landed in a good place. My boss has already graciously let me come in late one day so I could go to the DMV to renew my driver’s license and leave early on a different day so I could go watch E ski. Both good things, because driving with a valid license seems beneficial; and because my daughter got *freaking first place* amongst the JV skiers at said race. I taught her everything she knows. Obvi.
My boss also graciously let me have this week off. A REALLY good thing. Because I’m writing this from Mexico. It’s the fourth straight winter I’ve spent a week enjoying days by the pool and nights listening to amazing artists knock my socks off from a venue featuring an ocean backdrop, amazing food and drink, and a truly lovely fan base. I’m grateful on many levels. And feel like taking one week for a warm weather restorative vacation after every three weeks of work would make for a very manageable work-life balance. Alas, reality bites. Except it mostly doesn’t. But it kinda does.
The job is good. Figuring out how to get everything done while working full-time is, not surprisingly, challenging. To write this is utterly silly, because none of it is news to anyone. I am among the fortunate: I have a spouse with work schedule flexibility. He can plan his life such that he’s able to be home by 4:45 and get the girl to ski practice. And drop the skis off to be tuned and sweet talk the people in the shop into getting them done in time for the next race. And my son can make a mean sausage casserole, so once every week or so, he makes dinner. Also, thank sweet baby Jesus for grocery delivery.
None of this changes the fact that the learning curve has been steep over the past three weeks. I think it is safe to say folks in my family thought I didn’t do anything during my days at home since said home was never ever spotless and the laundry was rarely all folded and put away and the kitchen island and often the dining table were constantly covered in the minutiae of our lives. And And And. I feel like maybe they kinda get it now. Did I get EVERYTHING done when I was at home all day? No. Is that the same as getting NOTHING done? Also no. The laundry piles grow bigger these days. The number of dishes in the sink often feels exponentially higher than it used to. The crap piles and piles.
Sorting through the historically gender assigned crap, the ‘woman’s work,’ is complex. Perhaps even more so when mom’s been at home for 15 years and all that woman’s work has fallen to her. Not because she’s weak. Not because her husband’s an ass. Simply because it was necessity. It’s all about time. I was the one who had time to do the laundry (even if I didn’t always get it folded and put away). I was the one who could spend Monday morning’s sitting down and making a meal plan and grocery list for the week. I was the one to fill out the permission slips, make the appointments, make sure the bank account didn’t overdraft when the bank expected there to be money in there to pay the mortgage, write out the schedule for the week, make sure everyone had rides to practice (which admittedly seems straight forward, but talk to me when you have two hyper-scheduled kids who frequently need to be in two different places at once and a husband who travels 12 weeks a year), answer the strings of texts when the drama queen daughter was experiencing crises. And there were, and still are, constant crises when raising teenagers.
I would like to tell you we’ve distributed all these tasks evenly amongst not only Chris and myself, but also our very able teenage children. I would also like to tell you I have had zero meltdowns during this transition. But if you know me at all, or have read even one post before today’s; you would immediately and understandably call bullshit if I were to make those claims.
My husband is amazing, and he works long and hard to give our family an amazing life. He also very frequently immediately walks to the bed when he gets home from work (or taking the girl to ski practice these days), lies down, and watches a show or plays a game on his phone. I don’t know if I would say I begrudge him this wind down time at the end of a day, but I do not deny envy. Perhaps those are the same thing. I could look up the exact definition of begrudge, but who has time for that shit anymore? When I walk in the door, I sometimes take time to change into a pair of sweatpants, but frequently simply chuck off my shoes, hang up my coat, and work to get dinner on the table ASAP. And after dinner, make at least a half-assed attempt at cleaning up.
Does it feel like I’m throwing my husband under the bus? Yes, I know it does. And it’s completely unfair. In addition to being the ski taxi, he frequently drives at least one kid to school in the morning. And does a kajillion other things. He is no more or less deserving of down time than I am. The fact that he is sometimes better at claiming it cannot be entirely blamed on him. Dammit.
But this past Sunday morning, when I opted out of church because the house was too far gone even by my low cleanliness standards; and was unloading and loading the dishwasher, wiping down all the countertops, trying to sweep up at least one of the hundred layers of dog hair off the floors, getting things arranged to be away from home for a week, skipping breakfast, drinking WAY too much coffee and ultimately working myself into a jittery, hangry, stark raving BITCH– I unleashed hell fire and fury on him. He’d have been fully justified if he’d have simply left for the day and let me stew in my own psycho bitch momma juices.
He didn’t do that. We are not relationship experts, but we ARE pretty good at dealing with one another’s bullshit and tantrums. Which is good, because let’s face it, change is the only constant; and neither of us is any damn good at dealing with it.
This change is ultimately a good one. I am feeling very appreciated both at home and at work, which is definitely something I had been missing in recent years. But, it is change. There is much to figure out. And we will figure it out. And if I’m having a conversation with you in the next few weeks and simply lay my head down on the table and fall asleep, It’s NOT narcolepsy. It’s exhaustion. A good exhaustion, but exhaustion nonetheless. Here’s to labor, invisible and otherwise. Now, I’m gonna recline this poolside chair and take a nap.