Want To Know My Secret?

Photo by Thomas Kolnowski on Unsplash

I have two kids. Both boys. They’re adorably sweet little angels, for the most part, with phases of rambunctiousness when appropriate. Both have been diagnosed autistic.

My oldest is on the more non-verbal end of the spectrum. At school, he is in a special education program, and has an aide assigned to him, to keep him on task throughout the day. My youngest is completely (unrelentingly) verbal, on the opposite end of the spectrum. He has 3 different specialists that work with him different times of the week, and is integrated with the rest of his grade at school most of the time.

I say this, because I want you to know that the Etsy Strike project isn’t the most difficult thing I’ve ever tried to do. That honor goes to virtual school. Neither of my kids could do their work unattended. Every teacher and specialist wanted to use a different app to connect with them remotely, none of which I was familiar with. It was pandemonium.

I knew that if I completely ignored my business, it would die, and I would lose the thing that’s the deepest part of who I am as a person. I am an artist. I will never separate myself from that fact. 

But caring for my children had suddenly turned from nearly a full-day’s work of cooking meals and cleaning, to well over a full-day’s work of virtual teaching assistant, plus everything else.

If I failed at my new unplanned job of virtual teaching assistant, I’d be failing my children. If I failed to keep up momentum in my business during that time, I’d be failing the deepest part of myself.

I could not fail.

I spent a few days just going crazy. Trying to do everything, and taking hysterical-cry-session breaks when appropriate. Eventually, however, I had a realization. 

Every task I undertake in my business and in my life requires one of two things: my hands, or my brain. Rarely, however, do any of these tasks require engaging both at once.

From that point on, both my hands and my brain would be engaged at once, at all times. No more sitting in front of my computer thinking of what to type next, or what to do next. No cooking or cleaning or sewing while my brain is inactive due to carrying out repetitive tasks.

Right now, for instance, as I’m writing this blog post, I’ve baked two loaves of banana bread, and I’ve done a rack of dishes. It’s fun not having a dishwasher, when you cook all your meals from scratch. But I manage.

For more than a year, I leveraged every skill I possess to try to become two people. I didn’t figure out how to clone myself over the pandemic, but I came pretty damn close.

It was the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to do. I did it like a champ. My kids both went back to school having lost no ground grade-wise and IEP-wise over the pandemic. My oldest’s teacher told me that my son was the only kid in her class for whom that was true. In my business, I focused solely on social media, since Etsy has been not-that-great as of late. My sales dropped drastically, but I continued to gain followers on all platforms, which was my exact goal during the time, as I didn’t have time to ship and create so much anyway.

I’ve been asked a few times since starting this project, “How on earth do you keep up with everything you’ve been doing?”

That’s it. That’s my secret. They say it’s impossible for human beings to truly multitask. I beg to differ.

It’s my own special version of burning the candle at both ends. I can’t keep it up for too terribly long, but I can do it for a little while.

I would do it again now.

Because it isn’t fucking right for a giant unaccountable corporation to screw over a bunch of artists and small business owners in the name of bigger profits.