Productivity

Blizzard Prep: Toddler Edition

Charlie’s getting some telework in before the blizzard hits. Just wants to be safe in case we lose power. His supervisor reminded him that, while all employees are encouraged to stay safe during this historic weather event, these Central European train videos aren’t going to watch themselves.  

 
Upon waking this morning, Charlie looked out the window and said, “Look, Mom, the grass is made of snow!” Followed up by, “Shit, I’ve got to yell ‘toot toot!’ at like three hours of steam train footage before my clients get on the road. Better put a pot of coffee on.”

The Joy of Deadlines

Turns out I don’t do well without a pressing deadline. Just came off of winter break this morning– the two week stretch I’ve been gleefully planning since I began grad school– and by yesterday afternoon, my final day off, I was legit thinking about killing myself. Is my life insurance policy in order? Are certain kinds of deaths (i.e. those performed at one’s own hand) ineligible for payout? Should I make a phone call to see if my aunt will watch Charlie for a couple weeks while I check myself into Sibley? What’s the deductible for checking myself into Sibley? What’s the Uber ride going to cost to this non-Metro-accessible facility? OH WAIT! I owe a client 1.5 hours of work. I’ll do that and see if I still feel like getting my affairs in order after. 

2 hours later, I felt 99.5% better. I was productive and even earned some money for it. Then Charlie and I took a long nap, and I felt 10000% better. 

The holidays have been slow and anxiety-inducing; I transitioned into freelance work this fall, and some work I expected to have in place by now got pushed back into the new year. I still have not signed on the lines that are dotted in these cases, and while I’m cautiously optimistic that things will be fabulous soon, I’m currently out of money and filled to the brim with existential dread and more-plentiful-than-usual self-loathing. I had every intention of using this time, which I knew would be very light on paid work, as an opportunity to enjoy time off with Charlie and take him to the zoo. 

We did not make it to the zoo.

I am currently fine and not fixin’ to do myself in. Yesterday sucked, and in fact things have been dark since I filed for unemployment on January 1. It wasn’t an activity that inspired me with plentiful feelings of awesomeness, and 2016 is not off to my favorite start. But I relate this feeling of kinda wanting to kill myself to how I sometimes kinda want to eat a whole sleeve of Oreos or I kinda want to try heroin or I kinda want to have sex with strangers. Even eating a whole sleeve of Oreos, which I’ve never done but may yet do some day, seems daunting. 

I might like to eat a whole sleeve of Oreos. Maybe I’ll make that happen today. I don’t have any Oreos, nor do I have the car today. I could either walk with Charlie to the Giant, or see if his Grandad will watch him while I go by myself. Do I really want to walk all the way to Giant for cookies? How long will this errand take? Is this the thing that will make me leave the house today when there’s so much other crap to do? How much do Oreos cost these days? How many calories are in a sleeve or Oreos? Will the walk cancel out the non-nutritive sludge? Does health work that way? How will I feel after I eat a whole sleeve of Oreos? Will it give me the energy I need to be a productive member of society, or will it make me feel gross? Probably the latter. Does it turn out that I’m just really tired and need a nap, thereby invalidating all feelings? Yes.

Replace “seek and eat unhealthy number of cookies” with “commit suicide,” and that’s the gist. 

I applied for unemployment once before, coinciding with the Major Depressive Episode of 2005. It was not a good scene. 

Things to note: A) I’ve got mental health professionals and their fabulous anti-depressents working for me and B) School started back up today and I won’t have time to circle the drain. And C) I took a nap and was legit fine after that.

I’m putting this low point on the Internet because I’m aware that a lot of us feel this way a lot of the time, particularly when there are newish children in our lives (who don’t let us sleep as much as we need to), and it’s not something we generally care to discuss. This started as a journal entry on my phone (on my way to therapy, but turns out that appointment isn’t until next week). Then I concluded that not publishing this felt like hiding for the sake of pretending like my shit is more together than it is. 

My shit is together-ish. For today, that’s good enough.

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3 New House Rules for Prime Productivity

Starting today, we’ve implemented new rules in the house:

  1. No computers!
  2. No coffees for Mom!

These compliment the rule implemented earlier this week, which was created to add structure to the remainder of my M.F.A. program: No homeworks!

Charlie’s downstairs playing trains with Grandad while I break all the rules. If he asks, though, I’m just up here jumping up and down “wike a kangawoo,” as instructed.

He's tough, but fair.  Now he's gonna drop this pumpkin on the cement to see what happens.

He’s tough, but fair.
Now he’s gonna drop this pumpkin on the cement to see what happens.

It’s Never Going to Happen

Charlie is 8 1/2 months old, and as of today has lived on the outside of me longer than he lived on the inside of me. And as of today, I have finally come to terms with the fact that I’m never going to send out the rest of the birth announcements. If you haven’t received one by now, I’m sorry. It’s just not happening. It looks like this. Feel free to print it out and put it on your fridge.

