I’m getting so frustrated. I have work to do, and I’m trying to do it in an office packed with three people who WON’T SHUT UP and who keep interrupting me to ask for help with THEIR work. And since part of my job is to oversee and assist their work, I HAVE to do it, I HAVE to stop my work to help with theirs. Sometimes I can say, “I think you can do that yourself, remember how I showed you before?,” but that’s an interruption too: stopping my work to hear the request, analyzing the request, answering the request. And then having to go deal with the results of them handling it themselves. They are only four years old, only two years old—they still need a hands-on management type.
I count the interruptions: how many times will I have to get up and go take care of something, or answer a question, or moderate an argument? I will keep track: one, two, three…. twelve times in fifteen minutes. These are not good working conditions. My brain feels jittery, scattered, splintered; I’m trying to hold on to so many thoughts at the same time and they’re getting lost.
My ears are so full. The children talk all the time. They talk to me, to each other; they say every thought that comes into their heads. They narrate a game as they play it, a drawing as they draw it. If they run out of things to say, they hum or moo or squeak. And it’s not one voice at a time, it’s two or it’s three—a braid of voices, a TANGLE of voices. And heaven help me when they FIGHT. If a person were to occasionally clap her hands over her ears and shout “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!,” I don’t think anyone would be surprised.
Sometimes I think, “Fine. I need to do this work, but I’m not getting it done, I’m just getting frustrated with them for preventing me from getting it done. I will stop doing it; I will work at my other job, my parenting job. I will go out into the living room or the playroom and spend time with the little talkers.” So I go out—and they all wander off. They’ve lost interest in me now that I’m available to play or read or talk or draw or make snacks.
I have three more years of this, three more years until my youngest is in school. I calculate the cost of daycare or preschool: it would be many times more than what I earn. I WANT to keep doing this work, and the only place I can do it is at home—the home where I also do my parenting job. I don’t envy my husband much of what he has: his long commute, his relentless schedule, his bosses, his uncomfortable work clothes, his limited time at home, his own annoying and interruptive coworkers. But I do envy him this: he does one job at a time.