When I first started working at home, I thought it was the perfect solution. Instead, I go for days without showering.
When my daughter was a baby, I wanted nothing more than to work at home. It was the perfect solution, in my mind. I could hang out with my kid, whom I’d already grown pretty partial to, and at the same time I could skip the hefty child care cost of working while still bringing piles of dollars home, mostly to roll around in.
Suffice it to say, I never found that dream job. Instead I switched between staying at home and working. While I was working, I missed my daughter so much that my heart ached, and while I was at home I missed money so much that my wallet ached, hence the indecision. Then came the day that I was offered the opportunity to work from home, and bragged to all of my friends that my dreams were coming true.
I am kind of a moron.
Here’s what they don’t tell you about working from home: It is the worst of both worlds. I envisioned days of working in my jammies, sipping coffee and still being chipper and cheerful when my kid came home from school. Instead, as soon as it’s time for me to pick her up (why didn’t anyone tell me 8 hours was such a short amount of time?) I begin to panic. My work is rarely finished. The house is usually in shambles. There is dinner to be made, and homework to be done and loose ends at work to be tied up. My solution, of course, is to stay up until midnight getting everything done.
I will be rage-folding towels and dictating notes into my phone and my husband will come home and make the mistake of telling me to leave the laundry for him.
“No, dammit! I’m having it all! Can’t you see how great my life is right now?” He usually backs away slowly.
Working from home means no adult conversation, like you get at the office, but no spare time to run errands, like you get as a full-time wonder mom. Everyone expects you to be available, but you never really are, and it isn’t until a thin film of grime begins to form on your face that you realize it’s been a good long while since your last shower. I’m not going to lie. I stink right now. Earlier in the CVS somebody wondered what “that smell” was, and I pretended to be baffled but I knew it was me.
Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I don’t have to wear pants, and that’s not something you just cast aside, OK? Instead, I’ve got a brand new perspective. When I would stay at home, I would look wistfully at moms in blazers and heels with important-looking documents tucked into their tidy satchels and wish that I had a secure, important job to look forward to. They’re so lucky! I would think.
Then when I was working I would go for a coffee break and see a dressed-down mom in jeans and fly kicks hanging out with her kid in the park and wonder why I’d given all that up. They’re so lucky! I would think.
The fact is, everyone is busting ass to be the best mom they know how to be, and I think all of us wonder how green that grass on the other side really is. When I hear people start to get obnoxious with pot-stirring garbage about “the mommy wars” I just kind of laugh, because those people are idiots.
No matter how we balance our life and our family, things are going to be awfulsauce and things are going to be awesomesauce, each in turn. Because even though working at home is often the worst of both worlds, it is sometimes also the best.
Plus, and I really can’t stress this enough, I don’t have to wear pants.