Monday, June 14, 2010


Pin It It galls me how much time is wasted in an office.

People stand around and talk about video games or television. They surf the internet and play hallway hackey-sack. They wander to the break-room for a soda, they stop and watch world cup soccer in the conference room. They stop by my cubicle and shoot the breeze and I smile and chat while thinking I could be with my kids right now, I could work from home and get all of this stuff done in four hours, GOOD GRIEF, THE AMOUNT OF TIME THAT IS WASTED IN AN OFFICE IS CRIMINAL. (Which is not to say that it isn’t a terrific job, because it is, and I am lucky to have it, and to have a great salary and a pleasant boss and interesting work, and you know what, let’s forget I said anything about work in the first place because the only thing that would be worse than working full-time would be NOT working full-time, PLEASE DON’T FIRE ME FOR THE LOVE)

The baby refuses to look at me when I finally get home. He wants his dad, which is ridiculous, because his dad has been gone just as long as I have, we CARPOOLED and yet I’m the one he’s holding a grudge against. He believes I’m a fair-weather friend, and it takes me the whole weekend to win back his good will and preference. I hold him for an hour after he falls asleep at night, wishing this could count as quality time, because now, suddenly, I’m one of those moms who is forced to care about quality time.

The children are excited I’m home, they aren’t holding the full-time job against me yet, but I can tell it’s wearing on them, from the way they cling and fuss and argue with each other. It’s been mostly fine because Grandma has been here for the last week and she lets them watch TV and play video games and eat too much junk, but she leaves on Wednesday and then they’ll be with a babysitter, and we’ll see if they are so willing to forgive me then.

Well meaning people ask where we are moving to, and I tell them "I don’t know,” and I make a joke about being spontaneous, something dumb about throwing a dart on the map, and then change the subject before I start to get morose and teary-eyed - because most people really don’t want to deal with your sadness - you can be sad, but not THAT sad, not sad in a way that's going to make everyone uncomfortable. When my powers of WASPy repression fail me, I try to at least make it more palatable for everyone around me, by being a version of sad that includes Not Feeling All That Sorry For Myself, or Looking on the Bright Side, or Having A Stiff Upper Lip, or Being O.K. With It Because I’ve Learned A Good Lesson About Fiscal Responsibility.

I am not really very good at this kind of acting though. I don’t have much experience pretending not to be depressed. The only time I was ever really depressed was as a teenager, and back then I flaunted it, I wore it proudly, I snarled and snapped and dared people to mess with me. People would say what is WRONG with you, and I took it as a compliment, an external validation of my self-diagnosed issues.

And honestly, I don’t think I have Clinical Depression or anything like that - I’m just sad because things kind of suck right now. I’m guessing that once things suck a little less, once we’re in some other mode than Stuck, (or once I eat this tray of brownies right here) well – THEN I’ll probably feel better. (And in probably related news, I am vastly fat right now, the fattest I’ve ever been in my life. Let’s hear it for my new insurance, which covers gastric bypass surgery, and I’m TOTALLY DOING IT, SHUT UP, I AM.)

I hide out in my house, avoid church, avoid friends who will ask how we’re doing, what’s going on, what's with the house? The truth is that I don’t care about the house, about how it’s gone and we have to move. Sure, I will miss my neighborhood, and the school and the park with the stream, and the way it takes an hour to walk around the block, because there is always a friend to stop and talk to for a few minutes. But I’m o.k. with it. I can handle it. It’s just a house, I tell my friends flippantly, and I mean it.

What I am not so o.k. with is the fact that I am out of the house for ten hours a day. I’m not o.k. with my nine month old being with a sitter more than he’s with me. My friends who work tell me I will get used to it, that it won’t bother me so much after a while, but I’m not sure that I WANT it not to hurt. I’m not sure I want to get to the point where I’m totally o.k. with leaving my kids for almost 50 hours per week.

It’s not as though I’m new to working. I’ve always worked full-time, ever since I was eighteen years old, but from the moment I got pregnant with Megan I worked from HOME - four or five hours during the day and three or four at night – and I could stop to take them to school, read them a story, fix them a snack. They had a sitter, but I was here, they could run in and out to see me, and when I was done working, I walked out of my room and into the family room, The End. But now there is This Freaking Economy to deal with, and apparently the tech writing gigs, they are not just falling out of the sky, and I have had to Make Certain Accommodations. It boggles my mind now to think about how I complained about it sometimes, about how hard it was to juggle work and the kids.

At night after they’re in bed, I know I should be packing, but I can’t make myself do it. I don’t know where we’re going, and what good is a departure without an arrival? Instead I climb into bed hours early, hiding under the covers, alternately sniffling and napping and picturing my children in the future, turned melodramatically goth and pale and sarcastic, full of hatred for their constantly absent mom.

(I am closing comments, but I will go ahead and list a few that I would fully expect to get: 1) I’m Sorry, 2) Come On Sue, It Could Be Worse, 3) Maybe You Should See A Counselor, 4) Just Be Grateful You Have a Job, 5) Hey, At Least Nobody Has Cancer (Yet), 6) I Lost My Job Too, But Now I’m Making Great Money Working From Home Selling XOSLIEFJL, 7) Here, Let Me Give You A Little Thing I Like To Call Perspective, 8) GAH, Stop Feeling So Sorry For Yourself, You Are Insufferable 9) I Hate To Say It But Working Moms Deserve To Feel Bad, And If Only You Would Sacrifice You Could Be At Home Like Me, 10) Defensive and Cuttingly Angry Comment From Working Mother, 11) Flame War, 12) €£¥∞β≠€¥€)