I'm happy to say that I have completed my sixth contract with Indian Head Camp. I would be lying if I said that it was a great time, or that I really enjoyed it. I had hands down the toughest year of my camp career. I knew being a single parent on camp would be a challenge, but personally, it was a grueling haul.
My son is amazing, easy going and well behaved. The camp hired a very intelligent and savvy nanny who I trusted completely. I am however at heart an introvert and a reluctant parent. So having to haul so much water as far as child care was exhausting emotionally and physically. I'm used to spending lots of time with my son, I watch him while my wife is at work during the day, every day. I think that being on camp was where a lot of the stress comes from. As an active 18-month-old, he spent the vast majority of time out and about. 18-month-olds, by the way, are the camp equivalent of movie stars. He was so popular that we had constant and amazing interactions with so many campers and staff. The parent in my loved it, the introvert in me was exhausted.
My son flourished and grew at camp, but I felt constantly stressed. As camp went on it got better, I learned that I had to frequently call home, and take every opportunity to get off camp, and change the scenery. The introvert in me needed lots of self-care, the workaholic in me hated that. I had to spend so much time away from the job, where there is always so much to do. I felt like I was constantly dropping the ball around work. Not just because I couldn't be there physically, but because my brain was in two places. I was not fully present at work because a part of my brain was always with Willaim and at home. When we were pregnant I used to hate all the cliche things that people would say, but now I see that they were all true. My world has changed. I am a different person. A part of my brain always is on my kid. I never noticed when I was at home because my day job is not mentally taxing. At camp, I needed every part of my person and brain and found them not fully there. That was a scary feeling for me. Camp has always taught me about myself and made me grow as a person. This year I was shocked to learn that I changed, way more than camp did. I had to grow as a parent, and as a person to try and make ends meet mentally.
I however, can't shake the feeling of personal failure. The thing that makes me a good nurse is also my biggest weakness, I take things very personally. I took every little screw-up, every missed thing, and every mistake on my part VERY hard. I do this every year, but this year it just felt like a lot. I think it all really tracks back to that feeling that I was not 100% mentally there.
I feel like the chaos of the job beat me, I just gave up the last few days. I wasn't able to stand up and fight anymore. My boss, the doctor, and my coworkers really tried to be encouraging, but I really did feel that way...beat up, and sore. I have never had that feeling in my professional life before, I really hit bottom in a way that was new to me this summer.
Time heals all wounds, and I know that as I start to assume the responsibilities of my regular life, that stress will edge out some of these feelings. It feels good to get this all out in writing. I also hope to find some more topics to write about as the winter progresses, and I hope to take some continuing education that will benefit my camp career and this blog.
If you're out there...thanks for listening, friend. I needed to get this out. If you were there this summer thank you for your support, I really do appreciate it.
It has been a few weeks since I originally wrote the above. As expected I have gained a bit of perspective. I found a wonderful quote "Anything worth doing is worth doing badly" G. K. Chesterton, a Christian philosopher who argued that most of what must be done to make the world go 'round is done by the average Joe who does not do it perfectly--or sometimes even well. Most of us live with the paradox of working toward “excellence” while making do with "good enough." Perfectionism is a heavy burden. I forgive others so easily, but myself not at all. I expect 101% from myself, and I have to work on enjoying being less than perfect in my professional life, or at least not emotionally abusing myself for failing.