All Things to All People

My midwife, bless her, gave me a bit of a gentle scolding last week.  I needed it.

Lately, I’ve been feeling completely drained.  Not just tired.  More than that.  Sucked dry.  Wrung out.  Physically tired?  Absolutely.  Mentally exhausted?  Oh, yeah.  Emotionally worn out?  You bet.

When she asked me how I was feeling, that’s what I told her.  She pointed out that it sounded like I was simply trying to be too many people.

I’ve written before about trying to do too much and how that causes the hyperemesis gravidarum to flare up.  I’ve always thought of it as a physical thing.  When my midwife framed it in terms of being too many people, something clicked in my mind.

That’s exactly what’s been going on, particularly with trying to crank out an article every single day for World Breastfeeding Week.  It’s been completely exhausting.

My midwife suggested I think about my priorities.  Which Molly is the most important Molly?

Who do I try to be on a daily basis?  What facets make me… me?

  • Mommy to the Grasshopper
  • Wife to my husband
  • Cook
  • Partial housekeeper
  • Good employee at the office
  • Keeper of the house schedule
  • Writer/blogger
  • Lactivist
  • Socially responsible consumer (now that takes some hard work!)
  • Pregnant lady
  • Hyperemesis gravidarum survivor/sufferer
  • Gardener
  • Fish-keeper
  • Dog mommy

This list goes on and on and on.

Which of those is most important right now?  Weeellll….  They’re all important.

Some things I’m already letting slide.  Mr. Grasshopper already does all the cooking.  We’ve hired a housekeeper, and whatever she doesn’t do, he does.  The poor dog doesn’t really get walked right now except to go with my husband to get the mail.  He’s taken over taking the Grasshopper to swim class, grocery shopping, laundry, watering the potted plants, and any other chores that come up as a part of home ownership.

He’s carrying so much of the weight of the household right now, and he’s holding up amazingly well under the strain.

My midwife is right, though.  I need to start shedding more roles.  I’m not sure what this means, though.

I think part of it is that I need to let go of the notion of spending every day striving to be The Best Employee Ever.  I’m up to my neck in projects that I’m frantically trying to complete before I go out on leave.

My last day of work will be September 16th.  That’s a little over five weeks away.  That’s not enough time!

I think what I need to do is this:  I need to stop thinking of September 16th as a deadline and start thinking of it as a new beginning.  If I don’t finish every single thing that I wanted to finish at the office, it won’t be the end of the world.  Time passes.  They will find a way to manage without me.

I need to focus on what’s important.  My family, myself, and my baby.

I’m already reaching that stage of just wanting to hide in a cave.  I just want to be left alone to get ready for the baby to arrive.  I want to get the clothes washed and into drawers, the room set up, the car seats installed, etc.  I just can’t right now because of having to work.

So I need to start looking forward to September 16th, not as the drop-dead date for my projects but as the day that I can stop having to be everything but a mommy getting ready to have a baby.  It’s so hard to change that perspective.  I’m a natural project manager, so my instinct is to manage each task and account for all possible outcomes and potential stumbling blocks.  I try in every possible way to foresee every potential risk and develop a plan to minimize or deal with it.  I mean, look at the protocol I put together for the hyperemesis gravidarum.  Effective?  Useful?  Valuable?  Hell yes.  A little over the top? Weeellll….  I’ll leave that for you to decide.

I have got to learn to just let it go.

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8 thoughts on “All Things to All People

  1. This is a tough issue that I think many modern women struggle with. I certainly have, and continue to do so. There are so many possible roles that we can take on and it is very easy to overextend oneself. I too have a bit of a perfectionist streak which makes this issue even more difficult. Good luck re-prioritizing and let me know if there is anything I can do to help.

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    1. Katie, you are so right. Whether we’re pregnant or not, breastfeeding or not, mommies or not, there’s still such an expectation for us to do everything and do it well. There’s the expectation that not only will we work full time and be career women (if you work outside the home), but that we will be able to keep the house spotless and organized, food on the table, and the laundry folded and put away.

      Thank GOODNESS for progressive husbands! Although, interestingly enough, sometimes husbands like mine are viewed as a bit of a novelty. “WOW! He irons his own clothes? AMAZING!” I think this is incredibly patronizing to him (and other men). They’re expected to be incompetent at housework. (Pay attention to commercials and you will see this over and over) When the floor is dirty, it reflects badly on me, no matter whose turn it was to mop!

