On Having It All And Nothing At All

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Today I put on a cute outfit, went to the dentist and had three cavities filled, scrubbed the upstairs bathroom (full), cleaned the downstairs bathroom (half) vacuumed all the rugs, swept everything, laundered the linens, dusted, laundered the clothes (three loads), washed dishes, folded the clothes, made dinner, participated in my local government while simultaneously being at my job, laundered bath mats and updated my company’s website.

I had it all!  Work! Career! Man! Home! Clean teeth!

And it all kind of sucked.

I felt so alone.  Everywhere I turned, someone was snarking, either directly at me or in my direction.  I sat through an hour-long meeting where a woman shouted about bags of leaves on the curb, zoning laws, and possibly some combination of the two.  I sat patiently while Ian sulked about the car even though his sulking makes my guts rot from anxiety.  I sat patiently while my father-in-law ranted about banks and how too many people destroy old beautiful homes.  And I did this all without screaming, “Shut up, shut up, SHUT UP!” because I am a lady.  But inside, I’m pretty sure I’m developing an ulcer from the constant stress of trying to make everybody happy.  Because if I don’t sweep, the house won’t get cleaned.  If I don’t cook, everybody eats garbage in front of the TV.  Being a reporter means going where the news is, whether it’s a city council meeting or a murder scene, so I am constantly on high alert, waiting for the phone to ring.

My boss, Jim, remarked the other day that I try too hard to be helpful, which often shields other people from blame and piles it on my doorstep.  This is very true.  Because I’ve learned that if I don’t try to fix it, I get blamed by the party I’m shielding, and if it doesn’t actually get fixed, I get blamed by the original party.  It’s like being the middle child at work and at home.  It’s like being asked to do sorcery.

Arlene would say to grin and be pleased that I have a job and a home and a man to take care of (in my case, two).  But f*** if I don’t want a day where no one snarks at me, where someone helps me carried my load, where I’m not asked to constantly asked to explain away or shoulder what feels like the entire world.

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