Being a Work-from-home mother

Being a work-from-home-mum has its disadvantages. You tend to switch on the laptop shortly after you’ve brushed, hoping to check your email before the rest of the house wakes up—just so you can plan your tasks for the day when you’re still sane. And that’s not even the tip of the iceberg.

After responding to a couple of important mails, you drag in the newspaper and milk packets and think about what to rustle up for breakfast, the kid’s tiffin, and for lunch, cursing yourself for not remembering to get that yogurt starter. All this while, of course, you’re drafting more email responses, charting out excel sheets, and ticking dates off calendars in your head. The house has woken up, maids are walking in, the kid has discovered crayons, and space is not something you can own anymore. You want to simply scream, push people out of the house, shower, and get down to serious business. But there is laundry to be done, motherliness to be shown. It is still going to be a couple of hours before you can find your senses, leave alone do some creative or mechanical work.

When you finally do settle down in your “office corner,” courier boys choose to deliver credit card statements, the electricity goes off a couple of times, and then it’s time for the kid to come home. Then, of course, there is the lunch and nap-time drill. Half the day is down already. You then desperately squeeze out every iota of working energy you have, chasing deadlines by the second and keeping a sharp ear open for the slightest stir from the kids’ quarters. By evening you are swearing to yourself that you must burn the midnight oil and finish a certain amount of work at least but fatigue takes over shortly before midnight and another day officially has to close.

The other downside of working from home is that you don’t get weekends off. Because the husband is home on the weekend and because there’s more people to help with the kid when you visit your mum, you fit in more work than on an ordinary weekday. You skip opportunities to hang out with friends and politely decline invitations to family get-togethers, hoping they will understand that as someone who is struggling to find your own spot in the sunshine, you need to work harder and make sacrifices. Unfortunately, they don’t. You are expected to pay your social visits more than ever now that you are “at home only” not working a nine to five job and commuting for hours. Apparently the latter merits more leniency than juggling two jobs, one of them involving a toddler. Due offense is taken, and you are outcast. Nasty jokes and sly taunts are cracked when you meet people next. It makes you sad. So sad. You are already unhealthy from ignoring meal times and not getting any exercise, and you’re already frustrated that you’re not making as much money as you’d like to, and then this.

But then,as in most happy stories, a sensible husband comes along and puts his hand over your shoulder and says, “Fuck it, babe. Look at our daughter—look how happy she is, look how secure she is. People may not understand it but we’ve taken some decisions together and as far as your work is concerned, it’s happening. Sarasvati has blessed us now; Lakshmi will bless us soon. Just focus on us as a unit and let everything else go to hell.” And although you want to mope some more, you know, deep inside, that you are ok. You will take greater control of your life and let barking dogs bark.

So, this weekend, I stayed away from my laptop and chilled a bit. I took some decisions about my health, and made a few rules. But most of all, I decided to care a damn about people who don’t.

Comments (16)

  1. Priti September 9, 2012 at 8:20 am

    I so agree with what your husband said and I am so happy for you for being married to a guy who thinks like this. We all need a reminder from time to time that as a family we work as a team, as a part of one unit and our actions, our decisions are all based on how the others get affected by it, for those who cannot understand it, they really don’t matter…or rather should not matter. I loved the Saraswati and Lakshmi bit 🙂 how true! I was watching Yanni’s concert on youtube yesterday and noticed how much he enjoys doing what he’s doing, he is so absorbed in that moment and his face glows with the very realization that he’s doing what he’s born to do! No wonder he’s so good at it and Saraswati and Lakshmi are right by his side.

  2. chinmayie @ love food eat September 9, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    It’s 7.50 in the morning and I just brushed, had my big glass of water and I am sitting up checking mail and important ( ;)) blog posts and replying!! All before the rest of the house wakes up 🙂
    While I know it’s hard, I really wouldn’t have it any other way. In my case I like being home because being able to decide when I want to work, how much I want to work and of course no travel (Bangalore traffic is crazy now).
    I stopped worrying about people long back Saee. I was a very good student in school, instead of taking up science or math I did fine arts! Lived-in with a man much older man and at 20 I got married, to the same man! lol (OH NO!) and then didn’t do a 9-5 job as I was just freelancing (Terrible!) within years had a baby (end of life) and after taking a break from work realized that design is not ,my thing…. now here I am blogging which doesn’t even pay! Obviously people have stopped expecting much from me and that can’t make me happier. When rest of the world thought my life is over, I think it’s just the beginning 🙂

  3. Harini September 9, 2012 at 8:30 pm

    This phase too will pass. For almost 12 years (till 3 years back) I got up at 4.00a.m., just so I could be free by the time my children woke up. It helped because I would not get angry, upset or flustered when they were being sent off to school. I am not doing it anymore. The kids are now old enough to do many things on their own. Life does throw some random questions every now and then but we are doing a good job as a team, the children included. Just wait for Avnee to grow up and focus on her. She will be your best friend. I won’t tell you about how messy a teen can be. Whether stay-at-home, working or a-work-from-home, there will always be enough for the mother simply because it is the women who keeps the unit together. We choose which one we want to be and have to make decisions accordingly. As for people – have tongues, will wag.

