The washing machine’s barely out of balance “rumble, thunk, thunk” and the dishwasher’s not quite quiet hum, assuages my guilt. In theory. I am multi tasking. Housework while writing, or is it writing while house-working? I don’t know. I’m trying to do both while feeling guilty for doing neither, well.
As I type, I am hoping my second grader is enjoying his mid-winter break sleepover. I am wearing noise-canceling headphones to drown out the sound of two boys throwing paper airplanes to soar across my foyer. It’s possible they are aiming for the cobwebs in the window to see if they will stick, like a fly. My guess is they will. The cobwebs are impressive, even to these- record-setting spiders.
The dogs are barking at each plane thrown. Or maybe at each boy, warning them not to run in the house.
I open this file and stare at the screen:
“Where was I?” ” Was I really drawing a parallel between shaving my legs and shoveling snow? What does that have to do with being a Work at Home mom?””
I hear running on the steps.
“Boys, no running in the house.” I yell, half heartedly. I know they won’t stop. They are second grade boys with airplanes, it’s not genetically, possible.
I look back at the screen. The cursor’s blinking mocks me. It’s blinking line points to the place where I last typed. Unfortunately, it does point in the direction I was going with that thought. I am clueless, or maybe distracted.
The youngest comes back in to the living room. “Mom? When can we go sledding? You promised!”
Guilt grips my heart like a too-tight pair of jeans. It binds and constricts. My heart is divided. I want to take them sledding like I promised. But, I have a (self-imposed) deadline on this book proposal. I want to have the house picked up before my husband arrives home from a business trip sometime this afternoon. I need to go to the grocery store or we’ll e ordering pizza for dinner.
The clock ticks on… I am running out of time.
“We’ll go sledding when I’m finished working. The more you interrupt me, the longer it will take.” I snap.
I look back at the screen. The cursor blinks on a half filled page. I re-read what I’ve written. DELETE. DELETE. DELETE. I’ll have to come up with something else.
“Buzz.” I hear the dryer warn me of impending wrinkle doom.
“Noah? Go upstairs and re-start the dryer.” I call. I know the clothes are already dry, because this is the third dryer cycle of the day. I wonder how much money and natural gas I’d save if I did this less often. “Not very green.” I chide myself. Guilt tries to settle on my shoulders. I shrug it off.
“A mom’s gotta do, what a mom’s gotta do.” I chant. It’s the mantra of a work at home mom.
The problem is, it isn’t always clear what the right answer to the “What does a work at home mom gotta do, NOW? “ question.
- Should I blow off my writing goal and take the kids sledding? It is their mid-winter break, after-all.
- Should I send the college boy to pick up groceries? Or should I plan on ordering pizza (yet again) for dinner?
- Should I send the dogs to doggy daycare for a month, so I don’t have to type while holding them apart with my left foot? (The shorkie puppy is in a “jump on the beagle’s back like you’re in a doggy circus” phase. The beagle does not like this phase. She makes this evident by barking, a lot.) My dividing foot is is all that stands between the shorkie and being a beagle snack. Or, from banishing the beagle to a galaxy far, far away. (Probably cost inhibiting.. as I don’t yet have a contract for this book. Well- probably cost inhibiting even if I did… Doggy daycare= pricey!)
- Should I send the kids outside to play in the backyard so I can finish this piece, in peace? Could they sled down the backyard slope and call it vacation fun? Probably not.
Guilt is something every mom faces.. Working from home does not mean I get a “pass.” It means I have my own unique guilt trip travel agenda. Multi-tasking sometimes means nothing gets done, perfectly. Sometimes the kids have to wait when Mom is working. Sometimes the work has to wait while the kids needs are prioritized.
In general, I try to work while the kids are at school. That helps. When they were younger, I tried to work when they were asleep, as much as possible. Which was exhausting, but sometimes necessary.
Work From Home Moms:
- How do you cope with guilt?
- What types of guilt- inducing dilemmas do you face in a week?
- Is there guilt relieving advice you have for other Work At Home Moms?’
- Do you face guilt- more, less or about as often as you did prior to working from home?
*epilogue- It is now 11:04 am. I am still in my pajama’s. The boys are still in theirs. The dogs have fallen asleep. (Of course, now that I’m done.) This piece c’est finis. (As done as it can, for now.)
I will soon be:
- taking a shower and dressing.
- Taking 2 very happy little boys sledding before dark.
- Ordering pizza for dinner.
- Showing my husband this instead of how clean the house is, when he gets home. (He wouldn’t know the difference between clean and not clean anyway. )
- Oh and re-running the laundry I put in the wash last night..I forgot about that- can you say: musty? ugh.
I feel pangs of guilt, but honestly? Not much.
A mom’s gotta do, what a mom’s gotta do.
So I am.