For want of a wife

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The morning I planned, no needed, to wash an entire household full of laundry, a pipe burst. I walked past a river of water flowing down the  left side of the street on my way to the bus stop. I drove by the repair truck–three times. And still, I pretended it wasn’t really happening, and I sorted five people’s worth of dirty underwear and socks, shoved them into a miniature sized washing machine and hit START. What little water remained in the pipes, trickled into the overly stuffed drum, and then ground to a halt. There it remained, while the repairmen on the street shouted to one another over the noise of the drill, and the tap in the kitchen taunted me by turning on for thirty seconds at a time.

Soon, I will board an airplane, and I don’t have enough clean socks. One of the kids has a sinus infection. My pee wee refrigerator can’t hold all the meals I need to prepare in advance. And I have an idea for a new project knocking about in my head that I’d very much like to see translated onto paper. When women talk about work/life balance I have absolutely no idea what they mean because for me it is all life, and it is all balanced on the edge of a knife, or on working pipes as it were. Where does the work come in? When exactly do these women find the time to dream? To practice? To write or build or heal or CEO stuff? When is this all happening, people?

I follow a well-known male author on twitter, and he’s forever talking about his new projects, his (ridiculous) daily word count, and how easy it is to write prolifically–as if it’s simply a matter of discipline. I imagine him sitting in his office for hours on end, banging away on the keyboard while his wife brings him cups of tea and throws in the next load of his underpants. I’m beginning to think he might have an unfair advantage, such as–a wife.

I need to get me one of those.

Tell me, how do you find the time to work? To create? Do you steal it from the crumb strewn floors? From tv viewing time? From the morning or night? Do you skip exercise? Sleep? Sanity? Talk to me, friends. Tell me what you do and how you do it.

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Speaking of twitter, you can find me there tweeting new posts, great links, and a few photos from our travels @KimberlyACoyle.

Also, I am forever grateful my husband snapped this awful photo of me going about my daily work–the sink as my desk and the dishes my muse.

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  • Amen. (And that’s all I have time to write.)

    • KimberlyCoyle

      Right there with you:)

  • Lauren B

    Kimberly – these 2 things have changed my life: 1. my boys all do their own laundry! your puny European washing machine might not allow it but you can look forward to a bigger one soon enough. 2. i run the dishwasher every night no matter how full. one boy unloads it every morning and everyone puts their own dishes in. not the stuff of CEO importance but frees up some time!

    • KimberlyCoyle

      Oh my word. I wish my children could do the laundry, but it’s so dang complicated here. I can’t tell you how many items I’ve shrunk in the last three years.

  • JJ

    I don’t find a balance. I call you and cry on your shoulder and your offer much needed support!

    • KimberlyCoyle

      And I’m happy to offer it:)

  • Kimberly,
    There is no balance. We all have a different set of what we want to do. The only times I feel successful is when I spend time planning. I try to think about what do I want to accomplish in different areas of my life and write those down. I then lay out a framework for those goals on what it will take to get where I want to be with each one. I then plan what I want to do on a weekly basis on each of those. It helps me tremendously to do the hard stuff first for example I get up early to exercise for I know I would never do it otherwise. So each day I try to work a set amount of time on each item and I never commit to a lot. I think working in short burst consistently really helps accomplish a lot. If I work on a project 30 minutes a day then I have done 3 hours after 6 days. At times when I commit 30 minutes it turns into 60 or more. This is a direct result of what for me is the hardest thing to do and if I get past that I get a lot done. That is to “just start”. If I schedule 4 or 5 hours a day then I can move 8 or 10 projects along by 30 minutes of work. That adds up quickly.

    • KimberlyCoyle

      Excellent tips. I like the idea of breaking tasks down into smaller increments, and how it adds up over time.

  • Your title immediately reminded my of Jane Austen’s opening line of Pride and Prejudice: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” But, that’s kind of beside the point…

    Balance may be achievable, but I have yet to achieve it. There are times when I reach a semblance of balance between creativity, work, ideas, family, chores, and exercise. Somehow that feels a bit sterile. As long as I keep my priorities straight, I enjoy the tension between all the aspects of life that vy for my attention. It keeps me motivated.

    • KimberlyCoyle

      That is my favorite opening line, of any book, ever:) I guess we’re all in want of a wife at times!

  • Anna White

    Well work is at work, but I try to slip in any scheduling of appointments or this like that there. Dinner is crock pot or popcorn or tortilla pizzas. Family time is evening. I get up at 4 to read and study and write, which some days works sometimes not. My house is a disaster al the time except for the tiny two hour window on Saturdays that we pick up. The more I turn to write and creative things the worse the house gets. It’s crazy. Did your water get fixed in time for you to wash your socks?

    • KimberlyCoyle

      I’m exhausted just reading about your schedule. I don’t know how you do it.
      And the water came back on by late evening, so I finished the dirty socks at midnight:)

  • Laurie

    I Know! I’ve been there exactly where you are–four kids, overseas, AF pilot husband gone a lot, and a huge desire to do something besides dishes, laundry, dinner. I’ve even told my husband many times how much I want a wife to make facilitate my life/career. I wish I could give you a hug and tell you it will pass more quickly than you can believe. And you will find the time to do what you want to do. Carve out whatever time you can now, remembering that you are important too. But, I’m seeing creativity all over the place in your life–in your photos, your blog posts, and yes, in meals that you prepare, problem solving, the fun trips you plan, and all of the other minutiae of everyday life. I know how frustrating it is, really. But it won’t always be this way. I promise!

    • KimberlyCoyle

      Thanks, Laurie:) The encouragement from someone who’s walked in these shoes means so much!