The Spaghettios That Broke the Camel’s Back: The Day My Job Won.

TGIF right? Not for someone in my shoes. I’m not glad it’s Friday. I need an extra day to work so that I don’t fail another week on my performance improvement plan. I’m trying to squeeze three days worth of work into one. I started my day hopeful. I did the math, I sat down and I put my headphones in, determined to ignore the most basic instinct we have as mother’s, the crying child. His dad had it handled. He always has, it was never about whether or not the child was taken care of. It’s been about my own anxiety, and the fact that I could not hear him cry and continue to release claims until I put my eyes on him. It’s about hearing him vomit for the 15th time in 4 hours, knowing my SO needs a break, deserves a break, and just sit there feeling like a piece of garbage mom and SO.

So I help. I give him the 3 minutes I can spare, I forfiet all my breaks, my lunch, all of it so I can hold my infant son because not doing that sends me into a downward spiral, and regardless if I’m at my desk or rocking my child, providing my smell, heartbeat, and God awful humming that he needs to relax, work is not getting done either way. This has led to a not so significant drop in my productivity, and I say not significant because I never regained the numbers that I had prior to maternity leave.

I returned to work and was able to work 3 weeks before COVID happened and we were thrown into remote work and expected to not miss a beat. I have been treated as though this is a trial run for something I asked for. I’ve tried talking to my boss about how the threat of COVID 19 has amplified my postpartum anxiety passed a recognizable point, about how I cannot take the meds my angelic midwife prescribed sans office visit because they’re non narcotic, but an antihistamine. It’s a wonderful emergency me, but it takes me out mentally for 24 hours. The only response I’ve gotten is an illumination of the fact that I was not meeting the standard before we went to work from home, and the information for EAP. EAP is a great program, but I still haven’t been able to make the call because I cannot afford to take a single minute from my office hours and apply it to calling multiple clinicians. It’s a vicious cycle, a game where I’m running down a never-ending tunnel and the monster chasing me has a jet pack, all they have to do is push the button and I’m toast, without even the consolidation of butter.

I was starving today and I’d already given my lunch break up to snuggle the baby and make a run to the store for Dr. Peppers. I decided I would very quickly microwave some Spaghettios, even though I felt insulted with the fact that I wasn’t at least going to cook them on the stove. I digress, like I said, starving. So I season them up, put them in the microwave and go click through a claim. As I go to get them they don’t seem terribly hot. I stir them up and promptly attempt to “whoosh” them 15 feet from the kitchen to my desk. Mid “whoosh” my identifying prints were slowly being burned from my fingertips and instictively I let go. Mid. Whoosh. I. Let. Go.

Now my entire hand is covered in hot, radioactive, spaghettio sauce. I screeched from the initial heat shock, and again when I looked down and saw the murder scene in the kitchen, because why wouldn’t I cover the white appliances? I heard my SO run into the kitchen as I fell to the floor and started sobbing. I heard him quickly, and quietly, back out of the kitchen so I could have my moment. This was it. I couldn’t possibly clean up this mess and have time to make anything else and get my work done, who am I even kidding? That work was never going to get done. Not even on a good day and this day was far from that.

I cleaned my mess. I stepped outside. I tried to pull myself together and sit back down at work, and I no more than unlocked my screens before I was bawling again. I had failed. I had failed as an employee, and if I lost my income I would have failed as a provider when my SO trusted me to maintain my income as he gave up his to stay home with the baby. I failed my kids, because they deserve better.

Speaking of those kids, about this time my daughter comes down the stairs. We have enough stairs and she’s graceful like it’s her middle name (it actually is) that I had plenty of warning to make a solid attempt to fix my face. Which was all in vain. She knew what was up. She’s known me her whole life. She recognized the yelp, crash, and subsequent sobbing. She gave me enough time to collect myself and came to check on me (whoooweeeee does my 7 year old know too much about anxiety).

“What’s wrong momma?” And I just shake my head and tell her it’s work stuff. And she says to me, almost like she can’t believe her ears,

“Momma, you get done what you can in the time you have and that just has to be good enough. We don’t stress about this right now remember?”

My 7-year-old child

She was repeating the words I said to them over and over about their distance learning assignments given after school closures took place. Here I was, a mess, but my daughter couldn’t wrap her head around that because all she had seen was me bare my teeth and snarl at three different district campus principals, telling them they were not going to cause my children any additional stress or anxiety during a global pandemic.

