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Getting reacquainted with work-life balance

Remember all my pretty little thoughts about how much I’d miss my fat baby when I went back to work, and how uninspired I’d be by my job, and blah blah blah? Well, the wrecking ball of hideous sickness came smashing through our household and pulverized all those fine notions. Rather than missing my Bunlet, I was eager to get the fuck away from the enormous pile of sick babies with all their endless rivers of mucous, and rather than feeling dispirited by my lack of career motivation, I was largely focused on not pissing myself every single time I had a coughing fit. (KEGEL RIGHT NOW, FRIENDS.) Oh, and Bunlet was refusing to take a bottle, and doing that anti-turtle thing all night where he’d roll onto his belly and then want off but be all helpless waaaaah.

So that was a nice distraction. Now we’re mainly better, though of course still not at all healthy or anything. Bunlet’s taking his bottle, and sleeping well again, and I haven’t pissed myself since Friday. And…I guess I’m getting the hang of having a job again.

I’ve been surprised at how NOT bad it is. The teaching is fine. I’m a little more forgetful and brain dead than is really appropriate, but professors have a reputation for being absent-minded so I’m just living up to the stereotype. But I’m even feeling okayish about research.

I had a meeting with a professional development coach my first week back. I mentioned I am taking part in a series for mid career faculty women? The workshop sessions have been a waste of time (OMG! Today we got the results of a survey our peers filled out about our leadership qualities and shit, and the amount of difficulty a bunch of PhDs had in interpreting some fucking data was a total embarrassment to me and I criiiiiiinged), but the coaching session was great. I only cried three times. She helped me with some good concrete action items, but my favorite part was where she said, You have two kids under two. You can coast. How long can I coast, I asked. As long as you need to, she replied. Sweet. She may be wrong, but I think for the moment I’m just going to take her word for it.

She was also like Get some fucking therapy for your self esteem issues, honey. And I was like I can’t bother a therapist with my silly old self esteem issues. And she was like, Yeah, see above.

So I’ll have to decide whether my lack of confidence is actually holding me back from becoming the beautiful blossoming butterfly flower I want to be.

I’ve also taken a leaf from Twangy‘s book (is it Ulysses? I bet it is.) and instituted Telly Ban Tuesday. Except mine is Monday. I’d been having free-floating anxiety because I never have time to do certain classes of thing, like writing letters or writing in my journal, or reading, or taking care of various odds and ends. And watch less TV has been on my new year’s resolution list for…uh…a decade, and yet it magically neeeeeeeever happens. But it turns out that one night a week I can totally do. I look forward to it. And then I look forward to watching TV again. So just having a little more time to myself has been very therapeutic.

SO! We’ll see how long this lasts, but heading into week three of the semester, I can firmly state that I am not dead.

21 Comments Post a comment
  1. Ana #

    yea for being not dead!!! and for the A-Ok on coasting. unfortunately I really shouldn’t be coasting, but I totally am trying to get away with it, because, 2 is just plain hard. There. I said it. And yes, the rivers of snot oh my god. Its so amazing when they learn how to sniff it back up…and maybe one day use a tissue??? I’m dreaming of the day!

    January 28, 2013
  2. Yay coasting!

    Rivers of snot not so much. I remember one time I was driving and Monkey was in the back seat with rivers of snot pouring down his face, and I was helpless to do anything but watch as he smeared said snot all over himself and then ended up eating it.

    Good times.

    January 29, 2013
  3. Oh, good lord, reading about sick babies is giving me flashbacks to December. Brr. Thank god we’re going through a well-phase now, though the dry air is not helping with the rivers of snot issue. My hands are insanely dry, because I have to keep washing them in between every nose I blow at school. I need to remember to take some lotion in. Or hand sanitiser as an alternative. Or both.

    Go get the therapy. You were told to, so you can blame your coach. I bet it will be fantastic too. Me-time!

    Interesting about the watch less TV–I’ve been watching more of it, because I got tired of spending all my free time on the computer. I sit and watch an episode of How I Met Your Mother every night with one of the cats and that’s my me-time. For me, I needed a break from the online stuff that I get far too worked up about.

    January 29, 2013
  4. Well, you sound MUCH better than ‘Not dead’ but ugh I hear you about the wanting to escape the sick babies and glad it’s going reasonably well. And I agree that you can totally coast. You have TENURE and two kids under age two. I will say things get much easier when kids make it to kindergarten. You might even get lucky and have a reasonable 3 year old (not me, but 5+ has been swell).

    On the TV thing: I am making new rules about that, too. And then I don’t sleep and i”m like, oh well, that’s all I have the brain function to do after 9:00 pm.

    But why did you have to pump in a BATHROOM? No office with a door? I am so sorry. Yes, ewwww.

    Glad to read your post. Been thinking about you.

    January 29, 2013
    • Well, it was my own fault. I was attending a workshop in a place with no lactation center, and was too embarrassed to ask the VERY YOUNG MAN at the desk for another room to use. Silly of me, but hey.

      January 29, 2013
  5. Yey for being alive! And coasting! And therapy because I looove therapy!

