Its been 4 months since my last post and I sincerely missed you! I’m currently on my energy boost mode (that’s between 11:00pm to 2:00am daily recently). And as I found my to-do list brightly highlighted with “DONE”, I figured I now have a guiltless time to revisit my alternate world.
Last time I checked, I mentioned that we had Olive baptized. She was 3 months old then. Fast forward to now. She’s a budding 7-months old baby with advanced locomotor skills which have kept us (me, Mr. H and Yaya) all the more watchful of her. She’s been laughing at funny faces we make, peek-a-boos and quirky sounds. A few weeks ago, she was down with mild fever, cough and flu, but she’s all better now. She’s grown her first teeth and has been fond of biting anything and anyone. She has really become our source of fatigue and joy. And each day, I wanted to spend more time indulging in this phase of her childhood.
Time is essential for me right now. And time is something I do not want to spend often as a stressed out work-at-home mom who doesn’t have a social life and is unhappy. So I decided to shift back to gear one and take things in stride.
The Happiness Factor
In June, I was able to earn $300 a week from my freelance job. It felt great and I wanted to maintain earning that figure for as long as I could. But that accomplishment came with a price.
I was less attentive in taking care of Olive. I did not gave enough attention to my husband and our business. And despite those, I still found myself constantly stressed and feeling guilty. Stressed because I know, I left a lot of things undone for our business, and guilty because I felt I was irresponsible as a mother and a wife. Think of having a bag full of a month’s laundry which I only washed because we didn’t have anything to wear anymore.
I tried justifying my act. I pushed myself to work hard because I wanted us out of our current apartment. The houses we are looking at cost the same, if not more expensive. But I was looking for a place where we could be more comfortable as a family with a growing kid. I was unhappy with our current environment and the fact that we’re experiencing flooding.
I wanted us to be financially capable of drawing ourselves out of here. But I learned that I can’t change everything in a month’s time, no matter how mad and desperate I am with working.
I was only leaning to become more stressed, more unhappy. I felt like no one was taking me seriously and I was hating by myself, alone.
Pause and Realizations
That’s when I tried to stop for a while.
I felt like I deserved to rest after working so hard. I took time to literally just lie down and do nothing but reflect. Then realization and remorse hit me.
I realized it wasn’t just me who’s having a hard time. Mr. H has also been restless (driving for days, sometimes sleepless working on preventive maintenance schedules and lifting heavy objects). It wasn’t my sole responsibility to earn for us. We’re partners and he’s also burning his ass off earning for our family. I need to stop saying “I”. It should be “us”, “we”.
I shouldn’t work hard. I should be working smart. But right now, the place just doesn’t allow for an engaging workplace to hire an assistant. The first and last one who came for a walk-in interview didn’t came back. Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean I couldn’t work smart in the future. Answer: Set up a spare workstation once we’ve transferred office.
I am unhappy and whining all the time. I am too stubborn to accept that some realities that can’t be changed overnight. I read somewhere that 90% of the problems a man has is caused by himself. For instance, I was sleepless for 2 nights in a row because there’s a wild and loud party on a nearby covered court. I can’t do anything about it. And yet I kept myself bothered about it for several days.
I don’t have a social life. But becoming a mother didn’t cause that. I chose to live here, that’s why. And naturally, I wouldn’t have my family and friends here.
I am not the best person to take care of a child. I admit that. That’s why we hired an in-house nanny. But that doesn’t excuse me from bonding with my baby, and for not lending a hand when Yaya needs to do the cooking, dish washing and the laundry.
Finally, I felt like I was too hard on myself for no good reason…
Cultivating Good Vibes
The rest period after my workaholic June was an extended one.
WE treated OURSELVES to a full body massage. It wasn’t at the expensive spas we used to frequent when we were still dating (those that offer sauna and 1.5 hour couple massage). But with a baby behind us, Nuat Thai at the nearby Shopwise sufficed. The last time we had a more luxurious one was the day before our wedding in 2011. I know… its 2013 already.
