The Life of Bon: The Winter of our Discontent

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Winter of our Discontent

Since Christmas I have only been posting on this blog three times a week.

Thank you for that.  Thank you for allowing me to cut back, but for still checking in.

I was nervous when I decided to go down from five posts a week to three.  I knew that pageviews would drop.  I knew that my sponsorships would drop.  I knew it would make me less likely to work on campaigns that bring my family needed income.  Most of all, I was worried about you.  That you would drop.  That a community and audience that I worked so so hard to develop for three years would find something else to do.

But I had to do it.

The truth is that Greg and I took on way more than we could handle this year.  We were stupid.  Greg took a job at a high school which has been a tremendous blessing to us.  But a theater teaching job is so so much work.  Not only is he a first year teacher, which brings in and of itself a terrific amount of stress and worry, but he also was thrown into the job of director right from the beginning.  The second day of school, Greg held Les Mis tryouts and stayed after school until 5 or 6 (at least) every day until Thanksgiving week directing that play.  He rehearsed on Saturdays, too.  He is also responsible for the auditorium.  He has to get it ready for assemblies, for community groups who want to use it on, say, a Thursday night.  One weekend night about 7:00 we had to drive over to the school because the lights had been left on by a band that had performed there. The responsibility to turn them off fell to Greg. There was a torrential downpour and it was Friday night and I thought sheesh, what a life, heading to the school at 7 on Friday with a baby in tow to do one more extra job.

In November Greg decided to audition for a play that would be performing starting in January.  In retrospect, this was a terrible idea.  One of our worsts.  He got a good part.  He accepted the role.  Those rehearsals started in November and for two miserable weeks he was juggling teaching, directing, auditoriuming, and acting all at the same time.  Those two weeks are now a total blur of stress, fast food and diaper changes.

If I had stayed home full time and took care of all baby and home responsibilities we might have been able to manage Greg's crazy schedule.  But I went to work part time.  I also tried to keep a blog running with five or six posts a week.  I was crazy busy, even on my days home, and it felt like the most basic of things were falling to the wayside.  No one had been grocery shopping in over a week.  We forgot to take the garbage out onto the street.  Wet clothes had sat in the washer for three days.  I wasn't returning important emails.

In the middle of such chaos, we agreed to take a foreign exchange student into our home.  We are blessed to have Agathe in our home and in our lives.  But this amped the stress level.  How could it not?  We were adding another member to our family.

And then there was Maverick.  He was getting ignored and neglected.  I would go two or three days without taking him for a walk and then feel beyond guilty when I got mad at him for chewing up my chapstick out of pure boredom.  He couldn't win, that poor pup.

On top of ALL of that we have a new baby.  The best thing in our lives, no doubt.  But a baby needs time and patience and love from both parents.  Diaper changes, doctor's appointments, bedtime routine.  We couldn't keep up.

The first or second week of January, Greg and I were both at our wits' ends.  I almost had a nervous break down.  I begged my mom to go to lunch with me so I could unload all my stress on her.  Saying it out loud to her I felt kind of stupid, "Look at all the awesome things we have in our lives!  We're miserable!"  I was frustrated that I couldn't figure out why it wasn't working.  Everything we were doing was "good."  The baby was good, the job was good, Les Mis was good, taking in Agathe was good, my blog was good, our dog was good.  Then why did we feel so stressed and unhappy?  We had surrounded ourselves and our lives with so many, many good things!

The thing that I didn't realize throughout that process is that your plates can be too full with really really good things. It was just too much.  And it didn't matter how good these things were, we were making ourselves miserable trying to keep up with it all.  If I could go back in time six months I would have insisted that we say no to a few things to save our sanity, our marriage, the peace in our home.

I knew then that things had to change if we were going to live past this.  We had over committed ourselves and now we needed to find a way out of some commitments.  I looked and looked at our situation, but it felt like there was nothing I could do to ease the burdens.  No way to take out stress or chaos.  Greg nor I could quit our jobs.  Greg was in the middle of his show's run- you can't just decide you're done.  I love my blog and didn't want to quit that.  We certainly didn't want to say goodbye to Agathe.  June is the best thing that ever happened to us.  What to do?!?

The answer came a few days later when we came home from Sunday dinner at my mom's.  Maverick had eaten half a bar of chocolate, then diarrheaed all over the floor.  That night he cried and whined all through the wee hours of the morning, keeping us both up when we had to both be up at 6:00 am for work.  I knew it was our fault this had happened.  We hadn't given him enough attention.  I had left the diaper bag with the bar of chocolate on the floor.  We didn't blame poor Mavvy, we just knew that he was adding to our misery and stress.  So I made the ultimate call.  For now, we couldn't have a dog. Greg's parents agreed to take him until the chaos in our lives died down a bit.  He has been with them for a month.  We miss him every day, but a small amount of sanity has been regained.

The second thing I did was cut back on blogging.  Blogging is a source of income for my family, and the reality of it is that the money earned from blogging is no longer a little bonus for us; it is a needed contributor to our family income.  Furthermore, I had worked so hard to build this community and I genuinely enjoy blogging and coming to this space to share with you.  My blog was a good thing.  BUT it was making me unhappy.  So I axed my complicated sponsorship program and instead came up with something that was much easier and much less work for me.  (And, ideally, more effective for you.)  I made the decision to only require myself to write three times a week.  I knew it would have consequences, but I just had to cut back.  It was hard in some ways, but so ridiculously easy in others.

Saturday was Greg's last performance of Is He Dead?, ending a six week, four shows a week run.  He survived. I survived.  He's done.

The past week the weather in Utah has been beyond gorgeous- sixty degrees and sunny- an absolute rarity for Utah February weather.  I take it as a sign that we are out of the winter of our discontent.  Things have been getting easier and better for us.  After school Greg gets to come home and stay home now.  He is around to give his daughter a bath and put her to bed.  We can hang out with friends on the weekend.  We can see a movie together again.  This weekend we will leave the state for the first time since June's birth and show Agathe a good time in Las Vegas.  Our lives are regaining a sense of normalcy.

I feel like we're finally coming out of a fog.  Growing pains, I suppose?  In one vein it seems so ridiculous to tell you how hard it was when so many good things happened to us all at once.  But I would guess that we are not the only ones who have experienced this- who have felt stretched beyond what they could give.  Who have had everything they ever wanted (a home! a job! a baby!) and discovered that life is still hard.  That having it all on paper doesn't mean that you have it all

We have different goals than we did six months.  Now we are working on not making commitments, not trying new things, and not saying yes.  We've done a lot of that and for now we are going to say no to everything and just enjoy some time together.

We're also going to get our dog back.

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