I am a high-energy, high-achievement person. I like having data and numbers and success stories to put on my mental resume. Not necessarily because I want to talk about them or brag about them. But because that's how I tally my contribution to society. When I was practicing law, I judged by the number of cases I won or how good my brief was or how much I could settle a case for. When I developed programs for my church, I could count the number of people who showed up for a class or meeting. When teaching school, I had the near-constant feedback of graded papers, test scores, light bulbs and blank looks.
But I left all that this year. The stress of having two kids and a husband who travelled was a lot, but when my mom was diagnosed with cancer, I had to decide what was really important. Plus, I was killing myself. And my hair was falling out. And I was self-medicating with chocolate. So, here I am a domestic engineer with no discernible benchmarks or parameters for success.
So, to make myself feel like I could be successful, I spent the last six months setting completely unattainable goals for myself and walking around feeling like a complete loser. I felt like I was incredibly busy throughout the day, yet NOTHING GOT DONE. Which made me want to sit in front of the TV and watch Hoarders and NCIS all day long. In the same clothes I had on the day before. Which were, more likely than not, my pajamas. Aside from the obvious hygiene issues, this presented a completely unworkable solution. My therapist asked what's it going to take for you to value what you're doing? My friends asked what are you doing with all your "time off"? But the reality was that my days felt incredibly full. I had NO IDEA what it took to run a house well, and take care that your kids had a hot breakfast every day, and to actually be there to make sure the homework got done. And to promise yourself that you're not going to eat out at all.
Because if I really, really get down to it, the way I most like to show love is through food. And since I'm not contributing financially (yes, I know I'm contributing in many other ways. And sometimes, I actually believe it), I can contribute by reducing our discretionary spending and increasing our healthy eating. Which presents its own challenges. Being the chronic overachiever that I am, once I decided to set out on this culinary journey, I decided that I would grow all our food, bake all our bread, make sausage, can all our seasonal produce, and apparently, if you're going to follow that insane logic, butcher my own cow and sew my own clothes. Crazy? Yes. But it's what I do.
So, what am I going to do to quiet the inner critics and still feel pretty good about what I'm giving to the world? I'm going to have to get okay with PB&J. Because the reality is that I'm going to have days when I am watching tournaments and meeting with teachers, running a small business, cleaning the house, cleaning the garage, cleaning the car, cleaning the dogs, doing some laundry, doing more laundry, or doing any number of tiny, immeasurable tasks that may not look like much in my head but add up to a family.
And I'm going to have to be okay with having a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for dinner sometimes.
I'm not there yet.