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.