Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Dirty Little Secret #12

Often, I have an amazing lack of focus.

If you've been faithfully checking my blog every day, or if you cross your fingers every time you refresh your bloglines page, then I'm afraid that I have disappointed you. (And yes, I'm writing for an audience I know may be fictional. But I was a high-school drama queen, and I still need an audience.) My blog is just another project on which I cannot follow through. I have yet to even take the opportunity to really introduce myself.

I often make excuses for myself on why nothing around here gets done/finished/started. They go like this:

"I own a business, and getting my work done so that I can assist in supporting my family needs to be the first priority." But last night, when I had five baby t-shirts to monogram, I went to bed. Now I'm furiously sewing while the children are still asleep. My kids will usually sleep as long as I will let them, so I could conceivably stand at my sewing machine until 10 o'clock.
Doesn't that sound like a dream? Trust me, I'll pay for that on the other end.

"I don't have time to clean the house because I was working." But really, I was reading your blogs.

"As a work-at-home-mom, I have to care for and play with the kids, take care of business, and keep up the house. One of those has to go, and for me it's cleaning the house." This sounds like the best one, and trust me, it's pretty sanctimonious when dripping off my lips. But it's likely the one that's most untrue. Half the time I say I'm playing with my kids, I'm sneaking off to plug a shirt in the machine. Or just quickly check my email. Or refresh my bloglines. Or call a friend or my sister on the phone.

Fifteen minutes into any game or craft, I suddenly find laundry to fold. On Monday, I promised L. that I would not do any work, but that I would spend all of her quiet time playing with her. You see, L. suffers most from my work. Every day, I need two hours or so to complete a certain number of orders from my queue. T. naps during that time, but L. is four and hasn't napped since she was twenty-seven months old. Every kid needs quiet play time, so I never felt too badly about the fact that every afternoon she wanders around the playroom by herself, with the TV on. The playroom is connected to my office, so I'm really right there with her.

Until yesterday I was okay with that. But at Tuesday Fight Club (or my facilitated parent group that adjoins L.'s pre-school) I learned that while the other parents also insist that their kids take quiet time, they only have them do it for half and hour. HALF AND HOUR, and I have poor L. cooped up for two. I try and try to convince myself that it's different, because the other parents in my group are actually stay-at-home-parents, and I am not.

I proudly wear my work-at-home status to avoid doing the other things I should be doing, like spending time with my children.

Now, ultimately I know that my dramatic statement is an untruth. I am home. I do play often and well. I don't clean my house often or well because I'd rather spend what free time I allow myself actually with my kids. But my innate and deep-seated feelings of guilt illustrate for me that nothing is ever perfect. Yesterday, Dirk arrived home to recount a conversation he had with a colleague about how she'd like to stay home with her kids, rather than continue her training to be an oncologist. She's reading The Mommy Wars; confused rather than enlightened, she asked Dirk and another male colleague if their wives enjoyed staying home and how we made it work for ourselves.

Dirk told her that I have a pretty good gig going. I've got my kids home. I've got a connection to my brain via my business. I have a supportive community of parents via Tuesday Fight Club. He strongly feels that in the four years since we started our journey as parents that we've got this thing figured out pretty good. Most of the time, I agree with him.

There's always a but. I still think I could do a better job. I still believe that I could be more efficient with my work in order to be more present in the moment when I am playing with the kids. I think I could be a better housekeeper. Because even though it appears that I'm doing a fine job, and I am often praised for what I do accomplish and how lovely my children are, I still think that I could be doing a better job. Because just beneath the surface, most of my tasks are only half-done. You see, I have an amazing lack of focus.


lynsalyns said...

I am the same way, sister-mine. And The Mommy Wars? That book sucked. Buncha whiners. I quit reading it halfway through.

Rinn said...

Glad I'm not the only one with the lack of focus thing. I'm always so excited for naptime--I usually get 2.5 to 3 hrs.--but then I can't just use it to get something done. I'm flitting between checking blogs, eating snacks, and doing half-assed housework tasks, etc.

Tater and Tot said...

Found you via your cheesy chicken sister. Who happens to be my biggest fan. Okay - only fan. Well, maybe not so much fan but she has left me comments and put me on her blogroll. That counts, right? I am, however, a fan of hers, and thought that maybe it runs in the family-it does! Your blog is great! Going to blogroll you pronto!
In regards to the guilt, don't worry - we'll all find a way to put our kids in therapy one way or another. It's just a matter of time! An someone will always have an opinion as to what is the best formula for parenting. I happen to think that there isn't one. Or at least that's what I tell myself when I think that I have messed up big time! As long as you are happy and your kids are happy, I think that everything will be okay!

macboudica said...

I am right there with you. I never really feel like I've accomplished anything although many people tell me I'm doing a great job. I always feel I could have done *more*.

Heather said...

Hey Karen, just had to comment... M has to have quiet time while K is taking his nap so this equates to at least an hour, up to 2 1/2 hours. I guess I don't remember anyone saying only a half hour, but I may have been taking some quiet time myself that day....zzzzz.