Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


I recently discovered that I'm a WAHD. I never knew I was an acronym before, but it turns out I'm a Work At Home Dad. WAHDs were a source of discussion recently on the Attachment Parenting email lists. (Acronyns, once limited to the dark corners of governmental programs and activist groups, now breed unchecked in online discussion forums across the globe, gaining a foothold with people who talk a lot about the same things and who don't type very fast.)

What are the challenges of the WAHD? Some of them I seem to share with most -- kids busting through the door while you're on the phone. When I get up from the breakfast table to go to my office, Malcolm declares "Daddy talk-talk." That is all they really know about my work: "Daddy talk-talk."

But actually, my dogs are usually more reliable disruptors of my work than the kids. The dogs seek asylum in my office, where they can rest undisturbed by gleeful toddlers and glint-eyed five-year-olds. That means an unbroken string of scratches at the door, or baying at the UPS man. The effect is the same, though -- once the person on the other line knows you're not in an office, you never quite recover the level of regard. There is a powerful mixture of envy and disdain, usually reserved for useless playboys. Nobody thinks someone very important can be working from their home, but everyone wishes they could do it, at least sometimes.

One of the best tools I have in the battle is a Voice-Over-IP phone system, which I share with my other WAHD colleagues. The four of us are all in different homes, different cities, and sometimes different states, but we can transfer calls and send-to-voicemail like every other Office Joe. Combine that with an soft-but-firm alto voice on a professional-sounding phone system, and people have a hard time remembering you're in a home office, even when they know the truth. I just wish the Mute button didn't have a distinctive beep.

Another thing I miss, ironically, is the commute. I love the fact that I can roll out of bed and be at work in five minutes . . . but sometimes I wish I had the decompression time at the end of the day, when I wasn't working but I wasn't quite home yet. I go outside with the kids at five while my wife makes dinner, but I have a hard time disengaging from work and really being there.

The danger is not, as most employers imagine, that you will goof off while you're home. It's far more likely that you will work too much. Without the clean divisions between work and home, it's too easy to let work drag seep into the rest of your life . . . especially when desperate people are calling you for help.

Still, there's not much I would change. A little more sound-proofing, maybe.


Post a Comment

<< Home