i am having a little melt down today. so of course, it makes sense to write a blog post! seriously though, i am not really coping with my life this week. i know i have a good life and i know i always tell people to be grateful, myself included. this morning i was doing my grocery shopping and as i reached for the cucumber (lebanese. not burpless. or telegraph), i was overwhelmed by the fact that i had 3 choices of cucumber. not only that, but that i had this big air conditioned barn that i could drive my car up to the entrance of and fill it full of fresh healthy products from all over the world. how incredible is it that we take all that for granted?

but even i have bad days. today is crap. ive been back at work a week and im not coping. firstly, i feel as though i haven’t even been away. i feel like people were just lurking behind doors waiting for me to come back so they could say ‘as i was saying…’ and continue the conversation from 4 weeks ago about all the things they want me to do. in and of itself, thats not a bad problem to have. i’m glad i have a demanding job with extremely high expectations. there is nothing worse than working somewhere you hate with people who dont care. but i can tell you the reason why there are more male high achievers in academia than female. one reason, one word. women. the men in my university are almost without fail married to a woman (i think there might be three gay men that i know of). some of them are married to academic women, but in almost all cases, she is lower in the university hierarchy than he. most of the time there are children involved, so of course, that changes things a bit, and im sure most of the academic women around me wouldnt change that for anything. but my point is, he gets to be a professor before she does because he’s got time to write while she’s teaching then running home to look after kids, shopping, cleaning etc. im generalising, but i dont think its an unfair generalisation. im not saying those women are unhappy, but what i am saying is, to get to the top of this business, you need someone to pick up your slack.

so i guess thats what its about for me right now. the lack of someone to pick up the slack. i will readily confess i only finished my phd because trent picked up the slack when we were together. and now, he might live here, but we have separate lives, and over the summer break he is not here, and i am here alone with three dogs and a house to care for. its no problem when im on holidays. i managed to fit everything in very nicely. i got to go swimming, the house was clean, clothes always being processed, the dogs walked lots. plus i got to socialise and knit. i even took on some extra knitters guild responsibilities. this last week i feel like i’ve dropped the ball completely. i havent been swimming. the house needs a good scrub. there are piles of clothes to wade through (of course its raining). the dogs have been out, because they come first, but not as much as i would like. i feel like the garden has taken on a life of its own. and knitting? well i’ve done a bit. i frogged the wasabi pea socks because my pattern modification wasnt working

and have now got them back to where they were (with unmodified pattern,which im still not sure if its working).

so im knitting-neutral really. dont get me wrong, i dont mean to whinge. i dont mind working hard at work (i do work really hard, despite what some people think. 6 publications last year. thats all i need to say). i love my dogs and will do anything for them. i will go for a swim again soon. and when im finished writing this i will go vacuum and will feel better.

but sometimes, this being alone business is hard work. i dont talk about it much. i dont think women talk about it enough, as though theres some shame in it we should hide. theres a lot of conflicting emotions there. personally, im happy to be out of a dysfunctional relationship. sometimes, i think heterosexual relationships are inherently unhealthy for women. we tend to lose ourselves too easily, become dependent. it takes a lot of work and a very special person to overcome the sexist power relations – that expectation that it will always be the female who sacrifices something (not helped by a society in which women still get paid less, so im not blaming the everyday male for any of this). i dont miss the co-dependent parts of myself that emerge in relationships. i had a little fling a while ago and it was fun, but it wasnt ever going to be serious on my behalf, and i dont just use people for fun, so i ended it. i dont regret that. i dont miss some of the unique pleasures that come from living with men, let alone living with anyone. compromise is always hard. and i absolutely dont miss being with someone just for the sake of not being single. it terrifies me that women even feel they have to stay in relationships because of that fear (let alone the real financial issues that divorce laws have done little to alleviate). what the hell is so bad about being single? why are women made to feel so bad about that?

but i will confess, today i miss having someone to pick up the slack. my poor student housemate contributes but mostly i pay my own way. i have to decide every night what im going to cook, what will work for just one, how will i fit in the housework, the shopping, the dogs, my exercise. if i wanted do extra reading or writing outside official work hours and really work my way up that academic ladder, i would have no knitting time and no social life. so i make a conscious decision not to, and i will suffer the consequences of that. being on holidays for so long spoiled me i think, so much knitting, socialising, sunshine. this week i feel lethargic, overwhelmed, teary, its all too hard. eventually i will find a way to get all of these things back in balance again, and it wont depend on whether i have another person around or not, because i am strong and capable. most of the time.

i try and be positive and grateful. but today, im not either. today, its just too tiring, too hard. sometimes it just helps to tell people that.

k xx

About DrK

researcher, knitter, dog lover View all posts by DrK

23 responses to “overwhelm

  • RoseRed

    Oh dear, holidays really do make it so much harder to go back to work, don’t they. It should be the reverse!

