recently i was asked how i manage to work a full 9-5 office job from home with a toddler in my care. i honestly chuckled when i read the e-mail because it has become so second nature that i hardly think about how i do what i do anymore - i just have to do it. however, since this e-mail came in, something tapped me constantly on the shoulder (maybe its my jimminy cricket) to say "look at yourself - running around like a chicken with your head cut off!" i jokingly told another co-worker that i was not going to do a blog post on this topic, but here it comes.
it all starts with some cooing sounds coming from the other end of the house. the awakening starts each morning on daxton's behalf - if it was up to me we'd all sleep until 10am daily, but i have to work, and he has to do things like eat and have clean diapers - so he wakes up. sometimes he gets up at 6:45 and i try to bargain and plead with him about snoozing with a fresh diaper and a bottle snack for just another half an hour, but he never takes me up on it. once he's up he has to start his day off with smiles, giggles, and snuggles. he's waiting there (standing in his sleep sack) with arms outstretched so happy to see me. he cuddles in when i scoop him up from his crib. he lays on the changing table while i work on the diaper. after the diaper we truck down the hall to pour up some milk and i usually hold him in bed while he drinks, for at least 15 minutes or so. as he wakes, so do our dogs - the dogs who cannot be together in the same room (except while sleeping under different blankets in the same bed - don't ask) or they'll murder each other, so i have to start making plans on how to separate them for the morning, while keeping dax away from trouble and danger. i usually have to put him back in his crib to make this dog arrangement, and then take one dog outside while the other one barks behind the gate at the door of our bedroom. dogs each eat different foods, so i have to make sure the appropriate dog food is in the dog dish before i put one dog in the living area, while the other one gets to potty and return to the bedroom until lunch time. (dog jail...) at this point i also attempt to get a bathroom potty break, which sometimes does not happen for at least another hour or so. once the dogs and my bladder are settled i get dax into his high chair and get him excited about morning time. i usually sing him my rendition of mandisa's good morning - which is just a little more mod than my mom's - "good morning, good morning, it's time to get up this morning - good morning, good morning - to you!" he laughs and giggles and thinks i am totally hilarious... after he's strapped in i keep him happy with o's cereal. he usually takes about 5 at a time now and he'll keep pounding them down until the main course. in the mean time i am in the background cutting up fruit or defrosting frozen fruit to put in the bottom of his yogurt. he loves his yogurt and i think it's his favorite meal of each day. once the yogurt is scooped up and ready i settle into my seat and feed mr. happy. he delights in the yogurt with "yumm" and other delightful sounds. he pauses sometimes half way through and looks out the window into the yard to look at birds, dogs, or wind blowing things. but, when he is ready you better be back to the yogurt in a hot hurry. once we get down to the last bite i give him fair warning and he is told that this is the "last bite". he'll smile and tell me "all gone". after he's done i offer a few more o's while i fix my own yogurt, get a pony tail holder, take daily meds, and pour a cup of coffee. i make one trek up the stairs with dax and settle him in his pack and play where i tell him "i'll be right back". he smiles and says "bye bye" as i head back down stairs to get my breakfast and phone to carry them upstairs. this all happens most days before 8:30am, but definitely by 9.
by 9am i've started my computer, downloaded email, checked voicemail, and gotten into work mode. i am shoving in yogurt and guzzling down coffee while dax is pretty content with what's going on in the pack and play. sometimes answering email takes until 10am and during that time i may have had to let dax out of the pack and play and free in the office. we've got a gate on the office door and it has bars - just like jail. (lots of jails in our house.) so, dax rotates through various toys in the office while i'm buried in emails and phone calls. he gets very little attention during this hour. sure, i stop what i am doing for a brief pause to give him a smile, "good job", or a giggle. but he plays rather contently with (mostly) an activity table and books. he loves the bookshelf and everything on it. he loves to look at all sorts of books - art books, computer books, manuals, photo albums - any kind of book. we usually have at least one dirty diaper in this time frame and i usually change it while on the phone with the phone in between my head and neck bending down to do diapers in the middle of the office floor. shortly after 10 am he starts getting tired and ready for his nap. he's generally good to get his bottle and head to his room for his nap. he used to nap in my office in the pack and play, but lately my phone calls and 70+ wpm are just too annoying, so he heads to his room and i grab the baby monitor and head back upstairs.
if he goes down for his nap with ease, then i know i have until about noon to get some serious work done. anything detail oriented needs to be accomplished during this time. i may not have another focused chance. i work furiously - head down, depriving myself of bathroom breaks, water, and any distraction to focus completely on the tasks at hand. there may be conference calls, spreadsheets, answering more emails, or sharing information with coworkers - it all works like a well oiled machine. this all goes on until about noon or 1pm. then, i hear some babbling on the baby monitor and its time for an away message on my instant messenger.
