For eight years, excluding maternity leaves, I've worked full-time at office jobs while raising a family. I'm an expert in the guilt that comes along with abandoning your child with strangers (alright, it was certified daycare, but still!) while you head into an office for a full day working a job that doesn't really interest you. My heart has sunk into the pit of my stomach when my multi-line office phone rang and the school's number showed on the display and I had to make one of three options; leave work, earning 'that look' from my boss and possible disciplinary action, wake up my husband who worked a midnight shift the night before to pick up our child, or my personal favorite, tell my child I know they don't feel well, but they have to stay at school *note the sarcasm*. As you can see, none of these choices were winners. I've had to look my child in the eye and tell them I couldn't make their school concert, super fun field trips, or bring cupcakes to school on their birthdays because I couldn't leave work without losing my job (didn't that turn out to bite me in the ass). Dinner was always late, bedtimes were rushed, and time with my children was restricted and stressed.
For eight years, this happened perpetually. That was life.
I hoped and prayed and bartered my soul with the devil for an opportunity find a way to work from home. Not because I was lazy or hated my job. Although, let's be honest, I worked as a Travel Claims Adjudicator. It paid the bills, some of them anyway. I wanted to work from home so I could be the one to raise my children. I'm the one that brought them into this world, I should be the one to teach them about it!
In September of 2016, it finally happened. I made the transition and began working from home (not my choice, but whatevs, it happened). It was great! Exactly what I've always wanted since I became a mother. Earning money from home while being able to parent my own children. Talk about a win/win!
I've been at this work-from-home thing for a little over six months now so I consider myself fairly experienced at this thing. Yes, I get to drop my kids off at school and pick them up every day. If their teacher wants to chat, I'm readily available. Dinner is on the table at a decent time. Homework is completed before eight at night now. Whoop, whoop. It's a dream come true. My wish was granted.
Until I realized that yes, you should definitely be careful what you wish for.
For those of you who thinking that working from home means Netflix and Chill all day, sleeping in, having endless hours to myself while the kids are in school, to you I say, hahahahahaahahahha.
Sorry, I'm done now.
Yes, working from home is magnificent. My commute is now a small stroll to my office in my living room instead of a drive into the office (snowy days are no longer dreaded!). My co-worker is my cute pug-dog. I take breaks when I want. Yadda, yadda, yadda. Most importantly, I'm there for my kids. For whatever they need and it truly felt incredible to attend those field trips without worrying about getting into trouble with the boss. However, with all that said, it's not all pajamas and naps. I haven't even turned on the TV during the day in months.
I'm a writer, so I try to schedule most of my day around writing because that's what brings in the income. If only that was as easy as it sounded. Writing for me doesn't mean opening my Word doc and words flow effortlessly off my fingertips. Do I make it look that easy? My 'writing schedule' portion of the day consists of drafting new novels, editing previous ones, marketing published books, designing promotional material such as book teasers and trailers, updating my social media and website. Also, I search for freelance writing jobs and fine tune my craft with online courses and classes.
Then comes the ‘housework’ portion which, quite honestly, is never ending because someone is always home. Just when I think the laundry is caught up or the kitchen sink is empty, BAM more magically appears. Where does it come from you ask? I wish I had the answer for you, my friend. I really do.
The thing about working from home is the new kind of guilt that has manifested inside of me now. I'm home all day, the house should be spotless, right? The dusting and vacuuming and scrubbing should be all be done, easy peasy. Also, now that I'm not stuck in an office, I have time to work out! Where’s that weight loss? So, let's throw an hour of exercise in there my free time. Don't forget meal prep! Dinner should be on the table at that decent hour, because I'm home now so there's no excuse to eat later anymore. Mind you, not one person has ever said any of this to me. It's just me being hard on myself and expecting too much. The feeling of accomplishment now rests on so much more than just going into the office.
Then came March Break.
The first March Break I've had off with the kids. I was so excited to spend time with them! Every day. All day.
Day after day. Just me and the kids. In my face.
It was the longest week of my life.
Anytime I sat at my laptop I felt a new wave of guilt crept inside me. I felt like I was ignoring my kids when I wrote anything down or checked my e-mails. The house was constantly messy. Daylight savings time seriously jumbled my inner clock. One night, my kids were starting to get hungry, I told them I would make dinner soon. My daughter pointed out it was already seven at night! How did that even happen?
Have you ever tried to read or write something with a tiny person asking you for something to eat every ten minutes? I'm not even exaggerating when I say ten minutes, I timed him. Last weekend, I was at the grocery store and I thought my bill would be cut in half because of no school lunches! Excuse me while I laugh again. Okay, I'm done. I hit up that grocery store three times this week. THREE. TIMES.
I sound ungrateful and full of complaints. This blog post is turning more into a rant. That's not my intention, I have a point I'm trying to make here. Being able to work from home is something that I'm very lucky I get to do. Not everyone has that option and I realize that. But man, oh man. Sometimes, when I haven't spoken with an adult all day, or put makeup on because what's the point, or changed out of my yoga pants, I miss getting ready and leaving the house.
To the working moms. To the stay at home moms. To the moms that work from home. I know all of these worlds and trust me, the grass is never greener on any side of that fence.
Love your babes and do your best.
And don't the wine. Never forget the wine.