    To take a very simplistic view, there is a reason why relationships are popular (ha, not just the obvious!). It really is easier, in so many different ways, when you live with another person, as a unit. Especially when one of those people doesn’t work. But that’s not to say it is the perfect, or even best, way of living. There are heaps of pluses to being single too. It’s often easy to forget the good thingsm whatever your situation, when you are having a shite week though. Next week will be better, and the week after that and so on. You’ll get back into your groove.

    Re the Peas – I’m not sure what was wrong with the first version, but geez that yarn knits up beautifully!

  • DrK

    i really think oh wise rosered, that i would have no problem with anything in the world if i had a maid. this week has made me realise that housework alone is the root of all evil. i feel much better for having blurted this all out (publically, as you do) and will feel better again when i get back in the pool tomorrow.

    re the peas. the first version is kfb k2tog, the second version is kfbf p3tog, so the holes in the second one are bigger. i think the second will look better when on a leg. the yarn is DIVINE. but p3tog is a pain in the butt!

  • LynS

    Employ someone to clean the house. Much less stressful than a relationship and probably cheaper in the long run.

  • Ailsa

    I agree, it’s so much easier to succeed in a career if you have an ‘assistant’ at home. I’d definitely investigate a cleaner. Once a fortnight it makes you feel on top of the world. Sounds like a little thing but it makes the world of difference. i hope you can get back into the swing of work .

  • 2paw

    Every working woman needs the equivalent of one of those wives!! I’m sad you are having a little melt down, I know a nice walk with the dogs and a swim will help though. It is hard to be sad for too long around happy dogs. My friends who work, single and partnered, all have someone who comes in once a week to clean. It just takes the pressure off and they all have animal companions of one kind or another and the come-inners all cope with that!! Going to work pays for the help so they can enjoy their time away from work.

  • missfee

    before reading the comments I was going to say what they all said – and get a cleaner – it is worth every penny

    even if once a fortnight

    I have had one for a while now as I can just manage the washing and shopping, and not every week. Having a clean house somehow makes it all better and feels like you are on top of everything. Which makes everything else easier.

    Get a cleaner!!!!!!

  • missfee

    and the socks look great!!!

  • Kgirlknits

    Not to labour the point every one else has made, but serious; a cleaner would at least take away some of the never-ending reoccurring chores, yeah? Give you some breathing space? when my daughter was little and I was on my own with her, working full-time, I used to (half) joke that I needed a “wife”. But really what I just needed was
    someone to share a little bit if the load.
    ..not sure why I needed to categorise that as a “wife” role? But that is perhaps just three easiest way to explain to people how I was feeling

    • DrK

      Heh, yes, where is my little wifey! I feel silly, I dont have kids or an illness, I should be able to handle everything. but I think youre all right, if I can get some help i should, and that will help me do a better job everywhere else.

  • amy

    Well, I *am* the wife, and I’d still like one to handle all the crap little things (and the housecleaning) so I can, you know, enjoy the kids, or whatever. And yes, my husband wouldn’t be where he was in his profession if we’d both wanted full-time careers (good thing I didn’t). But I’m home all day, and the house is still a wreck, because I have a 3yo who would rather mama play or read than clean all the time, and mama would rather that, too. I don’t think there’s ever an ideal situation, really. I love being a wife and mom and wouldn’t trade it, but there are definitely days when I think I could get so much more accomplished if I wasn’t holding four peoples’ schedules in my heads, and who can’t eat what, and the school nurse is being a jerk again, and does everybody have snow pants that fit? and what are we eating for dinner a week from Thursday when we’ll be getting in late and rushing out again, and on and on and on. And my husband would have so much more money if he wasn’t supporting four people with his paycheck. But we all make our deals, and luckily, he and I are both happy with ours–which is all, in the end, that really matters.

    If you can swing it, get the housecleaner. Definitely.

  • Sam

    I agree about the house cleaner. It will help take a bit of pressure off. I may sound simplistic but the one mantra that always get me through a tough time is knowing that bad times do not stay forever, things always change. Even though I have been married for 10 years and we have been together for 15 years, it’s still hard at times and I still get overwhelmed. I, too, have told my husband that we need a “wife” and he agrees. We both work full-time and there just never seems to be enough time to get everything done. Sometimes I wonder what is wrong with me because as a woman, I should be able to do it all, right? By the end of the day I am exhausted. My husband was raised by women and he appreciates the fact that I work too and that I am just as tired as he is at the end of the day. We split household chores and live harmoniously together. I love him dearly, he’s my best mate but there are times that I feel inadequate. There are times that I feel that I have sacrificed too much. I feel this way and I don’t even have children. All we have is a 15 year-old cat! There are times that I miss being single. Mostly for selfish reasons, I suppose.

