5.22.2010

Moderation (or lack thereof)

One of the reasons I left my job was my struggle to leave work at work. My priorities were miserably out of whack. I lost sleep (and hair) over the various stressors of my position and my work was on my mind constantly. It became pitifully unhealthy. Not one to admit defeat, I tried all kinds of coping strategies prior to resigning. I started to draw very distinct boundaries between my real life and work life but nothing worked in my quest for separation. No matter what I did my work worries plagued me even when I was off the clock. I couldn’t shut it off. My relationships suffered, my health suffered and bitterness set in quickly. Resigning seemed to be the only answer to finding a separation between work and rest.

Cut to earlier this week when I found myself with a “to do” list full of house work that was more than a mile long. I was up to my earlobes in Donna Reed-like tasks that included making homemade chicken stock, cleaning windows, changing linen and chatting with the bug man as I offered him a cupcake made from scratch. (Side note, I'm not quite sure how women do all this stuff and raise kids too.) As I crossed items off the list one by one, I cringed when I realized that there was no “quitting time”. Five o’clock wouldn’t mean it was time to shut down for the day. This is where you, dear reader, are probably thinking, "DUH!" Ummm, so it turns out that there are no set in stone work hours for a housewife. My list needed to get done if it was 2 o’clock in the afternoon or 8 o’clock at night. OH NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! Suddenly it was crystal clear that the boundaries of my new job could become even MORE fuzzy than my last if something didn’t change with a quickness.

I think I’ve realized there’s a lesson in this whole thing. (Isn’t there always?) It wasn’t the job alone that was making me lose sleep. It wasn’t the job alone that butted into my relationships. It wasn’t the job alone that kept me thinking about it when I should have been focused on more important things. Sure the stressful nature of the line of work I was in certainly played a part in all that, but so did I. I was responsible for carrying my work home with me. I was guilty of being on the clock twenty four hours a day.
It’s no secret I’ve got moderation issues. I’ve mentioned some of them here before. You know like the exercise, and then there’s that whole sobriety thing, etc. etc. (If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile or better yet if you KNOW me, you could probably name a few moderation issues I have that I'm not even aware of yet!!) I guess, now I know that “work” can be added to my list. The compulsion I felt to finish every item on the list before I rested – a list, by the way, that I ARBITRARILY created - was borderline psychotic. It was really, really tough to let it go and just relax without crossing EVERYTHING off. My instinct was telling me to go and go until I finished or collapsed.  Which kind of sounds like the exact opposite of moderation, right? But, guys, that is preeeety much exactly how I live my life. I go until I crash and am forced into a pseudo-rest by emotional or physical exhaustion. I know.  Sounds fun, right?

Here’s what I'm thinking. What if my newest position as housewife extraordinaire is part of a divine scheme to get me to learn some moderation? With limitless free time, a flexible schedule and infinite possibilities of projects and things “to do” around the house this is the perfect opportunity for me to practice some appropriate restraint. I'm smack dab in the middle of a unique opportunity to navigate the boundaries between work and genuine rest. I get to learn moderation!

You guys!! What if I figure out how to be productive well and also how to be restful well? Imagine the possibilities…

4 comments:

angelonwheels said...

in this way our stories seem shockingly similar! Really enjoyed your post and I think you are totally dead on about there being a lesson here. See you soon!

Olivia said...

Yes! Me too!
The only thing I've figured out to do (and this may be because my laziness is just as strong as my obsessiveness with getting things done) is to only plan chores (play dates, activities) for the morning. Nap time helps enforce this around here, but it might work for you too. My mornings are super busy but in the afternoons I blog, read, and am generally that lazy mom that most people assume SAHMs are. But then I have a family to feed so at 5pm I get started up again. It's not easy, but it's given me some parameters.

its simple love said...

We have so much in common it's ridiculous. I feel the same imbalance of work and rest. I get caught up in the stress of it all. I so wish I could be a housewife at the moment, but that is for the future, I do hope. I hope you find balance and moderation. I am excited to read more posts about your journey to finding it.

Rachael

Audra said...

oh, molly, i can SO relate to you in this. it is hard to rest and settle down when you are in your work place all. the. time. if you learn the secret let me know! =D i'm learning to change my priorities and lessen my standards a little, but it's hard to let go! cheers, my friend, to us, in learning moderation!