Before I started my new job, I worked at home. If I had a dollar for every time someone said to me, “Now that you are working…” I would have, well, 5 dollars for sure. One for each of my ungrateful children and spouse, whom I have thoroughly lectured until they now cower in fear. Yet still, I catch them saying, “Now that you are working…”
“Outside the home!” I yell. “Who cooked for you, cleaned up your many messes (not to mention the bathroom), washed your clothes, helped you with science fairs and school projects, drove you to countless after-school activities and…AND….worked at home to bring in some extra cash, even though nobody seemed to count it as working so they still called me to volunteer at school and at church?” At this point I run out of air.
“I meant to say, ‘Now that you work outside the home!’” they babble, salaaming as they back off into the (now messy) kitchen.
“Outside the home, outside the home,” I hear my husband muttering under his breath, trying to memorize the important line.
This is my own small battle in the mommy wars. I want recognition for mommies who work at home, struggling not only to accomplish the basics of keeping house and raising the kids, but also to add to the families coffers through a home-based business or freelancing. Those of us who work at home often do not receive the recognition we deserve for the exceptional juggling act we must perform. It is especially tough to work at home because we are continually interrupted: by the telephone calls to come and help at school, by our kids who expect that we can drop everything to pick them up from school if they are sick or bring their lunch if they forgot it, by the small ones who may still be underfoot at home, by our friends to get together for a mid-morning meeting for a church-related activity, or by our own house that needs cleaning.
When I go to work, I dress nicely and am focused 100% on the job. What a lovely, organized feeling! I can stop to chat with a co-worker over a cup of coffee—that someone else made! My desk is tidy, with only work-related papers—no stacks of bills, school memorandums, coupons, books, junk mail, glitter glue, puffy paint, socks, or random hair clips. When my kids call me at the office, I remind them that I am at work.
“Oh, that’s right,” they gush. “I forgot that you are working now!”