Friday, April 13, 2007

thanks, but no thanks. but, thanks!

so when i laid out the life-changing aspects of my time in florida, i didn't tell you the whole truth. i know! the deception has been eating at me inside since i posted it! but it's a longer story than i felt like telling at the time, and i just wanted to get those digging pictures up. the world could not wait for those digging pictures.

i'm starting this post on tuesday, but it could be days before you see it. cause like i said, it's a long story. and i'm still processing it as i'm writing it, so i'll probably rewrite it at least five times. and naptime, she only lasts so long, and i can't be on the "puter" when wile's awake anymore, because then he wants to "type emu", and you'd get a post that would look like this:


crane car sarah GWEN 0

weilh5 j







anyway: it all began well before we even got on the plane. somewhere around the middle of february, to be vaguely precise, i realized that i was not, as they say, in a good place. that the past couple of months had been a kind of a low point in my mothering career and career as a person.

i felt like my brain was turning to mush, and i was really just bored with....everything. i had all these things i should be doing, some fun (learning to use my new sewing machines, plotting out my world domination, posting on this here and that there blog), some not so fun, but necessary (cleaning out the front room downstairs, hanging up pictures in wile's room, weeding out the toys that wile hadn't glanced at in months), but i couldn't pull myself out of my torpor to do them. i was down in the doldrums with milo, and i didn't have tock to pull me out. combine that with some rough weeks here and there, in which i had some horrifyingly yell-y, guilt-inducing incidents with my poor defenseless young man, and i was left just plain unhappy.

thankfully i wasn't so far gone that i couldn't recognize it, and start to think about how to pull myself out of it. and i decided that i what i needed to do was start doing some work outside the house again. not full time or anything wacky like that, but some freelance editing, like i used to do. before calling my former place of employ (who i have freelanced for in the past), i jumped on mediabistro to see if they had any interesting freelance ads up. and what i found was an ad for a part-time job.

it was at a small company, very similar to the first place i worked at in publishing and loved, before it was acquired by a larger company and i ended up sitting in a cubicle and ran screaming for the exit. i was intrigued. i knew i could do this job, and do it really well. and it seemed like this was the solution to my problems, staring up at me from my computer screen. yes! i would completely overhaul my life! make a dramatic gesture! if freelance work would be good for me, a part-time job would be great! it would wake me up, give me purpose, balance my life! w! o! r! k! wooooo!

so i emailed in my resume. about a week and a half later, i got a call. i went in for an interview the day before i left for florida. i thought it went well, but really i had no f-ing idea. i've never done an interview before. for serious. well, i guess i technically had an interview with the crazy italian chef/owner at the italian restaurant where i apprentice-chef-ed, but all i can remember from that is following him around the restaurant saying "uh-huh" while he talked a mile a minute, and then he made me put a bunch of corks in a saute pan and flip them, and i thought i did a crappy job because i only got 5 out of 9 to say in the pan, but later found out that the reason he hired me was because of the cork-flipping, since he thought that he wouldn't have been able to do as well. so, but, anyway, i'd never had an interview before that required actual speaking.

but apparently i did just fine, because i got a call when i was at my mom's house asking me to do a second interview over the phone, and a couple days after that, a call offering me the job.

and pretty much just like that, i didn't want it.

there were a few technical factors—the hours were really much closer to full time than part time, and the money would never be more than just okay—but mostly, it came down to this:

> there might be hours, days, even weeks when i wish someone besides me was dealing with the whining, the arguments over wanting to wear shirts that are currently in the washing machine and how even asking really nice won't make them dry, the constant asking of "why?", the endless games of backhoe and catch, the total immersion and suppression of self that is being home with a baby or toddler. but when it came down to it, when i was faced with the real choice of making a few calls and putting wile in someone else's care for a few days a week, i didn't want to do it. and that made me realize that:

> i have a job. i'm bringing up my baby boy. but my current gig, the mom gig, had become both stale and more challenging (hello, twos!) , and in applying for this other job i was essentially trying to switch careers. and this was the wrong solution. i didn't need to change jobs, i needed to change my relationship to the job that i have.