Guys, I’m probably going to receive corrective action, and that combined with the struggles I’ve faced previously will likely pace the way toward my termination. I suspect this is a goal for the company at this point as we move forward with Texas Reopening and the money lost during the pandemic comes into play. A layoff may be in the works and I am one less employee they will have to provide severance for. I’m speculating, of course, but it’s neither here nor there.

I know I have done the best job I could with the cards dealt into my shaking hands. My family knows I love them, and that I will always stand ready to growl at anyone who causes them discomfort, well intentioned or otherwise.

Today, my job wins. The man wins. Corporate Greed probably wins. But I won’t waste a second more with wet cheeks, a pounding heart, and rapid respirations. This is not worth my health, my sanity, and it will no longer cost me the ability to be present for and take care of my family.

[Not] Grateful

Discover Prompts threw me into a rage simply by suggesting the word “grateful” yesterday.

I wasn’t grateful yesterday. And that simple fact drove my entire being into a self loathing state. I could hear that voice in my head telling me to look at my family, and chastising me for being a brat. The mom guilt that followed threatened to swallow me whole. I had a rough feedback meeting with my supervisor yesterday. My production lately hasn’t been up to par, and I’m facing corrective action if it doesn’t essentially double this week. Since COVID 19 flipped upside down my anxiety has run rampant and wiggled into the one place I have never allowed: my work. I can’t contain it, I can’t control it, and I can actively see it destroying my life. I hung up feeling like a piece of garbage employee, and when I clocked out for the day and tried to settle the baby down, he just wanted his daddy, so now I was a piece of garbage mother because I spent too much time being a piece of garbage employee.

The inner angiush was torture that led to the neglect of my kids as I barricaded myself in the bedroom with Amazon Prime Video’s finest collection of soothing baby music, a bottle of formula, and an angry baby, because the person involved with the night night routine is irrelevant for my son. He is mad at whoever is making him lay down. He cried, I cried. He flailed his arms and hit me, and I cried some more (seriously, how can a five month old hit this hard!?). He finally snuggled against me and drifted to sleep, and I just continued to cry.

I woke up to my girls cleaning up the kitchen counter as a surprise and not a word from my SO about last night. This is why I love them. This is why I know the family I created and then chose to blend with my SO was the one I needed. They understood who I was and how my mind sometimes attacked me. They deserve all the props and all the love.

But, I want to revisit something. This entire episode was launched by my not feeling grateful. On top of everything that led 5o me being ungrateful, I was then slammed with guilt for feeling that way. Self inflicted guilt that has been engrained into me through my southern raising where “you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit,” and the word ungrateful was equal in comparison to any four letter word you could call someone. I do the same to my children. I stress go them how lucky we are and how they should not take it for granted, because that is an important life lesson they should learn. I grew up in a family where alcoholism and addiction didn’t run anywhere. It unpacked and moved into the spare room until the next kid was old enough to indulge. By the time I was in high school I was very familiar with the Big Book and the core values taught to me were mantras repeated at meetings: Let go and let God, it works if you work it, The Serenity Prayer, etc. I am thankful for all of these things because it did not stop me from going down that road, but the path to recovery is easier when it’s familiar, when it feels like coming home.

One of the things I learned as an adult in recovery is to allow myself to feel how I feel. I have a terrible habit formed out of anxiety to push my feelings, thoughts, and needs to the side in order to maintain peace or avoid conflict. I still do it when my anxiety takes over, I did it last night. I went to bed because I did not want to continue the conflict within myself. This type of behavior for someone with a drug problem is dangerous because it inevitably leads to using a substance to continue to avoid the things we don’t want to face.

Preventing the cycle continuance of unhealthy coping mechanisms largely hinges on my ability to identify and fight them myself. Starting with this grateful word, I am choosing to allow what I call “idle complaints.” Which have been banned until now. Normally, in my home, you are not allowed to present a complaint without also presenting an example of something you’re grateful for. As of now, that is scrapped. Instead, you will be allowed idle complaints, under the expectation that a solution to said complaint would also be presented within a week, because wallowing in self pity is just as damaging as swimming in anxiety.

There you have it, my thoughts scattered and closed on how all that mess ended up being used to evaluate and improve my parenting style. Which is what I want you to take away from this, especially if you’re an anxious mom. We cannot change the condition we are stuck with, we can’t control when it will decide to sideline us, but we can look back on the episode, analyze it from a different angle and choose to bring some light out of that dark moment.