A good friend of mine loaned me this book before Christmas:
Normally I shy away from "self-help" books because they tend to be heavy handed and bossy, and I hate when other people tell me what to do ("Hi, my name is Mrs. Mullet. I'm a first-born and a Capricorn").
But I picked up the book and started reading, and some of the content really struck a chord, specifically her chapters on how productivity can be a compulsion for some people ("Hi, my name is Mrs. Mullet. I'm a first-born, a Capricorn and a Type A").
Until I read this book, I generously patted myself on the back for my productivity. Because of inconsistent childcare as of late—oh, the things I'd love to tell you—I've basically been managing a full-time freelance graphic design job during my toddler's nap time and after bed time. I also work a part-time, on-site job and I handle all the housework, grocery shopping, meal prep, clothes shopping, homework and transportation tasks for three children. Oh, and we have a cat and a dog.
My husband Chuck helps when and if he can but he works more than an hour away and easily logs 50-85 hours a week, which means that during the week I am essentially a single parent. And I almost forgot—we also help run a family restaurant.
(Good Lord! Does anyone else need an energy drink?)
Like I said, I've been cranking along, applauding myself for my ability to be busy—and be successful at being busy—when along came this book. It really blew some fresh air under my skirt.
There's one passage that, if I can be crass for a moment, blew not just fresh air under my skirt but a rip-roaring, cow-tossing tornado. And not just under my skirt but into my unmentionables ("Hi, my name is Mrs. Mullet. I'm a first-born, a Capricorn, a Type A and a pervert"). It reads:
"Burnout is not reserved for the rich or the famous or the profoundly successful...If you're tired, you're tired, no matter what. If the life you've crafted for yourself is too heavy, it's too heavy, no natter if the people on either side of you are carrying more or less."
Here's why that hit me: I realized that because I am no longer working full-time in an office, I have been overcompensating with extra work and duties—because I feel guilty. I feel guilty for my flexible schedule. For grocery shopping during the day with my toddler. For not slugging to an office every day at 8: 30 a.m. Even though I'm making more money freelancing than I did I Mulletville Corp, I try to skimp on childcare when I work from home to save money.
Not only do I feel guilty, but that guilt feeds my need for productivity. No one's going to tell me I don't work a full-time job! I do x,y and z and I work.
But I'm tired and it's not fair. I mean, what asshole would try to cram a full-time workload into a two hour nap time? What asshole is looking for a merit badge from her friends, family and husband when all those people are looking at her sadly and saying, "Slow down. Be easy on yourself"?
Me, that's who. ("Hi, my name is Mrs. Mullet. I'm a first-born, a Capricorn, a Type A, a pervert and a woman who is not very nice to herself.")
After I finished the book and put it back onto the bookshelf, I found this book, which my mother gave me six years ago:
When I wrote a blog post about it, I had scoffed at the idea of needing someone's permission to nap. I get now what I didn't get years ago: I don't need someone's permission. I need my own. Resting is not for the weak. It is for those who enjoy closing their eyes and replenishing their spirit.
It is especially for those who have been awake all night with puking children.
So here, for 2017: "Hi, my name is Mrs. Mullet. I'm a first-born, a Capricorn, a Type A, a pervert and a woman who used to be not very nice to herself."
Now where is that vomit covered fuzzy blanket of mine?