Thursday, August 20, 2009

Changing Gears

Back in the days when I was homeschooling all my kids, people would ask, "How do you do it all?" The implication was that I was somehow superhuman. My standard reply was that I gained a lot of time by having only one focus; switching gears between working and being a parent uses up a lot of energy.

In recent years, as I've been working part-time from home, I've discovered there is more truth to this than I imagined.

When I am working, I am not really focused on being a mom. My children must sense this, since that's when they do things like make a (working) roller coaster in the living room, invent magic potions with my more-expensive spices, and use the vacuum as a bumper car. As Little Guy was cleaning up the blocks this evening he was telling me about the great aqueduct he built today in the living room. After a few moments I asked timidly, "Did you use real water in it?" He replied with big-boy confidence, "Well, I wiped it up!"

When I am in Mom mode and Little Guy gets a great idea like this, he is miffed if it's not allowed. Suddenly Mom seems unfair, restrictive, even bossy. My kids don't get away with murder when I'm working (they are allowed to interrupt me if blood is flowing down the hall), but they certainly have more freedom when I'm focused elsewhere. I'm beginning to realize that parental inconsistency is part of the cost of switching gears.

The main cost I normally recognize, though, lies in the amount of effort it takes to reacclimate each time I switch from work mode into Mom mode. It's like coming out of a dark room into bright light. Life is momentarily confusing, and it takes energy to refocus.

Or to put it another way, the door on the phone booth that I step into for my quick-change between being a writer and being a mom sometimes gets stuck.

On the faith end of things, the inefficiency of switching back and forth between various modes of 'who I am' helps me to understand a number of things, like why it's important to live out our faith. We're too inconsistent if we gear-shift between 'real life' and 'what we believe'. Not to mention that we use up an awful lot of energy by the end of the day that could have been used in a much more productive way.

No comments:

Post a Comment