As a freelance writer, I always have the opportunity to work. Assuming that I have projects on the go, either for myself or for my clients, all I have to do is boot up the computer and start typing. People talk about setting hours and having a clearer distinction between work and home, especially for those of us who work from home. That distinction, though, is largely ethereal. It’s only theoretical. When I’m “in the office,” home inevitably invades. When I’m “at home,” work is only a smartphone away.
Why Aren’t You Working?
This lack of balance tears me up inside, because I always feel guilty no matter what I am doing. If I’m sitting in the office, working on whatever it is that needs to be done, I feel guilty for not being actively engaged with my family or taking care of household chores. When I’m actively engaged with the family, I feel guilty for not actively earning income when I could be.
Due to this line of thought, my mind is always somewhere else. It probably doesn’t help that I’m slowly developing the attention span of goldfish with fleeting thoughts entering and leaving my stream of consciousness all the time. What else is there? What else needs to be done? What should I do after I’m done doing whatever it is that I am currently doing?
Unsurprisingly, this all becomes rather counterproductive. I wrote a few years ago how the freelance lifestyle is all-consuming, but I’ve since also learned that the “dad life” is also all-consuming, if not even more so. And when you have two components that are both all-consuming, you simply don’t have 200% of yourself on deck to handle it all. Something’s got to give.
Here (Not There) and Now (Not Later)
The most profound revelations are oftentimes also the most simple. This was exactly the case a few weeks ago and it was once again reinforced this past weekend. Shortly after going out for Dot Com Pho with Adalynn in tow, my wife went to work and I was left home alone with my daughter. Did I have work to do? Sure. Of course I did. But I put that aside, let my smartphone rest dormant on the counter, and just took care of the kid.
We ran around the house playing hide and seek. We roughhoused and watched the traffic pass by in front of our house. We laughed and smiled. Eventually, we had dinner, I read her a bedtime story or three, and I called it a night. While I did return to my computer to get a few small things done, I didn’t really go “back to work” in the traditional sense. And I was all the happier for it.
The simple freeing thought?
Simply focus on the now.
Be present in the moment.
Obvious, to be sure, and easier said than done. What I’ve come to realize is that I’m far happier when I’m able to focus on being “just dad” to my daughter and not worry about my business, if only for a few hours at a time.
To be wholly invested in the current task at hand, whether that’s writing a feature article or reading Brown Bear, Brown Bear for the 16th time, is the key. Or at the least first key… or a part of the key. It’s a lesson that I need to continue working on and taking to heart. Thankfully, I’ve got a tiny runaway teacher living under my roof. And she gives great hugs.