Wide-Awake In A Marriot At 4AM (Or: The Grand Myth That Is “Having It All”)

I’m not even sure what to write today; all I can think about is how happy I am to be home.

I am so grateful to get to travel, and to get to do the kind of work I do. I’m so scared of sounding like I’m not, or like I’m not aware that I have a choice in the matter – I mean, obviously there is no one ordering me to take on multi-day shoots in far-flung locations. But the fact that I’m incredibly excited about the projects I’ve been working on lately doesn’t change how much anxiety I’m having over the possibility that my schedule might stay this way, because I haven’t been handling being away from my kids especially well, and I don’t know if that’s going to change.

I was talking to my mom about this, and she said something to the effect of “Jordan.” (With a period, which tends to indicate that whatever’s coming next is accurate and also something I should have thought of myself.) “Most working parents have to return to an office a few weeks after their children are born. You mostly get to work from home, and if now, several years in, you’re starting to have to occasionally travel for a week or two, that’s how it goes. Jobs evolve, and your family will evolve too.”

(I knew that. Still hard to internalize.)

Yesterday morning. I set my alarm for 6AM to catch a taxi to the airport. I was standing in the bathroom brushing my teeth, fully dressed, my mind racing with worries about how we’re going to handle me being out of town if my schedule continues like this, and then all of a sudden I realized that I couldn’t remember hearing my alarm go off, and I had no idea what time it was. I went to the window, and it was pitch-black outside. I looked at the clock, and discovered that it was 3:56AM, and there I was, standing in the middle of my hotel room with my purse slung over my shoulder, all ready to hit the road.

What had happened was that I had started panicking about scheduling and logistics and missing my kids in my sleep, and the panic woke me up and told my body to completely ignore the possibility that it might still be the middle of the night and to start taking care of business RIGHT NOW.

Look: I know I’m being all cloak-and-dagger about why I’m traveling, and this really not the way I operate, so it’s uncomfortable for me (and probably annoying for you). It’s not some massive secret – I’m not, like, marrying a man with six wives at first sight or taking over for Gwen Stefani on The Voice; I’m simply hosting a pilot for a show that may or may not get “picked up” (turned into a series). I can’t say “today I did this and met these people and et cetera et cetera,” but I still can – and apparently have to – write about what’s going on in my head. I have to because I’m having a hard time with this, and when I’m having a hard time with something I don’t know what else to do besides write about it.

I want my career to keep moving in interesting directions. I want to get the chance to host a show that’s more substantial than a 3-5 minute online segment; it’s something I’ve dreamed about for as long as I can remember. I also want to make my children dinner every night. At the end of every single day, I want to snuggle my daughter into bed in person, not blow her kisses on FaceTime. I want to hold my son when he falls and hurts himself, every single time it happens.

I don’t want to sleep in Marriott Courtyards and eat at Denny’s every night; I want to be in the home I built for us.

I also love my job so much.

Kendrick once asked me to describe my anxiety when it was at its worst. I thought about how to explain it for awhile – it’s not an easy thing to put into words – and realized that the best way to explain it is that it separates my emotions from logic. I can reach an intellectual understanding of why something is “okay” (or at the very least not worth dwelling on if I can’t change it), but that realization has zero effect on the degree to which the worry consumes my mind. And that’s how I’m feeling now.

“If you’re going to miss your kids too much, choose a different job.” I can’t; I love my job too much.

“If you’re going to take a job that you love that requires you to travel, be a big girl and make peace with your decision.” I can’t; I can know my kids are happy and well and cared for every second of every day, and I will still shoot straight up in bed at 4AM in the morning, wide awake and ready to run across the country to be with them if that’s what it takes.

So there. I’m cripplingly, inexcusably anxiety-ridden over a very exciting opportunity, and feeling all ungrateful and annoyed at myself for being ungrateful, and then wondering if maybe a tiny little bit of me is allowed to be excited and happy instead of terrified, and then getting mad: why shouldn’t I be allowed to work and travel and follow the adventure of this career wherever it takes me without slinging a chain of guilt around my neck? Why shouldn’t I be able to sleep at night feeling like I’ve made a reasonable choice? A well-thought-out choice. Even, dare I say, a good choice for my family’s life. And for my life. And for once it would be nice to say “I made a good choice that’s good for me” and let myself feel good about it, instead of feeling like that lady screaming “Boo! BOOOOO!” in The Princess Bride is going to pop out from behind my fake deer head and berate me for all those things that come on, I could totally be doing better.

Kendrick would like to make an editorial note here and point out that this train of thought might just encapsulate the struggle of all womankind (you’re not capable of “having it all?!” WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU), or – more likely – it is a sign that the voices in my head have grown louder in my post-travel hangover, and I should probably get some sleep before the voices start saying anything about building baseball stadiums in our backyard.

Fair enough; I’m going to go meditate. Or something.

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