Reflection: #180in2015

So last Thursday, New Year’s Eve, I had big plans. The littles were seemingly on the upswing from a respiratory virus that had kept them inside since Christmas, so we were going to go to the movies, get home about the same time as Daddy and have a little dinner. After the kids were put to bed, I planned on writing a blog post about the huge year of 2015, highlighting my mishaps and celebrating my victories, and then actually spend some time on the couch with my hubs. My 21 year old self is shaking her head at me for calling those big plans, but she had no clue what exhausted was!

Well, my plan was not to become a reality when, instead, I had the scariest moment of parenting to date. Madeline, my 3 year old, went from being still a little sick to being very sick in a very short period of time. Long story short, she was full of poop which blocked her urethra so she couldn’t pee, causing her bladder to be so full it was bulging out of her abdomen and she very quickly became dehydrated. The looks on the doctors’ faces in the ER before they determined it was her bladder protruding from her abdomen was scary. How quickly my daughter became completely pale and limp was terrifying.

So my internal reflection of 2015 ended up a little differently than anticipated. Instead of being at my computer with a glass of wine in hand, I was trapped underneath my 3 year old who had just had an enema and put so much effort into expelling her blockage that she immediately fell asleep, leaving me trapped and waiting for a doctor or a nurse to come save me from my parental hell …. Frozen on TV.

As an employment attorney, I talked to thousands of employees from all walks of life. Professionals to minimum wage retail employees, and everyone in between. Typically, they were employees who had a negative employment action or experience. What the collective “we” often doesn’t realize, in our own role as an employee, is that our job, our career, becomes a huge part of who we are and it starts to define us. We too often spend more awake time at our jobs with our co-workers and bosses than we spend with our family and loved ones. It is common to hear people say that you shouldn’t bring you home life to work with you, or that you shouldn’t let your personal life impact your work. But what about when you constantly bring your work home with you. When you let your work life impact your home life, your health and eventually you?

I can tell you, it sneaks up on you. It is a gradual process that can easily go unnoticed. You slowly become negative and bitter, you take it out on your significant other because he is your safe place. Your not present with your kids in the time you do have with them because you are so distracted by work things. And, if you let it get bad enough, you start having panic attacks and hiding in bathrooms. You get put on anxiety meds with a separate prescription for “those times” when you are about to go off the deep end. That was my breaking point anyways. And it took 3 long years to get me to that point. 3 years of becoming more and more stressed. More and more unhappy. But getting put on medication was a wake-up call. So was sitting on a toilet to avoid the unavoidable (and maybe because the stress is giving you the shits). But those are details for another post, at another time.

What I knew, what my husband knew, was that I had to get out of that situation. We had to do something. So, we took the advice of a friend and former colleague, and “went nuclear.” Let me just tell you, going nuclear is scary. But staying in the same place was scarier.

I don’t really like to clean. I have never had any interest in cooking. But here I was, quitting my job as a litigation attorney to stay at home with my kiddos, keep house and pursue my passion of photography. That was probably the scariest part of the whole thing! I remember early in the #180in2015 being out of the house with both kids, and trying to get them put back together to go back home. I was juggling a purse, a diaper bag, all their stuff, and trying to zip a winter jacket on a squirming kid. I am sure I looked like a crazy woman who had never left the house, and well, I kind of was. It was probably the same night that I made Hot Dog Pizza for dinner. But day after day, things became more familiar and easier. I now leave the house without distress, I ditched the diaper bag and I can zip a coat on a kid hanging upside down. I can make an entire Christmas dinner without being overwhelmed, and without hot dogs, and it comes out pretty good.

By summer, I kept catching myself feeling weird. I had weaned myself off the meds, so I knew it wasn’t that. I was smiling for no apparent reason, maybe even singing or humming to myself. It took a little bit for me to realize it was happiness. I was happy. It had been so long since I was actually happy in my life, my whole life, that I forgot what it was like. My happiness had been sucked out of me by my work life, but I got it back. My kids brought it back. Don’t get me wrong, the #180in2015 wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies. I. Quit. My. Job. We traded in a regular paycheck and benefits for two small businesses and being self-employed. There have been weeks when we have asked ourselves how can we keep on going like this. But here we are, a year in, and still going. And happy. I am happy despite the stresses of life.

And now that my happy is back, and I am re-discovering who I am, I am fully able to appreciate my kids, my marriage, my family and my life. I am there to celebrate my littles’ accomplishments no matter how minor, and to love them through their disappointments. To be present with them and not be stressed out to the point of complete distraction. Even when I am marinating in the smell of stale poop, weighted down to the bed by a 25 pound child being forced to watch Frozen for the 539,342nd time, I am happy.

So, a week late, cheers to #180in2015. And the Borns are ready for #killingitin2016.

 

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