20 October 2009

Should, Should, Should

I should be calling Comcast right now, to try to figure out why my home Internet is out. Or I should be calling Social Security to figure out why they can't get the address changed on Maddie and Riley's survivor's benefit checks. Or perhaps I should call to make a long-overdue doctor's appointment for myself, or schedule all three of us to go to the dentist. I should look for flights to Michigan for Thanksgiving, I should look up a cupcake recipe for the treats I'm bringing to the office on Thursday.

But I've had a rough bit at work; I've managed to incur the wrath of my boss (even though she's on leave--I'm just that good) and the wrath of a faculty member, and between those two events, my work laptop was stolen. I suppose the theft of my laptop is not my fault, exactly, but then again I could have kept the key to the cable lock in a more discreet place . . . in any case, I'm feeling stretched a bit thin at work, and I find that once I start feeling low about one area in my life, I'm more apt to dwell on other things that bring me down: my unsold condo, the ensuing financial woes, the fact that John is dead.

One of the things I miss most about having a spouse is having an adult close at hand with whom to discuss the tough stuff. This job I have now sometimes requires me to navigate some rough water, and while overall it's a great job and a great place, the going can get pretty tough. Yes, it would be unspeakably nice to go home to someone who could help me with the logistics of our evening routine, it would be even better to have someone to debrief with after the kids were in bed. "Debriefing" for me these days involves ignoring the housework and other sundry chores, pouring a glass of wine, and watching 30 Rock on DVD. It's not unpleasant, but it doesn't do much to keep my house in order and it doesn't do much to help me process the challenges I face at work and at home. I miss that. A lot.

31 comments:

Heather said...

I can't offer anything substantive or helpful. Just know that I hear you and I sympathize! [[[hugs]]]

Keen said...

Ugh, sorry about the wrath at work. Hope that stuff blows over soon! I can understand how that makes you feel down about other things.

Lots of love to you. (And I'm raising my own glass of wine.)

Mary Ellen said...

I hope you have some truly supportive colleagues at work - after all, you are still a pretty new kid on the block in an academic environment that is - by repute, at least - pretty high-octane. Best of luck balancing life, work, loneliness, and the (very high) ups and (sometimes out of the blue) downs of parenting little folks. You have a strong if invisible cheering section out here.

comebacknikki said...

{{{Snickollet}}}

Anonymous said...

I highly recommend finding a work coach you like and trust who can help you strategize and navigate. I even got my job to pay for mine. I have a terrific one but, alas, she's in Berkeley, CA. She does do phone meetings, but I'm not sure if she does that with folks she doesn't know. Maybe she'd know someone in Portland. She is seriously awesome. Name is Toni Littlestone. Good luck!!!

Victoria said...

Still reading your blog regularly, and I hope this period passes for you. The 'shoulds' are easy to focus on, try focusing on the 'dids' instead. ((hugs))

Mama Mama Quite Contrary said...

Sorry about work. That is such a drag but we're all here to help you process everything. Not the same as plopping down on the couch with someone and pouring it all out but perhaps we can be some help.

Hope things get better soon.

June said...

My Mom was left w/7 children to finish raising when she & my Dad divorced. I'm SURE she had many times when the going was really, really hard--she needed someone to lean on & talk to about the day's activities. My heart & thoughts are with you. You're one 'FINE' lady & an awesome Mom. You are doing your best, & that's all anyone can ask. You have my support any time of the day or night. I have a very close friend who lives in Portland. She works at Intel--has been there a number of years. She's my confidant, & VERY BEST FRIEND. I know it would be awkward talking to her--but she's seen some mighty tough times in her life & has come shining through. If you'd like to chat w/her I'd be happy to give you her phone number. She's THE absolute best friend I've EVER had. My prayers are with you, girl...& with those 2 beautiful children of yours. Lots of love to you.

Sylvie said...

I can imagine that being really hard, especially now that maybe M & R are less of a handful with their routine, you start missing the rest of the benefits of adult company in the evenings. Keep on with the wine and 30Rock.. the dentist will still be there when you are organized enough to make the appointments!

Widow in the Middle said...

I totally relate to how nice it would be to have another adult at home to connect and consult with. It is tough going on one's own, in particular not having a close emotional connection to rely on.

Some years back I revised my to do list by converting it into an accomplishment list. At the end of the day, I wrote down everything I had done, even if it was only to drop off clothing at the dry cleaners or pick up milk t the store.

You should give yourself a lot of credit for working and dealing with a job. I was off for a number of years after my husband died and could not imagine balancing young children and a job.

mek said...

I'm debriefing the same way these days and having a similar relationship to shoulds. Sorry to hear you are caught between the two wraths - along with all the other tough places. No advice, just commiseration.

amyinbc said...

I so hear you.

OTRgirl said...

Any new job seems fraught with so many possible pitfalls. It seems like it would be even worse the more people you have to work with--so a College environment would be even harder.

There are often times where, husband or no, I shut down and avoid most of my life. You have so much going on, so many changes, so many new details to juggle. Shutting down makes sense, even if it isn't helping with the should list.

Crash Course Widow said...

Right there with ya with all of it, Snick. I miss those evening debriefings too, plus all of the help with the kids and housework. Sigh.

Even though I also know this fact for myself, reading your words pointed out the truth of it again: "I find that once I start feeling low about one area in my life, I'm more apt to dwell on other things that bring me down." Oh, yeah...right...forgot about that part, somehow. I'm having a bit of a down week or so and I couldn't (can't?) totally figure out why...but reading your summation helped remind me that there's likely SOME reason for it.