    My sister-in-law is a stay at home mom and she is always so busy. I believe she works much harder than I do. She has a four year-old daughter, her husband and a house to take care of and it seems to be a never ending job! She told me that she wouldn’t trade it either.

    We can’t always be positive or grateful. We are only human and it’s okay to have a bad day or a bad week. Thank you for sharing. It does help to know that we are not all alone.

  • Emma

    I agree with all the other comments, getting a cleaner in, or ordering groceries online (if it’s available round your way) might help lighten the load. One less thing to think about etc.

    It’s never easy going back to work after holidays to find you (general you) are straight back to the same pace as before, rather than easing back into it. Really takes the shine off the holiday just gone, I think!

    On a different note, I really like those socks! The yarn is beautiful, just the right amount of variegation.

  • Sarah

    It’s definitely hard to keep all the balls in the air when you work full time (plus!) don’t feel silly for struggling to get a good balance. I heart the idea of having a cleaner – my wifey 😉 won’t let us have one – some days I’d cheerfully swap him for one! Well done to everyone who suggested that and I hope you get on to it and it shifts a bit of the load.

  • Sue

    I’m so sorry everything seemed overwhelming for you this week. You do need to let go off something and I agree – the housework is the obvious thing to outsource! We have a cleaner and it has given us back time to do things that matter to us which is, after all, a most precious commodity

  • Lynf

    Both my daughters have stressful jobs like you and both have cleaners just to ease the burden, and make life that little be easier
    Isn’t that what it is all about making life easier for ourselves, so we have time to do the things we love like knit or walk the dogs or go for a swim
    go for it get a cleaner, plus you will be helping someone else by employing them

  • M-H

    Late to the party, but I’d agree about the cleaners. One of the problems with academia is that it is a job without good borders, and it can easily overflow to fill your life. In fact, it rewards you for doing extra in ‘your own time’ (ie getting more publications done, more conferences attended, and of course more grants). People often talk about academia as a vocation rather than a job, but I’m really conflicted about that (says she who has taken four weeks leave without pay to get on with the PhD…).

  • donna lee

    Ain’t nothin’ wrong with a little venting. I think we’ve all been brainwashed into thinking we can have it all and be it all at the same time. I “settled” in my career for a level that I can do my work but still have my life. There is time for weekends to do my sanity saving things like picnics in the park and spinning and sleeping in. I know there are folks who think that I should be striving to go further and be “more” but I am content. I still do my own cleaning but I gave up ironing. All the ironing goes to the cleaners on the corner. It is SO worth it not to have to do a task that I abhor.

  • jp

    Cleaner, Cleaner. One of my friends has one who does the washing as well, and occassionally some ironing. Feeds the dog and cat if they are away and after 7 years now house cat & dog sits if they are away for more than a few days.

    Yes get yourself a cleaner. There is nothng quite like that feeling of coming home feeling exhausted after work and seeing a clean house rather than chores. Sounds crazy but it is completely true.

  • Kerry

    When I was working full time we had a live in housekeeper and a day nanny to care for the four children and the house. My husband did research at sea for weeks at a time and I was travelling through SE Asia on a regular basis, so our wall planner was in multi-colours and we tried to have at least one of us at home. Not always possible. What a joy it was to come home to clean carpet.

    You do what you have to do to survive.

  • crafting, with chocolate

    I’m a bit late but cleaner cleaner cleaner is the way to go.

    We got one when I went back to work after having Ollie, she comes every two weeks and it changed my life. I just wish we could extend it to a cook as well!

    Your observiations re the male/female inbalance in academia extends to all other professions too I think. I’m in engineering and I had a full day “strategic planning” workshop yesterday and yep, I was the only girl there. My company is pretty good but most (all?) of the senior people are guys with wives who don’t work, or don’t work much. I work part-time and I know I won’t get the opportunity to progress until I’m committed to five days, which doesn’t seem fair to the small people. Between work and kids and the house and al lthe other stuff, somedays its so hard balancing everything I feel stretched to breaking point. Which isn’t fun. Just having someone else mop the floor and clean the bathroom makes such a difference. So go on, do it!

  • 1funkyknitwit

    I’ve been married 15yrs and I’m happy with our life and are blessed with a lovely son, it all sounds cliche I know but happiness doesn’t mean that you don’t miss or remember what life was like being single. I did enjoy my single life but I also enjoy married and it doesn’t matter what side of the fence your on you think of the other. Life is always about decision to be made, juggling stuff and hope in the end you made the right choices. I don’t know if you completely get it right, but if you find some happiness along the way be it with friends, being creative, exercise, or finding the right partner in life, then you have something good to cherish 🙂

    Get a cleaner, you can then do more important things like; enjoy your life 😀

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