Am I still blogging? Not sure. It’s been five long weeks since my last post. An unprecedented duration. I used to go 10 days and then start a blog post with an apology for the long absence. But it’s been five. weeks.
No, I did not lose my computer or opposable thumbs. I got a job. And now, instead of pondering blog-worthy topics in the shower (my prime pondering place), I am mentally checking off lists of work-related items and outlining future memos.
In all my gearing up to go back to work I had been mentally bracing myself for the kids-to-workplace transition, figuring out how keep quality time with the kids while still making a good impression in my new job; how to keep work stress away from the family and family time sacred. Working out a way to still have lunch with them every day. And I think I’m doing a bang-up job on that front. I've been patting myself on the shoulder for the elusive "balance" I'm managing to strike.
I come home from work and relish the hell out of my little’ins. It’s funny, that hour between coming home from work and dinner I have more patience for their difficulties and more utter adoration for their charms than I probably had all day when I was home with them.
You’ll either relate to that statement or think I’m awful for saying it. But, it’s true. It’s not just the trite “it’s the quality not the quantity” cliché working moms tell themselves to feel better. It’s how I feel. I come home from work and see their enthusiastic and loving “HI MOMMMY!!!” faces and it’s the highlight of my day. They seem even more youthful and miraculous to me, and I drink them in. In a way that I don’t know if I did when I was home all day, preoccupied with planning meals, calming tantrums, and, yes, watching the clock (when will he finally nap? When will their father come home?).
But even though it rarely felt like it, I had more time in my day for my own thoughts when I was home with th kids. My own musings, my own observations. Sure, it’s self indulgent and not “productive” in the way that my current work-related thoughts are. But I got to chew on ideas and develop them. I worked them out on these blog-posts and shared them with a community. It made me feel interested and connected, and occasionally proud.
Now. No time for that. Not yet anyway, when I’m in overdrive trying to fit in and prove my worth in a more traditional work setting. When I find myself at the end of the day with some pondering time, I’m tired, uninspired and if there’s room to do some thinking I drift into the giant mound of work issues – my new intellectual center.
I didn’t expect this to go away so completely so quickly – my voice. My creative outlet.
I once wrote (let’s ignore the obnoxiousness of quoting myself for a moment) that “balancing work and family and relationships is often a zero-sum game. It's a big mushy ball of meals to cook, bills to pay, dishes to clean and children raise into people you hope will not be psychopaths. So, unless you have gobs of money to throw at maids, cooks and nannies, if you "lean in" to one thing, another one of those things is going to pop out the other end and demand attention.”
I just didn’t think the thing which would “pop out and need attention” would be me.
P.S. I had time to write this and think this because I am on vacation, and, just as crucially, nursing a cold, which allows me to close the door for moment. I know I’ll find a new balance and some space once I settle into work more, get “up the curve” and find my rhythm. Hopefully you’ll still be reading by the time that happens…