Detoxing: Removing the “Busy” From My Life

It took me eight weeks to truly embrace being a stay-at-home mom. To be honest, I’m not sure if I can completely embraced the idea yet, but I am miles beyond where I was two months ago.

Like I’ve indicated within some of my posts, I was a bit of a workaholic. Not only did I enjoy working for pay, but I also enjoyed volunteering in my community. I looked for opportunities where I could positively impact the world around me and dedicated hours that could go to sleeping, relaxing, dreaming, to that cause. I loved projects. I loved late nights and early mornings. I loved to be busy.

In American culture, we often discuss the glorification of “busy.” How many activities can we add to our week? How many hours can we squeeze into our already work-driven lives? What is the impact of this “busy”-ness on our psyche, our health, our relationships?

I’ve always imagined myself to be a writer. As a child, I enjoyed writing short stories that featured my favorite Barbie doll, created an imaginary situation or emulated a recent movie, book or TV show. However, as an adult, I found that I had less and less energy and focus to write. Beyond some scribes in a notebook or a haphazard thought before I fell asleep, all aspirations of “becoming” a writer fell to the wayside. My hourly wage was more than I could make as a young writer.

Before I knew it, I fell into the “busy” lifestyle.

It took my pregnancy for me to realize that I was running at an unsustainable level. I worked two jobs, applied to graduate programs, developed a community band for my hometown’s anniversary celebration. Forget writing. I could barely stay awake to play a video game or watch TV with my boyfriend.

It became my intention to “detox” the “busy” from my life. I completed my projects, reduced my workload and tried to ease into stay-at-home motherhood. I still had great aspirations for my time at home. I planned to clean, remove the clutter that had accumulated, finish some projects, sell old textbooks online, etc. I planned to write and I enrolled in an online master’s program.

After my daughter was born, I quickly realized that it would be much more difficult to complete whatever tasks I thought I would be accomplish while being constantly distracted by the adorable changes in my growing little girl. The clutter remains. Laundry is only done when absolutely necessary. Books remain on the bookshelf and I have finally started writing again.

Despite the fact that I am still enrolled and currently excelling in the one class I am taking, I’ve realized that I did glorify the “busy” lifestyle. I now tell people who ask me when I will complete my program that I am in no rush to finish it early. Again, to be honest, taking a master’s level online course is much more difficult with a little baby than I had anticipated.

I look back on these last eight weeks and I realized that I removed a substantial stress from my life. I move a lot slower now and take real care for my family’s well-being. I find myself embracing the new moment to moment movement of my life. My life now has a sense of fluidity that I have never adopted so eagerly before now.

*These are just my thoughts on my experiences. I know that many parents need to balance work and family. Props to those to do it and do it well. 

A Tale of Two Jobs: Part 1

About a year ago, one of the tax preparation offices ran a commercial where a plumber (or a retail worker) was giving tax advise to their customers. The customers were a little taken aback by their advise, but when the plumber/ retail associate identified themselves as their tax preparer, they are even more shocked and the company sponsoring this commercial then prompts the viewers to wonder about who is preparing their taxes.

I work two jobs–one at a local college and one at a local supermarket– and I often feel like the plumber or the retail associate when I run into college colleagues or students as I stock produce in my company-issued red polo. 

It’s an interesting dynamic. Sometimes, I look up and call out a “How’s it going?” as they enter the produce department. Sometimes, I run to the cooler and find something to busy myself with until they have moved onto the bakery or deli. And, with the intention of full honesty, it is at this point that I realize my embarrassment for working such a job and my snob-attude rears its ugly head.

As I work two very different jobs, I find it an uncomfortable, yet necessary, juxtaposition. For one job, I need a skill set designed to explain the unforgiving nature of writing and study. My qualifications include a four year degree from a liberal arts college, something I do not often mention to my students for fear of seeming like an elitist. Yet, in the same day, I exhibit a different skill set necessary to distinguish quality and perhaps even give advice in food preparation. Here, it seems absolutely unnecessary for me to think about my degree, a proud accomplishment, as I lift 40 lbs cases of bananas and trim the ends off lettuce.

Now, I’m not saying that I do not enjoy my produce gig. Actually, I enjoy working as a team member to achieve sales goals. I know that, at the end of the day, my contributions help my coworkers in addition to the customers we serve. However, the fact that it is often pair with my other job makes me feel like the plumber from the commercial- someone with questionable qualifications if she must work a blue collar job.

I suppose my main concern lies in my appearance to others. At first, my college related coworkers and students often share the same shocked faces when they see me in produce section donning my red polo as those customers in that commercial I mentioned earlier. Some even don’t recognize me. People, who would have greeted me as I walked through the campus hallways, pretend to (or genuinely don’t) see me. It could be the assumptions made about people who work in retail or they want to avoid asking me why I work there.

There are those who approach me and wonder why I need to work a low wage job. At this moment, I have a number of opportunities and have to filter my reasons to fit those who want to know. The truth is that there are a number of reasons I choose to work in retail, from extra income to flexible hours, a different environment to proximity to my home. I have student loans in addition to rent and “life” bills evident in the so-called real world.

The hardest part is breaking the feeling that I am not meeting my potential– the plight of many twenty somethings.