Saturday, September 29, 2007

Working from Home (I Get No Respect)

If you were to ask me what I did for a living, and I told the truth, you would be a bit shocked to hear exactly how many different employers I have all at the same time. It's easier to say something simple that doesn't quite cover it like "I teach" or "I'm a writer."

I should realize that it isn't any easier for my children to figure out exactly what it is that I do.

A few years ago, my youngest daughter was convinced my job was delivering magazines. It was the thing she saw me doing on a regular basis. She didn't realize that a lot of the time we were home together, I was working too. So what did I do? I edited and published a regional parenting magazine, but she thought I worked only when I delivered the final product to the various locations.

What does it look like when I'm working, after all? I'm usually sitting in the living room with my laptop open and on my lap. Unless I'm on deadline or trying to concentrate as I write, I am still interacting with my family. It can look like I'm doing what my children do on the Internet, which is pretty much nothing important.

I realized yesterday (Yes, I am slow) that when I am working doesn't look a lot different than when I am not working. The only clue might be reference materials that I have spread out all over. Not to mention that my children don't have a clear idea of what it is I do anyway. I teach, I tutor, I write. I teach in person, which requires me to dress up and drive to work, but I also teach online, which I can do curled up on the couch in my pajamas. I write, which usually happens at home, but once in a while requires me to go someplace for interviews and/or information.

Because I intertwine my work into my life rather seamlessly (for the most part), my children don't know I am working. This has led to them approaching me, talking alot, me ignoring them, them persisting, and finally me saying things like, "Not now, I'm working." And "Leave me alone, I'm working." Not to mention, "No you can't fill-in-the-blank. I'm working."

This has also led to me looking up from my laptop and seeing extra children in my home because apparently the rambling child from an hour ago was asking permission to have a friend over and took my grunts as an affirmative answer. (The children, I have learned, are getting very good at this, and their requests aren't always about having friends over.)

Thursday, my oldest daughter threw a fit, and it was a doozy of a fit. I, being the writing mother that I am, blogged about it over on my own blog. A quick summary: she was doing homework in a strange way that involved Tivo, and I made her stop. She objected. "I have homework," was her battle cry. I was ruining her life, and she would flunk out of school.

As I was writing my blog, I mused over what could made her think the phrase "I have homework" absolved her of any other responsibilities. It wasn't until later when I was behind the wheel of my car that I realized her "I have homework" line sounded a lot like my "I'm working" line.

Could she really have learned this behavior from me? Egads.

The life of a writing mother can be hazardous to your sanity. You've been warned.


FA said...

Not only you get "no respect", but what about when friends and family outside your home call you for favors or interruptions because you are "not working"? *lol*

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Yup, I had a similar realization a few months ago.

Scary, huh?

Serenity Now! said...

Oh, yes, good points Linda! I think we start out this Writing Mother thing by assuming we'll teach our children only good things like how we get to be home with them and write at the same time, or how we push through and meet our obligations, juggling family and work and wheee look it me, I can even do it with no hands!

Do we do them a disservice by teaching them that we should try to do it all? Do we teach them that multi-tasking is the ultimate achievement?

Carolyn Erickson said...

I've had my share of "Not now, Mommy's working" moments. Sheesh. You wonder if working at home to be with your kids is any different from being at a job sometimes.

But you know, I now have a daughter who celebrates my every achievement, and hugs me for every disappointment, who has seen what it takes and the work involved in attaining something.

It's like every day is "bring your daughter to work day."

I'm hoping those benefits outweigh the drawbacks. OTOH, if I had an outside job, she might see a mom who gets a paycheck more regularly. (G)