I want to thank my dear friend Kanye West for filling in for me last Friday. I hope you found his parenting advice helpful. I must apologize for being a bit of a slacker this week. I’ve been (gasp!) working. Yes, I’m engaged in some seasonal labor. No, I’m not the mall Santa’s new grumpy middle-aged elf. I can barely manage my own children let alone hundreds of kids who are up past their naptime, wearing their itchiest Sunday best, and wired from a steady diet of candy canes and goldfish crackers.
Actually, my friends K and G own an amazing gourmet sweet bread company and cafe here in Atlanta called Breadwinner. I can’t help but boast…their bread was named one of Oprah Winfrey’s Favorite Things in 2011. And you know Oprah is the world’s foremost expert on Things. Anyway, they do a ton of business at the holidays, shipping thousands of breads across the country. So, I’ve been doing some pretty serious packaging and shipping these days. As I sit here, I have a heating pad on my neck and shoulders and band-aids on the bloody stumps that used to be my fingers.
This little trial run as a working mother has been eye-opening. Thus far, I’ve worked a total of three, five-hour days. I’m still getting home in time to meet Biggie and Smalls when they get off the bus, but I am completely exhausted! Granted, as I mentioned, it is fairly physical work (I mean, those bows don’t just tie themselves!), but you’d think I could handle a few measly five-hour days. Instead, until now, I have not managed to write one word for this blog, do a moment of exercise or wash one piece of laundry. The house is in shambles and our dinners this week have been, shall we say, uninspired. As far as experiments go, I wouldn’t exactly call this one a rousing success.
I bow down to working mothers everywhere. I am clearly not worthy to stand in their shoes. When I was first out of law school and working as an associate at a law firm, there were weeks on end when I didn’t get a day off. I always worked at least one day each weekend and rarely left the office before 7 pm. Twelve-hour days were typical. I’m not saying it was fun, but I managed to keep up that pace for a few years without falling apart physically or losing my mind, which I’d say is a win. So I have to question whether I am a weenie now because I’m old or just because I’m out of practice.
Don’t get me wrong, there have also been some very positive aspects to working outside the little fiefdom of my house. I don’t fall into the Today Show/Facebook black hole in the morning while drinking my tea, failing to emerge for hours. I actually get up and shower every day. I’m eating an actual lunch instead of scarfing an energy bar and a handful of nuts between errands. I’m having contact with human beings other than the person working the Starbucks drive-thru. I take pride in my work. My ribbons are tied and trimmed beautifully, my breads are carefully packaged and I only occasionally find a crucial enclosure card left on the table and have to unpack 50 boxes to figure out which one is missing a card.
Most importantly, I get a real sense of accomplishment from the work. You can’t wrap and pack 300 loaves of bread for a corporate order without feeling a certain satisfaction. That is one thing I’ve sorely missed from my days of working full-time. Being a stay-at-home parent is a marathon rather than a sprint, and you rarely even see the finish line on the horizon, let alone cross it. Most of the things you do accomplish in a day…cleaning the house, doing laundry, cooking, helping the kids with homework…just need to be done again tomorrow. I really miss the finish line.
Luckily, in the next few weeks I have, among other things, a birthday slumber party to throw for Biggie, Christmas presents to buy, wrap and either ship out or hide, stockings to stuff, cookies to bake, a holiday party to throw for Ad Man’s employees and a blog to write. Maybe it would help me to visualize all those tasks lined up before a finish line beyond which lies copious amounts of wine, a pint of ice cream and a nice, warm bed. If not, I’ll just take the wine and a few Xanax-laced Christmas cookies, thankyouverymuch!
I know what you mean about the sprint — I did a small photography job recently and although I am happy with the choice to have a parent rather than a paid caregiver do certain things for my kid, and although I am incredibly grateful that it is even an option (my mom didn’t have the option), there was a definite ache. I’m not so sure I would’ve felt the same way if it were the kind of administrative work I left to go back to school, which always felt like a bad fit. There is a definite shifting of identity and after working hard for years to make it possible to be a filmmaker, it’s not painless to put it on hold to take on this other role. You know how I feel about bread — bakery work sounds very gratifyingly tactile and concrete and … bounded.
Sometimes I think we’re the same person, Sarvi! I’m definitely grateful for having the opportunity to choose, as well. But I do miss the creative outlet of film production. I don’t think I would miss work if I didn’t love it so much! I so happy to have found writing, though, to fill that drive to do something creative.
Those itchiest Sunday best clothes make me giggle – a whole family turned up after us to see Santa dressed in chinos and red sweaters:) Work is not what it’s cracked up to be – enjoy the work you do at home – I hear Biggie always gets 100% in spelling – imagine the shock she’d have if Mom couldn’t help her each week lol:) Can’t wait to see how you survive the slumber party – I’m going to fuel P with candy before she even gets there:) xxx
There are no guarantees that I WILL survive the slumber party! Ha. Just remember, I’ll be sending a tired kid who’s hopped up on sugar back to you in the morning! That’s so cute that P told you about Biggie’s mad spelling skillz! The girl is just a giant nerd like her mommy. I never thought I’d see someone so excited to get into the more difficult spelling group! xo
Love reading your blog. Miss you tons. Wish there was a finish line somewhere or a dotted line that meant you could stop and poop in peace just once!!!
I absolutely agree! Miss you too, sweetie!! xoxo