Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The-week-after-vacation elation -- no matter the weather

“Monday morning, back to work, freezing sleet and rain, ugh,” said the broadcaster on the morning news, her tone overdramatically glum. Obviously this broadcaster has not walked a mile in my shoes – cold, wet and soggy as they may be – recently.

Yes, it’s true that I wrote just a few days ago about what a fun vacation/staycation week the kids and I were having. And it’s true: we had lots of good times during their five days at home. Just as we had plenty of fun during the five snow days they had in the four weeks that preceded the vacation. They’re both at great ages where there are plenty of things they like to do – with each other, with me, with friends, or alone – and emotional meltdowns are few and very far between. I’ve always enjoyed spending time with my children, but perhaps at their current ages of 8 and 12 more than ever. It’s terrific to be with them these days.

Yet still. There’s no silence quite like the silence that descends over the household the first Monday after a school vacation week. It is total. It is unbroken. It is…monastic. Patter of sleet against the windowpanes? Howl of wind in the trees? Speaking for myself, all I hear is chatter-free, TV-free, frenetic-karaoke-singing-free silence.

And that’s a good thing, because I have a lot of work to do this week. I’ve gotten pretty good at keeping up with my baseline assignments even when the kids are home – it’s been two years now since I left the corporate workplace to became a full-time freelancer, and we developed a reliable vacation system in which I do my work from breakfast until lunch and then do something with the kids all afternoon – but it’s still a little bit of a struggle to keep my mind on my writing when the house feels full of people: Tim and Holly, their friends, even the friends’ parents dropping them off and picking them up and staying for a cup of coffee and a little bit of conversation.

But there’s still always a certain undercurrent of anxiety when I try to work during school vacation week. (So as not to sound too draconian, I should mention there are also vacation weeks when we all go on trips together and I don’t try to work at all, but this past week was not one of them.) There’s always the sense that if I meet my regular deadlines and basic professional obligations, I’ll be satisfied; never mind trying to take on anything new or extra.

This week, however, is brimming with possibilities new and extra: potential clients finally ready to close on contracts, story ideas to pitch, articles I’ve drafted but now have the chance to improve upon. And all around me the silence reverberates, promising me that yes, other than the dog napping on the couch, I am truly alone, alone with coffee and laptop, exactly how I work best.

So Monday’s dismal weather, with its ice and sleet and rain, wasn’t a concern for me. It’s a quiet week comprising five consecutive days of six or more hours each devoted to work. Let the forecasters say what they will: I myself couldn’t be more content with it.

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