The last few posts I’ve made have been mostly about how damned stressed out I’ve been, and while it was somewhat my choice to be so stressed, anyone on the tenure track will verify that the hardest thing about being not-yet-tenured is feeling like you can’t say “no” to stuff. Add that to my tendency to want to Do All The Things (all the things that I feel are important and/or that I’d be good at, anyway), and you wind up under hurricane-force levels of stress for five years straight.
Yeah. It hasn’t been good for me. I’ve come up for air, now, and despite my good work-life balance practices, which I have written lots about…I still packed more stuff into both things (work life and home life) than would fit, then tried to shoehorn it all in. It wasn’t good for me. It wasn’t good for my marriage. It wasn’t good for my relationship with my family. It wasn’t good for my relationship with my SPOUSE’S family. My kids…well, mostly I think they’re fine, because kids tend to be resilient, AND some of the extra stuff was specifically for making sure my kids were fine.
Yeah, I’ve been hard to live with. For a long while. Compared to my theoretical “normal” personality. And it’s hard to come down from years of that. My central nervous system needs to remember what “normal” feels like.
Good news: I think I’m ALMOST there. I’ve caught up at work. I’ve said “no” to multiple things. I’ve finished things that I’m not going to replace with new things. I’ve got some work to do in various types of relationship maintenance, which has never been my strong suit, but, hey, I’ve got the time, right?
So, we moved. We moved to a much nicer house in a better neighborhood. The new location has improved my husband’s commute substantially, though we both get the nasty commute if we’re not careful about timing. But the split is even, now.
What I love about my new neighborhood: there’s a park right next door. Okay, on the opposite side of the house right next door, but LITERALLY seconds away, with no intervening streets to cross. Kid 1 is there as I write this, playing with one of several new friends she’s made. I pop over to check on her every once in a while, but “going out to play” is now a matter of, “Mom, I’m going to the park,” and, “Okay, see you in a few.”
Relatives, please don’t freak out over my unsupervised 6-year-old at the park. She’s okay. Strangers aren’t even in the top five biggest risks to kids, and she’s smart and knows the rules. Kids need to be allowed to develop independence. That said, I’m gonna pop over there now and get eyes on her for a few seconds. Be right back…
Okay, I’m back. You never knew I was gone, did you? Anyway, she’s fine. Playing with yet another new friend, not the same one who came to the door to ask for her. There are about 5 kids and one mom at the park right now. I have a little kid-minding village next door. (I was out there myownself, taking a break with both kids, about an hour ago. I do a bit of kid-minding village duty, too.)
Other stuff we love: there’s a Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings, five minutes’ walk from us. Lots of inexpensive fresh produce, and Kid 2 likes to walk the market, scamming every vendor out of a strawberry sample. I swear, he’s eaten an entire flat of strawberries before I finally pay for some. The market is in the OTHER park, the one they can’t walk to alone yet, which is a lot bigger and has a lovely gazebo.
Across the street from the Farmer’s Market is a little coffee shop, which has excellent coffee as well as inexpensive pastries and desserts. They sell a really nice cheesecake, and a cup of coffee and slice of cheesecake comes in at under $5.
Then there’s just…the neighborhood is safer, by all appearances. No graffiti (yes, our old neighborhood had started to sprout graffiti on people’s fences, which, urk). No loud parties at night (so far). Neighbors appear to observe the “it’s dark now, so we start being quiet” rules.
The weather is cooler. Now, I don’t mind hot weather. I grew up in Sacramento, so it’s not REALLY hot out until it hits 100 degrees outside. Or 85 indoors. Whichever. But here…85 degrees outside is a “hot” day. Which makes Dave much happier. We haven’t used the air conditioning (which we have now and didn’t before) once yet.
Other than that – I’m working from home two days a week this summer, and it’s really working from home interspersed with “getting stuff done at home”. Or taking kids to doctors’ appointments. Or going to the park. I’m taking some of my summer to have a summer. Because I’ve worked REALLY damn hard for it. I still managed to get caught up at work, because summer is awesome, and my lab is established enough to function without my physical presence a couple days a week.
I’m trying very hard to remember how to be a person who doesn’t work all the time. Because, for years, even when I wasn’t working, I was working, you know? Dishes, laundry, picking up, keeping the books for the preschool, etc. I’m actively taking some time to NOT work again. For reals. Have a glass of wine, watch TV, read a trashy summer novel, take a bubble bath, take kids to the zoo, walk to the farmers’ market, go to the coffee shop…leave the laundry, it’ll keep. Really. It will.
So, that’s the update. I’m starting to feel like a real person again. By end of summer, I may actually BE a real person again. Won’t that be awesome?