Monday, February 27, 2017

Horticultural Time

I had the opportunity to put on make-up and get semi-dressed up for a professional development opportunity the other day. The theme was "Making Productivity Productive" and the event was geared toward women. I felt it was particularly suited to my particular brand of disorganized. I have a keen interest in methods of productivity, yet when given the chance I'm often notoriously unproductive. Pre-baby, I found with some horror that my best working time was often after 6pm. Now past 6pm is not a great option, because I'm usually making supper and cleaning up by about 7pm, and am pretty useless by 9pm. Somewhere in there I like to talk to my husband so it's more like a marriage and less like a very familiar roommate situation. Three days a week the baby is out the door by 8am and back by 1pm, and it's a miracle if I can pull off good work before 10am without 100mg of caffeine, 10 mg of Adderall, or both.

The other attendees were, on the whole, older than me. I hoped to gain some insight as to how they keep their heads in the game. During a sharing session, the woman next to me used "synergy" in earnest. I'm too much of a Millennial not to mock that term. I refrained from standing among them, shouting to the heavens, "What does your busy-ness achieve? What are you getting out of your work?!" but I know that day-to-day life is much more than what can fit into a calendar, and these women (much like me) were attempting to figure out how to keep the wage-earning part of their life separate from their actual life.  Plus, it wouldn't kill me to learn to not be an asshole, even if it's only in my head where I say those things. 

I'm in a different place than them right now and that's okay. Getting ready for labor, I read Mindful Birthing. I credit this book with giving me the tools to get through labor unmedicated.* In it, they do a good job getting new mothers into the mindset that gets you through having a newborn, then an infant, then a toddler: Horticultural Time.

Particularly in the West, the world moves by the clock. Industrial Time, the book calls it.  Lunch happens at noon, whether or not you're hungry. The bus certainly doesn't wait for you. Conference calls start at 10am, and Lord knows you don't want to be the late attendee interrupting as you buzz in. Horticultural Time is conditional. Things happen when they're ready to happen. Babies are born when they're ready. Newborns are hungry when they're hungry, even if you just fed them a half hour ago. Flowers bloom when they're ready. Give up on the clock. Don't rush it. Results are disappointing when you do.

I have loved being on Horticultural Time. I've often wondered if my ADHD is really a problem outside the modern world in which I live, where the work that helps support my family necessitates me being able to make efficient use of time. My ADHD-brain is actually well-suited towards the complexity and repetition of motherhood: my days adhere to a Rule of Life that, when followed, makes for a happy baby and mama.  Eat, play, sleep. Explore the world, sing songs. Wash up in the evening, make lots of time for being cosy together. I can make supper and watch the baby and maybe even keep the house clean all at once. I might even squeeze in a creative project that pops into my periphery. I can take a nap when Reed naps, if that's what I need. Is the weather nice? Let's take a walk! 

I know I'm lucky to have found work that lets me mostly take care of my son and from time-to-time use my graduate degree. I only have to engage in Industrial Time three days a week, four at most. When I have to work, I need to put blinders on to my mental periphery. I cannot do it on my own; I have many, many years of learning this the hard way. Thus the Adderall, which I'm back on now that Reed is eating solids. I've also given up on whether or not I need to feel bad taking the ADHD medication. I have to work; it helps me work. I wish I had it in college and grad school, when I mystified myself by staring for hours at homework or research and not getting anything done with it. 

Being productive on Horticultural Time looks different than it does with Industrial Time. My progress is measured differently. Going from Point A to Point B is great, but if I end up at Point C it's not a big deal. One day I'll probably go back into full-time work and then I'll be a little stricter about accounting for my hours. Until then, my days more sundial than clock.


* - Full disclosure: had some lovely narcotic mid-labor paired with an Ambien, because I was exhausted and they threatened to send me home because I wasn't progressing. I slept 6 blissful hours, had my water broken, and pushed out a baby four hours later. No Pitocin, no epidural, just like I wanted.  

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