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In Which Mommy Needs to Get Out More

I recently met a friend for her birthday dinner. She has a baby a few months older than Charlie, and the other two guests at this affair were also mothers of very small children. I was excited to talk to other ladies about baby stuff, work-life balance, and grown-up things in general. Fortunately, those items were all on the evening’s agenda. Unfortunately, between work stuff and Charlie time, I seem to have forgotten how to be a human. At some point very early in the evening, I became aware of being a little socially anxious, and of wanting the two moms I didn’t know to like me so we could maybe be new-mom friends all the time. They live pretty close to me, and we’re facing a lot of the same issues, so it would be good to compare notes. But once I became aware of the fact that I was kind of anxious, this was ALL I COULD THINK ABOUT. Therefore:

Mom 1: “Oh, have you noticed this interesting thing about child-rearing?”
Me: “OH YES BIG TIME LET ME TELL YOU THE FUNNIEST STORY AND THEN YOU’LL THINK I’M A COOL MOM-LADY BECAUSE I TELL GOOD OUTRAGEOUS STORIES MAYBE.” Followed shortly thereafter by the internal monologue of, “I’m probably talking to loud. I can’t just be the funny story lady. Who does that? I’m going to abruptly stop talking and be the Good Listener Lady.” Which was followed by, “Why can’t I remember how to respond and react in a conversational setting? I’m just nervous; I should chug this wine.” Followed by the near-spit take because the bottom of the wine glass was full of sediment and was not for chugging. Then I spent some time excusing myself while I licked my napkin with vigor. Then I went back to telling a loud story before deciding that I’m never allowed to talk again. I have no idea how any of this read, because for an hour-and-a-half, I completely lost my ability to pick up on social cues, nor could I remember how I’ve behaved in similar situations wherein I was a respected and/or well-liked adult woman.

It’s not like I don’t get out of the house or do things with people, or even meet new people. I’m actually out way more than is probably advisable for someone with an infant at home, but each if these interactions is within the framework of a career-centered event. If I’m not talking to adults for my day job, I’m doing so as an extension of a career-related side-gig, and there’s an established script for interactions. In normal life, dinner with three other people is exactly my idea of a good time. But, like regular dental cleanings and mopping the kitchen floor, socializing for leisure is an activity that’s been neglected since I got knocked up.

I remember how to talk to you when I'm holding this baby. Or wearing this dinosaur hat.

I remember how to talk to you when I’m holding this baby. Or wearing this dinosaur hat.

I saw these women again last weekend, this time for a baby birthday, and I felt like much less of an ass. I imagine this stemmed from the fact that we were at a baby-centered event, and babies are one of the two things I can remember how to handle on a day-to-day basis. Besides that, there were dinosaur party hats. How can anyone feel socially anxious in a dinosaur party hat?

The lesson I’ve learned is that I need to add “socialize with fun people for purely social reasons” to my to-do list, probably somewhere between ordering Charlie’s birth certificate and getting that much-delayed root canal. It turns out though that after you’ve checked “do good job at work” and “be good mother to baby” off of your daily to-do list, it’s a bit of a challenge to add “do a third thing.”

This is the stuff of every mommy / daddy blog ever, but it’s a real humdinger and the reason there are so many mommy / daddy blogs.

In conclusion, sorry I’m awkward, everyone! I blame society.

 

OMG, Nap Time!

Holy crap, the baby went down for an unattended nap in the bassinet for like 25 whole minutes! As soon as it was clear that he was going to actually stay asleep (a novelty, since the surest way to wake him up is to put him in his bassinet), I was nearly overwhelmed with exciting possibilities: Should I use this time to write the Great American Novel? Or to eat a sandwich? Or to start that giant load of poopy/barfy laundry so that my child & I have something to wear after he inevitably pees all over both of us in an hour? Should I take him for a little walk in the neighborhood so he can get some fresh air, like his pediatrician says I should be doing every day but have only done twice? Or should I take a nap? Wait, I should square away the hotel reservation for my cousin’s wedding. Or should I finish addressing these birth announcements? Get started on thank-you cards? I should change the increasingly filthy shower liner. Wait, I’m pretty hungry & should go back to that sandwich plan. Or should I pump, since I feel like I might start leaking & his bottle-ready supply has dwindled? (He feeds about every hour & has usually tapped me out by bedtime, so I try to pump whenever possible so that we have a bottle of breast milk to give him before bed.) Should I brush the cats so Charlie’s clean onesies will collect less cat fur? Should I arrange my closet so that I can find my few tops I’m able to nurse in? Should I organize Charlie’s drawers so that we can all find the clothes that fit him? So many choices!

So I did what any sane woman does, & I immediately got to work on the urgent task of ironing my cloth napkins. I ironed four of them before Charlie started crying. I changed his diaper while he cried. I remembered I was still hungry & stuffed two slices of cheese in my mouth before sitting down to nurse. A couple minutes in to feeding him on my left side, I notice that the right side of me is soaking wet. I picked the wrong side to start on & was leaking everywhere. I probably should have pumped.

But it’s all worth it, because my napkins are ironed. And to make sure my day is extra productive, I’m writing this here blog post on my iPhone, with one thumb while nursing & leaking & being barfed on.

I feel like I haven’t gotten anything done since Charlie was born. About 10 hours after his birth, I remember briefly thinking, “Wow, I haven’t done anything productive today. Wait– I had a baby. That gets to count.” I need to remind myself that while I’m completing very few tasks, it’s because I’m working on this one very important long-term project. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go change my shirt & hunt down a clean nursing bra so that they can get barfed on in an hour.