Anyhow, I am at work right now and supposedly writing a story about group travel for the over-50 set (and, no, we're not talking Carnival Cruises here. I'm talking Gramps and Grans heading off for 21 days to Iran with a bunch of other thrill-seeking grey-haireds). I'm putting aside bungee jumping outings for the geriatric crowd for a few and getting back to...life.
Yesterday was a shit storm of a day. It was indicative of how things have been the last month, and I think I may need to revisit (again) the juggling act that I call motherhood and career. I know I waxed poetic about the joys of a simple, straightforward part-time gig writing for my sweet, huggable little local paper. No pressure, no work in the evenings or on weekends, no drama. But, then, something happened. I got kick-started in another direction. Long story short, friend recommended me for a start-up styling gig associated with a nationally recognized lady who loves to tell people what not to wear. Went to an initial interview that went well and waiting to see if there will be a second.
In the meantime, inspiration hit. Why not just go ahead and start my own personal shopping/styling business? I have the know-how from my former days with the boutique, there is no overhead, and, I'm really, really, really good at spending other people's money.
So, off I went. I roped a few friends into being guinea pigs for my styling efforts. Over the last three weeks, I've been shopping at a maniacal pace, rabidly foaming at the mouth over the perfect piece for my clients (initial shop, try on, returns/exchanges, follow-up, pictures, etc.) That doesn't even count thinking of a name for my new business, coming up with a logo, starting work on building a Web site, coming up with a marketing plan, drafting legal documents...Wait, wait, wait just a gosh darn second. What the fuck is going on here? What happened to my Zen-style approach to work and motherhood?
Pile on top of that my part-time job at the paper AND freelance writing gigs that I can't seem to turn down (why, I'm not sure). Oh, and I also have two kids under five. Zen? I'm full-speed ahead into The Work Overload Zone, which is sort of like a fun house. You're running at warp speed and the excitement of it all can be intoxicating. But, at the same time, everything looks completely twisted and fucked up from the chaos.
Back to yesterday...I got up as usual with the kids and we got them ready for the day. M heads off to school with Daddy and I take J to return equipment to our old cable company. Then we go on a shop. Shopping with a toddler is not only no fun whatsoever, but a feat akin to walking a tightrope while balancing a glass vase on the tip of your nose. Just picture trying to look for clothing for someone else (which takes a lot more thought and concentration than just looking for yourself) while hoping the cookies you keep plying the toddler with will make him want to be in the stroller for, like, an hour.
Now imagine removing yelling toddler from stroller (after he took the last cookie, hurled it across the floor and exclaimed, "NO!") and chasing him through the aisles of a department store while periodically stopping to feel a cashmere cardigan that would be so to-die-for on Margy. Fuck. Me.
Dragged bags of clothes with toddler out door and headed back to pick up preschooler from school to take her to ballet by 3. Made a pit-stop at library pre-ballet. (Hey, those little stops may seem like nothing, but try doing them with a 28-lb wiggly toddler and preschooler who keeps whining, "But, my legs are tiiiiiiired..." Awesome.)
Made it to ballet. Walked outside, hoping J would doze off in his stroller so I can actually focus on my 3:15 p.m. interview for a news story. No dice. Pulled out my laptop, made the phone call and prayed for the best. Please, God, let the shooting water fountains in front of us keep him busy for 20 minutes so I can ask my five questions and be done.
"Ooooooh, preeeeeeeeetty waaaaater!! Priiity, pritty, priiiiity!! Oh, um, good afternoon Mr. County Executive. Thank you for taking time out of your schedule to answer some questions about the biotech campus plan that is coming before the County Council this month."
Meanwhile, I'm sweating (it's 75 in October) doing a two-step jig much to the delight of both my kid and strangers walking by. "That bitch done lost her mind," there eyes seemed to say. No arguing with that assessment.
Water fountain/Mama making an ass of herself entertainment lasts for a minute. I need to sit down and type notes while this dude rambles on and on and on and on. Get to the point, man! Can't you see we're on borrowed time? The kid...is going...to blow! Initial baby giggles inevitably devolve into over-tired whining (again, my bad for dragging the poor kid around all day and expecting him to get proper rest in a car seat). I ask one last question, which launches Mr. County Executive into a I'm-a-politician spiel that literally brought me to my knees. The interview that I thought would never end, finally did -- with five minutes to spare.
Take J out for a quick cuddle. "I'm sorry sweets; you've been soooooooo patient today with mommy." (Not really, but hey, did I really expect that he would be on his best behavior at the cable office building, shopping and while I'm on the phone? I mean come on, the kid shits his pants, thinks the height of entertainment is sticking both fingers up his nose and snorting, and would like nothing better than for me to allow him to root through the kitchen garbage can, uninterrupted.)
Scoop M from ballet class. We all drive home in silence. Dinner, bath, bed by 7:15. (They usually go to bed at 8, but desperate times call for desperate measures.)
As I cuddled with M before bed, watching her pig nightlight glow in the dim room and listening to the dishwasher downstairs humming, it came to me. The answer to the stress and busyness of the last month? Just Say No. After this month, only one freelance project every two weeks. After this month, only one style/personal shopping client every two weeks. After this month, back to sanity.
I smiled, nuzzled my daughter's hair, and breathed a sigh of relief.
"Sweet dreams, Mama."