Sun 28 Jan 2007
“oh yeh,” said i, back in those dim, fuzzy days before parenthood. “oh yeh, i’ll work from home when the baby comes. i can edit online, and maybe do some freelancing…it’ll be fulfilling, keep my mind sharp. i’ll just work when he naps.”
oh yeh. obviously, i spent most of Life Before Parenthood on crack.
my mind? sharp? i don’t even have the wherewithal to lament how blunt the instrument has become. naps? yeh, i’d love one, thanks. i drool at the thought. but i have this twenty-hour-piece of editing i committed to finishing up this week (errrr, well…last week) and i don’t think the child has napped a cumulative twenty hours all month. freelancing? right. unless The New Yorker is picking up my blog for syndication and has simply failed to notify me, i don’t think that will be happening until O starts writing columns himself.
apparently, i am not the born Mary Poppins cum intellectual wunderkind cum floor-polishing housewench i somehow once imagined myself to be.
i am okay with this, it seems. a little peeved, as i really did plan on getting more done with these days, but i’m genuinely okay with my own limitations and the priorities they reflect. Oscar? very important. laundry? a minor OCD i’m trying to work on. mindless internet surfing for at least fifteen minutes every couple of hours? hey, brains don’t just sharpen themselves, folks. they need input.
but this is all okay mostly because the fine Canadian government, in its rare but occasional wisdom, has seen fit to provide new parents here with what in other countries would be the equivalent of a bloody lottery haul. we get a year, more or less, of paid maternity/parental leave. not paid by our employers. paid by the government, in the form of what’s known as Employment Insurance. you work 600 hours in the year prior to delivering or adopting a child? you get approximately $1400 a month in EI for the year following, so you can stay home with that child. it’s not a fortune, by any means. but it beats a kick in the arse with a frozen sneaker, as Dave is so fond of saying. he’s freakishly fond of that phrase, actually…but that’s another post. this one is about the fact that i have approximately two months left of paid at-home child-minding, and then i need to figure out what i can do with myself to earn money while spending as little of that money on outside childcare. or i need to get a job and give up on the whole idea of working from home whatsoever. (other than that laundry compulsion, and the other little compunction about not letting dishes get moldy in the sink, and whatnot…the menial crap which makes households run without Children’s Aid visits.)
but writing/editing from home in twelve minute increments while Oscar peeps/whines/howls for my attention doesn’t seem to be working so well for me thus far. perhaps if he didn’t insist on getting new teeth every week his capacity for self-entertainment would be higher, admittedly…but he still has twenty teeth to go. sigh.
the work gets done, and i kind of enjoy it. i’m not doing it for the money right now anyway…just to keep my hand in.Â but my hand feels…stretched.Â it’s the kind of work that’s so much smoother when an unbroken hour or two can be dedicated to it…and by the time those hours are free in the evening, what’s left of my mind has disintegrated into a puddle of gray cabbage. such is my little problem. there are moments, at three in the afternoon when i am two paragraphs from finished and O is clearly two paragraphs past finished, when i would sell my mother for ten more minutes just to really focus on the task at hand and get it done and get that nice, rare little feeling of accomplishment that so seldom comes with laundry or bum-wiping.
and i guess that’s really where my little problem lies. i want it all. i want to be home with my child, and i want the ivory tower of an office to hide in and finish things too. i do, in the end, want to be the Mary Poppins genius prodigy TideeBowl queen. and i want more time, for all of it. sweet time, that once i squandered…this is a really nasty trick, this disappearing act of yours.
what do you all do, about time, and work, and juggling? did you go back to a job after your kids were born? did you stay home but do some paid work on the side? how’d you manage to carve out time for that work? (besides plying your offspring with crackers, which is my current, albeit only moderately successful, strategy) please tell. i need some help, here.
unless someone want to volunteer to nanny for the world’s cutest nine-month old (with a minor biting problem)? send resumes. :)