Before my son was born, people told me how wonderful it was that I worked from home so I could be home with him during the day. I believed them, and had visions of sunny afternoons in my office where he played and I worked and everything ran smoothly and I always met every deadline I was given. But, the truth is that working from home looks a lot less glamorous in real life.
For one thing, I no longer have time to waste during the day. Before my son was born, I could stand to make a trip to visit a friend during the middle of the day on a Tuesday if I wanted. I could go for a run, or go get my haircut, or even take a long shower whenever I wanted because I could make up that lost work time the next day. Now, I barely leave the house and rarely even get dressed in real clothes because every spare minute of time is devoted to meeting deadlines. I don’t know if I’ll get a good nap on any given day, so I’ve learned to work whenever the opportunity arises. And if that means I only wash my hair when I can no longer remember having washed it last, so be it.
If the baby is sleeping, I’m working. And if the baby is awake, I’m making sure he’s not eating the laptop cord or falling down amidst the jungle gym of kitchen chair legs.
Of course, I love being able to stay home with him. And I’m happy to keep working as much as I can, but I often feel defeated. I feel like I haven’t done enough. I wish this was the point in the blog post where I offered some sort of wisdom about setting boundaries and knowing my limits, and being okay with this season of low productivity. But the truth is that I can’t.
I don’t know how much work is enough. Too much. Not enough. I don’t know what is realistic for me to try and accomplish.
I do know that I want to be the best mom I can be to our son. I want to give him my time and my attention. I want to play with him and teach him new things. I want to draw pictures and read books and cuddle on the couch without looking at the clock and putting a limit on quality time.
But I also know I want to keep working. I enjoy the work I’m able to do for my clients. I like meeting and interviewing sources, helping them share their stories. I like using the skills and gifts God has blessed me with to contribute to our family’s finances. I want to work. I want to write.
Most days I work frantically during naptime. And I squeeze in a few more hours of work in the evenings after bedtime. I work on the weekends. I sacrifice my “free time” for “work time”, and I know that’s a choice I’m making in this phase of life. And for now, it’s a choice I’m learning to be okay with. Is working from home worth it? Yes. Maybe. Most of the time.
I guess the only real answer to that depends on the day. Or the moment. Some weeks I feel like a huge failure at both being a mom and being a writer. Other times I’m amazed by the unbelievable blessing I’ve been given in this gig, and I’m proud to provide for our family while giving my son the care he needs at home. Some days I’m envious of the moms who go off to office jobs. Other days I’m envious of moms who have play dates in the park with friends. In the end, we’re all just doing what is best for our families, and that’s what matters.
So, to the mommas who are doing double duty, wondering if working is worth it, I salute you. I am proud of you. I’m in awe of you. You’re not alone. I work at home in the trenches with you, giving up my free time in exchange for work time. I get it. This is hard and your sacrifice is noticed.
Now, go pour another cup of coffee and crush that to-do list, you rockstar.