Jen Jeffrey: The Transition

Tuesday, May 20, 2014 - by Jen Jeffrey
Jen Jeffrey
Jen Jeffrey

There are many comical transitions we face when newly married (most of which I like to post on Facebook) but to relocate my whole life along with getting married has been a double whammy. The hubs and I have handled co-mingling quite well and I must say that I really am blessed to have a husband who is so understanding, giving and easy-going.

I have thoroughly enjoyed making this house a home even though there is still so much to do. In trying to have a career and be a ‘housewife’ is a lot to take on … at least for the standards I have set for myself. I see myself in a cartoon juggling clocks in the air while I try to do things as a wife and also try to keep up with my own responsibilities and yesterday …I dropped a clock.

I had written one of my assignments and then I spent time transcribing a recorded interview. My subject is a political figure and what was discussed is somewhat over my head which requires more research to understand what it is I am writing about. This one is a little harder than most, so I wanted to begin writing it when I was fresh and not having already spent a few hours working and …the Greys needed to be walked.

After walking Spec and Sweetie, I put on my wife hat and headed into town to get groceries. Juggling the clocks, my plan was to buy groceries, make it back to the house and start dinner all before my husband came home. I worked until three and I only had two hours before Jason would be home.

I don’t know what it is about being dependable and making people proud of me that drives me so much, but it is different than ‘people pleasing’. I am secure in who I am and I know my worth – so I don’t need approval of others in order to feel good about myself. And, even though I have always said I am not a competitive person I must admit that I compete heavily with myself.

I set certain goals and I want to achieve them. Before I moved in with Mama and before I married Jason, the only thing I had to compete with myself over was my work and I may have been a boss’ dream. I worked at night and through the day. I breathed, ate and slept work. I would wake up at night and work. I gave 100 percent to my job because it was in my life more than anything else. I saw family on occasion, but I mostly had my work.

To try to keep that up when I took care of Mama put stress on me as well as took away my competitive edge. I knew I could no longer make work first. I did my best to give it at least 80 percent. When I tried taking care of Mama, working and trying to make time to date, it was very stressful and at times dating seemed to be more trouble than it was worth. But when I re-met my childhood friend and realized he was my soul mate… there was no turning back. I even gave him time I would normally spend with Mama knowing that my sisters were able to step in and it was time to have a life of my own.

I still stay in contact with Mama, my kids and grandkids and I still want to give 100 percent to my work and I want to give 100 percent as a wife and, not only a wife but as the housewife I pride myself to be - the woman who can do it all.

Well… I can’t.

My husband doesn’t put this stress on me, my family doesn’t put this stress on me and my boss doesn’t put this stress on me – I do.

The thing is… only the person completing the task or goals they set before them understands what it takes to do them and that is why I stress out. Where others may find it easy to do certain things, each person’s abilities and life demands are different. And, where my boss could burn up the keyboard and write a story in just a few minutes with his years of experience … it takes more for me with everything I have to do or the way I have to do them.

But, writing is who I am.  I don’t just write at my keyboard, I write in my head while people think I am watching television. The television may happen to be on (and 99 percent of the time I am not the one who turns it on) but I am not really watching it.  I write when there may be a group conversation and people think I am paying full attention, but I am ‘inside my head’ wondering how I can fit something in a story or who I can get to interview. I write when I am on a movie date with my husband and he thinks I am just enjoying the flick when in reality I am coming up with a better ending and thinking of a book I’d like to write.

So to be in this transitional phase of not only being a writer, but now being a wife… a housewife who thrives on making the house a home… adding special touches and caring for my husband in ways he may not even think about has taken some creativity all its own.

When I shopped for our first groceries a few weeks ago, it was a lot to do because there was absolutely nothing in this house, but I enjoyed doing it. I liked Kroger and found things pretty easy to find. But this time, I was trying to beat the clock and I went to Wal-Mart instead of Kroger. I needed to get a few things at Wal-Mart so I thought I would just do my grocery shopping there as well. I never have liked shopping at Wal-Mart even though the one in Murray is nice.

I shopped for the household items first and then planned to get the food items last, but I got stuck on toothpaste. I went up, down, around the store and back again. I spent 30 minutes of my two hours and the perfectionist in me began to stress. I felt hot tears welling up in my eyes because I could not find the toothpaste aisle. My phone went off and I missed my husband’s call. He has been good to call before he leaves work to see if I am cooking or would like for him to bring something home. I am a truly blessed woman.

At first, I have let Jason bring things home more often than me cooking, because I have had a whole house to unpack and organize. But as things are starting to have a place, I want to cook more. Jason knew I was planning to cook last night and he probably wondered where I was.

Instead of calling him back right away (I don’t like talking on the phone in a store) I texted him to let him know I was shopping and would be home soon. But, I knew better. I hadn’t even started shopping for food because I was still looking for toothpaste!

The toothpaste aisle finally appeared and I am sure I passed it over a few times. I hurriedly shopped for food without counting in my head how much I was spending and at the check-out counter it rang up almost a hundred dollars over what I meant to spend, I felt I failed as a wife. I put part of it on the card my husband gave me and the rest I put on my personal debit card.

I already tried to ‘help out’ my husband when I purchased some tables with my bank card. We had no end tables so I went ahead and got a few hoping to have them put together and surprise my husband. He checks the bank account daily and I knew when he saw the tables he would see that the loving gesture was done from my own pocket, but …I had failed there too. The tables were called ‘nesting tables’ and they were quite small. I thought I was getting a good deal to have three tables for the price of one even if a couple were a little smaller. But he was right – they were a joke and only good for a child’s room or as accent tables for a plant.

If it was about finding toothpaste, that would not be a big deal, but I was tallying everything together that I felt were failures. I held my tears back until I took the groceries to the car and then my tears spilled onto my cheeks. On the drive home, I knew I failed. All I could think of was all the injustices. How Wal-Mart didn’t know how to organize their store to be customer friendly, how clearing out a few of the never-ending boxes my twins recently brought from Chattanooga takes time, research for work takes time and trying to get the house perfect all at once… I was seeing the negative instead of focusing on all the positives.

The people who depend on me, who count on me and who love me, are all very kind and understanding. They do not crack a whip over me, but when I don’t meet my goals, it bothers me. I realized when ‘competing’ against myself I was being a lousy coach. I used the term ‘fail’ in my head when I am a positive person, but the inner-perfectionist-beast reared its ugly head and tried to get me off track. 

So far, my transition to Kentucky hasn’t been too bad because I work from home and I haven’t had to get out much. I have spent most of my time trying to get unpacked and organized.

I will be glad when I have a set schedule again. My interview days have changed, my writing time has changed, my ‘me time’ has changed and I am still feeling out when ‘couple time’ is and when we just chill on our own.

As far as working out – that will take time too. Jason is planning to get an ARC trainer for the workout room I am creating upstairs, but that may be a “Christmas present.”

So meanwhile, I shoot hoops. How is that exercise? Being five-foot-two, I have never been a basketball star and needless to say I am not great at making a basket. But that is my challenge and a positive way in which I compete with myself. Each time I miss the goal, I make myself dribble and run the ball down the length of our driveway and back. And, just to mix it up … sometimes when I miss, I will swing the ball from side to side keeping my hips in place whereas I work my obliques. I miss the goal a lot, so I get a pretty good workout in when I get the chance.

Pretty soon the transition will work its way to being a schedule, a routine and a daily grind. Then, I will focus on not letting things become a rut – but for now, I sure welcome the rut.


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