Work-Life Balance in a Snow Storm
January 31st, 2016
I spent the first two years after our move to Kentucky telecommuting for a nonprofit organization back in Pittsburgh. I worked from my dining room table and I can remember friends remarking how fortunate I was to be able to work but also be home with my kids.
Their optimism was touching but misplaced. Clearly they had mistaken me for some sort of uber-mommy, blessed by the gods of work-life balance with the superhuman ability to effortlessly draft press releases and fundraising appeals while simultaneously playing Uno and making lasagna. The truth, of course, was that my charming children were never present while I worked. That’s what daycare is for.
I was reminded of those days during our recent snowbound Friday when I tried desperately (and failed) to accomplish a number of professional tasks while confined to the house with three small children. I had a grant deadline looming and several meetings to schedule and I tried, I really did.
With the kids happily engaged in a complicated imaginary game involving pirates and antelope, I set up camp at the dining room table, well within earshot of their activities but distant enough to get some work done. Or so I thought. But it wasn’t long before Little Bird came prancing into the room chanting – “nakey nakey nakey!”
I’m here to tell you that it is virtually impossible to draft a focused and well-articulated grant narrative in the presence of a naked toddler doing interpretive dance.
Then I hid in the bedroom and locked the door, leaving the hooligans in the entirely capable hands of my husband. However, for safety reasons, our interior locks are easy to pick with a butter knife and ten minutes later the sound of surreptitious fumbling at my door announced the imminent arrival of my offspring. They’d taken advantage of a game of hide and seek to infiltrate my sanctuary.
Banishing them would have resulted in tantrums, tears, and loud monologues regarding my heartless nature, so I emerged in time to make them lunch.
Finally, nap time arrived. With three small people sequestered into three separate rooms, the house fell silent. Time to get down to business. But wait. What’s that? The toddler has appeared (clothed this time) to request that I join her for her nap.
Faced with the choice between assembling complicated expense reports and nestling under the flannel sheets with a toddler, the decision really wasn’t that hard. The reports would still be waiting when the kiddos were in bed for the night.