    January 29, 2013
  6. Laughing at you pissing yourself makes me piss myself. Karma’s a bitch.

    Milk that absent-minded stereotype! It’s the recovering mama’s dream job, with professionally sanctioned coasting!

    Keep on being not dead, sister.

    January 29, 2013
  7. You poor woman – being Visited By The Sickness is awful. Two babies being sick: I shudder to think.

    BUT! I am very excited in a Yay, Someone’s Jumping In the Hole With Me kind of way about THE TELLYBAN. Cool! Especially if you can do other equally relaxing things for yourself. I do understand the important, life-saving solace telly offers to those who have small children, so be nice to yourself, won’t you? Coasting sounds good.

    January 29, 2013
  8. Hurrah for work being not bad! I hope it continues to be so, or even *gasp* gets better.

    Daycare starts on Friday for Gwen. For real. We go in tomorrow morning to see the facility and meet the caretakers. I cannot wait. Even though I did realize last night that she’ll probably be sick within a week. It’s a small price to pay.

    January 29, 2013
  9. Jen #

    Hey now. Not dead and coasting, that’s my speed.

    January 29, 2013
  10. I’m sorry you pissed yourself at work AND you had a pile of sick babies at home. You must have had a prayer asking the deities to stop making things come out of orifices for just a few hours. The kegel warning is duly noted, btw.
    I had high hopes for those seminars. I should have known better. How can they grab their audience if they can’t run or interpret stats worth shit. When you are done coasting, which is as long as you feel is needed because you DO HAVE 2 KIDS UNDER 2, Bunny, you might want to see about becoming the facilitator. Or not.
    I really like the idea of coasting and I really like the idea of therapy. How can we make those happen? (I’m thinking coasting could be hard when one is a high achieving woman (under 35 who’s already tenured) and finding a good therapist is even harder).I wish I had something useful to offer in terms of how to go about coasting, but I can maybe help with the therapist. My first piece of advice is: if you know more about the therapist than he/she knows about you after the first session, do not return.

    I was crying to my therapist the other day that there was no time to write in my journal and that I don’t even know who the fuck I am anymore. And he had to listen to that, you know, because I pay him. Think of it, Bunny.

    January 29, 2013
    • I wouldn’t know about being a high achieving woman, as I’m 36, but hey, sounds nice. And I have to admit that knowing some small part of your freakout may have to do with the crazy identity changes that come with impending motherhood makes me a bit…well…delighted that you’re going through this! In a loving, sympathetic way.

      January 31, 2013
      • Hum….you got tenure before your birthday, if memory serves.

        January 31, 2013
  11. So glad to hear you are surviving the transition back to work.
    And yay for finding ways to take care of yourself! As a therapist I am Professionally Required to agree with anyone’s suggestion of starting therapy, but it does sound like it could be a good idea. You’ve identified an issue that’s getting your way and you’d like some help sorting it out. In terms of findng a therapist, it’s worth putting some effort into finding someone who is going ot be a good fit for you. Get the names/#s of several and see if you can ask each of them a few questions over the phone (or even do an initial session with several).

    January 30, 2013
  12. I’m glad for you about how “not bad” the return is. I’m glad you’re not the glummest of bunnies. I’m glad your baby is fat. (mine is getting there with an extra chin) I hear you on the pile of mucous. It’s pretty bad when the snot sucker gets filled with green nasties. I’d want to run away from that pile too.

    I’d like a professional development coach. Sounds like she cut out the bullshit and told you where it’s at which is awesome. Coast away for as long as you are comfortable with. My guess is you’ll find a new study to get pumped about and off with the cruise control in no time.

    January 31, 2013
  13. I just have to mention this, you have the BEST commenters. Sometimes I put off reading posts of yours for a few days just so I can give your peeps time to comment so I can read their stuff too. They generally make me snicker *almost* (but never quite) as much as your original post.

    Anyhoo, your post! THIS is mostly awesome news because if I’m reading between the lines and looking for the silver lining and all that, I’d say that you guys are on the path toward less mucus, returning to work hasn’t been all bad, and you now have certified excuses to coast AND do therapy. I mean, what’s not to love here?

    January 31, 2013
    • I know! My peeps are the best peeps! And that includes YOU, lady.

      January 31, 2013
  14. Firstly, am glad you are not dead. Also glad that babies are better. Hurrah for professionally sanctioned coasting. Augusta’s comment made me laugh 🙂 Think of it Bunny. You can pay someone to listen to all your troubles.

    As for not watching TV, I don’t watch any about three nights a week. Mostly because there is nothing watchable (I’m not anti-TV as such). I do find it peaceful and yes, can get more done, but usually I just end up reading the newspaper. Now, if you and Twangy would just move to Australia already, you could come over on non-TV nights and we could bake things. And eat them. And there might be wine involved.

    January 31, 2013
  15. Kegels, coaching, and Kleenex, oh my!

    February 3, 2013
  16. I didn’t mean to submit just then.

    ANYWAY, I wanted to add that picturing that data-analysis-by-committee incident made the hair stand up on the back of my neck. And also that I concur with others — you’re doing so damned great.

    February 3, 2013

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