I’ve written a little about my work before, to the extent that you know that I like it. No, I love it. It’s the most fun job I’ve ever had, I like to think that I’m good at it (and have been told so by less biased parties!), I don’t have to wear suits, and it offers a schedule fluidity that is essential to my parenting of James.
I won’t share exactly where I work here, but I am a teacher of a particular kind. I spend about half the semester teaching and half the semester grading papers. This is a “full-time job,” but it is infinitely more manageable for me as a working parent than my previous full-time job. This is not the salt mines, people.
So, I’m left with these weird chunks of the semester where I have work to do, but it’s all done on my own. The problem with this is that when I look at the calendar during these times, it appears blank.
And a blank calendar makes me twitch. I immediately think “I have so much free time to do whatever I want! Let’s sign up for some new activities! I am going to learn to play the guitar! I am going to paint our entire house myself! I am going to be the room mom! I am going to sing in the choir again! I am going to start an etsy shop! (Selling what, you ask? I have no idea. That’s not the point. Don’t be a cold shower.)”
You remember I have three kids? Because apparently, I don’t.
So, I find myself in the grading, faux-free-time part of my job and am busier than I am during the more heavily calendared parts of my job. None of the time commitments I have are bad things, but I feel scattered and unfocused in a way that I don’t when I’m busy doing one thing.
And, our house is still a wreck.
I want the same things I wanted in my more intense, time-consuming job, but I was sensible enough then to understand that with children and a job, there isn’t time for the extras. Feeling pulled in two directions was plenty.
Now, I don’t have that same sensible filter and my scattered attention is starting to feel unmanageable. I have a full-time job but feel like I have to cram in an extra life of stay-at-home-mom activities on the side, during these more fallow work periods. (Or rather, the activities I imagine my SAHM friends do, because I doubt most of them have time to do this stuff either.)
Why do we feel like a blank calendar is a bad thing? Why do we feel like we have to schedule every minute for ourselves and our children? What would happen if we did actually have free time?
If you find out, I’d like to know.