I am lucky. I am super lucky. And yet despite being super lucky I am struggling right now. The wonderful world of social media allows a snapshot into our life – the highlight reel if you like. It creates a grid filled with smiles and happy moments that we love to look back on. A Twitter feed of life observations and a Facebook timeline of curated content that shares our story.
But that is never the whole story.
Instagram Stories are the closest you will get to seeing our real life. To seeing what goes into everyday. The highs, the lows and the moments in between. Catch us on a good day and you’d think we lead a privileged life – and we do. We lead a life we are very grateful for. Even that isn’t the whole story though.
Life right now, for me at least, is hard. There are some days right now that I am really struggling through.
Just before I came back from maternity leave in April my company announced it had been acquired by a much bigger organisation. I came back to a Welcome Day where the company was sharing its vision and what the acquisition meant for the the staff. It was a day I am glad I made it back for.
What wasn’t shared at the day was exactly how much is involved in the acquisition. I’m not sure anyone fully knew. I’m still not sure people know. All I know is for me it has meant a LOT more work. I left for maternity leave with a team of 6, and came back to a team of 9. That team is now 12. That is double the amount of people and triple the amount of work.
To add to the challenge, the 6 additions weren’t recruited by me – I am having to get to know them, they have their own requirements on me and my time and are double the work of the original 6. I am having to do a lot of ‘sucking it up’ at the moment. The team’s roles are changing, their targets are increasing and the way they work will be looked at. There is additional training, for them, for me. There are meetings to understand the wider company, their products on offer and all the while the wider business is trying to get hold of our account book to approach them themselves, potentially jeopardising existing relationships. I feel like everyday is endless calls trying to figure things out and find out more info. It can be exhausting.
I have never travelled for work as much as I have the last few months and I find myself doing that terrible thing of switching the laptop on once Annabelle has gone to bed in order to get through my inbox.
I am tired.
I am tired because of work and I am tired because I am adjusting to a wake up of 6 am. It’s the time Annabelle has decided is her get up time. Occasionally she’ll nap while I feed her first thing but most often she is awake and ready to go. Initially I was exhausted – I used to get up at 7.30 am but I am adjusting and now I’m just tired.
I am grateful she didn’t start this wake up time in winter, at least in summer I get up to sunshine. This morning I actually appreciated the time with her before leaving for the train at 7 am. We are dozy but able to play and I can make sure I see her smile for what may be my only time that day.
Here lies one of my biggest struggles. My lack of time with Annabelle, or should I say lack of quality time. It used to be that Annabelle and I had all day every day together and I loved it – more than I thought I would (if you ever read this post). In fact I loved it so much I debated extending my maternity leave. For all the right reasons, I didn’t, but I really wish I could head off on maternity leave for a couple of months with her at the moment. She’s adorable right now. Except I usually see her when she’s super tired and ready for bed. It means she smiles at me then cries wanting milk. That’s my brief ‘time with Annabelle’. If I’m lucky I get a quick play in but as soon as the clock strikes 6.55 pm, it’s bedtime.
Then there’s the small matter of a flat I own in Scotland causing issues. Firstly there was a large tax bill (another story) but the long and the short of it being I didn’t know I should have been paying tax and when I found out I declared it and got threatened with a £35k fine. This all happened on maternity leave. Thankfully it ended up being nearer £8k but that blew all our maternity leave savings. It’s something I feel guilty about no matter how many times Laura tells me not to. Then my tenant handed in her notice and the fridge broke. It’s a lot of expense at a time we really don’t need it. We can’t sell it as nothing is selling in that area and if we can’t find a new tenant we’ll have two mortgages to cover. I am struggling with a lot of guilt about it. It was an investment I made when I was younger and now we are both having to look after it.
The final thing I am struggling with is my role within our relationship. We are a team. We are a great team but Laura is the MVP. She cooks, she cleans, shes organises our life. She does the nursery drop off and pick up and looks after all Annabelle’s schedule and preparation. She plans and executes – our conservatory wouldn’t have been built for years (if ever) if left to me. We’d never go on holiday. Weekends would come and go without me noticing. Laura shops, she makes sure we are seeing our friends, she hosts events to thank our family and friends for their support and all while she is making me feel loved and appreciated. To say the roles are unequally split at the moment is an understatement.
Sure there are some things I do, I do my best whenever and wherever I can but I am best when I focus on one thing at a time and with my brain absorbed at work it means it takes me longer to achieve anything. Laura never lets her frustration show. In fact when I admit I am struggling she’s the one who tells me I do enough. It gets me through.
I made a deal with myself and Laura on my birthday that I would focus less on what I am not doing and more on what I am doing. I will focus on my achievements and where I am making progress. I will stress less about what I can’t impact and accept that sometimes things are shit, and that’s okay, it won’t be that way forever. And I will look after myself – prioritising doing what makes me happy. I did that today. I had a meeting scheduled for the end of the day that would have meant I got back at 8 pm. When the meeting was rescheduled I jumped on our booking system and changed my train time (I wouldn’t have done this previously as it cost my company money but today I thought – I’m part of a bigger company and you know what, they won’t notice the loss) and I will get a small time with Annabelle when I get in at 6.30 pm. This makes me happy.
I know this feeling of struggling won’t last. I know that there are reasons for feeling like I do and those reasons will change over time. I know that getting more sleep will help. I know that acknowledging I am struggling, rather than persevering and feeling alone, will help. I know that making small changes is already helping. I also know that capturing the happy moments every day are good reminders that even on the hard days there are reasons to smile. I am lucky, I know that. I just have to get through this tough time and acknowledge that it’s just that – a period in time.