Here's the thing about the so called "balance" all women are supposedly seeking to find in their personal, professional, and family lives: It is precarious and if one little thing goes wrong--a sick child, canceled dinner plans, a poorly timed nap for the two-year old--it all comes crashing down and the result is stress, frustration, and really awful nutritional choices for the whole family.
This morning was bad. Very bad. James has been sick for a week (RSV!) so I have gotten nothing, NOTHING done around the house. He was miserable, poor thing, and really, honestly needed to be held about twenty hours out of each day. That, combined with my recent trip, has made the laundry situation completely unmanageable. I did three loads yesterday and still had to face down the huge pile of shame on my closet floor this morning. Today I am wearing a pair of pants that is so wrinkly it kind of looks like they're meant to be that way. I was having a nervous breakdown in my closet when I noticed it was time for Ryan to leave for work so I grabbed them out of the hamper, threw them on, then stomped down the stairs with an armful of dirty clothes, yelling about how fat I am. I was angrily stuffing the clothes into the washing machine when Ryan appeared in the laundry room door to tell me that our babysitter had arrived and was sitting in the living room looking very uncomfortable. I apologized but she was effusive in her offers to help in some way.
Before you suggest that I ask Ryan to help more, let me assure you, he is doing everything he possibly can, AND MORE. Yesterday when he came home from work I handed him a baby and a tube of raw ground beef and let him make dinner for himself and the boys while I took a shower and ran out the door for a church meeting. And then I made him promise, PROMISE PINKY SWEAR, that he would not clean up the house and kitchen while I was gone, because he also has to work at home every night just to stay afloat, and was already handling bedtime for three kids solo. But the house was immaculate when I came home. GUILT.
And then there's my class. The grading pile is starting to resemble my laundry pile. And I just collected a short writing assignment that I have NO IDEA how I'm going to grade because how do you do that, non-quantitative people? Grade writing? DUMB. SO DUMB. I came home from my meeting last night at nine thirty then jumped right into pumping and then finishing my lecture for today, which didn't work because I couldn't keep my eyes open. After the fifth time I had to delete a paragraph of gibberish from my notes I gave up and went to bed. Around eleven. I fed James at 12:30 and 5:30. I'm starting to understand why I was such a psycho this morning.
The thing is, when you are only failing in one area, you can nobly declare it to be at the expense of the other thing. Like, "That lecture went poorly, but it's because I am also running a household and doing a darn good job of it." But what if you are failing in every area? What if it's "That lecture went poorly, I have no clean underpants, and my kids ate spaghetti for dinner four times last week." I have mentally searched for inefficiencies in my schedule countless times and I can honestly tell you that without pulling all-nighters, which has crossed my mind several times but I realize doing so would only make the problem worse in the long term, that I am doing the best I can. And Ryan is doing the best he can. And we have a babysitter and lots of family help when we need it. And and and. It's not enough.
I'm afraid that the only solution is to white-knuckle through the rest of the semester (which is mercifully only a couple of months away) then regroup in the summer, when I will no doubt complain about having nothing to do.