    P.S: On days when I wasn’t cent percent fit, Erma Bombeck came to my rescue. She immediately made me feel better. Its ok not to be supermom.

  4. Madhuli September 9, 2012 at 8:32 pm

    Hey Saee, first of all hugs to you. I always think of giving up my job since life is turning out too hectic for me but am never able to decide (this is the other side). Weekends I cook/photograph and blog so am not free for social pleasantries and have been often asked what’s the point of cooking/photographing and blogging? I don’t care anymore since I am doing what I love. Do what you love and as long as people who matter understand that you are just fine!

  5. Pinky September 9, 2012 at 8:42 pm

    Hello Saee,

    Even i work from home Saee and totally can understand ur feelings to a extent,Acc to me it requires more dedication and a strong mind to work from home coz at home you work alone and sometimes there are so many distractions that you have to really concentrate on ur job more….But i would never have it any other way….for me Seeing my daughter grow up and being part of her daily life is very imp…. of course on bad days i do miss the chitchat with colleagues and some of the fun that we have in a office environment…But its all worth it.

    So be a proud work from home mother and enjoy life 🙂

  6. Renita September 9, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    So well written, you continue to inspire me!

  7. Ashrita September 9, 2012 at 11:18 pm

    You are a super woman Saee, truly an inspiration. Hug.

  8. Anjali September 9, 2012 at 11:45 pm

    You have excellent support from whom you need. So the rest, let them be. Avanee is a happy child and that is a prize, isn’t it.

  9. Kalyan September 10, 2012 at 2:46 am

    wow that’s one very hectic day…reading it itself is tiring …but then as long as you are enjoying it that’s what matters

  10. Aparna September 10, 2012 at 10:52 am

    Uh. I would give anything right now to be in Avanee’s place and be cared by my stay-at-home mom. And enjoy what she cooks.
    Show the ones who taunt, your cream-soaked middle finger next time and shoo them away with the pen in your hand (or ladle) .. 🙂

  11. Rituparna September 10, 2012 at 10:59 pm

    I don’t have a kid & my day seems to fly by faster than I can realise. On top of it all is the constant nagging of people who will keep telling you that 2 incomes will give you a better life and more opportunity. I try to not listen, but sometimes it does become enough. You do what your heart tells you, cause usually that is the right decision for the long run.
    N damn, those courier guys ring the bell just when your truly inspired, I think there is a conspiracy underway !

  12. Meenakshi September 12, 2012 at 5:13 am

    Wonderful wonderful post. I can relate to this 100% as I also work from home. Yes, the day is filled with moments when you have just put your kid to sleep, you look forward to getting in an hour of work, and someone’s at the door! But like you said, I see how happy and secure my son is, and it feels worth it. I look at it this way: not everyone is fortunate enough to actually take time off from a regular 9 to 9 job, so I should feel blessed in some ways.

  13. Arunima September 12, 2012 at 9:24 pm

    Just so like my day when I decide to work from home. I see both the sides, being in a job where I can WFH when I want to, and seriously, working from home is so so much harder. The maids, the kid, lunch, his nap-time and throw in a mother-in-law who feels you’re free to chat with her since you’re “just working from home”…you just start wishing you were born with 8 hands and 2 brains!

  14. Madhavi September 13, 2012 at 7:44 am

    My fifth comment on the blogosphere. 🙂 Not that its pricey to comment. But this hit the spot! Its lucky to have an understanding husband and a daughter who deserves all the attention. Keep up great work. Am going to replicate your birthday cake tomorrow for my husband’s birthday. Thanks.

  15. Amisha September 13, 2012 at 10:57 pm

    My situation is just like yours, the only relief is that my mother-in-law staying manages to keep my daughter for a couple of hours during day, so that I can have some time to work. The rest of my work is completed after my daughter is in deep sleep. People do often complain of being unsocial, but it has to be that way!!
    Definitely working from home is much harder than going to office…
    KUDOS to all the ladies who manage working from home..

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *