February 24, 2011

Work at Home = Madness at Home

The first three months of Willa's life were filled with only her.

When she was in utero, I promised myself I wouldn't let other stuff, stuff outside this little bean, distract me. I would be Mama first. The rest would come after. And, I would not. I repeat, would NOT take on too much outside work.

You see, I'm somewhat of a pleaser. I like to help and I love when I'm needed. Oh, and I can't say no to people I like or issues I care about. So, I have a tendency to take on too much. I vowed that this baby would make me better at boundaries.

I was very clear with my work how much I could give and I turned down several opportunities that came my way (from people I like and on issues I care about) to better focus on the part-time writing gig I do have, the side writing projects I want to work on and most of all, my babe.

It's all gone to hell.

The last few days have been just squeezed full with things like managing some communications pieces for the non-profit for which I'm a board member, playing peacemaker with some back and forth going on among a food system coalition about some upcoming events, contacting my legislators about a bad bill going through the Montana state house, writing a letter to my Farmers' Market Board about amending its vendor guidelines, doing some marketing for the farm (CSA signup is going on right now) and writing a piece for the one job in all of this that actually pays me anything.

So, there was a lot of this: Me on the phone, trying to talk to the person I'm talking to while clapping silently and make BIG smiley faces at Willa, all the while hoping she doesn't cry because:

1) The person will hear her crying and I'm still not sure how accepting people in the outside world are to screaming babies and

2) it will be further proof that I'm totally failing as a present mother.

There was also a lot of this:  I set Willa up in the high chair next to the table/my desk. I type furiously, while singing loudly to Raffi songs (You and I and Every Know! How Oats! And Beans! and Barley! Grow!), stopping every few minutes or so to pick up the toy/toys that Willa has dropped off the high chair.

(Soon, though, I figured out that if I load as many toys as I can on her tray, I'll have to stop to pick up only once she's exhausted all her options.)

Um. Mom? Can't you see I'm down to one toy here? What gives?

This is not what I wanted to give my girl. Fractured attention does no one any good, especially little developing brains. I want to teach her not to multitask, but to focus on the people and projects in front of her right now. On one hand, I want her to see me working. I want her to know that you can do important work while being a stay-at-home Mom. I want her to know that yes, a letter to legislator can make a difference (at least one changed his vote because of letters like mine) and I want her to know that you should work on projects you have passion for.

But, not like this. I mostly want her to  know that in this age of emails demanding attention right now and text messages flying in all directions and the expectation that you do everything all at once that simplicity and singular attention is possible.

In order to make this work-at-home thing work, I'm going to have to at least try to set those boundaries again.

Screw answering those emails. Conference call? Sorry, I'm going to have to skip you. People other than Willa? I'm sorry, and I'll try to give you fair warning, but I might disappoint you from time to time for not being available as often as you'd like me to be.

Because right now, I need to twirl in my living room with my five-month-old and that's the most important thing in the universe.


  1. So relating to this... Thanks, Court. Great Blog!

  2. i hope you're still twirling:)

  3. Staci, we're so trying, although most of the twirling these days is done on the farm. Hope you're finding some twirl time out there too!

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  5. I've worked at home before and it was not madness at all. Thanks.
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  6. I also worked at home, I thought it was just fine but later did I find out that I'm missing a lot of things that happens in the office.
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