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  2. This is a great post and something I can relate to so well. When I was working full time I also commuted and so was out of the house almost 60 hours every week. This went on for 18 months during which I went through 2 pseudo menopauses and surgery for my Endo. I was a regular assistant but because I was committed and knew my stuff I ended up doing almost as much as my supervisor and manager. In fact I was pressured to go back to work a week after surgery as none of the 5 managers in our department would be in and we couldn’t open to the public without someone running the show. I went to work but sat in the back office and cried as I was in so much pain. Needless to say my health got worse not better. My manager was a bully. And yet despite my occupational health nurse telling me to play the game and just do the bare minimum if my employer wasn’t going to support me I couldn’t do it as I don’t know how not to give everything I have to my work. Eventually I became depressed and then when my manager slated me in my appraisal I left the building refusing to do any more and handed in my notice and left. At that point I finally realised there was no point in making myself so ill. But it took me a long time to learn that and I still struggle with working out my new rol. HG brought yet another challenge as I went into pregnancy still run down from my Endo. As my husband points out I have been ill almost constantly for 3 years now. And I still haven’t worked out the balance. I feel tremendous guilt when so much falls on his shoulders when I can’t cope. And as a highly independent and ambitious person I get frustrated when I can’t do all I want to. I worry how my health will be once baby is born as Endo is a chronic illness that I have to live with. That combined with the awful HG made me decide I couldn’t ever do pregnancy again and yet that means letting go of the dream of having a larger family. And is that really the part of my life and role I want to limit? It’s so hard to prioritise as you say when you are naturally a certain way (ie you being a project manager and me being far too ambitious for my own good sometimes etc). This post really brought it home to me again just how much I do even when I think I’m not doing much and why I feel so awful some days.

    I must apologise if I have major typos in my comment as I’m using my husband’s tab and so it’s a touchscreen and I find going back and editing words so difficult with the touchscreen. But I didn’t want to miss commenting on this post.

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    1. Your story makes me grateful that my workplace is so understanding, and I feel so angry on your behalf that your ex-bosses put you through what they did.

      I know a lot of women for whom HG has limited their family size. My friend Kat over at Love Makes a Family is an HG survivor who has very emphatically decided not to have more biological children. She and her husband are pursuing adoption instead. Her story is an inspiring one. I am constantly amazed at how she refuses to let HG make those decisions for her. She’s a pretty incredible woman. Here’s her blog: http://mommyponders.wordpress.com/

      I, personally, always imagined myself having 3 children, but this will be it for me. I simply don’t think I or a baby would survive another HG pregnancy. I don’t think that I would be able to resist the “out” that termination would give me, and as a Catholic, termination wouldn’t be the right choice for me personally. Because of this, I need to remove the risk and the option (I tend to forget/block how bad HG can be when I’m not in the middle of it) completely for myself, which is why I’ll probably get my tubes tied at some point next year. It sucks that our bodies make our choices for us.

      And don’t worry about the typos! You should’ve seen my tweets yesterday from my phone! So embarassing! 😉

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  3. Oh Molly, I can totally relate. I’m totally ready to be done with work and I have just taken onthe mindframe that I can only do what I can and the company will be just FINE without me. I’m sure it will be rocky for my team but when I hear about projects coming ths fall and early winter I think to myself I am so happy I won’t have to deal with this! DH does alot around the house and at least 50% if not more of the childcare (of course not always to my standards but what can I say lol). On the other hand he has a company to run and I can only expect so much out of him. Lately I don’t even want to talk to my friends I just want to be left alone to focus on myself and this baby and getting my children and my house ready. I know how fast this last trimester goes and alreaady I feel a time crunch.

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  4. I am right there with you. I had to decide to let go of school for the next 2 quarters *telling myself it is not a race* and learn how to delegate work in the office *telling myself this is not a sign of weakness.* This baby is really forcing me to learn how to say no and especially not take on other people’s stress. Those people completely wear me out. So now when a panicky someone comes running into my office, I just shut down emotionally, let them get it out, and then suggest paths to solving their own problem. I REFUSE to take their problem on as my own. I have PLENTY of my own. Call me selfish, but I have really discovered how much people love to dump their problems and stress onto other people.

    Just say no!

    Love you!

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    1. I love it! “Just say no!”

      Saying no isn’t a sign of weakness. I think it’s a sign of strength. It’s so difficult to learn to do! *HIGH FIVES* for saying no!

      I’m at that point, too. People talk about things that will be happening in the second quarter of our fiscal year (training and updates to old processes and things), and I start to feel stressed about it. Then I remind myself, “Hey! I’m not even going to be here! That is sooooo not my problem!”

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