Wowza. It’s almost mid January and I am just now feeling rested and prepared to hit the books again. I guess the U schedulers knew what they were doing.
Last year was a gigantic year of change for me. I went from full time stay at home mom to a waitress to part-time substitute teacher in my kids’ schools to obtaining four part-time jobs, starting grad school, and keeping up with a few volunteer activities.
I figured with a little grit and determination I could rock at it all.
It only took me til November to realize how wrong I was lol.
I loved all four jobs. And all four started slowly, just a sub here and there that grew into something much larger. Don’t get me wrong, I loved subbing in my kids’ schools, getting to know their teachers, classmates and way of thinking and I loved working in my sister’s boutique, getting a dose of much needed fashion after being on such a tight budget and surviving on holey yoga pants for a while, but these slowly added up into a chaotic tornado that got a bit out of control.
I WANTED to keep having a bit of these things in my life as they all brought me a separate form of joy, but I NEEDED a more predictable schedule.
Keeping up with the scheduling of four different jobs, two of which were very on call, was exhausting for an OCD freak such as myself, and communicating these last minute changes in schedule with my husband who works more than full time was difficult, especially when our old phones wouldn’t even deliver text messages or ring at all. It was ugly.
All four jobs also had very different job descriptions. The boutique was retail, high end fashion, but retail nonetheless. The substituting meant following someone else’s written plans and praying I interpreted them correctly (while corralling 25 kids, often elementary, which some days felt like herding cats). The towing shop I continue to work for was end of week book work, accounts payable, receivable, and everything in between, but the hours are flexible and predictable.
The job I made priority right around Thanksgiving was the job that started out the least promising. It was for a Guidance Counselor position at a local Christian school. It was a half hour drive from my kids’ school and only started out 6-8 hours per week. It was in my realm of experience and education, so I thought it would be a good transition back into the workforce, so I gave it a half hearted go.
Little did I know, God had other plans for me. The end of October the hours increased to about 20 hours per week, all flexible and I do my own scheduling, a perfect fit for my situation and I ended up LOVING the position. I absolutely could not ask for anything better.
I thought I could tough out the rest of the year jugging the jobs, volunteer activities and personal hobbies. I hosted Thanksgiving (my hubby’s fav holiday), and with a little grace and a lot of help all 20 some people left with full bellies.
The following week I missed a shift. I remembered in the middle of Bible Study that morning, in the middle of a prayer of all things. I jerked in shock and agony and misery and mortification! This lady (me) with borderline OCD simply did not miss a shift. She couldn’t have. But I had, and it wasn’t just any shift, it was an extra morning scheduled in to present an award at a ceremony that I had coordinated!
It was what I needed to realize that I’m not Wonder Woman (Despite that being my rec volleyball team name lol). I had failed, miserably, on a public scale and never wanted that to happen again.
I tried to nicely inform my sister that I had to be done working for her at her boutique, but I think she took it personally. I took myself off the subbing schedule, but some of the teachers that had my personal information still called me. I had a reduced schedule, but it was still more than I could manage the final month before finals.
I ended up spending less time studying than I should despite getting less than six hours of sleep per night, and come finals I missed an A by a matter of a few points and broke my perfect 4.0. This was oddly gratifying, as I no longer feel the need to seek perfection, but I am disappointed that I kept saying yes to things that got in the way of my ultimate goal, to focus on my future.
On my way home from finals, I could feel the beginnings of a tension release migraine – extremely emotional, the odd pains in my eyes and head, muscle tensions, etc. I also felt the release – I was finished with school for a month. I knew I had blown my GPA. I knew with certainty that I had made the right decision in effect quitting two jobs, and I needed to keep on. I just had to get through the holidays (which surprised me with extra house guests for an entire week when all I wanted to do was curl up in a ball and forget the rest of the world for a few days) and things would settle down.
I knew I had hit a milestone, but that I also had had a spilling plate in front of me of responsibilities and commitment that I was constantly juggling back onto the plate so as not to spill onto the floor and dirty things.
I was still stressed out about a few volunteer activities I had going on, such as leading book club for my daughter, commitments at church, and running a small nonprofit, so I said no to a few things and reduced my time with others.
These adjustments have significantly opened up my schedule. I think working 20 hours verses 30+ while attending grad school is a wise decision for my future. I will still be able to do many of the chores at home that I prefer to do (again, OCD like symptoms can wreak havoc in my life. I can’t sleep with a messy house. I can’t relax in a disorganized room. It’s painful, but rather than facing it head on, I just relieve the symptoms with order and cleanliness), and this should lead to more productive studying.
Instead of hiring a house keeper, I hired a meal service to provide frozen homemade meals weekly so I just had to put them in the oven in the evenings. I hate cooking, but I homesteaded while stay at home parenting, so we always had fresh veggies in the summer, and frozen/canned veggies and sauces and jellies made from our own garden throughout the winter. We butchered our own chickens, have a dozen layers for fresh eggs, etc., so initially giving up on the truly homemade foods felt like giving up on a home empire I had built over six years. But, again, saying no to all these things felt like a huge disappointment, but it was something that I truly needed.
As I look over my previous year, I see the battle that it was. The battle to prove “I’ve still got it,” whatever that “it” is – professional abilities? great parenting? an ability to present myself in public in heels? I don’t know. But I hope 2018 is less about proving “it,” and more about personal growth and feeding some of my passions in a healthy way.
As the calendar changes, I hope I do, too.