I read this blog http://carolynee.net/a-letter-from-a-working-mother-to-a-stay-at-home-mother-and-vice-versa/ this week. And it resonated so much with me as I am quite sure it did with so many other women (and men). I’ve been thinking since reading it about how complex it is to be a mother of two pre-schoolers that works from home. I am so many more roles than mother and freelance event manager; I’m Daughter, Friend, Christian, Sister, Home Owner, Housekeeper, Cook, Dietician, Accountant, Personal Trainer, living in a country that is on the other side of the world to my family and close friends. These roles overlap, they compete, they conflict, they are relentless and at some point in most days they overwhelm.
I’m going to give you a little look into what I am talking about. It will probably read like a crazy person’s diary, but I would wager this is a typical woman’s day. So when you see us with screaming children pulling our ill-fitting trousers down whilst we bite your head off because you won’t take back our faulty iPhone cover and then we’re sobbing in the car in a supermarket car park, don’t judge us – this is probably the day we are going through….
Personal Trainer gets me up earlier than I would like to do 30-day shred, because I’m on day 19, because I committed to do it and because I want to enjoy wearing my clothes again. Daughter gets call from mum in the middle of the workout, Personal Trainer messages that she’ll call her back after she’s finished. Mother worries that the children will run riot if she takes time to talk to her mum but Daughter wants to talk to her mum because Friend found out yesterday that her friend’s mum died of cancer and Daughter realises how much she misses her mum and wished they lived near each other. After workout Dietician makes up a smoothie that is good for me, and Wife makes enough to give to husband who needs the healthy stuff too. Daughter has call with mum, until Mother realises she is running late on getting the children to pre-school and Freelancer re-calculates in her mind how her day will work if she starts 15 minutes later than she scheduled last night.
Mother drops off children to pre-school and misses them the second she says goodbye, Freelancer hands in form asking for them to go an extra day in the week. Mother worries that she’s missing the time she should be spending with her children but at the same time argues that when she is expected to also be Freelancer, Housekeeper, Home Owner and Friend her days with her children are generally filled with screaming, stress and tears – who is benefiting from that?! Mother and Freelancer agree that doing this is good for the children, they love pre-school, Mother has one full day being a mother (where Freelancer will not interrupt trying to squeeze in calls and emails) and Freelancer gets to have four days (and three nights and half a Saturday) to focus on her clients.
On the way to a doctor’s appointment Wife and Friend rush to a card shop to get Valentine’s and birthday cards. Whilst choosing cards Home Owner is called about insurance on renovation work and is taken through official statements, which she is only half listening to as Wife tries to find suitable card in unsuitable selection. Accountant is surprised when asked to pay for insurance on work that doesn’t start for five weeks so suggests insurance company sends invoice and Accountant works out in head how Home Owner will pay for it in five weeks time. Wife selects card then goes to shop to buy beer for Valentine’s present wishing she had more time to be romantic, Dietician stops me from getting a treat for myself. I go for referral appointment about my boobs. Friend is reminded of friend who has just lost her mum, how it all happened so quickly and how she wishes there was something she could do for her. Mother is traumatised with the thought of not being able to bring up her children because of illness. Christian searches for the faith to believe God is good and He has a future and prosperity for me and my family. Doctor reassures that the boobs are fine but as a Scientist she suggests a scan to prove her theory. Of course I am happy to get full reassurance of my health, Accountant worries about how our budget will stretch to it. Appointment is booked, Freelancer notes that is two hours lost from next Friday’s working day.
Freelancer gets back home and is frustrated by the unemptied dishwasher and the dirty dishes waiting to go in. House keeper wants to get the kitchen clean but Freelancer wins this argument and kitchen stays as it is. Freelancer begins her working day, working on three clients which she juggles on email, phone, Word and Excel for the next five hours. In that time Home Owner makes calls about renovation work, Friend gives money to a whip around for her friend who has lost her mum, Accountant worries about if we can afford it, Christian shoots the worry with the belief that God will honour our generosity and Daughter misses her mum some more.
