Most people can’t seem to wait to leave the office every day. The clock ticks closer to 5 and they’re edging toward the door. Not me.

It’s not that I don’t cherish the time I spend with my family. It’s just that life as the parent to a child with serious medical needs and the child to two elderly parents with chronic health conditions has a lot of ups and downs every day.

Some people have work hard/play hard careers. I have a work hard/play hard home life.

Thankfully, I have one of those careers that other people complain about being bored in. The work is steady. My coworkers are nice. There’s not a lot of opportunity for advancement, but we get paid enough and get good benefits. I’ll never leave because of the benefits and 35 hour a week schedule. That sort of place attracts people who want to do a good job, but aren’t super ambitious, so we’re a pretty mellow bunch.

As hectic as my weekends are, as stressful as my night might be, I know I’ll get to work and have hours of calm. I sit at a desk, chat with my coworkers, move through my stack of work in an orderly, predictable fashion.

It’s the only area of my life that feels predictable and orderly.

Outside of work my roles have taken over my identity. I’m my daughter’s mom. I’m my mother’s daughter. I’m my husband’s wife. I’m just a tangle of social responsibilities. Most of my talking is about them, what I need to do for them, and how I can help them more.

At work I’m a coworker like everyone else. Sure, my coworkers know my situation, but that’s just part of who I am to them. They know I’m capable and kind and the sort of person who knows how to get it done. We talk about television shows and weekend plans and even a little bit of gossip. It makes me feel like a normal person, no matter how not-normal my life feels outside of work hours.