and.....i'm actually following through on it! i did some self-diagnosis, and am working on my shit.

so what did i figure out? that i'm a prime example of what newton was talking about. when i slip in to a pattern of being lazy, i tend to stay there. so here i am, home with the kid, no real obligations, no one telling me what to do, no one watching.....and i slipped. i mean, wile and i certainly didn't lie around the house in our pajamas all day watching lifetime movies and eating bon bons. we went to playgroup, playdates, the park, music class, waldorf school, etc etc. but when he napped? i was much more likely to watch something on the dvr than read one of the issues of the new yorker glaring at me from the endtable or anything else constructive. once he went to bed? back on the couch. eating too many crappy snacks.

also, i had decided, sometime around the holidays, that i should just let go of the need to have the dishes done i went to bed, and wile's toys cleaned up, and the clutter in neat piles. that if i just chilled out about the (not so awful, really) messiness, it would decrease my stress. this was an epically bad idea. piles of undone dishes stress me out. i should not deny this. i have to embrace it. plus, once i told myself that it was okay not to do the dishes after dinner, it became a million times harder to force myslef to do them anytime. so it only fed in to my general state of inertia.

but of course the second half of newton's law is that if you start moving, you keep moving. and the whole job search/interview process/offer/refusal got me moving. and i've kept moving. trying to be a lot more conscious of myself. to force myself to go down and put the laundry in the dryer before i go to bed instead of telling myself that i can do it in the morning. to not look at the stack of unread books on my bedside table and say "jesus, i'll never catch up", but to just pick one up and start reading it. to create projects for myself, and actually do them. to be ambitious but not unrealistic in thinking about what i want to get done in a day/week/month. to turn off the tv. to eat better. to exercise. and to ask stephen for help when i need it. and to not kick myself in the ass if i do backslide for a day or two. to grow the hell up.

it's not easy, yo. i've never had to be my own boss before. and that's what being a stay-at-home mom, essentially, is. so i'm trying to be a better, more motivational boss, and i'm doing alright so far—even without the kitten poster. and it's made me a better mama: if i'm happy, i'm much more patient with wile, much less likely to be beaten down by the horrors of the twos.

but none of this is going to make any kind of difference in the long run, none of this is going to stick, unless i deal with my other issue. and i want and need it to stick. so i'm dealing with it, finally.

the issue is this: i've always had bad pms, or whatever you want to call it. "bad" doesn't even express how bad. crying fits, intense mood swings, total lack of rationality, hair-trigger temper (the temper is always bad, but when i'm hormonal it's off the charts).... all of which is toxic enough. but couple it with intense depression, and it's just debilitating. so for most of my adult life, i've been way-less-than-functional a significant percentage of the time.

i don't exactly know why i've never addressed it before. probably mainly because i have trouble asking for help. plus, pms isn't a constant state of being, so when i would come back to normal i'd be so relieved to be out of the woods that i just didn't want to think about it anymore. but it's time. if next month's hormonal joyride free-falls me back into a black hole, i won't have a job or school—things that have pulled me out of my body-at-rest state in the past—to help me out. i'll still be my own boss. and even after wile moves on to the wonderful world of s-c-h-o-o-l, i'd like to continue being my own boss, by starting up my own business. but if i don't do something about the pms, it will never ever happen. because for 2/3 of the time it seems absolutely acheivable, exciting (if just a little bit terrifying). but the other 1/3 of the time, when everything seems hopeless and folding the laundry feels unattainable, creating and sustaining an enterprise seems monumentally, preposterously unattainable.

and also, and especially, i have to face it for wile. though i obviously don't feel good about it, i can handle snapping at/bitching at other people. but to have wile bear the brunt of my problem? unacceptable.

i've found an ob-gyn who specializes in pms disorders, and i'm keeping a log of my daily crazy levels so that when i see her in may, i can hopefully help her figure out what i need to do to not have this happen every month.

so, ironically, not taking the job did what i thought taking the job would do, way back 17 paragraphs ago.... actually, it did more.

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