So, basically everything I said here still applies.
I am not depressed. I’m not even taking antidepressants any more.
But some mornings, in the first half hour or so that I am at work, I struggle to fight back tears.
It’s not sadness, per se, although I still feel like my life got derailed back in May, and often catch myself moping over might-have-beens.
But I think that that is more a symptom than the real disease.
The fact is that if I were a car, my fuel light would be blinking and the fuel gage would be dipped below the E line. Pretty soon I’m going to make a scary clunk and just stop altogether.
It’s no one’s fault except, arguably, my own.
The fact is that I work two jobs.
My job at the vet clinic eats up 35 hours a week: I work 4 eight-and-a-half hour days with no breaks. Lunch is eaten while working. Sometimes lunch just isn’t eaten at all.
Then I train dogs on evenings and weekends.
And it’s summer.
We don’t even have Google ads running and I’m being swarmed by potential clients wanting consults, and then they all frigging decide to buy sessions, and now I have… is it ten current clients? I think so. Technically closer to 15 if you count a few who haven’t cashed in their last session yet but could at any moment.
So three or four evenings a week I come home from my eight and a half hour marathon, pick up Owl from daycare, and then instead of eating dinner with my family, I go right out to train dogs, coming home after Owl is in bed.
And then I spend half of Saturday and Sunday out training, too.
Oh, and Wednesday, my “day off” of work. Last Wednesday I had three training appointments booked, plus the one hour staff meeting at the vet clinic.
Combined I am working over 40 hours a week, divided over 7 days.
Physically, that’s a little tiring, but here’s the thing:
I AM AN INTROVERT.
Not a day goes by that I don’t have to drag my ass out of the house and be social with strangers. 4 days a week it is ten consecutive hours of socializing and being outgoing and friendly. On my “days off”, it is usually two or three hours of socializing and being outgoing and friendly.
That’s on top of spending time with friends and family.
Family is my other problem. Specifically, Owl.
Owl is adorable. He is hilarious, full of curious questions, and crazy flights of imagination.
He is also two going on three.
Toddlers, in my opinion, were specifically designed by God to seek out and destroy introverts.
When I was six or seven, an Aunt and Uncle came to visit with my then-two year old cousin.
Living with that child for the week or so that they were with us was a nightmarish time that still stands out starkly in my memory.
It’s not that she was a bad kid. I have no memories of her throwing tantrums, or hitting, or stealing, or being in any was misbehaved.
It was just that she found me, the BIG KID, overwhelmingly entertaining. She wouldn’t leave me alone.
As an only child, and an introvert, it was like living in a personal hell.
I have a distinct memory of hiding behind the couch in the living room, book in hand, hunched fearfully while my cousin toddled around the house hollering “CAAAAWOL, WHEWE AWE YOU?” until her doting and extroverted father took her hand and led her right to my secret haven.
I nearly wept.
It was many years before I could forgive that cousin for being two. For most of our childhoods I simply believed that she was sent by the devil to suck out my energy juices.
It took a long time for me to understand that she was not, in and of herself, obnoxious. We’re friendly now. We talk on Facebook. She plucked my eyebrows on my wedding day. We’re good. She’s not two any more.
You know who is two? MY OWN CHILD.
And he, like my cousin, is an extroverted two year old.
Owl is a good boy in many ways. He is well behaved in public, generally obedient, and a cheerful joker who is full of curiosity about the world and people around him.
ESPECIALLY THE PEOPLE.
Owl simply does not play independently. We have buckets of toy cars, fun ramps for them to run down, stuffed toys, puzzles and books and balls. He enjoys playing with all of them. WITH US.
I’ve googled encouraging independent play and Owl doesn’t seem to fall into any of the categories that prevent independent play. He doesn’t watch TV, so that’s not the reason. His imagination is raring and ready to go – he fills our house constantly with monsters and spiders and flying pumpkins and made up things like daddos and vavas and who knows what else. His toys are age appropriate and accessible.
He’s just a two year old extrovert, and independent play is simply not something he is interested in.
He needs a sibling. We’re trying to give him one.
In the mean time, I’m stuck living with a child who deeply needs human interaction, despite the fact that I deeply need hours of alone time.
Introverts reading this understand the kind of mental torture I am undergoing.
Here’s the best way I can think of to explain it to extroverts:
My current situation is the equivalent of putting an extrovert in solitary confinement with no tv, no radio, no phone, no computer games, and only allowing a ten minute phone call every night and maybe a one hour visit with a single friend once a week.
I am slowly going crazy.
Perfect Husband does what he can.
He takes Owl for the first half hour to an hour after he wakes up in the morning, to give me a bit of a sleep in. He’s already feeding Owl dinner and putting him to bed by himself most week nights.
Really, on one of my ten-hour-work-days, I only interact with my son for maybe a grand total of an hour to an hour and a half a day, which
a) sucks because I love him and genuinely have fun playing with him when I have the energy
b) sucks because DON’T have the energy – I am so extroverted out that he ends up with a cranky, short tempered mother who dives into an ebook the moment his back is turned.
When I am at work, I am constantly thinking that I cannot possibly make it through the work day.
It seems completely unfathomable that it is only noon, and I am expected to be sociable and talk to humans for the next four hours… and then I will need to go and be sociable with my son who deserves so much more than I have to give him… and then I will feel guilty for leaving my husband to care for him alone while I go out and have to be sociable with people who don’t understand why their dog keeps pulling on the leash even as they let it drag them down the road.
I am totally guilty of the hiding in the bathroom trick mentioned here. I laughed when I read it, but it’s so true. I look forward to those few minutes in the bathroom that I manage to snitch at work every couple of hours.
And I feel like my head is going to explode.
Or that I’ll simply burst into tears. I dive into re-reads of my Zombie Twilight parody at any chance I get. A moment of Facebook, an email from a friend, a bathroom break… these are the breaths of air that keep me going.
It makes me feel like a terrible everything.
I feel like a terrible wife, because when I’m not leaving Perfect Husband to field the toddler, I’m hunched in a corner on my netbook, ignoring my husband’s existence and merely grunting when he tries to get me interested in something he’s watching on TV.
I feel like a terrible mother, because I am constantly frustrated and short with my son, who just wants to kiss me and climb on me and pretend to eat me and ride me like a donkey and play bouncy ball with me and pretend I am a monster and pretend HE is a monster and chase me and be chased by me and tell me about the pumpkin in his head that gives him cookies.
Also because when I read Hannah’s post about a mother who continued to bring her child to daycare even when off work, I knew guiltily that I would do the same thing.
Sure, I would be hiding in my room with my computer instead of heading to the beach, but to me, my room with a computer is a more restful place than a beach.
I feel like a terrible employee, because I spend the entire work day desperately wishing I wasn’t there, fighting back tears of exhaustion, guzzling Diet Pepsi the way an alcoholic might guzzle Whisky, and wishing to God I could take an eight hour break on the floor of the bathroom with my iTouch.
And finally, I feel like a terrible entrepreneur, because at some point I am going to have to start turning away business in order to maintain my sanity.
And since my goal is to some day train dogs full time so that I don’t HAVE to work two jobs any more, that seems counter productive, too.
If anyone has any tips on how to become a workaholic extrovert with boundless energy, I could really, really, really use those tips.