This week has been killer. I just started a new role (which I am incredibly excited about, and will describe a bit more later) and in this transition period ended up working very, very long days (I had 22 calls this week, many spread across a 10 hour day, and then additional work after all the kids were finally in bed) while still juggling 3 kids all day long. It’s been exhausting. I need to talk a little bit about the exhaustion I feel.
I find my work energizing. I get a lot of satisfaction from working hard, finding solutions, and talking to the clever, thoughtful people I get to work with. Working while dealing with Grant, however, is probably one of the most draining things I’ve ever had to do. I can do it, and I can continue to do it (which is great, because I don’t see any alternatives), but the deep knacker that lies like a weighted blanket on me all day every day is hard. The constant context switching between thinking about a work problem to solving a Grant problem is relentless. I literally had to stop between “context” and “switching” in the above sentence to answer him. 20 minutes ago, he was cleaning out my ears (for giggles, not because I wanted him to) while I was working through my to-do list.
I love Grant (and the other two as well), but giving him part of my attention is not sustainable in his opinion. The twins are 8.5, and are happy to find things to keep themselves busy, and they also like getting focused attention when I’m not working. Grant prefers focused attention all the time. I don’t blame him. He’s nearly four, and this is his childhood.
I think some of my frustration is that this wasn’t supposed to happen. Like every privileged person, my problems are small potatoes when you think in a global context. In fact, I couldn’t feel more ridiculous. That self-assigned shame is also part of the problem. I’m grateful that I can work from home, and that I’m good at it and my company is excellent at it, and I could sob with relief that everyone I work with is patient beyond words with Grant being on my calls. But I wish he wasn’t. I wish he was somewhere learning how to write his name and singing songs with other 4 year olds, spending time with kids his own age, and learning how to function in a society without me. Even as I type this, he’s leaning on me trying to get me to read my Echelon manual to him.
But since this is reality, I’m finding new ways to work. I do a lot of work at night and after my husband gets home (in the afternoon). Since I have calls routinely with people in APAC and EMEA, I end up having calls during my morning, too, which is where things get a little hard to juggle. With the new role I have, I will be able to work mostly at times optimized for Grantlessness. There will still be calls at non-optimal times, but not as many. A sad side effect is that he is learning to be ignored. Which is good for him, to be clear. A bored kid is a creative kid. But Grant’s creativity still takes the form of destruction and generalized mayhem. When Grant is quiet, things are going to hell. But I have mixed feelings about him learning to not need me. Which I know is directly counter to everything I have just said! This is a confusing time.
My rank exhaustion is also emotional as well as mental and physical. I switched into a new role, as the lead of Happiness Experience at Automattic, where I will oversee Happiness Hiring (an existing team that has been doing an amazing job for years), and begin to put centralized effort to improving the Happiness Experience. It’s bringing together two separate spheres of effort into one team, where we can coordinate to make the Happiness experience consistent from trial through the entire HE career, and flesh out leadership opportunities and individual contributor opportunities, so that growth and development within Happiness is robust and fruitful. Some of this is an extension of work I’ve been doing already in my Lead of Leads role, so I can’t wait to dig in deeper. A big change always has some kind of toll to pay eventually, including self-doubt and impostor syndrome. It’s very exciting that I don’t necessarily know precisely what my work will look like in 6 months. But that uncertainty also carries with it a weight. At the top of my mind is making the Happiness experience world class, and working with many people throughout Happiness proper to make that happen is essential. Knowing how much coordination this will take, as well as understanding that it is impossible to produce immediate results for everyone, can be a little daunting. But I still am resolved and eager. A new challenge, counter-intuitively, couldn’t have come at a better time. I have something to focus on that dwarfs my little problems with homelife coordination. For today, I’m going to turn off my computer for the night early, and save the rest of my to-dos for another day.
Grant says hi.