When my mother came to live with me, I had hoped that cutting my workload to 80% efforts would be adequate to accommodate her needs. My work included a long commute that made it impossible to return home quickly if my mother needed assistance. When it soon became obvious that the arrangement would not work, I explored other options. Fortunately, my then-employer made it possible for me to work from home one day a week and my former boss (from a decade ago) had a position open for the other four days. Thus, I was able to work from Baltimore. This was truly a blessing.
Working near home was incredibly convenient and I was fortunate to have such accommodating employers who were also friends. Since we are all of a certain age, we are trying (or have tried) to manage our parents’ various health and living situations. This new arrangement worked well, particularly for the first three years that my mother lived with me. Things began to change when my mother showed subtle signs that she was having more difficulties with routine tasks. I decided to try to find ways to work from home. The alternative down the line would be to hire someone to come in to check on her or move her someplace else, neither of which are preferable and both are expensive.
Fortunately, a company that partners with one of my employers and incorporates working remotely into their routine, had some positions open and I was hired. This was a few months ago and it is working out beautifully. The challenge was that I jumped from without a break from two jobs into the new one – in fact, there was a week where I worked all three – 75%, 25% and 25%! Though that sounds crazy, the actual hours worked were considerably more. This transition contributed to my exhaustion (counting the changes and making trade-offs), as well as the upswing in my mood. Nothing seems to be linear these days!
The transition to working from home has its challenges. Some people become distracted by laundry and other tasks around the house. That’s not my problem. My problem is that I am too focused. I am becoming a hermit. I have to make myself leave the apartment. I get excited when the pharmacy calls me to pick up my mother’s prescription, but sometimes it takes me a couple of days to walk a block to the store. Even on the weekends, when my high point is doing the laundry, I only seem to go out briefly to run errands.
I am hoping that this isolation may be due to the fact that I’ve been very busy and am just very tired. For the first couple of months of my new job, I was finishing up projects for my old jobs on the side. Once I finished those tasks, I was putting in extra hours on my new job to make my deadlines on a few key projects that had come to me because of work flow transition problems. People were leaving and others coming on board, resulting in gaps for a couple of programs. I was happy to pitch in and my new employer appreciated my efforts. In some ways, it was great to feel thrown into the deep end – I felt engaged again!
About a week ago, I hit a wall. Needless to say, I’m tired. I’ll say it … I’m too old for this! Actually, I’m not too old. I think had I taken a break between jobs, I would now be alright. Or if I had a period of time with no extra hours, I’d be OK. Last weekend, I intended to just rest, having finished up my part on a few projects. However, I ended up with a bit less time to rest than anticipated.
This past weekend, I took advantage of the lack of obligations to rest. My activities have been limited to setting up my new laptop and cleaning off the old one. I love my old laptop. He’s 6+ years old and had an extremely active first four years with me. The past couple of years have been a bit slower, but still quite active. We spent a lot of time together and I have fond memories of my laptop.
It’s funny how we become attached to things – I’m really quite emotional about yet another transition. My new laptop is very nice and sleek … handsome, even. I look forward to many hours working on the new laptop, including writing this blog. But, I really hope I’m done with the changes now – I’ve had my share.
I want to unclench and be still and meditate on new things to come.