I'm Leah, and in a lucky twist of fate, I've landed my three dream jobs:
book editor, writer, and mother. Since having my son in December 2008, my
work-life has been in constant flux - full-time? part-time? freelance?
working at home or in the office? It depends on the day and which way the
wind is blowing - and figuring out how to keep it all going is a constant
challenge. Heck, I'm still getting used to the idea of being someone's
Check out my profile on Work It, Mom! and my personal blog, A Girl and a Boy.
When you hear the label work-at-home mom, do you picture do you picture a woman who works from home and also happens to be a mom or do you think of a woman working at home while her kids are there? The label is up for grabs for anyone who wants to use it, and I certainly wouldn’t say that one definition is any more accurate or difficult or heroic than the other, but I will say, having now done both, that they definitely can be different, and at times vastly so.
I kind of hate the image I chose to accompany this post because the idea that “working mother” equals “woman on a laptop while holding a baby” is a misguided and/or uninformed interpretation of how many versions of work-at-home motherhood there are out there. And yet…here I am, the lady on a laptop while holding my baby. (We do not, however, wear matching outfits that also coordinate with the giant arrangement of fresh flowers giving a “pop of color” to our sparkling white kitchen. Right now, for instance, I am wearing green plaid pajama pants that belong to my husband, and the baby is wearing oatmeal in his hair.)
Fashion aside, I’ve considered myself a WAHM since I shifted my office from a building with coworkers and a water cooler to my kitchen table, with a view of the neighbors’ garbage cans. When my first son started going to daycare in the summer of 2010, it made more sense for me to work from home, and I was lucky that my employer agreed and was flexible. Two and a half years later, I’m still based in my house (I just upgraded from the kitchen table to an actual desk, albeit one against one wall of the dining room), but the biggest change has been that we recently welcomed another child into our family. The baby is six months old now and doesn’t have a spot in daycare for another five or six months, so, after a generous maternity leave, I had to start working again in earnest last month and, whoa nelly, being a work-at-home mom with an actual child IN THE HOUSE is, as I said above, different.
Right now I operate mostly in triage mode: the baby is my main priority–followed by my older son, who’s away at preschool all day–and anything above and beyond the realm of changing diapers and cleaning oatmeal mush out of wispy blonde hair (his or mine) feels like a crunch. It’s a constant toss-up of what will get done–sometimes it’s book editing work, sometimes it’s internet writing work (*waves*), sometimes it’s housework, sometimes it’s crafting as therapy (join me, will you?)–and even though it’s not ideal that I do all these things at a frantic pace during naps or in the few hours between the kids’ bedtime and my bedtime, or while I’m standing at the kitchen counter with the baby on my hip just like in all those stock photos, I still love and NEED that on-a-deadline, use-your-brain, talk-to-other-adults work work in my life, so I don’t complain. Much.
But MAN it’s hard to excel at my job with a baby who naps in only 20-minute increments and doesn’t sleep through the night. And MAN it’s hard to excel at motherhood when all the work deadlines and details and demands are rattling around in the back of my head all day. My kingdom for an office with a water cooler and coworkers who don’t wear diapers.
Where are your kids when you work at home? If they’re at home with you, do you have help–a babysitter or nanny who wrangles them in the other room, or a neighbor you can call for a quick hour of relief?
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