Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I've Inviting Myself to a One-Woman Pity Luncheon

Okay, I'm not known for grace and graciousness in handling matters of life, the universe, and everything. At least, I frequently lambast myself for lack of comportment. Who knows how I actually come across. I'm great in times of catastrophe. However, the day to day, not so much.

How do people do it? I mean, how do people get out of bed every morning and do what they need to do: feed their families, keep their houses from falling into Category 4 Squalor, negotiate the various bureaucracies of health insurance, taxes, and school, write thank-you notes, brush their teeth, keep their marriages going, parent their children well, and even find space for a modicum of love, joy, and creativity? I know I'm lucky to have these things to worry about--I've been thinking a lot lately about Rwanda and Darfur, and crack whores, and even "what if we didn't have health insurance? What then?" But this thinking doesn't seem to have much impact on my total befuddlement over how to balance my own relatively privileged existence.

I was almost beside myself as I stood over a sink full of dishes this morning, and then felt a wave of true existential nausea when I tackled the secret stash of mouse droppings behind the microwave, flooding the gruesome cache with Fantastik (upon A's entreaty: he's mortally afeared of Hanta Virus, and he's probably not wrong!) I mean, I had a moment of doubting my very purpose on this earth. What was I put here for? And more's to the point, why am I teary-eyed over mouse poop and dirty dishes? Existential angst seems somewhat of an overreaction to these things. But I just can't seem to do what I need to do and accomplish anything at all of worth. I do need to take care of my family--that's the bargain. A. puts food on the table figuratively, and I do it literally.

Before E. was born, even when I was enormously pregnant, I took doctoral classes, taught two college courses, held down a research job, and cooked dinner and did the laundry. I did most of that dressed in nice suits, with a manicure. WHAT??!! Who was that woman??!! And would she like to come work for me?

There are so many things to do before I can sit down to my school work. And as it stands now, I'm doing both jobs in a totally half-assed manner. Whither the dissertation? Whither the tidy house with well-balanced, lovingly prepared meals? I'm sleepy and confused; it's as if I've just woken up, all day long. Wither discipline? Wither good cheer and a can-do attitude?

I'll just sum my feelings up in a single, heartfelt, long-drawn-out OOOOOOYYYYY VEYYYYYYY.


faycat said...

Aw, don't be down on yourself. Just think, I only have myself, my cat, my neurotic workaholic boyfriend and my little 1-bdrm apartment to deal with and I just barely keep it together. Actually I don't keep the apt together at all. I know that I couldn't hack being a mom (I couldn't hack being a wife!). If it makes you feel any better, last night I was rummaging around in our catch-all electronics bowl looking for my camera charger. This bowl is a lovely Chinese platter that is now filled with endless piles of crap, all of which was spilling out all over the floor. I nearly lost it, and yes, tears were in my eyes as I cursed about how much I hate that apt and what a colossal mess it all is. You're not alone. And I've never even considered the idea of trying to do any of it cheerfully...

Leah said...

Oh, Faycat, you're a doll.

Wait, actually a catch-all electronics bowl isn't the worst idea, at least it's all in one place?


faycat said...

I didn't say it was the only catch-all electronics bowl. There's also the catch-all electronics shelf. Shelves. Boxes. Bags. I live with Josh; the entire apartment is a catch-all electronics pit.

Too Little Time said...

Hang in there kid - Its the winter, the snow, the cold and having children. I was feeling way overwhelmed the other day myself and went back to a trick a counselor at school had me do when I was about to lose it mid way through nursing school.

Chart where your time is going.

Create a short excel sheet with time down one side in 1/2 or 1/4 hr increments days across the top and chart where your spending your time. The simple act of accounting for it offers control and allows you to see where its going.

You can also jot notes on the sheet which will remind you of things you want to do.

In the meantime have yourself a 20 minute pity party and than pull yourself up and make a plan. You'll feel better =) K

Leah said...

Uh oh K! I've already had a 7-hour pity party! But your schedule idea is a really good one. It's sorta like keeping a food journal when you're trying to diet. And you're right--warmer weather does bolster one's spirits. Even the lengthening days are a blessing...


Lisa said...

Come to Texas! You all need a dose of vitamin K in massive Texas quantities!

Trust me, you will all survive. I survived having my first child at 21 and being married to a complete asshat for 17 years before I figured out that I could do this all better without his input. Turns out that I was right and finding my current partner was gravy. I do have gray hair to show for alot of it, but totally worth it.

Leah said...

Hi Lisa! You know what's so funny? We are going to Texas in a few weeks to make our yearly pilgrimage to my inlaws! I cannot wait for the sunshine and warm weather...

jolias said...

I blame the mice! They are small but when they gang up they are completely demoralizing! I think they have undone empires.
Maybe when you go to Texas, I can send the cat to live at your house. He will gorge himself, leave me alone, and the mice will GO.

CSI Seattle said...

This post feels as if it may be tied in with the post entitled, "A room of one's own".

First off, may I say that although you and I have been exchanging comments on each others blog for a short time, you are my favorite. I really enjoy reading what you have to say.

Now, regarding this post, please accept a virtual hug.

Back to the matter at hand. Do I detect a type "A" personality? I suspect that with all that you have accomplished in life, you have set the bar very high for yourself. This is a difficult pace to maintain at all times.

Even with incredible talents and endurance, there are some things that just tend to weaken our legs. I envision the little kid being drug by the hand through the mall by his mother. He just lets his legs fold and she has to drag him through the process.

I can also understand the mouse issue. My wife and I had a similar, but different, situation with our house. We purchased a new home and discovered that it had a faulty roof. It literally leaked in eight different places and eight different times, causing massive amounts of damage. Each time we fixed a leak, and new one let loose. We both felt like that little kid in the mall and just wanted to go home.

So what does someone do in a situation such as yours? Maybe thin down your to-do list. Chocolate perhaps. Or just time. As someone who has similar ups and downs, I have found that a day or two does wonders. Your energy and focus will return.

Lastly, I don't know what you will need to do about the mice, but I highly recommend getting real aggressive. Hire a pro if needed. Those buggers are destructive and breed like...well mice. I suspect resolving that problem will relieve some of the stress.

One more hug.

Chat at you soon,


CynicalGal said...

Pity party for one? Can I come? I was feeling like this today too. Just too much to deal with and winter seems interminable. Hang in there. I figured out how to pull myself together (I think cello music and hot tea are the magic combo)...at least for a bit.

Robyn said...

Here is one big hug! Boy...I can relate to this a bit (at least the mouse bit really).

My sister on the other hand this is her...to a TEE!
She is a mother of 3, all under 5! The youngest being just 9 months. She was a high powered Market Anyalist in San Franciso, degreed well also. Then she choice to start a family. Does she regret that. somedays I would yes, mostly no.

Today was one of those days. She turned to me and said "I just want to go back to the work force...I need some identity." I just reached for her hand and squeezed and smiled. I just didn't know what to say to her. She is a incrediable mother as I am sure you are too! And wife and sister and daughter (you can also).

But my heart ached when I read this post...I just wanted to come and knock on your door and once you opened it, wanted to hug you. I nice full hug.

I don't have children (by choice) but I am a wife. I have a many days stood by the kitchen sink crying. Just overwhelmed with 'life'.

Leah please hang in there, post often and we will hold you up! Send you lots of hugs and warm thoughts. You are sweety!

faycat said...

I have an idea, why don't we actually have a pity party? With pie and donuts and disco fries? We can hide under ripple afghans and rant all we like.

Leah said...

Fabulous idea. I'm in!

Talk to you soon--xo