Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Worklifebalance, Hah!

I'm not one for new year's resolutions. I've learned that fulfilling anything but the least ambitious resolution (something like "Read one extra page of a book each week") would require more, well, resolve than I possess.

This year, though, I'm going to try to pursue one goal: achieve a better balance between work time and family time. Last year's theme was Can't Say No, wherein I agreed to any freelance project that landed in my e-mail in-box. On the one hand it was extremely gratifying to have a lot of work, but it also chipped steadily away at my downtime. Compounding this was my fall work schedule: with Sean at school three mornings a week and Allie at my sister's two of those mornings, I had just about four hours of daytime in which to work. Most of the time, then, I worked at night; for a four-month stretch it was six nights a week.

(Here's where I whine a bit and you all roll your eyes at my complete inability to get a grip for heaven's sake.) That left me tired and very crabby and a smidge resentful -- after taking care of the kids all (or most of the) day I kind of wanted to just relax and spend time with Jeff. But I felt that turning down work now would leave me vulnerable to dry spells when I will need work the most -- in a few years, when the kids are in school full-time and I can really branch out.

Of course, it seems a tad ungrateful to complain about a surplus of work, especially when I'm the one who wanted this stay-at-home/work-at-home hybrid to begin with. So I should acknowledge that I remain thankful for having a career that allows such an arrangement.

And yet. There's also this other voice in my head, the one that still echoes from when I first stopped working full-time: your unpaid work isn't important; to be a truly valuable member of the household, you have to bring in some cash. I know all I do with the kids is valuable work, but I feel so vulnerable sometimes, that if I weren't busy all the time, if I weren't earning an income, then I don't deserve to be staying at home.

It was a huge decision to quit my job a year a half ago; Jeff was pretty reluctant to agree to it at first. I'd say it took about a year for him to feel comfortable that we weren't on the brink of financial ruin with just one steady paycheck. I worry about him being the primary breadwinner and the one with all that responsibility on his shoulders. Without his support I couldn't do this, and in many ways I feel that my working whenever I can helps ensure that his support continues.

But of course now there's this resolution thing. I've already turned down one long-term project because it would have involved too much work and paid too little, and it felt liberating to do that. Having the laptop gives me more freedom, too (or it would if the stupid wireless connection hadn't gone kaflooey a few days ago). Here's hoping I can be more selfish with my time in 2007.

Sorry for the long, rambling post; with more effort it probably could have coalesced into something a bit more profound. But the kids are now jumping on the bed and it has become apparent that I must now tend to my day job.