With 3 kids in the house who are basically just industrial strength needing machines, finding time to pass stool without another human touching me is challenging. Carving out an hour to sew when I have all 3 kids at home with me is downright comedy. One of my Big Mommy Beach Bags should take about an hour to sew. But unless a minimum of 66% of my offspring are unconscious, it takes about 3 hours--and years off my life--to get it done.
It can get frustrating. And I tend to end up angry. Not so much angry at the kids, because for the most part the interruptions are simply kids being kids; needing attention, a diaper, help, a mammary, a cage match referee. Just angry because my desire to stay seated at my sewing machine and work for longer than 3 minutes at a time feels like it is constantly being thwarted.
A crash from the kitchen: He scaled the pantry shelves and pulled an entire Fruity Pebbles box's worth of cereal on top of him and all over a basket of clean laundry. PAR-TAY!
They have neediness radars that are tuned to sense any productivity hormone my brain emits and to instantly react with full force to stop it in its tracks. I swear, they can and do entertain themselves happily for long periods, but for some reason when I have something I really enjoy doing, they can't survive 45 seconds without my requiring my undivided attention and my two able hands.
Jesse came up with a new definition for anger recently: he says anger is often just blocked goals.
It seems to fit:
Cut me off in traffic? I'm angry because you blocked my goal of not having my life endangered and/or personal space stolen.
Internet acting schizo at work? I'm angry because it's blocking my goal of disseminating my delectable spreadsheets throughout the company.
Somebody talking bad about me? I'm angry because it blocks my goal of having healthy relationships and not getting my feelings hurt.
It's a really useful exercise for me when I feel the anger monster just taking over. Instead of seeing anger as this 3rd party outside phenomenon that I have as little control over as I do the weather, I can break it down a little and better figure out what's going on: What goal do I have right now that feels like it's being blocked? Often times it give some self awareness that my goals might need adjusting (I just want to sleep until 10 am on a work day! I expect the three children to behave in the grocery store when they are hungry and have been trapped inside all day! Jesse obviously needs to read my mind!)
This new perspective also reminded me of the kids' eternal interruptions of any private creative time that I try to take lately. When it comes to blocking this particular goal, my youngins are basically at Dikembe Mutumbo levels against me. (Fun fact: I once found myself with Dikembe in the cough/cold aisle at a CVS in 2002).
I sit down and start threading my machine: in comes Layla reporting a milk spill:
I pull out all my fabrics and get ready to cut them to start on existing orders: Noa wakes herself up from what should have been a nice long nap with an explosive poop:
I take two squares of fabric, place them perfectly under my needle and lower my foot upon the pedal. Judah bursts in needing me to beat a level for him on Lego: Star Wars.
Next thing I know, 2 hours have passed and I have sewn maybe 7 stitches, gotten up 34 times and have rage-tangled my machine at least twice.
When I applied the new blocked-goals to this common source of anger and frustration in my life--and then immediately thought of Dikembe--I starting thinking of sewing not as an activity that the kids ruined, but as a goal temporarily blocked.
Dikembe blocked shots better than anyone, but opposing players scored on him plenty of time. They just had to work around him.
As such, I decided to stop thinking of sewing as a hobby of mine, but have chosen to look at it as a competitive sport. My kids aren't ruining things; they're just playing defense.
Productivity? Think again, Mommy.
Getting angry about someone ruining my plans makes me bitter and teeth-gnashy, but being in competition with someone: well that's my JAM.
It's now a contest for me: how can I prepare, react and deflect so that I win by being able to get things done AND keep the kids reasonably happy healthy at the same time. (Spoiler alert: they win too because I stop treating them like temporary inconveniences or bite-sized stressors).
Layla comes in, bored with the show I let her watch on Netflix after 6 minutes? BOOM I parry that attack with a new little art project from the $1 section of Target. Noa isn't happy unless I am holding her? BANG! I pick and roll that baby into the Ergo. Judah comes in saying he's hungry when he's just had a snack and dinner is an hour away? KAH-BLOOWIE! I tell him I bet I can finish sewing this scarf before he can pick up all his toys. The Force (of competition) is strong in this one and he loves a chance to win.
Nothing fundamentally changes except for my attitude. I never got pouty and bitter on the volleyball court when opposing teams tried to do their thing. Because, duh, I expected some resistance and adjusted so that I could accomplish my goal (#Winning). My kids aren't against me, but often the flow of their little lives just naturally throws resistance into my perfect idea of a day. Instead of meeting that resistance with a spoiled little tantrum that leaves us all feeling unfulfilled, I am committing to just adapt my strategy and make it a game where I expect to have my productivity momentarily opposed, but still try to score as much sewing time as I can.
Dragon-mommy is mean to kids, gets nothing done and is a stressed out mess puddle by the time Jesse arrives home:
NOT IN MY HOUSE!