Balancing Act

I’m in a pub in Erie, PA, and I’m bone tired.

Working remotely has its perks, for sure: Brandon and I were able to take a trip to Erie to visit family with the little man, and work during the day. Cameron is having an absolute blast with his Gabby and is being spoiled rotten with attention. He’s loving every second.

Seeing family is nice; I just wish I could shake this permanent fog I’m in these days. I can’t sleep (and it’s not due to the baby), I’m full of anxiety, and things just don’t have the luster they used to. If it was feasible, I’d just take a week and spend it in bed watching Netflix (and probably gaining 10 pounds).

I think what has me down and lost is the added emotional labor that comes with being a mom. As women, there’s always this need to manage all the spinning plates: so many things we aren’t paid or acknowledged for that just keep lives running. Doc appointments, bills, cleaning things when they’re gross, stocking the fridge, ordering the pet food, feeding the pets, paying the pet-sitter, vet visits, budgeting, taking the clothes to the dry cleaner’s, and on and on and on. It’s not that Brandon wouldn’t do these things if asked… it’s that I have to remember every single one.

Having a child compounds that labor tenfold. The laundry multiplies. The dishes, too. The doctor’s appointments increase. The finding and balancing of childcare can be its own full-time job. Is the baby gaining weight? When did he last eat? He hasn’t pooped in 3 days. Should we feed him prunes? Is he too young for purees? He dropped his paci; can I just lick it and give it back? Does that make me a crappy mom? Am I giving him too much attention so he can’t adjust to being by himself? Am I giving him too little attention, so he won’t attach? Why am I not producing enough breastmilk? Why does he not want to take the breast? If I give him formula, am I a bad or lazy mom? Am I traveling for business too much? Does it mean I don’t care about my career if I don’t want to be away for 3 nights to do work? Brandon has the 2-seater car and I need to go to an appointment; how will we arrange nanny share pickup? Did the cat sit in the baby’s seat, and if so, is it dirty now? We’re out of formula. We ran out of formula too quickly. That means he’s not getting enough breastmilk. We’re in the car and he’s screaming; should I pull over or tough it out? And a million other things.

It’s exhausting. I have a new appreciation for stay-at-home moms these days, realizing I could never be one. I love my career and I need it. I think to some degree, it keeps me sane and mentally challenged in a different way.

I am fighting this inclination to succumb to being absorbed by my child, and then on the flip side, I also have this weird guilt about wanting to have my own life. It’s a strange dichotomy. I really like traveling, but I hate being away from my baby. I am forcing myself to take advantage of opportunities to do things that fulfill me, as I think it’s healthier for both Cameron and me. But this layer of guilt over every little thing was something I wasn’t expecting. I’m just so tired.

I need to get another bucket list going, so I have something to focus my energy on and to get me up and moving each day. My business is going great and after a short dip in hours, I’m slated to be back full-force next week. I’m really adjusting to–and loving–life as a freelancer, and I’m getting more confident in my abilities to drum up business. But the mental anguish is so tiring. I just want to feel normal again. Maybe this is the new normal.

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