It has been so long since I posted here that I don't even know where to begin. I attribute this fact to many small reasons that, taken as a whole, have been a little overwhelming.
Parenting two children is not the same as parenting one child, and while I see other parents at the grocery store/library/park whose children are very close in age, part of me thinks, "Gosh, she must be tired all the time, and so sick of changing diapers for two little ones, and worn out from pushing the double stroller," while the other part of me thinks, "It was pretty smart of them to have their kids so close together," because returning to the mindset of parenting a baby when my son was already 4 years old was its own type of challenge.
. . . But that baby is 2 years old now, and that 4-year-old is now 6. When did that happen?
I've also been working third shift for over three years now, and I have recently realized the toll that this shift is taking: on my mood, on my body, on my family, on my self-esteem. When I step outside of myself, on the ragged edge of frustration after working five nights in a row, when all I want to do is sit down on the couch and turn on the television to watch my first non-children's programming in nearly a week instead of reading my kids another book before bed (because isn't seven enough?), the rational and sentimental part of me says, "Read the book. It takes less than five minutes, and in a few years they won't even want you to do it." And so I do it. I read the extra book, which often becomes two extra books, and then I'm too tired to go back downstairs because I've worked 50 hours in the past fives nights, and I feel like I have succeeded as a parent but failed at taking care of myself.
Parenting is incredibly rewarding yet, paradoxically, almost completely thankless. And I have come to realize that my career is this way, too. I love working in the laboratory, especially in the hospital setting, because it is interesting and challenging and I know that I am helping doctors and nurses better understand their patients' diseases and conditions. But it is an often thankless job that I do, and working overnight means that there are no managers or supervisors to witness the hard work that I and my coworkers do, the extra miles we go, the nights that we go to lunch one, two, or even three hours late because we are searching a newborn baby's spinal fluid for signs of meningitis, or testing a pregnant woman's blood to determine if her unborn child is bleeding inside of her womb, or thawing plasma four units at a time to try help the surgeon prevent a victim of multiple gunshot wounds from bleeding out.
I feel like I have somehow become lost in the past few days. It has been a series of small catastrophes, their sum being much, much greater than their parts. I can handle losing my phone and then getting it back with a damaged screen. I can handle my daughter unfolding an entire basket of laundry while I brush my teeth. I can handle an argument with my husband about our budget. I can handle being the focus of a nurse's wrath. What I am having trouble handling right now, though, is that these things keep coming, another wave upon the shore every few minutes.
I wish I could blame it on a full moon.
What is REAL?
6 months ago