Way back when I decided to freelance, I was thinking that it would solve a host of problems for me.
It would solve the money problem (the problem being, I didn’t have any).
It would solve the attention span problem (the problem being, I don’t really have one, and Oh! Look! Something shiny over there!).
It would solve the playing office problem (the problem being, I have trouble playing nicely with others day in and day out, particularly when the others are treating me poorly).
What I didn’t realize at the time was that I would now look around at the rest of you who work at conventional jobs for a living, and be dumbfounded as to how you manage it. Seriously, you all must be robots.
I mean, look. I understand that as a single parent things are going to be a bit different for me. I get that. But I am telling you that from where I sit right now, it is utterly BAFFLING to me that people can work and have children and not lose their ever-loving minds.
Some of you parents out there work full-time jobs in offices. Probably with some people who aren’t very bright. Maybe even with people who smell. Certainly with people who require you to be there at certain hours to do certain things. Your freedom to come and go is somewhat restricted, is my point. And yet, you have these kids who need things. How do you make it all happen?
Here is what I have realized in the last week or so: I can never again work in an office, at any sort of “traditional” job, ever again. Certainly not while my kids are living at home, anyway. And here is why.
1) I have two children. Each child is involved in just ONE extracurricular activity. Each of those activities involves 2 events per week. That’s 4 times a week when one child needs to be somewhere for something.
2) We are currently averaging two doctors’ appointments a week while we try to help Monkey collect himself or at least determine that he is beyond saving and should be sold to the highest bidder. I am leaning towards the selling thing but feel that I should make sure we’ve explored every possibility before letting him go, as I am rather attached to his rotten little self.
3) That doesn’t even include regular doctor, dentist, and orthodontist visits. Or deal with what happens when one of the kids is actually sick. Or—my favorite!—what happens when all three of us are sick at once.
4) Part of the reason I agreed to work for the PTA was so that I could do things like explain to my daughter that the magazine drive is a high-pressure attempt to sell her soul into child labor and we can sidestep it with a clear conscience because we are already contributing to the PTA. And the time I spend working for the PTA? Turns out to be rather more substantial than I’d anticipated. Which means she doesn’t have to sell coffee cakes, either. Hooray!
5) Inbetween all of the aforementioned things, school, and my contracted work, I’m still supposed to cook, clean, learn how to patch tile, take out the garbage, do the laundry, buy groceries, assist with homework, and have QUALITY TIME with my children. Oh, and a life for myself. HAHAHAHA!
Seriously. You parents who work full-time in a 9-5ish gig. Tell me your secret. How the hell are you doing it? Even if there are two of you, if you both work, how do your kids participate in activities or keep going back to the doctor when no one seems able to figure out what the hell is going on with them?
Maybe you’d better not tell me. It’ll probably just make me feel more defensive.
Today Monkey’s teacher emailed me a laundry list of his transgressions for the day, concluding “… and he has big black circles under his eyes.”
I was halfway through typing out a response (including the helpful explanation that he has a lot of allergies, and when the pollen is bad—as it is now—he is prone to allergic shiners) when I found myself becoming incensed. WHY was that on the list? WHY did she feel the need to mention that? Does she think I haven’t NOTICED? Does she think maybe I got tired of his inability to behave and popped him a couple of times before putting him on the bus this morning? Does she think that maybe I let him stay up and party all night and haven’t been able to figure out that he’s not sleeping enough?
She probably just thought she was being helpful. I probably just got upset because I feel like I ought to have an answer by now. After all, it’s not like I’m not working on it. And I barely even work, right? I mean, I’m constantly taking the kids here or there, being available for whatever they need, whenever they need it. So what if I’m doing my paid work while they’re at school… or while they play outside… or while dinner cooks… or after they go to bed… or all of those times.
Going back to an office job now would mean getting even LESS done, and I just don’t understand how that’s even possible. (Not that I’m planning on or looking for an office job. I love the excitement of having to mooch health insurance off of others. Plus the thrill of driving my children all over town so that they can tell me how much more fun their father is. I’m just trying to understand how it works for other people, like if they just take a lot of drugs or what.)
As Otto said to me tonight: “You barely even sleep as it is. Of course, that’s okay, because you hate your bed, anyway!” (Leave it to Otto to find the silver lining… er… well… the slightly less sucky lining….)