Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Domestic Enemies of the Work at Home Mom
Carolyn Neeley is a self-proclaimed Mommyland Lurker. She's a work at home mom who - when she's not chasing down her two adorable, yet fiesty IHPs with washcloths and frantic cries of "Oh no!" - can be found desperately banging on her keyboard trying to make deadlines, sitting completely absorbed in front of the entire USA channel lineup or one of the many cheesy horror movies she cannot live without, and cuddling up to her darling husband who luckily always has a smile and a glass of wine handy just for her.
Being a work at home mom is sometimes like having the best of both worlds - retaining a professional life and still getting to participate in the everyday magic of your kids. However, as with any other kind of mommy, WAHMs have their own set of domestic enemies. Some of these may be similar to other mom's enemies because along with the best of both worlds, WAHMs also get the worst of both worlds.
If I'm calling a friend, family member or pretty much anyone else who doesn't pay me, my kids will be perfect angels. Playing quietly with each other without turning the house into a nuclear disaster zone or anyone dying. But heaven forbid I should be on the phone with a client. Suddenly, the same people who ignore pretty much everything I say and prefer their father/grandmother/aunt/stranger-at-the-grocery-store to me, cannot live without me for two seconds and cry hysterically, clinging to my legs as though I'm abandoning them in the Sahara with no food or water.
People, please stop giving me THAT look when I mention that I work from home. Yes, it is a REAL job, with a REAL paycheck and REAL work. And do not, I repeat do not, ask me who watches my kids! This goes for grandparents, relatives, friends and anyone else who automatically thinks I ignore my kids just because I happen to have a home office. I probably spend more time playing and talking with my kids each day than the average mom. It's not easy handling working over 30 hours a week and having full-time charge of two preschoolers, but guess what? With a little planning and a flexible schedule, we manage it. Without anybody being neglected.
But after listening to so many skeptics, so many critics, I start to doubt. Maybe I'm not doing enough for my kids, maybe we're not spending enough time together. Do they know I love them? Do they understand that those times when I have to lock myself in my office to take a phone call and give them the mean mommy glare to be quiet, that I am just trying to make a living - put food on the table and a roof over their heads? Are they going to fall behind in school since I chose to keep them home with me rather than send them to preschool? What if they grow up thinking that making money is what's important since I spent so much time working when they were little? What if they feel ignored or neglected but just never say it or can't express it? Here I go down the shame spiral - weeee!
Sadly, my house is never as clean as I want it to be. I have my own personal Randy. And he has sidekicks. My floors haven't been vacuumed or swept in at least a week. Although I balance the work and parenting thing pretty well, there just isn't much time left over for things like cleaning or cooking or folding laundry. So, yes, my IHPs and I wear wrinkly t-shirts and lots of sweats, but hey - I'm at home most of the day anyway.
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