Tired of Work.
by Vicki Larson
When I was younger, I wanted to be many things — a ballerina, until I suffered the humiliation of being the only one in the pre-performance picture who’d forgotten to spray-paint her black ballet slippers silver; an artist, until my parents refused to let me travel the subways to get to the prestigious art high school in Manhattan where I’d been accepted (and I have held it against them ever since); an ecologist, until a year and a half into the environmental science program I realized I’d never be able to save the world and, because I had recently experienced a breakup, it might not even deserve to be saved; and a writer, or so I convinced my parents as I insisted that traveling with friends cross-country one summer instead of working would be a better use of my time, fodder for the Great American Novel I was destined to write.
One thing I never dreamed of as a “career” was motherhood, but having kids was one of those understood things; I would have a great job and then I’d undoubtedly get married and we’d most likely have kids.
Life in a nutshell.
As it turned out, I did become a writer and a mom (and, in my own ways, an artist, an eco-minded woman and even a dancer, if you consider my disco diva days). And I never regretted becoming a journalist, a career I’ve loved for 25 years.
But if I love my job so much, then why do I dream of being discovered overnight — whether by that novel I haven’t quite finished, or the blog I haven’t posted anything on in months, or that shot on the TV reality cooking show that might have been my ticket to reinventing myself at midlife? Why do I buy raffle tickets to win that multimillion-dollar Dream House or the cash prize? Why do I semi-joke with my parents that if only they’d played their cards right years ago, I’d be a happy trust fund baby today?
Why do I fantasize about a quick, easy and lucrative way “out”?
Because here’s my dirty little secret: I’m tired of working even though I love what I do. I’m exhausted by managing two teenagers; a neurotic dog; a house that’s falling apart but I can’t afford to fix; never-ending errands and food shopping and laundry and weed-pulling and toilet scrubbing; a job in a career that is in a painful death spiral, and freelancing gigs just so I can afford to keep all of that going. Exhausted because my company, like so many others, has laid off so many that the few of us who are still employed — thankful, but still living in fear that the next time the ax falls, it will be on us — are doing the work of two or three or, in my case, four.
Am I the only working mother who feels this way?
Is there no other woman who thinks, yes, thank you feminists for paving the way for us to have it all — careers and motherhood — and I am ever so grateful that I have the choice (and I am!). But, honestly, knowing how most working moms, no matter what our profession, have become frenzied “jugglers,” is it all that bad hanging at home, baking snickerdoodles and pushing around the Swifter every now and then?