I'm writing this column on borrowed time.
My husband has taken The Boy up to Forest Hill Park. The Boy didn't want to go. He left loudly, under duress. If he had his way, he would be standing by my chair singing the Pokémon theme at the top of his lungs. Actually, if he had his way, he'd be sitting in my computer chair watching Pokémon on YouTube, and I'd be ... I don't know. Not elsewhere in the house, being productive, because Mommy is so awesome you have to be close enough to touch her at all times! I would probably be standing beside the chair, feeding him M&Ms. That's in his perfect world.
In my perfect world, I would be clickety-clacking away at the keyboard in a clean, uncluttered home office, my desk empty but for a cup of strong black coffee and a calendar blotter with all of my upcoming deadlines neatly marked. In perfect penmanship! And checked off ahead of time! The Boy would be off in the far reaches of the house, inasmuch as a house this size has far reaches, doing something enriching, educational and most of all, quiet.
The truth is, my office is a nightmare. Yes, some of the mess is The Boy's — looking around, I see a fighter plane, an Etch A Sketch, his toothbrush (how did that get in here?) and several Transformers, among other things. But a lot of the mess is mine, and it's pretty much the same mess that cluttered up my office before The Boy arrived. Only now there's more of it because I have less time to clean.
I do not have a blotter calendar on which to mark my deadlines, because any paper left on my desk is in danger of having robots drawn on it with any pens that might be handy. Which is why I never have a pen handy, either. And, finally, if I am in my office, that's where The Boy is, too — trying to climb into my lap despite repeated protests that I am trying to work.
This is the reality of life as a work-at-home mom. The cool moms refer to themselves by the acronym WAHM, but in order to earn that acronym, I have to work at home making organic baby carriers out of vegetable-dyed hemp, or constructing waterbirthing pools out of mud and sticks, so I'll skip the alphabet soup. I'm just one lucky broad who happens to have a job she can do at home.
You might wonder how I consider myself lucky even as I'm complaining that I can't get any work done, and I will admit — at the risk of being labeled a slacker — that it is more important to me to be here with The Boy than it is to churn out X lines of copy per day. You might take that to mean that I lack drive, or ambition, or some other upstanding-sounding quality, and you would probably be right. I am the opposite of a grind. I make no claims to the contrary.
Recently, I took a tiny step toward reconciling The Way I Want Things with The Way Things Are in my little work-at-home world. Almost four years into the game, I accepted the fact that, more often than not, I will not be alone when I am at my desk. So, in order to reduce the sardine effect that takes place when you cram the entire family —including the cat — into the smallest room in the house, I'm currently in the process of invading and colonizing the third bedroom. It's enjoyed previous lives as a cat confinement center, off-season clothing closet and, most recently, the throw-everything-in-there room (don't act like you don't have one).
Once it was my husband's computer room, but that was before I'd lived with him long enough to realize he didn't want his own room. One week after I surprised him on his birthday with a fancy new desk and computer of his very own, he wordlessly dragged the whole setup into my office, pushed his desk against mine and started clickety-clacking away as if nothing had happened. So I see where The Boy gets it.
I guess I could do worse than having two handsome guys who enjoy my company. I've always counted myself lucky not to have a husband who is constantly trying to escape "the old ball and chain." I'll stay grateful for that, and I hope the new office will give us enough room to add a few links to the chain. Maybe then this old ball can get on enough of a roll to get her columns in on time.