Thursday, September 5, 2019

On Keeping Working Mom Hours.

This is going to sound like I've never held a job before, but - I feel like I'm not cut out for the length of a work day. Holy exhaustion, batman.

I've worked in dealerships, offices, retail - for endless hours, some with long, stressful commutes. Some while being exposed to the elements. I used to pride myself on my hardcore work ethic and my motivated stamina, and now I can't wrap my head around how I ever did that.

I'm older, obviously. I haven't held a job out of the house in nearly 11 years. That's a decent amount of energy loss. And I've got a decade-long habit of navigating life in leggings and shutting myself in my room for a half hour when I need a breather. I have to adjust - and I guess I sort of overlooked this part of treating writing like a job.

coffee chalkboardI knew there had to be routines and schedules. I've got those all carved out, complete with screenshots on my phone to help me set morning and evening habits. I push myself to stay on track even when I'm tired. I do things for my future self by staying up after the kids are in bed to set out clothes, prep lunches, and run the dishwasher. I've even been sticking to my one-snooze rule and getting up before the sun to make sure there's time for all of us to get ready for the day.

It's that all of my daytime hours are carefully carved out for writing, research, errands, volunteer shifts, two different (and spaced out) pick up times - my days are a non-stop whirlwind of both physical and mental exhaustion. I no longer have the space in my schedule for a 2 or 3pm coffee and quiet time in my bed because now I'm off on pickup #2 duty. (Refraining from all of the immature jokes, there.)

This week especially has been tricky. I've had to honor commandment #5 (Be Mom first) every day as my kids transition into their new normals at school. They need me to care for and encourage their tender hearts and to help them get prepared to tackle their days while they're out in the world without me. That has meant putting my writing time on a shelf. I've still been able to fit some in, but it's been frustrating.

I'm a Manifesting Generator (find more on that here), and one of our tell-tale marks is being drained by the mundane to do list tasks of life and lit up by our passions (even if our passions require hard work). If there's something I WANT (like, to finish a book, to write a blog post, or to redecorate a room to my exact vision), I can do it all day. Ten hours, twelve hours - bring it on. Then I go grocery shopping and wash a sink full of dishes and I want to sleep for a week.

I love my kids, I do - and being their mom brings me a satisfaction and pride that not much else can. But the fact is, taking care of them requires a lot of monotonous revolving-door chores that make me want to scream. So I've had to tell my writing itch to hang on while I recycle school papers and clean lunch boxes when every fiber of my being wants to do the exact opposite. I suspect this is to blame for the long and draining nature of my new work days. And I'm not sure how I didn't see this coming.

As a stay at home mom, I had two distinct "clock out" times. One somewhere around 2:30-3:30 when we were in for the night after school. I'd brew coffee, sit and watch a show or read a book. I'd get moving again around 4:30 - tidy up the house, make dinner, clean up. The kids would head to bed around 8:30 and I'd clock out again. I'd be in bed with my book and nothing could stop me. But now, if I don't keep moving and do my future self some favors, I can't protect my work hours. And we don't make it home for the day until after 4pm.

In short....I'm tired.

And to every single mom that drags herself out of bed at 5 or 6am and pushes through task after task, maybe a job (or maybe not), and runs the household until well into the evening (with maybe only 30 or 45 minutes to yourself before exhaustion overcomes you), well done. I forgot what it was like to live the way you do. Or rather, I didn't have to care for other people last time I had to do this.

And, if you can, answer me this. Is this actually sustainable?

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