hard lesson #101: I can’t do it all

But goodness, did it feel like I should be able to — especially at first.

[Forgive me for this post — I’m trying to say what’s on my heart while also being vague on the details, and that makes this whole thing a delicate little balancing act.]

This week was tough. I experienced some client difficulty —  blindsided by a quite long list of perceived failures and unmet expectations. Just enough of what was said was true enough (and my fault enough) that I’m doing some thinking, but the majority was unrealistic and unreasonable and downright bewildering.

Nevertheless, it will sting for a while. I’m not real hopeful about the future in this situation and it makes me sad.

But in another way, I feel freer than I have in months. A big cause of anxiety in my life is gone. I understand these expectations much more clearly now and realize that I can’t meet them AND care for my son as I should.

And from there it all becomes quite clear:

I’m not willing to do anything that keeps me from being good at what matters most to me (and what will matter most in the long-run): loving my husband and raising a healthy, happy boy. Quality work is important to me and I will always take my professional reputation seriously, but my family is always and firmly in first place. Otherwise, what am I doing all this for?

For a long time I tried really hard to do it all because I have a quite large innate desire to please — despite my new life, despite the additional challenges we had with my son’s health, despite the extra time those doctor visits required of me, despite the fact that my brain just didn’t operate the same way it did pre-kid — I tried to meet demands that were way too big for my new life.

It’s hard not to cringe when I think about all the times I told these people yes when I should have said no because of some misplaced sense of camaraderie or friendship (I do that a lot — business boundaries are something I seem hell-bent on learning the hard way). In some ways, I think I helped create these expectations and for that I’m angry at myself. In the end, it didn’t matter. I wasn’t able to be accommodating enough.

I came downstairs after the conversation just crushed after having sobbed my way through a bunch of I’m sorrys; feeling the weight not only of this moment but of other painful moments like it from years and years ago. It’s kind of a “50 million Elvis fans can’t be wrong” thing — I heard a chorus of unkind voices all at once and felt like total garbage.

And there my boys were, waiting for me, reminding me of why I will disappoint outside people a million times over if necessary. My boys matter most. If I only get to pick one thing to come first, they are what I want to excel at. I will excel at my work too, but it just might take a little longer than it used to.

Being with my boys was exactly what I needed. The whole world keeps a record of wrongs, but my home — well, that’s a safe place for me. I’m blessed.

[All of that said, this year was admittedly difficult and I’ve made some changes that should make a huge difference work-wise in the year to come: mainly, that I have child care 3-4 days a week and am not working into the wee hours anymore. I know few people who are able to care for a baby all day long and then work all night — at the very least, I know I am not one of them. After killing myself for months and months, a family friend took care of A in November and December part time and I felt reborn. J and I both agree — I’ll never work again without child care!

Thanks for bearing with me as I thought some of this through while trying to only share what was appropriate. I’m hoping to finally get some peaceful sleep tonight.]

2 thoughts on “hard lesson #101: I can’t do it all”

  1. It sounds like your priorities are right on. I’m a people pleaser too and I feel so guilty saying no sometimes, even if it’s to a friend of a friend’s brother’s aunt. I’m glad your life is balancing out more the way you’ve wanted it too.

  2. Good for you for figuring out what matters most. I’m sorry it hurt so bad during the process, but it sounds like it ended up helping you make some good decisions. I am SO with you on the post-kid brain. Holy cow. I don’t even know how I still have my job – I make so many more mistakes than I used to and it is beyond frustrating.

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