Perfectionism

I’m coming to terms with the fact that I’m kind of a perfectionist when it comes to certain things. It’s not exactly a surprise, because my mom is a perfectionist to a point that it’s basically unhealthy. This concerns me. I do not want to allow myself to let it get that bad, because it interferes with her life.

So perfectionism. Turns out that I’m kind of addicted to getting A’s on my school work. I mean, it’s one thing to work hard to do a good job and get an A. That’s healthy. What’s not healthy is me sitting here seething because my professor took FOUR points off of a 100 point assignment, and I am making assumptions about the reason. It’s also not healthy that I am refusing to go onto Blackboard to view his comments on my paper because the thought of it makes me so anxious I could puke. I mean seriously. 96/100 is still an A. I still have a high A in the class. So WTF is my problem?

For all I know, he knocked four points off for some legit reason rather than the reason I think it might be, but THAT makes me anxious, too. I hate making mistakes. I mean, I make mistakes all the time, but for some reason my brain has zeroed in on this need for perfectionism in my schoolwork. Work that is often completed and submitted at night after the kid has gone to bed and I am bleary-eyed and desperate to finish and get to bed. So is it really any surprise that I might make a mistake or two?

Am I truly expecting myself to get straight A’s all through this program while parenting a small child and ultimately also going back to work? I mean, it would be nice, but it would also be nice to not kill myself trying to achieve that objective. And it would be REALLY nice not to spend more evenings riddled with anxiety about logging into Blackboard because I will be unable to ignore that little red flag telling me that I have new grades/comments to check and I’m afraid to see them.

A 96 is a good grade. Heck, it’s a GREAT grade if you compare it to my high school report cards! (Not that I wasn’t smart. I just refused to do my work.) There is NOTHING wrong with a 96. Except that it’s not perfect, and apparently my brain desires perfection. It’s unhealthy. I have to find a way to get past this so I can just be HAPPY that I got an A even if it’s not a 100%.

My other professor knocked off one point out of 100 for two typos this week, which feels dramatically more acceptable than 4 points for some strange reason. Can someone please just turn my brain off? This is ridiculous.

Spoiler:  I just checked, and I was kind of right that my ethics paper regarding media coverage of school shootings offended the major metropolitan newspaper editor in him, but he was kind of right also, because there were some points I should have explored a bit deeper. I really need to let this go.

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Notes from SAHM-hood

I spent 3 hours this morning baking heart-shaped pretzels for my daughter’s class party tomorrow. Then I spent another hour cleaning up the mess from when the pot of boiling water and baking soda exploded everywhere. I’m still not done cleaning. If anyone has any genius solutions for cleaning streaks of baking soda from in between the layers of the oven door, I’m all ears.

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Tomorrow is the party, which is where I will be from 9:30-11:30, handling setup and food and facilitating a craft and story time for the kids. Then, Charlotte will throw the ultimate fit when it’s time for me to leave because she’s had to share me with her classmates for the last 2 hours and she was already on the brink of a breakdown because her best friend wouldn’t let go of my hand.

Next week is grandparents day at school, which coincides with the bake sale. I have “volunteered” to bake cookies for the bake sale. They need to be “individually packaged” and “visually appealing.” Then, I “volunteered” for a 3-hour volunteer shift at the bake sale. Volunteered is in quotes because I am a room parent and although they say we are volunteering, it is actually expected of us. Supposedly it was all in the contract I signed when I agreed to be a room parent. Clearly, I did not read the contract before signing my life away.

The day after the bake sale, I have “volunteered” to sell tickets to the school’s gala for a few hours before/after drop off.

Speaking of the gala, all room parents are responsible for creating a project of some sort to be auctioned off at the gala. Fortunately, my wife has been a tremendous help on this. So much help, in fact, that I volunteered to help two other room moms with their auction projects. When my wife accused me of over-committing myself, I threw my hands up in the air muttering something about “making friends with these people.” Because you know—when you’re trying to make friends, it’s always best to segregate them into a group you frequently make fun of (*cough*we call them the Range Rovers*cough*) and refer to them as “these people.”

Somewhere in the midst of all of that, there is a ridiculous amount of my own schoolwork to accomplish, parenting to attend to, dogs to walk, a house to maintain, and a marriage to weed and water. And tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. We still have to fill out the Paw Patrol cards we bought for Charlotte’s friends. And maybe I should shower at some point.

I also really need to start thinking about finding employment or generating some sort of income again because we are drowning in debt.

Being a stay at home parent is absolutely nothing like I imagined it would be. Most days, I find myself complaining about it. At the same time, I dread the day that this is not my life anymore. As much as I don’t find it particularly fulfilling, I do see how it benefits our family for me to be here, doing these things I never imagined I’d be doing. I don’t want to emerge from this little stay-at-home-parent-cocoon I’ve nestled myself into. I feel like I’m finally getting the hang of it.

Career 2.0

Ever since I quit my job, it has been haunting my dreams. At least a few times a week, I have vivid and intense recurring stress dreams about returning to work there after an extended absence. I’ll start showing up for work and jump right back into things, and then something will happen—it’s never clear what—and suddenly I am trying to leave again, but it turns hostile and bizarre right around that point. Last night it included me having a total nervous breakdown triggered by my former boss’s belittling chuckle

I’m writing about it here today because I would love to get a handle on these dreams. I’m tired enough courtesy of our 3 year old who doesn’t appreciate sleep the way she should, and I don’t need to be waking up in a cold sweat with a racing heart thinking about work that is not mine anymore.

If I had to guess, I’d say that the root of these dreams is the unknown. I know that my financial cushion is running out faster than I could have imagined, and I have no real plan for what’s next. The fear I experience in these dreams is not literally about ending up working there again, but it is about not knowing what the future of my career will look like.

When I chat with people about the future, I’m quick to answer that I’d like to get into copywriting because it’s something I’ve always enjoyed doing and I’m reasonably good at it. The catch is that being a freelance copywriter means leaving behind the corporate structure with steady paychecks, benefits and retirement. I don’t know how on earth I could make that work. My salary has always been larger than Catch’s, and we rely on that. Giving it up is terrifying.

Much as I love the quips from people in my life that I should pursue photography as a career, it’s just not reasonable. As a hobby, yes. I’m not going to stop taking pictures. I just don’t see myself being able to make a career of it. Not in Los Angeles. The market here for photographers is over saturated as it is, and most of them are immensely talented and educated in their craft on a level that I’m just not interested in pursuing. I am already paying through the nose for a communications degree, and I feel it will serve me well.

Giving up my freedom is equally terrifying. I am LOVING this time away from the corporate world. I feel like I’m finding myself right now. I am thoroughly enjoying my (straight A) student status. I love being able to be present when my daughter needs me. I love that we have the flexibility of only one work schedule to accommodate—and since that schedule is a teacher’s schedule, it gives us so many opportunities to take off when we want/need to. Although it is fairly intense, my schoolwork is completely portable, so as long as I have an internet connection I can work from anywhere. I love this life.

We are rapidly approaching the one year anniversary of the day I quit. ONE YEAR. It has literally flown by. I’d like to have steady work lined up by the time Charlotte starts her final year of preschool in September, but I’m so afraid of that change. I need to start slowly working to accept the reality that I can’t live in this beautiful bubble forever.

I quit my job with the absolute confidence that everything was going to be okay and that this was going to be an important turning point in my life. I think these dreams have been shaking that confidence a bit, and I can’t let them. It’s too important for me to keep my head in the game. I don’t know exactly what Career 2.0 is going to look like, but I know I can’t let the residual yuck from Career 1.0 call the shots.