Mother is delighted to get to 3.45pm and pick up her babies, Freelancer wishes she had more time to do more and calculates what she can get done between husband getting home and putting her daughter to bed. Whilst Mother picks up children, Home Owner gets a call about the new kitchen and Freelancer takes a work call. Mother takes babies home, Dietician cuts them up fruit and House Keeper puts on the TV so she can empty the dishwasher, fill it up with dirty stuff, Cook gets the dinner on and Freelancer gets to make a couple more calls and one email. Mother sits with children whilst they eat their dinner, which is a little burnt because Freelancer took a call when Cook should have been serving up. Mother tidies up dinner and then helps children to tidy up all the rooms in the house that have been messed up in the half hour when Cook was making dinner and Freelancer was taking calls.
Wife greets husband and wishes him Happy Valentine’s with beer present, whilst Mother is aware children need to get into the bath and Freelancer wants to finish off an email she started before husband came in. Freelancer finishes off her work for the day whilst children are bathed. Mother puts her daughter to bed and tries really hard to remain relaxed and engaged when all she can think about is flopping in front of the TV to watch The Voice.
Wife sits down to take-out dinner with husband. For the first time that day I rise to the surface and try to share how I am feeling, that I am overwhelmed by all that we have ahead of us this year. Gareth answers in role of Husband and Main Bread Winner, which makes me feel misunderstood and vulnerable. Wife realises now is not the best time for this conversation, Mother feels too tired and emotional to go there, Daughter wishes her mum was here to talk about all this, Personal Trainer reminds me I have to get up early if I’m going to get Day 20 done and Dietician is screaming at me that I CANNOT have the sweets I want to eat right now. I win that argument (it’s Friday night for crying out loud) and I get a half healthy (I used coconut oil instead of butter) rocky road slice and bottle of cider. Mother remembers she needs to start on book she is making to send to school that she wants to send her children to but is out of zone for, so Mother does that whilst Wife lets husband clear up.
I collapse into chair and watch The Voice with my husband who is bemused by earlier half-conversation but is no doubt equally too tired to pursue. We stay up too late for Freelancer and Personal Trainer’s liking and Christian worries that she lives her life too much in her own strength and understanding so reaches for her Bible to get some comfort, which she gets in the book of wisdom:
1-2 Good friend, don’t forget all I’ve taught you;
take to heart my commands.
They’ll help you live a long, long time,
a long life lived full and well.
3-4 Don’t lose your grip on Love and Loyalty.
Tie them around your neck; carve their initials on your heart.
Earn a reputation for living well
in God’s eyes and the eyes of the people.
5-12 Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Don’t assume that you know it all.
Run to God! Run from evil!
Your body will glow with health,
your very bones will vibrate with life!
Honor God with everything you own;
give him the first and the best.
Your barns will burst,
your wine vats will brim over.
So true, so simple. We all go to sleep – thank goodness!
I thought about writing this this morning whilst Personal Trainer took me through workout 20 of the 30-day shred and as Dietician and Cook made my pineapple and coconut smoothie. I have written this whilst Freelancer has screamed at me that I should be working and Wife is feeling guilty that I write this whilst my husband takes the children swimming alone and Mother worries she should be with her family and Friend has tried to think of something nice to get for her friend’s birthday that Accountant is concerned is too expensive.
It’s Saturday today and I will be all of these roles, all day. There is no day off and THAT is for me why being a Work At Home Mother is so much more than just two roles.
I’m reminded of a passage written by Paul, one of the first ever Christians, who literally experienced torture for living his life. He’s talking about not giving up;
. . in hard times, tough times, bad times; when we’re beaten up, jailed, and mobbed; working hard, working late, working without eating; with pure heart, clear head, steady hand; in gentleness, holiness, and honest love; when we’re telling the truth, and when God’s showing his power; when we’re doing our best setting things right; when we’re praised, and when we’re blamed; slandered, and honored; true to our word, though distrusted; ignored by the world, but recognized by God; terrifically alive, though rumored to be dead; beaten within an inch of our lives, but refusing to die; immersed in tears, yet always filled with deep joy; living on handouts, yet enriching many; having nothing, having it all.
I can relate. I am bewildered and challenged by my life, and yet glad to be in it.