Friday, January 17, 2014

Is a No-Pressure Weekend Possible?

This week, I've spent most of my waking moments working, often on three different projects at once. I've gotten very little sleep, I ran very late today, and I spent my morning feeling extremely frazzled and anxious. Of course, the work is totally worth it, because I also made some serious (for me) cash this week, but I am utterly delighted to say that we've taken a long weekend to visit family, have some fun, and relax in sunnier weather. I'm delighted, but with a caveat.

See, the thing about being a mom is that it never feels like you get to be "off". In preparation for this weekend away, I spent time and energy on the planning part, deciding on the schedule, budgeting for the trip, working it out with Small's teacher, the relatives, the pet sitter, and so on. Then it was time for the preparation phase, wherein I washed all of our clothes, cleaned the house, packed for myself and Small One, took care of veterinary needs, packed the snacks, and everything else that goes into getting a family into the car and onto the road. Now we're at our destination, and I'm still working to coordinate with people's schedules and tend to Small One, but I also have work to do for my job, because in order to take off Friday and Monday I have to do some work over the weekend.So while I could not be happier to have this vacation, it still strikes me that it's not so much a vacation as a work relocation with more breaks.

All of this should not make me resentful of The Man, but if I'm being honest I'll admit that it sort of does. This morning, I whirled around the house like a tornado, making things happen, getting things done, while he sat on the couch, taking his time with what he was doing, not noticing anything that needed to be done until I specifically asked him to do it. I don't think I'm alone in this. I know that studies have been done that showed a disproportion in household responsibilities- when both partners work, the wife often still does the lion's share of the housework and childcare. The problem for me is that I don't know what to do about it. The Man is a very nice person, with very good intentions, but he simply is not programmed to notice that a counter needs to be wiped off, or laundry needs to be done, or the carpets need to be vacuumed. He doesn't comprehend the need for strategy in running a house or planning a vacation. He means well, but he just doesn't get it, and I know that I'm partially to blame, because for our entire marriage, I've made all the pieces fit together, and he's been free to just go to work, come home, do what I specifically ask him to do, and take care of himself.

This brings me back to my own central question, which is the theme of my life recently. Now that I'm working pretty much full time again, how do I balance my responsibilities and alleviate pressure? I need to work as much as I can, because we need the money. However, in the years that I worked part time, when Small was preschool aged, we fell into certain patterns that are now difficult to rework. Complicating matters is the fact that I work from home, which makes me seem like a stay at home mom, when in fact I am not.I am a working mom who has to take time out of her day to do the things I would be doing if I were a stay at home mom; it's like two jobs in one. Then, too, since I don't work out of an office, there are more hours of "at home" time, which means more messes to clean, more meals prepared at home and more working while interacting with an elementary aged child.

I know it is my responsibility to strike a balance in my own life. But it strikes me as... I don't know if ironic is quite the right word...what I'm looking at is that I have to be responsible for fixing the problem of too much responsibility. I have to add a responsibility to my already full plate, and that responsibility is the task of convincing someone else to take some of my responsibilities. Even that sentence makes me tired.

So I guess I just wonder- does anyone else feel this inability to strike the right balance? Am I alone in wondering how I'll get it all done and still manage to sleep? And is it possible for a mother to ever have a no-pressure weekend?

If anyone has this all figured out already, I'm open to suggestions. Right now though, I'm going to sleep. And when I wake up, I'm going to walk with my Small One, and some greatly loved extended family members, on a beach. Responsibility will have to take a hike, at least for a little while.

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