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April 28, 2011


Jen Unger Kroc

Karen, I've had times like that too. They suck. Sometimes it's when I'm consumed with a project or other commitment (usually not paid work in my current life, but something else consuming and deadline-oriented); it's also happened when one family member is seriously sick or injured and I just don't have brainspace for it all. Only two things I've found that help. (Well, three: The crisis passes, eventually. Really, it does.) In the meantime, first, I've been exceedingly grateful for my friends who have stepped in to be second (or third) mothers to my children, enfolding my girls into their families for a day or an afternoon so they can soak up some family love while I focus on the Stuff that must get done. And second, sometimes even when it's so hard and you don't want to, you just have to set your own stuff aside and spend some focused time & attention on your kids yourself. Walk away from the computer. Put your things down - or up, where you can't reach them for a while. LOOK AT your kids, listen to them, show with your whole body that they have your full attention. Even if it's just for fifteen minutes. Then be honest and say, "I need to focus on my work for a while now." In my household, it seems the hardest thing for my kids and the most frustrating part for me is when I'm trying to work and they talk to me while I'm distracted - better to face it, put the work away, face them, and try to keep my mind honestly and genuinely clear for them. Sequencing.

Sympathy to you!!

Karen Smith

Thanks @Jen. I had the talk with myself just yesterday about how I need to do that - the putting one thing down, turning, providing full attention. And remembering that it won't last forever helps, too. Mere blips on the life radar. Just painful ones.


Making time is hard, and I totally identify with the wanting to have our cake and eat it too. On occasion over the last few years I've burnt myself out by doing too much, to the point that I got so tired one day I crashed my motorcycle and was on crutches for six months. I've really found it helpful - when necessary - to take a step back and say You know, I already have it all.

Sure, I want to do more, and I'm working towards those goals. But I've had enough friends die along the way to their goals - either through physical or mental health issues or through preventable accidents - that it's really put things into perspective. Life's short and I want to get more done, but The Day Job and The Writing Job and The Renovation Job are not warzones and not worth sacrificing life or family over. (Though TV, now there's an easy candidate...)

Mind you, I might know all this in my head, but the spark of whatever-it-is that wants to see all these things done gets me pretty frustrated when I'm stymied by other responsibilities too. Oh for an easy answer!

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