Hang in there! Hope it gets better soon.

Supa Dupa Fresh said...

Here's one that sometimes stops the train for one second for me:

Don't should on yourself.

HTH.


x

Supa

Roads said...

Yes, you need to cut yourself a bit of slack, now and then. Or all the time, to be honest.

There's a lot of pointless detail in life. Not doing something pointless, at least not now, can be the most pointful thing you can do.

That's what I tell myself, anyway.

Susan said...

Ugh....you just have to keep saying..."crap happens". Some days at least. I have so been there in getting the bosses' wrath :(, of course not on purpose!! Hang in there. A lot of change, a lot to learn in a short amount of time. And hugs {} regarding the "debriefing". It is a need....but I do say, the glass of wine is a start :) Hang in there.

Angela said...

Wish I could offer something more than my sympathy and good wishes. I am so sorry it's so tough at work right now, I really hope it blows over very soon. Wish you had someone to help you debrief and share the child/house duties.
I just wanted to echo another commenter, you do have a cheering section out here in the blogworld, hope that helps a little bit.

Katherine said...

Like our other fellow widows here, I am so with you on this. While I miss the logistical help a husband could provide, even more, I miss the emotional support--even just someone to listen to the minutiae of my day. Especially this week, when I awoke Monday morning after an exhausting weekend trip to a family wedding, to find that 1) I had no heat (three days later this problem is still not resolved. And today I hear the part will not be available for 3 - 5 days. BRRR!) 2) my teenage son's toothache was worse, and necessitated an emergency trip to the dentist, followed the next day by an endodontist appt and a root canal 3) I would be in all day meetings at work all week (and would have to plan my trips home for the furnace guys and my son's appts around that tough schedule, given that I have NO ONE to help with those things) and 4) my typically understanding boss doesn't understand why I can't get everything done this week!

What I have done that helps somewhat is to nominate one of my friends, who has never been married, to be the "hearer of all my daily minutiae." She listens to the play by play of all the crap of my day, and I do the same for her. It's certainly not the same as having my husband be there for me. But it does help. And it keeps me from relying too much on my kids as a source of emotional support, which I've heard is both very common to single parents, and also not very good for the kids.

Hope you can find a listening ear out there in Portland soon.

Anonymous said...

Over the last few weeks I just read your entire blog. I have to say you are an amazing woman. I am really in awe of your strength and courage. Your struggles became my struggles and I rejoiced and cried with you with. My circumstances are very different than yours but I have to say, you touched me deeply. I know hundreds of other readers have made similar comments but for what it's worth I totally admire you. Hang in there and I wish you nothing but the best. Kathy in Juneau (I don't have an account but didn't want to be anonymous!)

django's mommy said...

Yep. Right there with ya.

Sorry it's rough going right now, Snick. xoxoxo

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Clover said...

Maybe we can e-chat at night and be each other's adult? Cause god knows I could use a few more grown ups in my life too. :)

jo(e) said...

(o)

Sadia said...

I know exactly what you mean, and my husband's only overseas. Temporarily.

Hugs.

Arlie said...

I second the comment about figuring out strategies for the workplace ... even if it isn't with a coach. Academic environments are SO political, SO laden with history, egos, entitlement. They are pretty unforgiving. My best advice (not that you asked!) is to build relationships like crazy. And forgive yourself. A boss on leave isn't exactly a great guide or mentor, so you've been forging your own way. Hang in there!

Abigail said...

When I went back to work two months after my husband died, my colleagues cut me some slack for a while. I sucked at my job, but I tried not to let it get to me.

After a while, I began to take on more responsibility, but never quite felt on top of it. And the weird thing was that my colleagues seemed to become harder on me. My boss was nasty to me in meetings. I think he was trying to get me to quit or something. Everyone noticed what a schmo he was being. It eroded my confidence.

I makes you wonder about people.

I guess what I am saying is that its important to remember to not be too hard on yourself, even if those around you seem to be. Little things that never used to bother you will bother you now. On the flip side, there will be things that you used to care a great deal about that no longer seem relevant.

Sometimes, just knowing that helps.

Also, nothing ever stays the same for long.

You can try getting a massage or take a yoga class or go work out. Sometimes, its our physical bodies that conspire against us.

Sometimes though, stuff like this forces you to reassess your life and where you are spending all your energy. Its all part of the journey.

Hang in there. Be confident in the fact that you are doing a great job in all facets of our life, even when it doesn't feel like it sometimes.

Tricia said...

I made these cupcakes recently, and they were fabulous and easy.

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/chocolate-cupcakes/detail.aspx

I hope that helps.

Tricia said...

After posting the cupcake recipe (truly fantastic), I got completely lost in your blog. When I should have been working.

Mostly, though, I'm truly sorry for your loss overall, and I really do hope the cupcake recipe is helpful.

Amy said...

I'm sorry you had such a crappy day. The stakes can feel so high, and it's so hard to feel like you don't have it all together.

I wanted to just say that as a reader, I've noticed that you definitely have high standards for yourself. And sometimes it sounds like you feel like you shouldn't need support or drop the ball at all...that you "should" be able to do it all on your own. And no one does, of course. I'm so sorry you don't have John there to give you a well-deserved boost. Remember that when you look back on your life during this time, you're probably going to feel like you wish you'd given yourself more credit at the time.

Watercolor said...

Yep. Single life. Sucks.