I did not realize that it has been more than a month since I have written on here. Time has been flying and the days have slipped away in a blur of doctors appointments, evaluations and work.
I have taken a full time position at Trader Joe's and work from 4pm to 1am five days a week, from Thursday through Monday, with Tuesday and Wednesday off.
Needless to say, I am exhausted.
There is a long story behind why it is that we, Jimmy and I, decided that I needed to work outside the home, and I will not get into all of that here, but let's just say that our backs were kind of against a wall, but even though the job was taken under duress, it has been a blessing to our family.
But it has forced me to redefine myself and being at a loss as to who I am exactly, has left me at a loss as to what to really say here.
I mean, where exactly do I fit in? I am no longer a stay at home mom, yet I am with the kids all day. I am still a homeschooling mom, but my days are filled with appointments for Hazel and for our other child who is struggling. I am a full time working mom, and yet I am gone every evening, and not in the carpool line to commiserate with other mothers who carry a briefcase and work all day, nor am I a soccer mom carting my kids to practice every evening. Birthday parties and playdates on a Saturday are more of a reprieve for me to catch a few winks in the quiet of the car rather than a time to sit around and chat with other mothers.
I have worked overnight before, so my body has adapted to the new hours surprisingly easily and quickly, but it seems to have over adapted so that even though I am home most nights by 2am or shortly thereafter, I am wide awake, hungry and ready to tackle the world at that hour, and then, come morning, when I must drag myself out of the bed and face the day, I am an exhausted mess that wants nothing more than to crawl into bed and pull the covers over my head. If only I were ready to crash as soon as I get home! Then I could get a good 6 hours of sleep by 8am and face the day relatively rested.
And then, of course, comes the guilt.
I know that what I am doing is necessary, but then I feel guilty about actually enjoying it. And I do enjoy the work. It is relatively mindless, but it is actually an area where I excel. Contrary to the testament of my house and the mess you will find inside, I am actually a very organized person who pays attention to detail, which is exactly what a place like Trader Joe's, with its tight spaces and multiple products, requires. You have 7 boxes to fit into a 5 box space. How do you manipulate the items surrounding it to make it fit neatly and accessibly? How do make each customer feel special? How do you keep the salads fresh? Empty meat case and chickens in the back cooler? Bring. It. On. I will check those dates, toss that chicken on the shelf, bag those groceries and align those boxes with my eyes blindfolded and my hands tied behind my back all while carrying on a cheerful conversation with anyone in earshot, (most of whom come up past my waist)!
But then it is my family who must deal with me while I am tired and trying to pull myself together. It has not been until this week that I finally have enjoyed my 2 days off. I purposefully went to bed 'early' when I got home on Monday night (early Tuesday morning) and I woke with purpose and a list of things to get done on Tuesday. I powered through the day without a nap so that I would be able to go to bed at a reasonable hour on Tuesday night and did it all again today.
And so, here I am now.
But the guilt does settle over me like a heavy mantle. Jimmy gets up in the morning with the kids, passes Hazel off to the nurse when she wakes up, and then leaves to walk to work. I get up at 8 or 9, and then do what needs to be done until about 2, when the littles take a nap and I try to catch a wink or two as well. Then, it's up at 3 to get my lunch together and throw on my t-shirt, hook my box cutter on my belt, and get to work by 4. Then Jimmy walks home at 5, and the nurse leaves and he and Elizabeth take over and get dinner and everyone into bed. And all of this makes me wonder if I'm not just escaping. If it's ok to enjoy my work when it means leaving everyone else behind.
Is it even ok for me to be working at all when it means not holding my baby as much as I would like? When it means not seeing my husband for sometimes days on end? When it means leaving Elizabeth to take care of the kids when she 'should' just be enjoying being a teenager...
Is it ok?
But the proof is in the pudding, as the saying goes. Hazel is thriving, Jimmy and I are more purposeful in carving out time together and in enjoying each other's company when we have it, the child that we have been having such issues with seems to be responding well to therapies and consultations, and Elizabeth makes me more and more proud of her every day as she makes good choices in her friendships and in her faith walk.
And so I square my shoulders, tighten my grip on the bag of my ever-present breast pump, and step into the field of vision of the laser eye that swishes the doors open to the rustle of bags and the chatter of people over the muted ding of the registers, and breathe in the familiar scene that is chaos that must be returned to order before my day is done,
And I breathe out with a sigh of acceptance that this is me and this is ok.
Because what I do for a season doesn't define me...