I began working from home when my youngest child was in Kindergarten. That meant I had at least four hours a day to work uninterrupted. The following year, he was in school for seven hours. That gave me seven hours to work. Not to mention that most of my work was done in the early morning, before my kids rose from bed. I was a fitness instructor and taught class at 5 a.m. By the time I returned home after class, it was exactly the hour my husband was getting up to wake them for school. It went on this way for three years.
When we moved and I began writing full time, my youngest was years older, my oldest in high school. They had become self-sufficient enough that I didn’t have to follow them around constantly. Sure, I still had the same chores to accomplish (cleaning house, cooking, shopping, chauffer, etc) but my kids no longer interrupted my phone calls with pleas for a snack. They no longer needed my help with homework.
Now, I am approaching the time of empty-nesting. My youngest is sixteen and with his friends as often as he is home. I have one in college, six hours away, and one getting ready to graduate and move out on his own. I should have all the time in the world to work, to write and lose myself in plotting, marketing and creating. So, why do I seem to have less?
I have always empathized with mothers trying to write with young children home. I read posts from my author friends who are just starting out their families. I can’t even imagine trying to write when there is that cute, snuggly little face curled up against my chest, sleeping so soundly. I can’t even imagine being forced to explain to a three-year-old that you can’t play blocks, or watch Doc McStuffins because you’re on deadline. But, I am beginning to understand the struggle a bit better. You see, my home situation has changed in the past two weeks.
While I do have older children who should be able to take care of themselves, let’s be real…these are teen boys. I’m lucky if their laundry doesn’t stalk me down the hall, walking on its own, begging to be washed. I’m lucky if they know we have a dishwasher, let alone how to use it. And, when they are home, it’s loud. If you’ve ever had boys close in age, you can imagine what teen boys do. I listen for hours on end to what I believe is literally the apocalypse over my head as these two wrestle (or argue) over the stupidest things. With them home on weekends, unless they’ve headed out with friends, I am getting next to no work done.
Which leaves me with the weekdays. Like most people, I should be able to get my job accomplished with a five-day work week, right? That might be true, if I didn’t have a husband working an alternate schedule – off on Tues/Wed. Of course, I want a successful marriage which includes time with my husband. And, while he’s extremely supportive, it usually equates to me taking at least one of his days off to spend time with him. But four days…I can get it all done in four days, right?
Until he informed me that he will, for a time, be working from home as well one day a week. While he means well, he often interrupts while I’m working. Always being courteous – do I need anything? Am I thirsty? Hungry? Need anything from the store? But these are all questions asked fifteen minutes apart, one every hour. I exaggerate…or do I?
All right, so he’s home three days a week now. That still leaves me with Friday and Monday to work…right? I should be able to write books on those two days, right? Like the overachiever I am, I decided to throw a puppy into the mix. And not a 12-week-old, nearly-potty-trained puppy. Nope, not me! Let’s bring home a baby. One who is so cuddly and wants to be held (and I can’t say no to that snuggly, sweet face!). One who needs to be potty-trained (do they make dog-diapers this small?) One who begs me to get on the floor and play with him (and, yes, he actually DOES watch television…he loves football and M.A.S.H.)
Yes, I know a puppy isn’t exactly the same as a baby (but, closer than some might think!) but my entire point in this is to remind those moms, trying desperately to write from home with kids clinging to their legs, to just hang in there. It will change. It will get better, and worse. It will get easier, and harder. Life is in a constant state of flux so just do your best and forget the judgmental “super-mom” who seems to have it all together. She isn’t trying to write a best-seller! You do what you can and enjoy the life you have…it’s the only way to keep your sanity. Well, that and lots of coffee/wine/chocolate.