For the past five years I have been a work from home mom, and it's damaging my relationship with my kids.
Pay close attention to the word "from" if you will. I am not a work-at-home mom, I am a work-from-home mom. Work-at-home moms prevent the laundry from ever piling up, make three-course dinners, do Pinterest-worthy arts and crafts with their Laura-Ashley-clad children, and take day trips to the local zoo. Or at least that's what I imagine they do.
Work-from-home moms are trying to earn a paycheck. We often are required to turn in spreadsheets, activity reports, sales quotas, and/or participate in conference calls all the while Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is playing a little too loudly in the background. Seriously, why does Mickey and the gang rely so heavily on Tootles? Can't they ever be prepared to face the task at hand? See what I did there? I even resent my children's cartoons because they play on the television all day long. While I'm trying to work!
Usually I can find around three uninterrupted, child-free hours to power through and be productive. My oldest son is in elementary school, my daughter is in preschool and the baby son goes to an at home (not my home) daycare. But anytime an extraneous circumstance puts one or more of the kids with me all day, all Hell tends to break loose. Like bleach drizzled into a laundry load of darks, this frustration is surely to leave a permanent scar on my kids' memories. I fear the worst, people.
Let's talk damage, shall we? First and foremost I tend to resent my kids. I'm so envious of people who get to leave the house and go to work. People like, say, my husband. For eight hours nobody wants to be held. For eight hours nobody needs a diaper change. When my kids are hungry, I don't care...didn't we just eat breakfast? I promise not to let you starve to death, sweet child, but if you use the word "snack" one more time I'm going to lose it! Oh, and it never fails...I will get everyone still and occupied, sit down at the desk, and then hear the tell-tale grunts from the little guy filling up his diaper. He's just gonna have to sit in it. Oh, he stinks and he's sitting right at my feet. Might as well change him because I'm sure as heck not going to be able to concentrate.
Now, if there is a school production, special parent's lunch, class party, etc. I am always expected to be there. It's not like I have to ask off work, right? But you can bet I have only halfway dressed, no makeup, and if you ask me to bring something it's going to be store bought, got it? I don't want to be that mom. It goes against who I am inside. I love to bake, get dressed up, and smell good. Call me vain; I can take it. I like pleasing people with my domestic skills. It's just that I had two precious quiet hours on said morning and I'm sure as heck not going to spend them at the oven. Or the makeup mirror. This is as good as it gets.
I have lost the concept of quality time. My kids deserve a mom who will sit on the floor and play with them. Build wooden block towers with them. Dress their Barbies. But my first, damaging, instinct is to believe "I've been around you all day. Isn't that enough?"
Did I mention that my mother and I work together? In fact most days we work from her home. This means that when my children are with me, but allowing me to get some work done it's usually because they're requiring that my coworker/supervising manager a.k.a. their grandmother play with them. So being a work-from-home grandmother is damaging my mom's relationship with her grand kids as well. But that's her rant that she can choose to share with you another day.
Please don't misunderstand my true self. I am so cognitively blessed that I can work from home. I get to attend the parties, school plays, lunch dates, etc. I get to cuddle my children when they are sick and not worry about how many sick days I'm burning. I get to wear my PJ's to work when some child had a terror-filled night of bad dreams and it meant no sleep for me either. And somehow I still draw a paycheck.
I just fear that I'm doing it all wrong. The right-side of my brain ponders how much bigger that paycheck could be if I worked this job from rented office space. Or from behind a closed door. The left-side of my brain fears that my employing company would rather have a non-mommy represent their goods. Which translates to I'll be fired in 18-months and then I'll be a work-at-home mommy and my kids' scars will be erased. Then there's the unidentified part of me who loves what I do. The only change I want to see is an internal improvement on the age-old-struggle: how do we as moms and women breaking the glass ceiling manage to "have it all"?
So the struggle is real and there is only one thing I know as an absolute: this year will be the year that I take it one day at a time. I will try to be more present in my children's lives. I will try to have unplugged moments outside of "working hours". I will work harder when I work and play harder when I play. The Mr. and I have already talked about how much we love being together, yet we really need to start including the kids in our time more often. They deserve to grow up in a family setting; i.e. they need to feel included and valued and heard.
In the meantime, if you have any advice or anecdotes of what works for you and what doesn't work for you, hit me up in the comments.