A few weeks ago, I had a reader email me and ask for advice on becoming a freelance writer. She told me she loved writing, but also loved being a stay-at-home mom. She wrote, “My ideal is to be a mom first for my kids. I want them to be my number one priority, but I would also like something that is mine. I want to contribute financially to my family and I want to show my little girls that mommies can work just as hard as daddies do.”
Totally heartwarming, right? And reminded me so much of my own thought process when I started out on my own work-at-home career. I wanted to be there for my family first. I wanted to take care of deadlines in advance so I wasn’t working on weekends or during holidays. I wanted to be able to help my husband out with the running of our home, but still manage the laundry and dinner and mopping. I wanted to show my kids that dreams do come true, that we can all have what our heart desires if we really work for it.
And that I realized that all of that was happening, except for the proving to my kids that dreams do come true.
Because my kids still don’t understand that I have a job.
It would probably be different if they didn’t remember when I worked in a retail store. They both remember coming into the office with me, they both remember the weekends I would have to work and they both remember being with a babysitter instead of me. I hold on to those facts to stop myself from feeling totally defensive with my six-year-old. “How come you don’t have a job anymore?” She’ll ask me while I’m elbow deep in cookie dough with her.
And this is where it gets tricky. Because my family is my top priority and because my dream as a kid was to be a stay-at-home mom, I want to answer her “Because I wanted to be at home with you guys.” I want to tell her that I didn’t want to work anymore so that I could really focus on taking care of her, her little brother and her daddy. And while all of that is true, I feel like I’m doing my kid a huge disservice by letting her think I don’t work and I don’t earn any money. So nearly once a month, I have to remind her that I do have a job. I remind her that I write and that I’m incredibly lucky to be able to do it from home so that I can be with my family. I tell her how happy it makes me to have this job, but that taking care of all of us is still my number one job.
She’s usually pretty satisfied with this answer, until I receive a payment in the mail. ”You mean, people just GIVE YOU money?” was a direct quote from her last weekend when we stopped by the bank.
“No, honey. People don’t just give me money. I have to work for this money.”
“But you don’t have a job!”
Maybe it’s because my work-at-home schedule is not nearly as rigorous as some other freelancers’ schedules. I’m usually ahead of my deadlines and I usually write when my kids are either entranced by Rapunzel or snoozing away in their beds. I’ve never had to miss a school function or a t-ball game because of work and I am always there for grocery shopping, swimming dates and a quick round of Operation.
I’m happy they know I’m at home for them and our family, but if I have to hear “How are we going to pay for this? Did Daddy give you some money?” one more time, I might just scream.
…Oh who am I kidding? I’ll just start the whole “I have a job!” cycle over again.
What’s it like in your home? Do your kids understand your job situation? Are they totally oblivious to the work you do each day?