I have become very compartmentalized in my oldish age. When I’m home, I like being fully home; I don’t like to have to worry about work. And when I’m at work, I like to be fully engaged in work stuff; I don’t like to have to worry about non-work stuff. I don’t easily toggle from one thing to another, but find myself happier and more effective when I can focus on one in one place and one in another place.
I have also become very much a creature of habit and routine. Wake up, pray, exercise, get myself together for the day, breakfast with kids, and off to work. Home from work, dinner with kids, homework and bedtime for kids, leisure reading, and bedtime for me. These patterns keep me mentally sane and physically healthy, and lend a comforting rhythm to my week.
Crashing a newborn into this kind of life has been an adjustment, to say the least. We are on Asher’s schedule, and will be for a while, in that he is completely dependent on us and in that when he eats/sleeps/poops dictates how we organize our day.
What has been gained by this new addition is immeasurable: I absolutely adore this little dude, and no matter how sleep-deprived or time-crunched I feel I cannot help but smile, cry, and pray when I am with him. What has been lost, so far, is sleep, both in terms of amount and regularity. Exercise has also been jettisoned; I am such a time-rigid regular at the local Y that I assume they’re going to send out a search party for my dead body any day now.
What has been lost, too, as alluded to above, is a sense of compartmentalization of my work and non-work lives. To be sure, well before Asher, my growing work responsibilities meant an increasing number of mornings, evenings, and weekends spent grinding out work content, connecting with clients, and attending networking functions. But life since Asher’s arrival has meant an unprecedented blurring of my work and non-work hours. On the one hand, doctor appointments and other errands during the work day need to be worked around from a scheduling standpoint. On the other hand, and in part caused by the previous point, I catch work time as I can, whether first thing in the morning, late into the evening, or in the middle of the night.
Earlier this week was representative of how much I have burst from my previously hardened shell of compartmentalizing work and non-work time. I left work early one day to take Jada to choir practice, and then used the time while she was in practice to run two errands and attend a business event. Even better, in between I found myself in the basement of the Gallery Mall downtown for almost an hour feverishly editing a work report, shopping bags at my feet from my errands and one eye on my watch to make sure I didn’t miss my event. Talk about inception: a work task inside a personal errand inside the work day.
I have no conclusion or point to this post, just stating how jarring this all is for me. For most people, this is far less a disturbance. For some, it is actually quite mild, compared to the ease by which you blur work and non-work tasks. Indeed, today’s workers clamor for work-life balance and for the fluidity to do work and tend to errands on one’s own clock. As for me, I am finding this new phase in life quite different than what I am used to. I am loving the cause, but looking forward to the day the cause can sleep through the night and let me hit the Y first thing in the morning again.