I traveled (both literally and emotionally) from being my daughter's nervous mother at her college audition to being a hard-working freelancer, always prepared for another challenge. There were new experiences at both places--new information to process, new journeys to take--and by the time I reached home twelve hours later, I was exhausted.
Now, twelve hours is not that much. In my soap days, fourteen-plus hour
days were not uncommon. The biggest difference, I think, is that these
days, I am far more different people in a day. A long day on a
relatively straight path may be long, but a long day spent on many
different paths, each one requiring all of you and more, can leave a
person a little spent. It's not that a person can't multitask--I am a
multitasker from long before "multitasker" was even a word. It's that
when the tasks at hand take on an emotional component as well as a practical
one, "multitasking" becomes as much about managing your emotional life
as about managing your logistical one. And when emotions are involved,
twelve hours can begin to feel more like twenty.
There's nothing wrong with investing a little emotion into our work. The
emotional investment can make new skills stick and new relationships
grow. And it's hard to keep from investing a little (or a lot) of
emotion into parenthood. So, perhaps that's where the exhaustion comes
from--it's not just about the hours. It's about the emotion. We can
experience, but when we feel, we use a lot more energy. We can learn,
but when we feel as we are learning, we use a lot more energy. We can
work, but when we allow ourselves to feel along the way, we use a lot more energy. And
when the feeling from the different parts of our lives spills over into
the other parts, it's no wonder we are exhausted.
I don't know that I'd have it any other way. I certainly wouldn't want
to go through life without feeling, and I wouldn't give up being the
nervous parent or the curious worker. So, perhaps it will take just a
little more sleep. Or a little more quality to the little sleep I get. I guess that's just how it is when you're trying to do--and feel--all the jobs
in your life.