I like to think that I’m a pretty ambitious person. I’m continually challenging myself, pushing myself to do more, to be more. It’s a quality that sounds great on a job interview, but doesn’t always work out to make me relaxed and happy. It’s because I like to dream big, to imagine doing more and more, to watch my career grow, that sometimes I end up feeling overwhelmed or inadequate. I know a big part of it is the mom guilt crap, but I’ve rediscovered my ultimate cure for it.
You see, growing up, I also liked doing a lot of cool extra things. I’d get involved in drama productions, join musical groups, take part in the Model United Nations, and any number of other extra activities. And sometimes, I would feel like I had too much to do, that I couldn’t handle it all. My mom was always very encouraging, reminding me that I could do anything I set my mind to. But she would also always give me a clear alternative – Just Quit!
She would often urge me to quit things I didn’t enjoy, to stop with extra activities or work if it had lost its allure. And yet, once I knew I could quit, I didn’t want to anymore. I’m not sure if she meant it as reverse psychology, or simply a reminder that I actually wanted to do those things, or a reminder that I was never stuck. Either way, it helped me in those moments, and it’s helped me again now.
The last few weeks have been hard with work. In part, it’s because there was a lot that I wanted to do. I was organizing a cosplay competition at Sexpo, as well as doing my usual work. I often feel like what I do isn’t as visible as it used to me – before Harley came, I used to write 5-6 articles a day about gaming and tech and whatnot. Now, I maybe write that many articles in a week, with my focus being more on the behind-the-scenes business stuff at work. I really enjoy my new role, but I often worry that my coworkers think I’m just slacking off during the day.
Anyway, I was feeling so stressed about getting all the things done and if I was still being seen in the same light by my job, wondering if I was still an asset to the company and generally feeling like I was crap at all the things. I was complaining to Dean about feeling down about work, that I didn’t know how I was going to get all the things done, but also that I felt like I wasn’t doing as much as I should, or that I might be seen as not doing as much as I should. Anyway, after much ranting and raving at him, Dean pointed out that if I was actually unhappy with work, it kind of went against that whole loving what I do thing. That if I wasn’t happy, I should quit.
I don’t think he knew about my mom’s thing of telling me to “just quit”, but it had the same effect. I then started arguing with him about how much I love my job, how much I enjoy the guys I work with, how good I am at what I do and how much fun I have doing it. All of a sudden, I was talking myself up instead of down, boosting myself back into feeling motivated and ambitious.
There are days when the working mom guilt is really hard. It’s hard to know I’m still doing a good job at work when I have to pause during the day to change a nappy or nurse or play with my little one. It’s hard to remind myself that it’s okay to take Harley along for whatever needs doing, that she’s my copilot and sidekick and whatever else. It’s even harder when I leave her at home with Dean so that I can get things done, like I had to do this weekend. I feel guilty if I focus on work, and guilty if I focus on her. No matter what, I feel like I’m not the worker I should be, or the mom I want to be.
And yet… when I’m reminded that I can quit, that I could stop worrying about the one part, I remember how important both parts of my lives are to me. I wouldn’t want to give up either. So yes, there are good days and bad days, or weeks, or months. But the reality is that I’m not dropping the ball as much as I think I am, that I don’t give myself credit for how much I’m doing, both at work and with Harley. When I’m reminded that I’m choosing this life, that I could “just quit” if I really don’t enjoy what I’m doing, it makes me that much more excited to be the person I want to be, to pursue my dreams, to push harder and acknowledge just how much I’ve accomplished already.