When Enough is Enough

Posted by in Life choices, Single Mum Life Tags: , , on November 15, 2014 0 comments

The last few months, I’ve been working anything between 8-16 hour days (mostly 12-16 hour days), some weekends I’ve been lucky to have one day without some interruption from work, but most weekends I’ve worked 4-6 hours (and yes, some of the weekend work is unpaid work to realise my dream), I’ve been waking anytime between 2am and 6am to finish my paid work from the day before so a fresh new batch can begin in the new day. I am generally on the road between 8.30am to about 3pm (without a toilet break), and it can be as late as 6pm, but I have told my clients that, in general, after 3.30pm is time I have to dedicate to my boys with their extra-curricular activities, homework and just being there for them. I go to bed between 8.30pm-10.30pm, but I still get emails and text messages from clients wanting something done ‘urgently’ on their time frame in those evening hours. I get paid good money for what I do, however… when is enough enough?

I did have one of those ‘enough is enough’ moments yesterday when I was taking my dog for his normal morning walk/run. We generally spend half an hour between 7.30-8am doing about 3.5kms around a rather big block of interval training. Dexter, my dog, is pretty good at being responsive to picking up the pace for a run, and sometimes makes me run faster which is great for me, but then sometimes finds something more interesting stopping me mid run. So yesterday morning, at around 500m into our run, I looked over to him, as I usually do, with Bruno Mars in my ears singing ‘Locked out of Heaven’ and I said ‘ready?’ He looked at me and our pace picked up to a run… but as I turned my head forward I missed seeing the one inch raised bit of concrete in the footpath and tripped…

I remember thinking on the way down,”Do I save myself?” as my legs tried to bring my balance up to standing again. But somehow they wouldn’t, and I said in my head “Just let it happen.” So I put my hands out to break my fall, and my momentum kept going, so I landed hard enough to graze my chin on the concrete and take a good chunk out of my knee (even with my tracksuit pants protecting it). I thought for a second while I was lying there… “should I just pretend to be unconscious and wait for someone to rescue me?” I was so exhausted from work, from helping everyone else with their demands, I just wanted someone to come look after me for once…

IMG_4954 (my hero)

But I looked around to see if Dexter was there, and even though I had let go of his lead through my clumsy fall, he was sitting their waiting patiently for me to be OK. And I knew… I had to get up, I had Dexter to look after me. I would have kept going, but my chin was dripping in blood, and my knee stung. I had to turn back and go home. So as I limped home, trying to conceal my bleeding chin from passers by, I felt so weak and disorientated. I knew I tripped because I’d been up since 4am and had only slept a restless 5 hours. I knew I tripped because it was telling me I can’t keep doing these crazy hours.

I’m 41 next week… is it time for me to tell my clients that I can only do so much? The struggle I have though, is that my work is seasonal… I’ve been self-employed for 14 years, and whilst there are lulls in some years, and sometimes in some months, it’s just felt like a fairly massive ‘season’ for the last 15 months (since I came back from Europe). I know it will slow down a little now, but that gives me time to work on my dream, so I won’t be stopping any time soon.

I imagine what would happen if that fall was horrific with ambulance sirens screaming, after a stranger felt the need to call one. My kids wouldn’t know where I was, What would happen to Dexter? My clients would be leaving endless messages wondering why I was a ‘no show’ to my appointments. Would there be any guilt on their part that they pushed me too far? Considering the day before, one asked me to write something up, I said it was fine, as long as he sent it to me by 11am, which he didn’t.Then I gave him another time at 3.15pm and I told him if he didn’t he can forget about it… and again he didn’t. He then had the nerve to send it to me at 3.35pm – 25 minutes before I had to pick up my son from tutoring, and he wanted it done before I left. I could have said no, but then I ran the risk of losing that client. So I did it… And I had another asked me to send something through to him by 5pm because he was having Friday off… even though I made a stink about it, I did it, just before I had to get my son to basketball training at 4.45pm. They just don’t get it… I do not have a single minute to procrastinate. But it also takes twice the amount of energy to think creatively… I just have to have the ‘on’ switch turned on 24/7.

There have been so many benefits to the work that I do, but I am overwhelmed by it. I am grateful for having loyal clients who have stuck by me for 10+ years, some hitting 14 years. I am grateful that my business allows me to be flexible with my children’s lives, even though I dedicate more time to my business than my children (which makes me feel guilty). But sometimes, I just need to be a recluse away from technology and contact just to feel human again. And sometimes a little fall puts that into perspective…