I work as a freelance writer for the local newspaper. Mostly I work during nap time, which has recently morphed from sleep time to play-quietly-or-I-will-take-away-all-of-your-toys-and-become-a-fire-breathing-mom time. Kenzie, four-almost-five, has played quietly for awhile now, but this is new ground with Hannah, two.
I'm beginning to think if I want to keep working/writing/stay sane I need to hire a sitter at least one day a week. Let me illustrate why:
Last week I was on the phone with an NBC producer, while the girls "napped." I was working on a story for ye Ol' Standard Examiner about the T.V. coverage of the Dew Tour at Snowbasin. He was telling me about his world travels and how he's produced shows about the NBA, the NFL, etc.
As I'm responding and trying desperately to type everything he's saying, I hear the door open and then Hannah yells, "I have to POO. I have to POO!" (By the way, this is not my potty language of choice. Thanks Mike.)
I pretended that I lived in a hearing bubble, where the person on the other end can't hear anything but me, and I wrapped up that conversation lickety split. I may have missed some good quotes. Hannah had taken care of the situation by the time I got to her. I'm not sure why she has to yell urgently that she must use the bathroom every time she does it.
Sometimes when my children need me while I'm interviewing someone, I feel comfortable explaining the situation and asking for a pause. Everyone has been very understanding. Sometimes I pretend that nothing is happening and try to keep typing while they tug at my arm and I snap in the air and mouth, "GET BACK TO YOUR ROOM." Other times I pause the phone conversation without acknowledging why and take care of the situation. Sometimes I grab a piece of paper and lock myself in my room and frantically scribble notes while they howl, muted by the closed door.
None of these are ideal situations. But you know, if wishes were fishes we'd all umm... how does that go? Something about never going hungry, right?
My freelance gig, working from home, is generally a spanking good deal. No commute, flexible hours, take-it-or-leave-it options.
Lately though I've felt like my writing is suffering from lack of focus. That Dew Tour T.V. story, it wasn't my proudest piece of writing. After that awesome conversation with the NBC producer, I was trying to write it on a Saturday as life flowed around me at our centrally-located computer station. That day my editor had to call me and ask if I meant to switch tenses in the middle of a sentence (why yes, yes I did. Because it makes perfect sense to wrote a sentence in past and present).
Perhaps I need to not try to mesh work and life. Because the meshing is mashing into a big mess. On one hand I'm guilty of not being a good mother because I'm ignoring my children and on the other I'm guilty of not being a good writer because I'm thinking about how guilty I feel for ignoring my children.
With a baby coming soon, I'm going to have to mark some working boundaries, or lose myself entirely in motherhood. I just have to decide what the right course is for me and my family.