I started declining job invitations I’m unsure if I could accomplish in time. Instead, I focused with my regular clients who send me tasks every now and then. That meant I didn’t have a full load. But I wasn’t really happy with having a full load and restless just the same.
I scoured the newspapers, internet advertisements and braved talking to the Cebuano landlords/ladies of apartments and houses for rent. I wasn’t successful and we were nearly frustrated discussing with prospects only to back out because of practical reasons. Just in time, my father-in-law told us that someone from their hometown is building a house and they’d want to rent it out to someone they know.
We visited the site (it was still under construction) and it turned out to be exactly what we were looking for. A 3 bedroom duplex house with a garage. The owners are kind enough to allow our business. One room was allotted for our office. They had a really nice ventilation (strategically placed windows in almost every room) which were lacking in most of the houses we’ve seen. The bathrooms are new. And Olive can roam around in a walker. It was the answer to our prayers!
There was a kapilya nearby where fiestas and parties are held oftentimes. But instead of whining about it, I just found a valid excuse for us to occasionally sleep in a pension house.
I volunteered to do collections from business clients and bank deposits from time to time. Going out of the house makes me forget that resentment of not having family and friends close by. Aside from the cardio, I’ve been able to visit the public library and learned that they offer free wifi access. I was able to enroll our accounts for online funds transfer which has been in my to-do list for so long. I also made efforts to meet with fellow freelancers within the city (who also lack the social life that usual employed people enjoy).
More than anything else, I made it a point to express and show my love for Olive and my husband. I let her crawl, sit, roll and stand on our queen size bed, play with stuff toys, sing songs to her, teach her how to high five, clap and close/open her hands. I embraced her, kiss and cuddle as much as I could, because I know tomorrow she’d be bigger. I carefully watch over her milk, vitamin and hygienic supplies so we wouldn’t run out of stock, and personally walk to the drugstore to make the purchase even when her dad isn’t around.
Whenever my husband comes home after a full schedule (of deliveries, checkups and pull outs), I remember to prepare a dry bath with lukewarm water and a soft towel. I kiss him whenever he goes to sleep first, and take the 2-3:00 am shift of feeding Olive. I became more thoughtful of buying material things (while we’re together) that he needs but wouldn’t prioritize because he’s thinking of our expenses, like a new collared shirt or a better brand of hair gel.
Within that rest period, I let myself indulge with things unrelated to work and with which I felt gratification afterwards. Things I stopped doing because I thought I didn’t have time or I couldn’t afford them like:
- Cooking a meal
- Doing the laundry
- Reading AND finishing books (I’ve finished 2 books within that rest period, including Steve Jobs)
- Watching movies and random Youtube videos
- Having drinks and pastries in a cafe
- Appreciating new artists and downloading MP3s
- Running (although I haven’t repeated this after that one time)
- Sorting things (clothes, files, bags etc.)
- Making random lists
- Thinking about the good times and how I could repeat that with my family in tow
With those, I let go of my workaholic self and saw how different everything could be. The end result wasn’t like an Extreme Makeover Self edition radical kind of change, but I knew I felt better.
I saw that I have a budding family, a promising business and career, a hope for a better household and the resources to enjoy life. Nobody was demanding me to work 40 hours a week while looking after a baby and running another business but MYSELF. I should stop because I wasn’t actually happy.
And when I did, I felt more lighthearted. I was more playful and was easier to get along with. Everything seemed simpler.
I finally came to terms that in order for me to be happy with what I have now, I should not focus on my anger, frustration and sadness. I am licensed to feel angry, frustrated and sad. But I shouldn’t keep myself feeling that way all the time. Looking back, I felt stupid and stubborn acting like a kid.
I couldn’t say that I won’t feel negative again in the future, its part of my personality after all. But I wouldn’t force myself to go robot mode again, and feel sorry about myself afterwards.
To sum it up:
My to-do list is always full. But I’m pleased that everyday, there’s something being crossed off.