Gratitude & Anxiety, in Equal Measure

My week+2 days off is drawing to a close, and I feel (as my title would suggest) both anxiety and gratitude. Sometimes it can be hard to relax, even with a week off, since I have been conditioned to experience time as a scarcity, to be jealously hoarded.  I am used to stressing about how to fit exactly what needs done in exactly the time allotted – like one of those sliding puzzle games where tiles are trapped in a groove and you have to slide them around each other to put them in place.

A visualization of management of my typical daily schedule

A visualization of management of my typical daily schedule

It’s hard to turn this off like a switch. I tried rationally to dole out relaxation time and “catch up on stuff around the house” time in equal measure, but emotionally it was not easy to know if this was THE ABSOLUTE BEST USE OF THIS PRECIOUS TIME. Doling out time feels so high stakes, always, even when it needn’t be.

Fortunately or unfortunately, in the 24 days the Prof has been gone, Craig has gone to daycare for only 6 of them. Having a tag-along 3 year old definitely impacts your productivity and adjusts expectations of what can be accomplished (especially when said 3 year old has a fever for a whole darn week). I got less rest and relaxation over my week off due to his constant presence (he is Peak Three right now, lots of arguing over alternative facts with this one, and every single interaction involves negotiation). But I also couldn’t go overboard on closet-cleaning out, either. And there’s something to be said for that, I guess.

So, my week off.  When last we checked in, I was collapsed after an awful final week of work when Craig was sick and I was losing my mind. Craig drastically improved, and we went across the street to visit neighbors and swim in their above ground pool, we took scooter rides to the park, we took the dog on long walks. We had a decent weekend, and then I sent him to daycare on Monday and Tuesday and I swept and mopped the floor (including chipping play doh out of floorboards, thanks kid), went through all of the bills/mail/end-of-school piles, and did a full clothing swap for the boys’ out of season/size clothes. Along with gym trips, laundry, cleaning out my own drawers, and a few other things, that essentially filled my daycare hours.  Wednesday, we spent the day driving over to Texas to meet my newest nephew – I’ve held each of my nieces and nephews in their first month of life and wasn’t about to let that streak die. He’s a precious guy and we spent a lovely, chill two days there – it was fun watching my sister and her husband being parents, and seeing the house they’ve lived in for a while but I had not yet visited.

We came back Saturday, arriving late after a long drive among angry holiday weekend drivers. Sunday after crashing out (Craig slept until the ridiculous hour of 9am), I bought an hour of babysitting at the campus gym and did my workout, then picked Craig up from the very disinterested student who was “watching” him and we got into our swimsuits and swam at the campus pool. He took a late nap and I did more laundry and actually napped myself, and then we went out for dinner at an overpriced hot dog place in town. It was very cute – I dipped my fries in his ketchup and he said “Mama! We sharing!” And then he took a lot of burst photos with my phone.

Today, Monday, Craig woke at 6 am (a more typical hour for him), and I dropped him at daycare right at 8. He was NOT PLEASED, after so much mommy time, but this is my last chance for a day “off” since daycare is closed for July 4, and so off he went. I went straight to the gym again, and after a good hard workout, I’m home, showered, and checking in with ya’ll!  Next comes bills, filling in my new hire paperwork, doing a few last minute items. Tonight another friend is coming over for porch wine. Tomorrow, I hope C and I can find some 4th of July thing to crash. And then . . . the job begins Wednesday.

I’m super nervous about this job, ya’ll. Literally every single person at my last firm heard where I was going and then sucked their teeth, rolled their eyes, and said “good luck with THAT. And if it crushes your soul and makes you miserable, you can always come back.” So . . . I hear this a lot, as a working mom – the “there’s no way your gonna be able to do that, but good luck” kind of comments. It’s usually well-meant, but even so, the anxiety mounts as I start to wonder – are they right? I do wonder if these partners at my old firm, who regularly write me emails on Saturdays and Sundays and midnight and with whom I have spent many holidays in the office, are overestimating how “easy” and “awesome” my work at their firm is? I’ll note this, too – the Yale Law Women rate firms every year on family-friendliness, and my new firm is in the top ten.

All this to say, I’m excited and a little sick. Anxious and grateful. Hopeful, with guarded optimism. And trying not to worry that Craig gets another fever during this, my first week, while the Prof is still out of town. 😉

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