Saturday, November 20, 2010

Where is my telephone booth?

I had a horrible day at work.

This is our busy season, so it's really hectic.  Additionally, we are 2 staff members short.  Plus it's flu\cold season so someone is always out sick.

The first half of my day went really well.  I was in a good rhythm, i was working quickly, everyone i took care of was nice, it was a pleasure to serve them, and i was pleased with myself for doing a good job.  And then i was assigned The Guy Who Ruined My Day.  We'll call him Marty.  Marty was really, really, weird.  He was a talker, so everything you had to do took 5 times as long.  I said, "Marty, do you need a pain pill?"  And 10 minutes later after a non-stop stream of words that had nothing to do with pain or pills, I just walked out of the room.  Marty sucked up so much of my time that my other patients thought i had quit.  In a nutshell, he threw off my groove.

In the late afternoon, i was just plan exhausted.  Hours and hours of running my butt off without time to sit down or eat or even use the bathroom were starting to wear on me.  My patients were whiny and clingy and needy, needy, needy.  Obviously i get it, they are in the hospital so naturally they are needy.  My tolerance for neediness is pretty low when i myself am not able to meet my own physical needs.  I just wanted a  minute or two to sit down in peace and quiet without everyone demanding 8 things, simultaneously, RIGHT NOW. 

I'm telling you this tale like it's something new or unusual.  It's not.  We all know that.  It's not unique to my profession, everyone has days like this if they work in a field that requires them to interact with other human beings.  I've had these days before, and i'll have them again.  However, there is a new element to my life that made this experience at work new and confusing to me.

First I'll tell you how it used to be.  Used to be, I'd have a chaotic, crazy day at work filled with people demanding things from me.  They had to come first and i had to come last.  I'd bide my time until 12.5 hours was up and then bada-bing! I'm free.  I can go unwind however i want.  I could say to my husband, "people have been yelling at me all day long, and i need a break.  I'm going to have some quiet me-time now.  Please give me some time to chill, and most importantly, don't ask me for a bedpan\pain meds\barf bag\etc."  When my shift was over, I could be free of responsibility.

Now there is a development: I have a baby.  When i come home, she doesn't comprehend the fact that people have been sucking the life out of me all day long.  She doesn't care that I've already wiped 100 butts today.  I've already been thrown up on today.  I've already witnessed crying today.  When i come home, she's pooping and spitting and crying.  Now there is no chance of sitting perfectly still in a dark room and relishing the sound of silence.  I come home, and the neediness continues.  The demands continue.  The responsibility is still there.

I haven't adjusted to this yet.  I know that we all lead double lives.  We have work and we have family.  We wear multiple hats, and we have multiple selves.  Maybe it would be a little easier if my work life and my home life didn't involve the exact same tasks?  You know, like if i was a bank teller.  I handle papers and numbers all day long, and then i go home to feeding\spitting\pooping. 

Clark Kent had a creative solution to the issue of multiplicity.  When a situation required him to change from one role to another, he quickly ducked into a telephone booth and changed his clothes.  Presto chango!  Easy as that.  So really, what my situation needs, is a telephone booth.  After a full day of blood and guts, I simply swing by a telephone booth on my way home from work, change into my red cape, and then i'm ready to save the domestic world.

Naturally, i want to give all my time and energy to my precious BabyGirl.  I want to put her needs first and my needs last.  But what do i do when the entire world gets to me first?  When the healthcare industry uses and abuses me until i crawl home with nothing left to give to the people who mean the whole world to me?  Given the choice of that big drooly smile, or Marty the Rambler, I'll choose my bundle-of-joy every time.  Unfortunately, it's Marty who ultimately pays the mortgage and provides health insurance, so I have to keep going back for more. 

Before you have kids, you hear about all the sacrifices that parenthood entails.  In my mind, those sacrifices included things like sleepless nights, stains on your clothes, baby paraphenalia all over your house.  I only considered the types of sacrifices you make while you are physically with the baby.  Such as, "i've been holding you for an hour trying to get you to sleep, and i have to pee SO BAD, but I'll pee on this rocking chair before i wake you up again."  Now i see that there are sacrifices that drive us away from our beautiful babies.  Going to work to face the ever-needy horde is a sacrifice i make for her well-being.   And for as long as i have to make this sacrifice, Lord give me grace to do it.

1 comment:

  1. Nice post! I think that working outside vs. working at home must be more difficult for many reasons, and working in such a people intensive field even more so. Here's why: when my sitter arrives, I walk to my office, turn on some peaceful music, and shut the door. If I get hungry or need a bathroom break, I emerge from my cave for a few minutes, hug my kids, take care of myself,and head back to my desk.
    You already have a cape! (it's there, trust me.)

    I also pray that God will give you grace as you live this very challenging stage of motherhood and work life.