i hop down the stairs, take a dog outside, switch the dogs, and head to daxy's room. again, he's smiling and ready to go (as long as dog barking or some other obnoxiousness has not woken him up early). i get him re-diapered and ready for lunch. we head to the kitchen and i get him into his high chair. i give him some kale puffs and take the other dog outside to potty. after i head back inside i prep his lunch while keeping the puffs coming. i chat with him while i chop up tomatoes, heat up peas and polenta, mixing in some pesto and white cheddar cheese. i hide behind the pantry door and do a couple of pop out peek-a-boo's to get him chuckling. i grab a baby spoon and head to the table for the lunch. i blow on each spoon of lunch and he now blows too, so we make sure it's cooled off and ready to chow down. he wiggles in his seat and loves watching the dog run around the living room/kitchen. he shouts out "good girl" as he sees one of them run by. we make it through the lunch and i fix myself something, and again take dax up to the pack and play and come back down to get the lunch i made for myself.
i always eat at my desk, and sometimes dax lets me do that - while other times he thinks we should play instead of mommy eating. i give him some dancing around the room and sometimes he'll do some jumping - and if he does - he will do it for up to half an hour. by now i am signed back on at work and plowing back through emails, phone calls, and instant messages that are backed up. dax is a lot more active in the afternoons and is usually crawling all over the room. he'll go under will's desk, climb up to look out the window, throw things out of the room over or through the baby gate, scream at/for the dogs, play with his activity table, re-organize the bookshelf, pull down my office phone by its cord and clearly say "hi" to the dial tone at the other end, or work to open all of the drawers in my desk. he's busy. i keep buzzing through work tasks, take more conference calls, and manipulate more spreadsheets. i build shop forms, work on training, and take client calls. all the while - most people don't know there is an (almost) 15 month old baby at my feet or on my lap.
by about 4:30pm each day dax has had enough of the 12x14 room i call my office. he's either ready for another nap or he's ready to bust out of there and sing as we trot down the stairs. the dogs are ready to go outside again and flip flop spaces. sometimes i can squeak 5pm or 5:30pm out of all of my office/house mates, but sometimes they are just DONE. if he goes down for a nap then i can continue to plug through more work and get lots accomplished, but lately he's just not feeling two naps a day - every day. it all depends on the day.
and not all days start out so smoothly or go according to this routine. today was one of those days.
this morning dax was grumpy. he has been battling a cold and had those sicky icky boogers again. he was groggy and just wanted to be with mommy. i held him while i did all of my morning tasks, attempting to answer emails one handed, talk on the phone, and answer instant messages. he cried and screamed and tried to pull the phone and my coffee off the desk. i screamed "NO DAX!" as tears fell down my face, because it hit me that its just all too much for a baby some days. he would not let me put him down. he did not want to go in his pack and play, in his jumperoo, or onto the floor to crawl about. he only wanted to be in my lap and on my chest. no where else would do. i had to send an email and let everyone know that i just had to step away for a bit. i wasn't sure if i'd be back.
i took dax into the play room and held him in my lap. i cried and he'd already forgiven me for being such a big meanie with a lack of patience. he smiled at me and took my glasses off. (he usually takes them by force and chucks them across the room, but i think he likes me better without them, so i ordered some contacts.) i kept them off while i played ball with him and let him crawl around. he played for a few minutes, but then he just wanted to go back to cuddling and rocking. i patted his back and rocked him until he fell asleep. it was just what he needed - just what i needed.
he's a good baby. i don't have anything to compare his actions to, but i believe he's a really good baby. he's happy to play on his own, show me things he's proud of, and be happy with books and sunshine. i don't know that this would work with any other baby, but somehow God knew what baby would work in this family and he directed us into his life. it just all comes together.
i work for him. i work so we can live where we live and hopefully fill our home with other adopted children one day. i work for the hope of affording family fun on weekends, family vacations, and buying organic foods. i work from home so i can stay home with dax all day long, so i can be there when he takes his first steps, says his first sentence, or has a bad day. i am not the work-a-holic, but i am extremely passionate about doing a good job at anything you sign your name to and i would never want to let my company, my teammates, or my supervisor down. they count on me to do good work. so far, i think i am still doing a good job with that. luckily i have the grace of God to get me through all of the tough days that don't go according to plan, and i have dax's grace and forgiveness when i focus too much on my computer and phone and not enough on him.
sure, i'd rather be a totally devoted stay at home mom, but it's just not something we can do right now - so until we win the lottery or some other miracle happens, i will continue to somehow split my focus between my work and the reason that i sit at my desk all day. praise be to God that i have a son who understands.