POSTED ON May 30th 2015 BY LESLIE LOFTIS UNDER Life Admin, Motherhood, This modern life
I have become my college mentor. Her daughters and I used to tease her for overcommitting. (Note to young people: oh, how we do end up eating our words as time marches on.) She was always busy, not with crafty mom stuff or with a formal job, but with various committees and initiatives. That’s how we met actually. She was my Pi Beta Phi alumnae shadow advisor when I was on our board.
Sometime after I graduated, I went for a visit and she showed me around their upstairs redo. In all the renovation, she hadn’t made a formal office for herself.
The trend at the time (the mid 90’s) was to expand and make a uni-task space for everything. Magazine spreads were full of fancy home office ideas, and the architect behind the sanity of the Not So Big House had not yet published her book. Yet, Sherri’s office was just a nicer closet with a window between her daughters’ bedrooms. I asked why. By this time I had learned that Sherri’s advice was well worth seeking.
She told me that it was her job as a mother to stay in her children’s sphere, although not necessarily in their business. She didn’t directly monitor everything they did. She didn’t hover. But since she was in their space, she heard, she felt, she anticipated, she deterred. She was available to them. She knew about their lives without interceding out of habit. And she still had her own pursuits.
I remembered this, and a fair few other bits of wisdom that she passed on to me, when I had my own children. In England, I officed in the foyer and then the kitchen. In Texas, we have one of those 60’s ranch houses with the long hallways, part of which has a large window alcove. I put my office in the alcove. The children’s bedrooms are directly behind me.
It all works just as Sherri said it would. As a mother, I love my office arrangement. Most of the time, I even love it as a writer. But this arrangement does not work for deadlines.
Some Most of the things I hear from the children is bickering. It is just low level bickering, sometimes about whether they are bickering. This does not aid concentration.
I kick them outside, but today the rain started again. I have a few remote offices—a coffee shop and a Tex-Mex restaurant—I can use in a pinch and if someone else is here. I also have some noise canceling headphones. But sometimes, none of my zigs work. If I’m not on a deadline, I just put work up until later. But if I am, “Argggggggggg!” (That’s my Charlie Brown football kicking scream.) Today, it is a deadline at the start of summer in a post Memorial Day 2015 flooding thunderstorm when I might lose power or have to bail something out. I should add a few more g’s to that arggg.
NOTE: Because I’ve been asked, the window desk behind the chair, I got it on etsy. A guy made one for his kid studying for finals. Many asked about it, so he made more and started a shop. I love mine. It easily holds a keyboard, iPad, and a notepad and pen so I’m not always sitting to write.