I write from home. This is my part-time job, with flexible hours–and by flexible, I mean, some days I don’t show up at all, because oh my gosh LIFE, and kids, and everybody cries SO MUCH, over things like spiders, and Cian’s playing with SK’s car, and whyohwhy do I make them play outside and can’t they just watch TV?. The hourly pay isn’t so hot, but the emotional pay-off is worth every cent, and the potential for growth is huge. I absolutely love it, and most days just wish I could throw myself into it (but writing, like quicksand, is way too hard to get out of once you’re in the thick of it), but it’s a little sticky, you know, scheduling this part-time work around my other job. The full-time one. The one I quit teaching to do. And for some reason the hours of that job are something like 6:05 a.m. to 9:35 p.m, and if I drop the ball just an inch during that time, I’ve created an avalanche that takes me days to dig out of (see: my kitchen counters).
I think I need to talk with my manager about realistic expectations, yes?
I’ve been trying to get my writing and revising done between five and seven am, before the house wakes, but you know as well as I do how that’s going (That’s five A.M. Like, in the morning. While it’s still dark out. It just…no), and frankly, I’m starting to freak out a little bit because I’m under a completely manageable deadline, and I have all these ideas in my head that need to come out, and I’m afraid of failing. This is my dream come true, you know that, but holy crap, Dave’s out of town again and Cian just barfed up the blackberries he had for breakfast, and Saoirse slammed her hand in a door and has half a fingernail hanging off.
Which leads me to the other day, when I had about an hour free (!) in the morning after breakfast. Cian was playing well by himself, and I told the girls that I was going to get a little bit of work in before the rest of the day unleashed its haphazard rage on my soul. What follows here is a log of my time during that precious, sacred hour. Don’t mind my intermittent screams for mercy.
9:58 a.m: Laptop and manuscript are placed on table. I ask the girls to go play with their toys downstairs.
10:01 a.m: I fish Cian out of David’s office, where he’s playing with an old calculator while poking his finger into an unplugged power strip.
10:07 a.m: I stop a fight between the sisters.
10:09 a.m: I help Cian climb onto the chair beside me, where he plays with aforementioned calculator.
10:15 a.m: I veto a craft project the girls want to do because it’s too messy for them to complete unsupervised.
10:16 a.m: I agree to a different project.
10:17 a.m: I help children with said easy project, which turns out to be messier than the first idea.
10:20 a.m: I tell assorted children to quit whining/tattle-taling/fighting.
10:22 a.m: I direct oldest child in clean-up of craft, amongst complaints of “why do I always have to do the hard stuff?!” No, the complaints weren’t mine.
10:30 a.m: I direct the procurement and unwrapping of three cheese sticks, amongst complaints that nobody likes cheese sticks anymore.
10:33 a.m.: I answer questions about the size of the sun, Rainbow Dash’s gender, and why I dislike the existence of Gatorade.
10:42 a.m: I answer the call of “MOM! I’m finished pooping!,” wash my hands, carry a load of folded laundry upstairs.
10:44 a.m: I transfer laundry from washer to dryer.
10:46 a.m: I take out the dog. It appears I’m an expert at poop removal this morning.
I work, getting in a solid stretch of 10 minutes.
10:56 a.m: I hear the thud of tiny footsteps charging up the stairs. Basement door slams open once again. I resume full-time mom duties and head upstairs to find the Band-Aids.
Here’s the thing: No one ever warned Cinderella that she’d have to polish that glass slipper to keep it shiny. Even the best, most outrageous, must incredible jobs and tasks and opportunities take work (hellooooo, parenthood!), as well as patience and scheduling and a little prayer that everyone sleeps through the night. I know that one day, when my kids are too cool for me and can put on their own Band-Aids, I’ll be able to get more than a note here and a thought there accomplished in one sitting. Now, though? Right now?
Right now I have to go fish the calculator out of the dog’s bowl.