Hi! I’m Lylah. I’m a mom and step-mom to five kids, ages 1 to 14. I work full-time outside the home (as a newspaper editor), full-time inside the home (cooking, cleaning, laundry, laundry, laundry), and part-time on the side (writing, mostly).
The question I hear most often (other than “Are all of those kids yours?”) is “How do you get it all done?”
Honestly, I don’t know. House elves?
It doesn’t always all get done, really. I don’t have a staff of nannies and housekeepers at my disposal. The laundry sometimes waits, clean and folded (or not), for weeks in a corner of our room. The dust bunnies coalesce into herds under the beds and taunt the dog. If the baby finds a piece of cereal on the kitchen floor, I’m inclined to just let him eat it because it’s technically a food product and a little dirt builds up the immune system, right?
I love to cook, and since two of our kids have food allergies, a lot of what we eat has to be made from scratch. Even so, there are nights when pizza is manna from heaven and I count spaghetti sauce as a vegetable. My husband picks the kids up in the afternoons and I handle the drop-off routine; it took several episodes of arriving at the office with an hours-old cascade of spit-up or dried food on my front before I thought to throw a T-shirt over my work clothes in the morning (my current look: dress pants, pearls, and a ratty souvenir from David Bowie’s 1990 Sound + Vision tour).
So, if it’s such a hassle, why did I keep my career?
For women, working outside the home is often presented as a choice (and a selfish one, at that). But the reality is, many of us have to work. We’re not doing it to amuse ourselves or to get a little more money for a manicure; our families rely on our incomes.
I work because I love what I do (most days, anyway). But I also work because I can’t afford not to.
As for that ever-popular question — “How do you get it all done?” — stay tuned as I try to figure it out. One thing’s for sure: Sometimes, I need more than 24 hours. Sometimes, it takes a 36-hour day.