When school and work began in early September and I first transitioned from full-time stay-at-home mom to full-time working mom, every week around Thursday it sort of felt like the wheels started to fall off the bus, so to speak. You know? Like each week started off in a burst of forced energy and pure determination, and it was a total rat-race, but I could do it all--every single homemaking and household-running task I did before I started working full-time outside the home, plus working 7-1/2 hours a day, plus all the taking of the children to their lessons and activities and doctor and dentist appointments, plus doing the farm pick-up on Fridays after work, plus hosting weekend playdates, plus still running 20-25 miles and completing two 60-minute strength training workouts per week, just like before--but by Thursday every week, things kind of felt a little frayed around the edges.
It has become clear that mid-November is the "Thursday" of my first year as a working mom. So to speak. In other words, I've held things together pretty well since September, but in the past week I've noticed a wheel or two rolling away, out of sight in my side-view mirror.
So to speak.
Last week I burned an entire batch of oven-baked bacon I was making for dinner. I'm talking burned--black beyond the way you like it all nice and crispy, TRUST ME. A couple of days later I burned a whole pan of homemade corn-tortilla chips, once again all the way to black and inedible. I was so busy doing a million other things at the same time as I was cooking dinner that I forgot to check the oven until my food was burned to a crisp.
A couple of days after that (on a Thursday!), right after work, with kids in tow, I went to our fall storage-share pick-up at the farm and, while attempting to mix-and-match a 5-lb. bag of root vegetables for my half of the share, I put in and then took out a head of cabbage TWICE before realizing what I was doing. I mean: I chose a cabbage, then realized there was more cabbage elsewhere down the line so I should choose something else for the mix-and-match, so I put back the cabbage, then milled around a bit considering the various baskets of veggies, then obliviously put the cabbage back in my bag. Then walked on and saw the other giant crate of cabbages, and realized I'd put the mix-and-match cabbage back in my 5-lb. bag. After purposely taking it out of my bag to choose something else, instead of cabbage. Are you getting all this?
In addition to the dementia-like moments described above, I also served my family the following dinners all in the same week: PB&Js (yes really), soup (canned) and sandwiches, and hot dogs. All in a row, actually. Because there was exactly zero time to cook dinner on any of those three days.
Lastly, I saved an email from my mom in which we were discussing Christmas gift ideas for my daughters, for the sole reason that I feared I would otherwise not recall the things I'd decided to give my girls for Christmas.
Do you see what I'm getting at here? I said to my BFF Connie, This is what happens when you are essentially holding down two full-time jobs. You lose your freaking mind. Apparently.
I finished off the week with kiddos and errands on Friday after work/school, put away a car-full of groceries and cat litter, went through all the children's school papers and forms, collapsed onto the couch giving thanks for the weekend, and....promptly got sick. Because that's what happens when you're depleted and run-down, of course.
Listen, you all. I love my job SO MUCH. I wouldn't change things for the world. I'm having so much fun at work; I have the perfect supervisor, colleagues, work hours, dress code, setting, proximity to my children, and nature of the work itself. There is not a day when I wish I didn't have to go to work, and when have you ever had a job like that? My job is awesome; it's the perfect job for me. But there is no doubt that when you have one full-time job (and I consider stay-at-home motherhood and the running of a household and raising of children to be a full-time job) and then add another entire full-time job onto that, it is exhausting. You might find yourself burning dinner and having a recurring can't-live-with-you-can't-live-without-you relationship with an organic cabbage.
In the end, it's all good. I'd take this over-busy, under-rested state of controlled chaos over an empty nest any day, after all. And I assume that, much like with parenting itself, going back to work full-time while still mothering young children and running a household carries with it a steep but natural learning curve of stamina. You acclimate, right? What feels horrendously cold in October feels balmy in March, after all. It's like that, isn't it?
I'll leave you with words and thoughts much more lovely than mine, in the form of a new essay by my favorite mother-writer Catherine Newman--not about being a working mom or about exhaustion or burning the bacon, but relevant nonetheless, in that oh, me too! quality of her writing, that way she voices what we all feel and think and do as moms, that way she makes you want to stop time right now, this instant, in the middle of the crazy chaos of the wheels falling right off the bus.