I’ll Have the Business Woman Special

Do you have a business woman special? image from IMDb

Do you have a business woman special?
image from IMDb

I left the workforce when my oldest was 6 months old. That was 5 years ago and since then, I’ve done a variety of freelance work to make ends meet so that I could stay home with my kids. While I’ve had a certain amount of responsibility, I’ve been in control of how little or how much I work. Recently, my husband and I took over a full-fledged business and I now have real responsibilities. I have a desk and an inbox. I cut payroll. I answer the phone and speak to actual live people. I wash my hair and wear shoes, a couple of times a week at least. I feel terribly official and important. It brings to mind a scene from Romi and Michele’s High School Reunion where they’re dressed in ridiculously stylish suits and they walk into a truck stop and ask, “Do you have some sort of business woman special? Well, we’re business women. We’re due in Tucson later…some business thing, you know.”

Going back to work, even part time, has reminded me of what I used to be like. Put me in a “real” job and I have the tendency to be a total spazoid-stress-freak. I had forgotten this about myself. I can take any single task and write a full page checklist on how to get it done (single-spaced in tiny print). I have an innate ability to over complicate anything, no matter how simple and straight forward. I attack everything with an emergency room life-or-death sense of urgency, which is great if you’re a nurse or a doctor but completely unnecessary in most every other profession. I forget to eat. I forget to pee. I can always find something else that needs to be done and this is exactly how I was when I was in the workforce 5 years ago. Back then, I’d come home exhausted but still wound up, pop open a bottle of wine and commence with relaxing. I couldn’t conceive of relaxing any other way. I was a business woman, don’t you know.

Some people are workaholics because they care about what other people think of them. They think they earn respect because they destroy themselves to get things done. For me, it had more to do with trying to control anxiety. If I had 10 things to do, I wanted to get them done as quickly as possible so that I didn’t have to worry about them not being done. Drinking after work was my way of forcing my mind to shut off. Anxiety wasn’t the only reason why I drank but it was a big part. But, after I left the workforce and was faced with mommy-stress, I found that drinking actually increased my anxiety. Is it too early to open up a bottle? Should I really be drinking if I’m trying to lose the baby weight? Do I really want my kids to always remember me with a glass of wine in my hand? For the first time, I started to question if drinking was a good idea. Ultimately, the answer was no.

Going back to work hasn’t been a trigger for drinking as much as for perfectionism. I had an Oprah-esque aha moment when I found myself wanting to approach work the way I used to and said something is wrong with this picture. I’m the one creating the stress. I’m making everything harder and more complicated. I’m not giving myself a break and am expecting perfection. I’m a tyrant to work for and if I don’t change, I’m going to burn out. Years ago, it didn’t occur to me that I was part of the problem or that I couldn’t drink it/me into submission. Now, I know better. I refuse to berate myself if I forget where I filed something and I recognize that most things can wait until tomorrow if there isn’t time to get it done today. Keeping a list is helpful but I don’t need to stare at it constantly as if something is going to fall off and get forgotten. In fact, it’s assured that I’m going to forget things. After all, I have two kids on summer vacation and a whole lot of Frozen to watch.

25 Comments on “I’ll Have the Business Woman Special

  1. A belated chime. You sound great. I am so happy for you. And your writing is as good as ever. You will always be one of my favorites. I think we’ve outgrown Disney here, so I’m happy to announce we have not made the Frozen purchase—keeping my fingers crossed. xox

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    • Thank you Lisa! I complain but only because it’s so repetitive. I actually love watching my kids get so hooked on something. I must be like what my mom went through Grease came out!

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  2. Oh, Karen, great post! So funny because I am totally addicted to work too and lists and schedules and crap, but it is the slow time now and I am bored out of my mind! But is not like I don’t have work, it’s just not crazy busy with bunch of unrealistic deadlines. Lol! I should enjoy it, but I am feeling lost!

    But dag it, I got three kids and lots more Frozen to watch too! Lol! Thanks Karen. Big Hugs!

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    • Sometimes it’s hard to switch gears from busy to slow. I’m in a caught up phase right now and I have to keep telling myself that it’s a good thing to not have so much to do. Enjoy your Frozen summer Maggie!

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  3. Wow, Karen. I felt like you were describing me – cut from the same cloth I think! Love how you stopped and caught yourself. That’s the difference now – we know the signs and triggers before they take over! Oh, and summer vacation began today for us – guess that means Frozen for the trillionth time😁

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  4. I, too, have been a workaholic and a perfectionist. When I recently when on job interviews I was overwhelmed with anxiety and feared a return to unhealthy patterns. I decided to quit the search. Now is not the time. Besides, blogging and commenting on blogs is taking plenty of my time.

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    • Mine too! I used to think that taking care of myself was selfish and it took me a long time to see if differently. Thanks for your thoughts Kitt!

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  5. Hey, I am a businesswoman too! Actually, no. I have one of those jobs you get when you’re transitioning back from full-time parent to business-woman. It pays but not very well and there is nowhere to go but out the door. I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. But I can relate to doing things just to get them crossed off the list! Anxiety is a good/terrible motivator. Raising kids is a tough job and we still have to do that one too. Frozen is a perk, I think. We just got back from a trip to disney where we met the two sisters in person. Do you know the lines to meet them were upwards of 5 hours long? (we used a fast pass) Those are some popular sisters.

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    • My daughter can’t wait to go to Disney and meet the sisters! We went when she was too little to remember. I don’t know if I love her enough to stand in line for 5 hours so the fast pass is the way to go. My son sings “Love Is An Open Door” with her and it’s the cutest thing ever. It almost makes it worth it to have to listen incessantly to the songs. 🙂 As for anxiety being my motivator, I’m trying to focus on a job well done instead. Yesterday, I was done with everything and instead of trying to find something else to do, I reminded myself that it’s ok if my job is easy sometimes. What a concept!

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  6. Yup – the good ol’ perfectionism / workaholic thing going on. I went through something like that years ago (I also went through the ugly drunken slovenly worker phase too). I think that when we get into a place of being more centered (like you certainly have been) and having had lots of reflection and internal shifts, going back to the old ways often seem…odd. Unnatural. And that is what you saw pretty quickly. Means that you’ve moved in so many ways…grown and stretched into new places. For me, I can still be the confident, gently assertive, approachable but still no-nonsense guy that I have always wanted to be but couldn’t (too much people pleasing) and yet still be humbled by so much. Work is where I get to practice boundaries, patience and giving myself a voice. Stuff that slowly leaks into my personal life.

    Sound exciting and exactly where you need to be 🙂

    Congrats on the new gig 🙂

    Paul

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    • Thank you Paul! I’m really glad that I wasn’t given this opportunity a couple of years ago because I wouldn’t have been ready for it. Like someone said, the lesson appears when the student is ready, or something like that. 🙂

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  7. And therein lies the beauty of sobriety…the ability to look at what we’re doing and go…WTF?

    I also notice that I’m different at work than I used to be. I’m not nearly as tightly wound and ready to spring. In fact I’M considered the zen one of the bunch.

    OMG! If they only knew.

    Love the new pic BTW. It’s a keeper.

    Sherry

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  8. With age comes wisdom. It sounds like you’ve gained a lot in the past 5 years. It’s a good message for all of us!

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  9. Sounds like you’re finding a good balance. Going back to work full time was the hardest parenting decision I’ve had to make, but it’s turned out to be the best thing for me and for my sons. Thanks for the post.

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    • It is tough. The timing has worked perfectly because I can still work from home most of the time and my kids are at the age where they’re starting to find some independence and they like some time away from me. As long as I don’t create road blocks, I think we’ll find harmony!

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