I am thankful for the opportunity to work from home. Really, I am. But sometimes I wish I could get in the car and drive to work like normal people. I wish that I was twenty miles away – away from the dust calling to me from the furniture, the demands of my laundry pile, the ringing of the telephone (which is never for me anyway unless it’s an annoying telemarketer with promises of lower interest rates), away from the pull of the television, the temptation of ice cream in the freezer, and the constant background bickering of my children, not to mention the dozens of “MOM!” interruptions. Sometimes I wish I was not a work-at-home mom.
Like today, for instance.
But, I am determined to get some work done. Which is why I shut the office door behind me – after hanging the “Disturb and you’re dead meat” sign on the doorknob. I’ve warned my children that unless blood or vomit is involved, they are to keep away from that door.
I am ten minutes into bookwork when the phone rings. It stops after two rings.
“Mom! Phone’s for you!” My-nine-year-old son, Caleb, shouts.
“I’m working!” I yell back. “Take a message!”
I shake my head, justifying my son’s interruption by the fact that he’s nine and just doesn’t get it.
I return to my work. Ugh, numbers are not my thing but I’ve got to get these ledgers straightened out before I do anything else. I massage my temples.
The phone rings again. I close my eyes and wait for one of my kids to call me.
Hmmm. Maybe they finally understand what “do not interrupt” really means. Or, more likely, the phone was for one of them.
I actually get fifteen minutes of silence before a light rap sounds on the door.
I sigh. “What is it?”
“Can I come in?” My thirteen-year-old daughter, Sabrina, asks in a muffled voice.
“Are you bleeding?”
“What does the sign say?”
No answer. She must have looked down at the knob.
Five minutes later, I am focusing on a new marketing strategy.
“Mom?” Trevor’s newly acquire man-voice startles me. At sixteen, when he talks, I often find myself looking around to see where the voice is coming from. Surely there has to be a grown man in the house.
I squeeze my eyelids shut. “Not...now.” My tone is sharp, but controlled.
“Did...you...hear...me?” Still controlled, but losing it fast.
“I just wanted--”
“NOT NOW,” I repeat - loudly - through clenched teeth.
Footsteps retreat. Finally…
I read somewhere that for every interruption, it takes a person ten minutes to regroup and fully concentrate again on their previous task. I believe this because it takes me several minutes to get back into my work. I begin to jot down my thoughts on the marketing strategy. A couple paragraphs in, a knock sounds again on the door.
I whip my pen over my shoulder and it hits my filing cabinet with a “pling!” I throw my hands into the air. “Please! I am trying to work in here! I’ll be out in an hour. I’m sure whatever it is can wait!”
“But, Mom--” Trevor again.
I push myself up from my chair and stomp to the door. I pull it open and get ready to lay into my son about respect – not to mention his obvious illiteracy. The sign is hanging RIGHT THERE!
My son stands there, looking grim. But it’s not him my eyes are drawn to; it’s my daughter. She stands behind him, the little make-up I allow her to wear mingling with tears, leaving black trails down her cheeks.
I immediately pull her into my arms. “What happened?”
“Jen called. Her parent’s are getting divorced and she’s moving to Montana!” She wails.
Trevor scoffs, shaking his head. “Please! You interrupted Mom for that? I thought Jen died or something.”
I glare at my son before turning back to Sabrina. “I’m so sorry, sweetie.”
“I tried to come and talk to you as soon as she called...”
She did try, didn’t she? But I was too busy to listen. Her body might not be bleeding but her heart is. And I acted as though my work was more important.
Some mom I am.
I turn and shut my office door, then wrap an arm around Sabrina’s shoulder.
Work can wait. Now it’s time to concentrate on my daughter.
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