Sunday, November 8, 2009

No thank you. Unless you want me to. If its what you want.

I used to be a brave woman. At 25, I was the assistant director of a shelter, taking on case plans, social services workers, abusive spouses and even the occasional Member of Parliament. I was the "Can Do" girl. Advocating for clients who weren't being heard, I worked with landlords, bill collectors, police, lawyers, and banks to make sure that our clients got fair and equal treatment. I started out as a Front Line Worker. Answering phones, doing intakes, working 12 hours shifts. Mostly nights. When I was pregnant with Munchkin, I was on year 2 of straight night shifts. My morning sickness started at 4:30 in the afternoon, because that was MY morning. When I moved up to management, I said goodbye to the 12 hour shifts and hello to 60 hour work weeks and On Call duty. Leaving for work before the sun was up, and coming home supper time, it was normal for me to arrive at the house at 6pm, to receive a phone call 10-15 min later causing me to have to go back to work. I LOVED my work. but it was hard!

All those long hours, in such a stressful environment took its toll on me. By 2007, I was sludging through my work, and struggling to make it through the days till the weekend (which still weren't clear thanks to the On Call phone). It wasn't until McHubby, who was McFriend working with me at the time watched me have a full fledged panic attack on the highway on the way to work that someone finally said "Something is up!"

Panic attacks, constant double checking my work, and headaches were all pointing to a tough choice. It was after a Dr's appointment where my blood pressure was SO high that she took it 3 times during the appointment to be sure that her Sphygnomiter wasn't broken that I finally admitted I needed help.

Thankfully, being in management had showed me the importance of banking my sick days. I took 2 weeks off, but getting in the car and heading to the building I had practically lived in for 8 years still caused me to hyperventilate. Acknowledging burn out at 28 is a hard thing.

I had pushed through it. Working when I really wasn't in the mental state TO be working had already taken its toll. Usually the first to arrive on an incident, I now dreaded the call of a frantic coworker. Where I had once bounded up the stairs at 8.5 months pregnant to break up a fight in the dorm, I was shrinking back, allowing others to deal with the situation.

My confidence was shot. To the point where my best friend would have to walk between me and those "on the street survey people" so that I wouldn't break down in tears. It was hard. After 8 years of giving my all to a job that I to this day LOVE, I resigned. It was a very hard choice, and I lost a number of close friends because of it. Some of us have worked to repair our relationship, others have been deemed un-fixable.

Its 2 years later, and slowly my confidence is returning. I've held 3 jobs since then. A wholesale warehouse, where I was an order taker/office administrator. It was a company that I had worked with while at the Non Profit, and during my interview, the boss had said "Did you get shelter burn out?" She understood, and it was very comforting. McHubby and I were also superintendents at a 200 unit town house complex. That was.... well... an experience. My favorite by far was working at the Vet clinic. Receptionist work is... well... easy after a life at the shelter. My grief counselling transferred over from the shelter to euthanasia's better then I would have thought. And working as an Animal Care Attendant was one of the happiest moments in my life... except for the cats. lol. They dint like me, and I'm... well... terrified of them :P

McHubby and I have developed a system. If something comes up that I can't do. Something that makes my anxiety rise, I ask him "Can you be the boy?" and his chest puffs out a little in that caveman caring for his family sort of way, and says "Of course baby, whatever you need". Its really cute actually. but kinda sad at the same time that there are certain things.. usually silly, that I can't do.

So this AM, McHubby got am email that went like this "Can you be the boy and cancel Hayden's play date for me? He's still not 100% and I'd rather he spend another day at home and be ok for school tomorrow." See, I've already cancelled on this mom a few weeks ago when my nephews left their med bag at our house and we drove north of the city to pick it up. So in my head, if I'm the one who cancels again, this other mom is going to be mad at me. Or talk about me. I know both are irrational. What mom wouldn't understand a sick kid? But in my head, its something I can't get past. So asking McHubby to call for me shouldn't be a big deal... that's how moms and dads work together BUT don't forget. McHubby in Virginia, and I am in Toronto.

McHubby is in church ATM. He's singing today, and his parents are special guests. He wont get the email till the meeting is over, but I'm 99.9% sure that he'll do it for me, and it will just go onto the heaping pile of reasons why he's my PERSON.


  1. I've had friends cancel on playdates time after time for various reasons--it's part of having kids, and anyone who isn't looking for reasons to be offended with the world at large will take a cancellation in stride. But it's great to have that other half who will do this kind of stuff for you--we all need that sometimes! Have a relaxing day!

  2. I totally understand; I got burned out on people in general after running a store for 6+ years. Sometimes you just need to let go and let someone (like a wonderful husband) step in and take the load off your back.

  3. burn out in the social service arena is so high! I know I burnt out after 6 years at a group home for troubled youth. I am just now at the point where I can even think about wanting to step back into those shoes. It is WONDERFUL that you have your dear husband's love and support.

    As far as the playdate - I understand the fear, but what mommy wouldn't understand and appreciate an honest "My kiddo's been sick, can we please reschedule"