Monday, January 5, 2009


I am having trouble compartmentalizing my life—knowing where work leaves off and my own time begins—it seems like it’s all one unruly ball of tangled yarn. Supposedly, this means I am a true cultural creative, part of the new highly productive economy. Ha! It feels like a bit of a brain fry. I am so productive that I dream about my job, only sometimes my dreams are uncannily like nightmares. More on that in another post.

Test question: When I am in a museum with my kids previewing an exhibit and observing their reactions to see what developmental level it fits so I know if it would be a good field trip (I am famous for good field trips) is that a work or a personal activity? Next question: When I am rehearsing the out loud reading of a new picture book at bedtime to see if it will work with our story time on our school’s out program, or making my teen read a novel to see if her age group gets into it, or trolling Facebook to see what her friends are talking about to keep my youth programming relevant is that job related, or my own time? Final bonus question: When I frantically spend the weekend learning a new technology so I can teach it the next week to my charges, does that count as work?

My workplace is very traditional. They actually have a punch clock that you punch in and out of. Very 1950’s. Working at home is pretty frowned upon—we used to have an absolute stated policy against it, but now I am not so sure. I do know that any hours outside the confines of my office are pretty much looked at as my own time. As municipal employees, folks need to know when we are On the Clock so you are not a ghost payroller and Wasting Taxpayer Dollars. But when you love your work, you are never truly Off The Clock. It’s a part of who you are. You are always thinking about how to make what you do BETTER. Well in my case I am fairly obsessed with it. Ask my staff. But it’s one thing when a sanitation worker is off the clock—its kind of hard for him to do his job when he is not on the truck –but my job is to help teach and raise everyone else’s kids and that happens all the time and everywhere. I am very aware that out in public with my kids, I am not just a mom, but potentially your child’s teacher or camp director. It definitely colors what I do. And I know that I stopped separating my life into boxes labeled work, home, mine, theirs, when I started to answer my cell phone the way I answer my office phone. My husband will tell you that I have completely lost the ability to get away from my job until I reach the point of collapse.

But given that what I do that pays me is totally infused into who I am, when I bang up against the old fashioned 9 to 5 punch in punch out work concept, I just get into a brain pickle. I have no idea how to fill out my time sheet and account for my hours. As I move into the new year with a resolution to work smarter so I can have some time to say, read a novel (be still my beating heart) I have absolutely no idea what that means! And of course, the novel I want to read is actually research for one of my camps this summer….
It would be nice to have more time with my own kids. I discovered to my dismay that after 11 hours with everyone else’s kids, I was done with being with children, seeking stimulating adult intellectual conversation, and my kids had to fend for themselves and hang out with Dad over break. I wonder if its that way for other care workers.

So I sit with my boundary building materials, and no idea where to put the fence.

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