Sunday, February 24, 2008

When the professional and personal collide, part 2

I missed a deadline.

A couple of weeks ago, I decided that one of the two journal articles I currently have in progress was just about ready to be sent out. I found a suitable home for it. A colleague told me that the journal has a policy of assigning reviewers quickly to articles if they are submitted by a certain date. Aha! Instant deadline! The date was definitely do-able: I'd have to do some revisions to make the page count and formatting, along with the last-minute revisions (and, oh yeah, writing the intro section), but I could definitely, and comfortably, make it.

Then life intervened.

Over the past two weeks, all of us have been sick at one time or another. We've had to juggle day care several times. I was single-parenting for a few days. There was a crisis that needed to be dealt with that took up a bunch of time and mental energy last week.

I held out faint hope for this weekend....until Mr. Jane got can't-get-off-the-couch sick, and Baby Jane decided to go on a napping strike.

Now, in the long term this is not a huge deal. The journal is not going away; I can submit it anyway, and just deal with a longer review process. Fine.

But these past few weeks, I've been completely frustrated, exasperated even, with the lack of control I've had over my life. Yes, I realize that this is par for the course when you have an infant. Yes, I realized what I was getting into....sort of. But that doesn't make it any less frustrating.

I feel like my life has to be in perfect balance for me to make progress on...anything. And anything any part of my life falls out of balance, at best I can tread water and not lose ground; at worst, I fall further and further behind. Right now, I am so far behind with what I absolutely need to have done, much less the "nonessential" stuff like research. At times like this, I feel like I'll never get everything into balance, never really be able to feel like I'm moving forward, never feel like I can relax and feel good about where I am, currently, and where I'm going.

I wonder if this feeling ever goes away, or even lessens...or if this is something I will just have to learn to deal with for the next 18 or so years.


Lauri said...

I feel your pain. In the words of Dory (Finding Nemo) "Just keep swimming".

Anonymous said...

The good news is, it gets better, and it doesn't take 18 years.

The bad news is, it doesn't get better 'til your youngest is at least 8 or 9, in my experience. :)

(My boys are now 11 and 13, I've felt much less off-balance for the past two years or so.)

Addy N. said...

Hang in there, Jane! It really does get easier as they get older- although the "child-home-sick" problem is always a tricky one.

Carrie said...

I don't think you CAN balance. I think you juggle. Sometimes work is up and family is down, and other times things flip.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jane -- nothing more to say than I also always feel like things are in chaos, and at the edge of a precipice. I'm not sure if that makes you feel better or worse (It's hard to tell whether it's better that someone does manage it, or that everyone feels the same way).

But, as others say, things get much much better as the kids get older. Mine are 7 & 4, and I'm in a completely different world than the people with 4 & 1 year olds. The improvement in life's control is incremental, and comes with other challenges (as pointed out by FSP), but over all, you get more control, and more time and space for your own thoughts.