I work from home: I’m a Homer. My office, which I share with assorted guitars, a drum kit, and an overly large painting of a cow is in the north-east corner of a bright, chilly room in our house (which is no surprise to any Canadian. Every room in the north-east corner of anywhere is chilly. When I tell people I work from home they always say, “Oh! You’re so lucky” or “Oh! You must love that!”
Well……..okay. I see where they’re coming from:
my commute consists of 17 steps (only 6 of which hold any difficulty: I have to walk past the laundry room and the odour occasionally threatens to overpower me. But don’t worry, that’s easily fixed, I just hold my breath and walk briskly). I’m not cemented to my chair by the eagle-eyed, steely gaze of an OCD-suffering manager (I’ve had one of those….not pretty!) And my work attire is similar to my just-rolled-out-of bed attire (similar in that it is my just-rolled-out-of-bed attire).
But (notice I said but? You saw that coming, didn’t you?), but, there are challenges, even considering I love what I do and the people I do it with (and no, I do not work as an underwear stylist for Hugh Jackman! Though I would if he offered me the job! Sigh……Hugh Jackman in his underwear…..insert dreamy music…….Where was I?)
Oh yes, working from home.
There are some real struggles and challenges to working from home, and when I name them: the struggles, challenges, speed bumps, hurdles and roadblocks sound eerily like the names of my kids.
Let me elucidate:
6:45 am: David and Angela wake me, ever so gently, with their bright voices and amusing banter (and for those starry-eyed among you, no, David and Angela aren’t my kids. They’re the hosts of the CBC Eyeopener. Kids waking you gently! Oh you comedians!)
7:45 am: I consider getting up.
8:10 am: I roll out of bed, slide on my best sweat pants for the day, and attempt to wake the kids only to find them attached to technology like an infant to a breast (and just as hard to detach).
8:40 am: I hustle them out the door to school and work so I can start my day.
Oh you crazy optimists! That’d be too easy. No. One of them has diarrhea and is pretty sure she just pooped her pants, which wouldn’t be insurmountable if she had any clean underwear–Tide Stick where are you? One of them is ever so slightly hungover and late for work and wants to borrow the car again, but it has no gas, so do I just have a $20? ’cause all she has is a roll of quarters. And one of them needs to have a full-sized scale model of the Universe by 9:30.
10:30 am: I have a Skype meeting and am just signing in when the phone rings. It’s the grade 4 teacher saying explosive diarrhea is strictly prohibited on school grounds and I need to scrape my daughter (and assorted bodily secretions) off the cot in the nurses’ room immediately.
10:40 am: Drive a ripe Saran-wrapped 10-year old home while Skyping on my phone with my boss about my looming deadline, hands-free of course, while repeatedly and silently shushing the assorted moans, nosiy gas expulsions, and rabid borborygmi.
11:15 am: Daughter showered, dried with a pillow case (refer to earlier reference to ongoing laundry challenges), large dose of Imodium administered, and latest episode of House of Anubis (choice TV for only the best home-from-school-sick pre-teens) teed up, I head to my office to work.
11:45 am: Brush my teeth.
12:00 pm: Rewrap 10-year old in Saran and pick up 12-year old for orthodontist appointment.
1:30 pm: Drop now hangry 12-year old with sore teeth back at school with a bag of french fries and caramel coloured lumps of somethings that are purported to be a protein source and hurry home for a conference call at 2:00, with only a brief stop at Wal-Mart to get new panties–size 12, 14 new towels, and an industrial roll of plastic wrap.
1:50 pm: Comb my hair, after all, I do have some self-respect!
2:00 pm: Attend conference call where I sound informed, thoughtful and professional while cleaning feces from under my fingernails with an HB pencil, and try not to hear the poo-cano shouting, “Maaaawwwwmmmm! I need some toilet paper!! Maaaaaawwwwwmmmmmmm!!”
3:00 pm: Start to work. The actual work that I actually get paid for so I can buy toilet paper.
4:00 pm: Hear the front door slam accompanied by the unmistakable 12-year old stomp, and the bickering start almost instantly. Decide to be a responsible employee and ignore it.
4:30 pm: Head to the kitchen to make healthy snacks, check backpacks, distribute hugs and accolades and….no, wait, that’s Leave it to Beaver’s mom. I stomp to the kitchen, ping a couple of fruit snacks off the nose-miners heads to stop them bickering (if they pick them up fast enough they get a snack), rifle through school notices, and tell them that while I love them more than the grass in the fields and a cool breeze on a hot day if they don’t pipe down I’m going to duct tape them to the apple tree in the front yard.
4:45 pm: Head back to my office, put in ear plugs, and work.
6:45 pm: Am interrupted when my office door opens and my fresh-as-a-daisy, handsome, well-dressed husband walks in and asks, “Have the kids eaten yet?”
6:45.21 pm: Watch my husband run for his life.
7:25 pm: Hear the doorbell ring as the pizza guy arrives.
7:30 pm: Am interrupted again as my office door opens. Someone slides 2 pieces of pizza and an extremely large glass of wine on a tray through the opening with a broom handle. I hear footsteps retreating swiftly.
8:30 pm: Realize I’m out of wine and that everything I’m writing is absolute drivel, so give it up for another typical day.
Sooooooo, basically all the stuff you leave behind when you go out the door to work every day: dishes, laundry, appointments, distractions, and the full-time responsibility of kids in all their messy neediness, are a daily inextricable parts of the work-from-Homers life.
But, considering that all these things are the things working moms do whether they work out of the home or in, I suppose I really have nothing to complain about: except the lunches. My business lunches typically consist of scrounging a two-day old baloney and mustard sandwich from the back of the fridge. Oh! And the fact that regardless how many times you explain that you have a REAL job with REAL deadlines, and repeat loudly and often, DO NOT interrupt me when I’m working, every single breathing entity in your house thinks your just playing, ’cause they just have to ask you this one little thing, just this one little thing!
Then benefits though? The things that makes the struggle and the long nights of working to make up for all the hours I should have put in during the day? The things that makes it worth it happened today, on the last day of school (a day that strikes terror in the heart of all Homers everywhere! Kids home all day for two (yes 2!) solid months–goodbye productivity!):
I got to sit on the couch and with my arms wrapped around my broken-hearted 10-year old daughter as she cried her eyes out because (sweet girl) she’s going to miss her teacher.
And this Homer? I wouldn’t trade that chance for all the power suits or martini lunches in the world.