I really thought this would work. I thought I’d be able to work at home with the help of a babysitter and save gas money and time. I didn’t have the guts to try it out until today, and I didn’t even try it out at home. It’s not going to work. Not until they’re both in school, full-time. I can just tell.
I brought my five-year-old with me to my parents’ house, where I’ve been camped out doing my new freelancing job for three weeks anywhere from 7:00AM – 4PM. It’s a perfect arrangement: I sit at the beautiful handmade desk in the den, I have access to a fully-stocked fridge (ah, remember those coming-home-from-college-days?), I can go to the bathroom whenever I need to (teachers and stay-at-home moms and dads understand why that’s a luxury), and I get to bask in the sunlight that comes streaming through windows that don’t have baby smudges all over them, making me feel guilty about writing instead of cleaning.
I knew he was going to cramp my style when it took twenty minutes longer at bedtime last night because he was telling me all about the toys at my mom’s house. (Why is it that we always refer to houses by the females that live in them?) He wanted to show me the new race track and the new game, and he wanted me to help him figure out which cars work better on the shark-chomp obstacle course. When he went on and on about the awesome ball flinger, I knew I’d be in for an interesting morning of *trying* to work.
I normally am seated and working by 7:50 on days when I leave our house at 7:30. Today, I didn’t get my butt in the chair till 9AM. In the car, he asked me what his dad was up to and if he got the new container he’d been waiting for. He slyly said, “It sure would be nice to see if Daddy needs some help.” I agreed and said we could check after his appointment this afternoon – which is why I chose to conduct this work-from-home experiment today – but, he said he didn’t want to “miss anything.” When we got near the exit, he asked what the plan for breakfast was. He knew we were within 200 yards of McDonald’s. Now, he loves McDonald’s. I think he lives for the afternoons when my grandmother picks him up from preschool and takes him to play in “play land” and eat that happiest of meals. However, he does not like to eat McDonald’s breakfasts; it took me one second to figure out that he was trying to get me to stop and get breakfast for his dad, thereby ensuring a visit to our feed mill. So, we had to stop and get food. And deliver it to the mill. And check out what was happening. And ask his dad how the cats are doing. And…
When we finally got to my parents’ house – two minutes away from the mill, to be exact – I got the grand tour. It isn’t as if I actually grew up in this house, or anything. But, I let him show me around and treat me as though I’m new here. When I had him all settled, I asked him what he wanted to eat. He had informed me at bedtime that he would just eat and get ready at my mom’s, which I thought would be better because I wouldn’t have to wake him up so early in the morning. And then I had to actually follow through with that plan this morning. Getting breakfast and juice and cleaning up crumbs took a great deal of time. Not to mention the fact that I had to get the vacuum to clean the chair and floor because he managed to get food everywhere. *Note to self: blueberry buckle is one of the crumbiest breakfast items.
When I finally sat down to check email and news feeds and trends, I heard, “Mommy…” a dozen times in the first fifteen minutes. Did I see how big that blueberry was? How did I know where to find the plates and cups since he hadn’t shown me? How long until we leave and go for lunch? What am I typing? Is it okay if the dogs bark, or does that bother me? How many people live in this neighborhood? What do I do if my battery dies? How long have I had that computer? Do I know how to make blueberry buckle?
I answered with ears on him and eyes on my screen, and when I couldn’t concentrate, I read other blogs and checked Facebook news and answered him because I knew if I turned away from the laptop completely, he’d go in for the kill. Mommy, when can you play with me?
He lasted until exactly 10:12AM. By then, I had endured more questions and comments and sighs than I probably should have. At one point, he stood beside me and bumped my elbow to show me a toy; I think he figured out I could glance at him and see what he was showing me more than I could answer him, so he didn’t even try verbal communication.
And then, it hit me. I can’t work from home because of my boys. And that’s a good thing. They want to play with me and talk to me and show me things and teach me things. They are so used to BEING with me that they don’t understand why I don’t close the laptop and engage with them. I have taught them they are more important than the screens on all of our devices, and they can’t stand being in the same room with me if I’m paying more attention to a screen than I am to them. So, I can’t be a work-from-home mom. And, I’m okay with that. In fact, I think I’m more than okay with that, because I just might be doing something right, after all. What the Hell?
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