I wrote this while one kid spent the afternoon throwing up and the other two watched My Little Pony. My head had swollen to roughly the size of a 4th of July watermelon as I started coming down with whatever crud the first kid had, so clearly, it wasn’t the best time to write. Or maybe it was. But this had been building for a long, long time, and I needed to get it out.
It has been 3,285 days since I last walked into an office and spent the entire day working with people.
That’s nine years, girlfriend. NINE. The hell? Nine? Niiiiine?! That number just came in from the left and bitch slapped me IN THE FACE, all “YO. That amazing stuff you did? All those folks you worked with? That path you carved? That was a LOOOONG fucking time ago and now? You’re done.”
I wasn’t prepared for that. But I think it might be true.
Yesterday, I went to a meet & greet with a web development company. They aren’t hiring, and I wasn’t interviewing. But a dear friend recommended I connect with them. Which really was a great suggestion. I love her for having such confidence in me, for encouraging me, and for saying I’m worth so, so much more than I’ve been charging. The company is filled to the brim with talented people working on ridiculously challenging projects.
I had a wonderful conversation with the owner, but it became glaringly clear within the first 20 minutes that I had nothing to offer them. And that once the meeting was over, the only place I was going was home. To sit at a desk and be alone. Or go to the coffee shop and be alone. Or go the library, or the mall, or I don’t know…any of the 8 options for staying dry in January in Seattle. So I went to the sushi place across the street from my house. And ate lunch alone.
Somewhere between the rotating plates of $4 sashimi and California rolls, I realized that for the past 3,285 days, Travis is the only adult I see every day. I’m very, very lucky that my favorite person on Earth is here with me in my own personal version of Groundhog Day, but maybe? Maybe I’m not as crazy as I thought for feeling like I need more than the occasional lunch out, or that monthly multiples club meeting I’ve missed for 5 months straight.
But even if I’m not as crazy as I thought, it’s not much vindication. Because all my plans and ideas for going back to work are broke as hell. And I did always believe I’d go back. First, it was “I’ll go back in 3 months, when I’ve recovered”. But then: childcare costs. So, it became: “I’ll go back when they’re in preschool”. But then: potty training that never ended. So, it became: “I’ll go back when they’re in kindergarten”. But then: freelancing actually started taking off.
And then. We decided to change everything. It absolutely had to happen. I don’t regret it for a single minute. Everyone ended up with a new, improved situation – in work, school and overall purpose. Yet somehow, the one I saw for myself… evaporated.
I don’t understand where it went.
Just last April, I was sitting in a chair at the conference room table of an ad agency in Phoenix, interviewing with the VP of Operations and his Lead Developer. They gave me a tour of their offices on the 17th floor and talked of the projects I could immediately jump in and work on. All they needed before hitting that “hire” button was a month to work out the budget and schedule. I was within three breaths of rejoining the human race.
But then the schedule was extended. The budget got rearranged. Things got pushed back a month. Then another. And I quit holding my breath.
Although we didn’t relocate to Phoenix as planned, we did still move. Travis went to a new job. The girls went to a new school. I got a new computer and tried to catch up to where I’d been. While juggling the other demands of our new life.
From laundry to folding and dishes and illnesses; from yard work to cleaning and unboxing and bathing; from Goodwill to groceries and dry cleaning and doctors; in the spaces between all that, I crammed in site launches, troubleshooting code, responding to clients, researching plugins and time to try learning new coding languages. I rewrote my resume, applied to jobs and interviewed on the phone with men who railroaded me with questions about skills unrelated to the posting.
It took almost every minute I had, yet somehow I accomplished nothing, all of it eating up FOREVER. Because I’m Mom.
Mom, who doesn’t want to stay up till 4am anymore, trying to finish projects and meet new clients at 11am the next day. Mom, who doesn’t want to feel this anxiety and frustration and resentment anymore. Mom, who’s started to notice that horrible, suffocating ache that used to radiate from my heart and envelop my entire chest – that weight I felt on a daily basis for so many years for totally different reasons that I thought were resolved – is back.
Maybe it never left. I don’t know. But clearly, the balance between Mom and Attempted Professional is completely fucking broken. So I’ve quit the only thing I can: my business. Which, in addition to all the personal reasons for why This Sucks, sucks even more because I’m sitting here staring at a nine year gap that no amount of volunteer work, freelancing and small contracts appears to have filled.
I’ve got to face it: this is SEATTLE. I’m a 43 year old mother of triplets in America’s second largest technology hub trying to compete in an industry that barely regards women at all.
What am I, stupid?
This isn’t worth it. It’s not working. And I’m making myself sick because there is no balance in trying. This isn’t The Last Jedi and there’s no amount of magical Force that will give me the power to work as hard as I need to get the job I want while also working the job I already have. My whole life right now is corrupted code, a virus of frustration that crashes my system more often than I’m willing to admit. Which I won’t. Because if there’s three things people don’t hire, it’s 1) Moms, 2) Depressed Moms and 3) Depressed Moms with the word ‘Multiples’ anywhere on her resume.
I’m unplugging this god-damned machine and rebooting. I don’t know what’ll show up on my screen when it restarts, but I’m very sure it’s not going to be this.