The work from home mom (WFHM)....or shall I say The "As if working isn't crazy enough, and parenting isn't crazy enough, let's get super freaky and combine the two" mom.
So, there you are in your office/cube, whatever your workplace geographical terrain looked like. Zooming along in your career, climbing that ladder, shattering those ceilings and stereotypes. You may have even had your name on the door...then the EPT comes back positive. You spent several years in academia, but still stare in awe and utter confusion. You have the stick you just peed on in one hand, and the directions (ENGLISH side after the initial shock makes you realize you don't speak Spanish) but you still can't decipher what this actually means. I mean, you know that it means you are pregnant, but you are hoping somewhere in those 6 pages of directions and (EEEWWW) diagrams it will explain to you how you are to react and conduct the next 30 years of your life. The directions should say "Throw away these directions because you are damned if you do and damned if you don't and that little blue PLUS sign just injected you with ginormous amounts of guilt that you never could have even possibly imagined...even for a Catholic girl."
Fast forward to one of the more memorable O.B appointments (yes, one where the doctor did not use his whole fist in an orifice the size of a walnut) By the way, non-sequitur here, any man in OB residency should have a catheter the size of a popsicle inserted daily to give them a little empathy when it comes to pregnant women and their va-J-Js. I digress. In this appointment, the dr. notices your blackberry, rolodex, Palm Pre and Coach briefcase lying neatly on top of your Gap Maternity ensemble. He nods in their general direction and says "I bet after this little baby comes, you are going to want to stay home." To which you (and I totally mean ME here if you haven't noticed yet) scoff and say "I will love my baby more, but I will still love my career"...at the time you don't get what his shit-eating-grin is about.....until we fast forward one more time to when you hold that smelly, slimy, purplish blue little Yoda-esque creature wrapped and swaddled in your tired, exhausted post-birth arms and you fall head over heels completely over the moon in love. And the thought of letting a stranger feed, change, rock or even breathe in your little angel's direction makes you literally sick to your stomach (or was that the drugs wearing off)?
Nonetheless, the twelve (if you are truly lucky or crafty in the ways of maternity leave) weeks rush on by until the night of that 89th day (that is twelve weeks amortized out into days for dramatic affect) when you cry the entire time you bathe, feed and put your baby to bed just thinking about daycare and your return to the workplace that you vowed you loved so much and would never leave. So you announce that you would like to explore the possibility of working from home.
You obviously can't leave the career you have worked so hard to excel at, but you can't possibly drop off your little people at daycare everyday either. Then hit hits you, the answer to your prayers, the PERFECT solution that will give you the best of both worlds....you telecommute - the fancy buzzword of the nineties that allows you the flexibility of autonomy and independence. I am laughing out loud as I stated that last line, because those, as any WFHM knows are counterintuitive. That last word hurt my brain, and by all accounts, I should stop, but in typical WFHM fashion, we can't stop....the word does not exist in our vocabulary.
You thought (I thought) the home office was the ideal situation. But as we all know, nothing beckons a screaming, crying or vomiting child like a call from a client. The house can be virtually silent and chaos-free, but when the cell phone or business line ring, kids have a tendency to be overcome in a Poltergeist-esque tantrum, violent bouts of diarrhea or spontaneous bleeding. It is the Murphy's Law of the home office. And of course, proving that you can handle both (because you promised your boss you could) you simultaneously apply a tourniquet, take notes on your laptop, make a killer PB&J (no crust) and conduct a phone conference that would make Donald Trump proud. That is all by 11am. You have actually been on your computer since 6am before the demons awoke (at the office or from the bunk beds) to lurch you full force into your "What can I do for YOU today" mode.
You wanted your boss to see that the emails were sent bright and early and that your check list was complete, because you have an important date at the park...that is the joy of the WFHM right? You can do whatever you want, whenever you want and still enjoy that paycheck. Unfortunately it doesn't take the WFHM long to figure out that she is neither autonomous nor independent. If the boss does not need her, the children do, and the husband (who leaves you a list a mile long...since you are home) and the clients, and the other moms who have the privilege of actually JUST STAYING HOME. And no one can understand that this leisurely trip to the park with the cherubs can turn into a "freak-me-the-hell out, I am sweating out of my eye sockets full blown panic attack" when the WFHM realizes that she may have just forgotten her cell phone at home. It is like trying to leave the house without your kidneys - it is not possible nor practical. And it may just result in death.
So you smile, swing, slide and cavort at the park, make a quick stop at Starbucks and Target (because that's what SAHMs do) all the while fighting that inner panic that is peck, peck, pecking away at your ever-increasing bleeding ulcer. How many emails do I have? How many voice mails do I have? You feel guilty that you could not just simply enjoy playtime with your child because you feel guilty that a client or GOD AND HEAVEN FORBID your boss's missed call went into voicemail. You're just relieved upon pulling into your driveway that your boss is not waiting on your front porch. So you set junior up with a snack and a movie while you dig into the working world that went on without you for awhile...because technically you are a working mom so it is time to act like one. Return a phone call. "Mommy, my juice is empty" Return an email "Mommy, I spilled." Return another phone call and subsequent email from someone that was annoyed that you did not call them back right away "Mommy, will you play with me." Yes, of course darling. The other 42 voicemails and emails can wait. But all of the while they are there, hanging on your back as you roll around in the grass with your kids...wait....is that my phone?? And you don't answer it, because it is playtime and you know those emails and voicemails....they never go away. And the home office...it is like the workplace version of Herpes...it will always be there waiting for you...at 6am, 11am, 12:30pm, at snacktime, naptime, post-dinnertime and OF COURSE after bedtime (yours and the kids) Oh....and since you are home, don't forget the laundry, the bills, the hand-scrubbed floor, the 24 cupcakes for the class party...which since you are "technically" a stay at home mom should be homemade and not store-bought like "those working moms" do. And since you feel you need to go out of your way to prove your SAHM status, you take the cupcake deal (and every other project you can't say no to - because we WFHM do not say that horrid word - well, except maybe your husband) to another level by piping each classmates name on the cupcake in homemade frosting with a Martha-worthy flair that will not matter one damn bit to the sugar hounds that devour them in three miliseconds. But the expertly piped frosting made YOU feel good . Speaking of pipes - the WFHM mom feels like she should be smoking one. Ahhhh....this is the best of both worlds. Right, RIGHT? I will have a full report to you on that by 6am...