Back when I was pregnant with Sammie, our life was amazingly different. Not only was I working full time, in a high stress and high pressure environment, but I was also the primary income earner in our household. Jason, who is still pursuing full time post-secondary studies, was working as a supervisor at the Casino and, while the job was relatively rewarding, it was not necessarily an income generator. This wasn’t a problem for either of us- we knew that, while Jason focused on his studies, I was building my career and that- in our own ways- we were both contributing equally to the bigger picture of our lives together.
What we had forgotten to factor was the incredible impact of ‘maternity/parental’ leave, especially when it was preceeded by fifteen weeks of medical leave. When I stopped working, our budget wasn’t cut; it was slashed. It was pretty brutal. Don’t get me wrong- we got by. But it was on a very different scale than we had become accustomed to.
As such, we made the decision for me to return to work relatively “early” (nine months after Sammie was born), leaving Jason to take on the role of stay at home parent. This worked really well at first, but I soon began to miss my son more than I had anticipated. So, when the opportunity came for me to build my business directly from home, I seized it. As such, I have been working full time from home for the past year.
And it’s been awesome.
For a while, Jason stayed home as well. But soon, he was offered an opportunity that we simply couldn’t refuse. So, Sammie and I have been figuring things out mostly on our own since last fall.
There is no question that working full time from home, in my son’s amazing company, is a luxury that most would kill for. It is a seriously sweet life- not always easy, but always worth it. I get up earlier than Sammie, put in a few solid hours of work while he slowly stirs, eats breakfast and joins the world of the ‘awake ‘ (which takes him almost an hour in and of itself). I’m also very fortunate that Sammie is (finally) a wonderful sleeper and still takes at least a two hour nap each day; this where I get another big chunk of time in. Everything else, I sneak in either during the evenings, the middle of the night or the weekends. The hours are sometimes long, but the payoff is phenomenal.
I try to spend as much direct Mommy-baby time as I can. Whether we go to the park, to the zoo, to the Science centre, or just spend the morning in the back yard, Sammie and I attempt to do an activity a day. He also has several friends that he likes to visit with, and is a regular at the swimming pool and the kids’ centre.
All in all, it’s an awesome-beautiful-whirlwind kind of life and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
It is definitely busy.
Sometimes “too” busy.
If there is one drawback of being a work-at-home parent, it is that those around you don’t always recognize that you work-from-home.
I am incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by an unbelievable circle of friends. While most of these I have known for decades, some are deep friendships that are much more recent. These friendships bring a richness and depth to me that I cannot adequately put into words. I am exceptionally blessed.
I have no idea how I have come to have such a large circle. Frankly, it always shocks me when I find one person who is willing to tolerate my eccentricities, let alone dozens. And yet, somehow, I have stumbled into a strange universe where my biggest problem is that I actually have too many people that I love and who love me. And the hours in the day are too short to fit in the kind of visiting, socializing and relationship building that these people deserve.
So I find myself falling short when it comes to my friendships. And this is the hardest thing ever.
There is nothing harder in the world than turning down an afternoon “play date” with someone that I haven’t seen in ages because I have to “work”. I hate the disappointment in their voice, and the guilt that I feel from knowing that I am neglecting the relationship that I value so much. But I also have huge responsibilities- to my family, to my clients, and to myself. And these leave me much less time for socializing than I used to have.
I know that this is a dilemma that many new parents face. But I think that it is especially hard for the work-at-home moms. People forget that, despite having a flexible work schedule, you still have work to juggle along with the every day responsibilities of parenting and managing a household and family.
Every hour that I spend on my social life is an hour that I am not spending working or with my family, which are understandably my priorities. I would argue that they are the priorities of most moms I know. So, sometimes I am confused by the unintentional but nonetheless palpable guilt that I feel is thrust upon me when I can’t join in on an event.
I can’t imagine that moms who work outside the home are often expected to play hooky in order to go for coffee. We understand that they have responsibilities that must be met, and that these are not choices. This is also the case with running your own business. You can play “hooky” but, very quickly, it will catch up to you, and you will fall behind. And once you’re behind, it can be very difficult to catch up.
Timing, scheduling, and discipline are extremely valued commodities when it comes to business success.
And, it’s not always easy.
I miss my friends. A lot. So much more than I think they know. And sometimes, I admit, this life can feel a little lonely. But I know that, deep down inside, this is the only arrangement that works for my family and- for at least the next few months- it is my life, for better or for worse.
So, to all my friends that I haven’t seen in far too long, I say this: I miss you. Thank you for your patience. I promise I’ll try to see you soon. In the meanwhile, please understand that when I turn down your invitation, it isn’t you that I’m rejecting. I just haven’t figured out how to fit more hours into the day yet.
And I Love You. That never changes, no matter how crazy life gets.
But ultimately, something's gotta give...
This blog is part of the 2012 Summer Blog Challenge (31 posts in 31 days). To follow along with my fellow writers, visit their blogs: