What Do You Mean "Challenging?"

>> Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Someone once asked me if I missed the challenge of working now that I've decided to stay home.

Honestly, I'm not sure what they meant. Sure, my job was challenging, but in many ways, staying at home is even more challenging. After all, I am the caregiver for one toddler, three inside cats, two outside cats, and a husband. Here are some examples of things I deal with weekly.

Why did the electronic water dish for the cat stop working? Why do we have an electronic water dish anyway? Now that I've taken it apart, how do I clean it without submerging the electronic parts? Once I clean it, how does it go back together? Where is all the dirt coming from on this clean bowl? Is this so gross that I have to clean the sink now? I could spend a morning on this job.

Other equally challenging tasks follow, each of which can be broken down much like the cat's water bowl into equally challenging subparts: How do you put ointment into a cat's eye? (Just think about this one for a bit.) Will I really end up divorced if I don't chase after Houdini the escaping cat, who just ran outside again today? Do I really want to know what the cat is meowing at? How will I actually catch the coffee mugs multiplying in the cupboard? (If I succeed, I will be rich, rich, rich!) Now that I've taken the cover off the highchair, how do I put it back? What button, exactly, did the toddler push on the 6 remote controls that work the "entertainment system"? (I need this one fixed before prime time!!!) What happens if I machine wash the pillows and stuffed toys that say, "Surface Wash Only?" Can I afford to fix it if the answer is really bad? How does that assembly-required toy go together? How can I assemble it in time for the birthday without a certain birthday kid seeing it? Where do all the socks go in the dryer? (Oh, Erma, we haven't solved it yet.) More importantly, how do I design the trap to prevent my socks from going there?

In many ways this new job is exactly like my job as a contracts drafter. I have to solve the problem at hand, anticipate anything else that can possibly go wrong, and solve those too. It is all the same thing, really.

But right now I need to go solve the problem of the toddler pulling all the cat food and pediasure out of the pantry and stacking it (ever so neatly) on the step stool.


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