The Failure Phase

July 5, 2012

Do you know someone like me?  I’ve had a very successful life so far.  I was the kid in high school getting 90% on tests, but upset that I didn’t get 95% and vowing to work harder to do better.  I got into the university I wanted, into the program I wanted.  It was challenging, and I didn’t think I was going to make it many a time, but I graduated.  I got the first job I wanted, then the second, then the third, fourth and fifth.  The last 3 jobs I have had were not advertised, I got them through networking, knowing people, and reputation.  I bought my first house at 26, and I’m on my fourth one now.  I’m a registered professional, I’m getting more well known in my chosen field.  I’m used to success, I’m used to doing well, I’m used to working hard, getting things done, and doing them well.  When the work load ramps up, I work harder, and get things done.  I figure things out, I fix problems, I make customers happy, I land jobs. 

Until the last, 18 months that is.  Until I became more than a worker, until I became a mother, a wife, a worker, a cook, a cleaner, and so much more.  And I’m failing at all those roles.  I have been struggling to keep up with the workload at my job, and am approximately 2 months behind.  I barely make important deadlines.  I get stuff done, but not well.  I don’t have time for sales, or networking, or my charity work right now.  I have so many tasks flagged in my Inbox that are high priority, but so many other items that are higher priority than the high priority priorities.  My boss is not very happy with me, and I can tell, but he also knows he can’t really say anything.  I leave at 3 pm to get my daughter, and I have a hard time working more hours after she is asleep, even though I often do.  My daughter needs more of me, and instead she gets dumped at daycare, with me hoping they don’t call for me to pick her up so that I don’t have to miss all those meetings.  I rush home, pick her up, we play for 1/2 hour, then dinner, bath, bedtime.  I need to have all our food ready to go in 15 minutes, which means cooking and prep on the weekends, or when she is sleeping.  (On the weekend my MIL criticized me for not having more time to prep meals, and for not cooking enough, and for not feeding my daughter properly, and my answer to that is that we eat fine, I’m making it work, I can’t leave work any earlier, and say good-bye to the visits from your Granddaughter.)  I’m failing as a wife, not cooking enough full meals, and please do not ask when the bathrooms were last cleaned.  I am managing to work out more, say 1-2 times a week, but it is at the expense of job work, cleaning, cooking etc. etc.  At my current level of fitness I’ve had to give up dreams of longer mountain bike rides in favour of more cruiser type ones, if I ever get time to go that is. 

I am holding onto hope that this is a phase, that as time goes on I will get better at all these things.  My daughter will grow up, and not need Mummy all. the. time.  I’ll move out of the failure phase, and onto the almost keeping up phase, then onto the head slightly above water phase, and then onto the treading water phase.  One day, I’ll get back to the successful phase again, and that should make my boss happy.  And my husband.  And my daughter.  And me.


9 Responses to “The Failure Phase”

  1. Ana said

    You are not alone. Hugs.

  2. Sonia said

    I know lots of women like you. I was one of them. Try to be a little gentler on yourself. You are not a failure and You do set high expectations of yourself. It all gets better for sure! My kids survived daycare and after school care and are thriving young adults and I am still working and happy (more sleep is great too)

  3. sayingthings said

    Boy, I have so much to say. I’ll have to write a real e-mail. But for the moment, I’ll just say that I’m sorry you are feeling so at the end of your rope.

  4. Heather said

    You are being a little too hard on yourself, my friend!

  5. Sarah said

    There is no way to be a perfect mother, but a million ways to be a good mother.

    No, really. Go read that again and let it sink in.

    When they’re little, they’re intense. She’s probably at her most intense right now, in fact. No one tells you that babies are easy compared to walking babies. In 6 months or so her skill-acquisition will start becoming more about mental skills.

    Be as kind to yourself as you are to others.
    Get help around the house if you can afford it. Even 2 hours every other week. Make it ‘someone else’s job’.
    Don’t live in future worries. Just do what’s in front of you and be in the moment.

  6. Deb in PA said

    The housework will wait. As long as there’s food on the table, don’t worry. Your daughter won’t remember if the house was clean. She will remember time with you.

    You don’t have to be perfect. You just have to accept that sometimes good enough is ok.

    Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Hire a house cleaner. Make double batches of food when you do cook and freeze a batch. I did this for years.

    Most important, be kind to yourself.

  7. melanie said

    Oh Anne. I so know how you are feeling. You’ve been to my house – could you imagine that I was ever once called The Organizatrix? That I used to go into peoples offices and reorganize them and then get bored and move-on to another job? And that when I worked on a certain Canadian cult-classic film I had to babysit all those guys and keep it all together so the movie could actually get made while they got to be artists and be drunk half the time? I used to sew, I used to have a clean house (well, apartment) and things used to not be piling up on top of me. But, and I feel I can say this since I am now on daughter #2 who is older than your #1 – it does get easier but only when you start letting things go. I had to let go of the differences between the Mister & my idea of cleanliness (he doesn’t have one by the way) so I have prioritize the two things that are most important to me: the girls and cooking. I get those things done and I get them done well and everything else (sewing, knitting, conversations with other adults and exercise) is just gravy at this point. I miss it but I’ve stopped beating myself up about it and I think that has been the biggest and hardest thing that has helped. Even if people probably call me a dirty hippy now instead of The Organizatrix.

    The girls and I just got back from Ontario yesterday and I think I have an idea of how to help you with your meals. Give me a call when you get a chance.

  8. michaelsomers said

    You spoke exactly what is in my heart and mind, Anne, ever since I got my son. I’m trying to make peace with my own similar failures, but it’s very hard for this very perfectionistic dad-husband-professor-writer. You’re not alone. Thank you for writing this post.


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