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What It's Really Like to Work From Home
By Beth Berry
(Dug up this script from two years ago thinking a few of you might relate...)
My kids are home from school today, unexpectedly. I knew it was a national holiday, it just never registered that school would be out for the rest of the week. It seems appropriate to write about the very circumstances under which I find myself -- working, while tuning out/minimally managing the chaos around me. Over the next hour I will share with you the interruptions and requests from my children and husband, just for kicks. This ought to be interesting.
Estella – age 3, as instigator and clever player of the “baby” card
Eli – age 6, as the sensitive victim
Taos – age 9, as realist and bookworm
Hunter – age 33, with new role as “unemployed homemaker”
Me – age 32, with new role as “writer/breadwinner”
Eli: (crying loudly) Mom! Estella just pulled my hair!
Me: I’m sorry baby, that wasn’t very nice. It’s okay. Calm down. Estella! Come here.
Estella: (defensive) What Mom?
Me: Did you pull Eli’s hair?
Estella: Yes, because I pulled her hair because she hit me because I pulled her hair and that’s not nice!
Me: We never pull hair when we’re frustrated. Look, you hurt your sister. You need to see if she’s okay and tell her you’re sorry.
Estella: But she hit me!
Eli: Yea I hit you! After you pulled my hair!
Me: Hush Eli.
Estella: No I didn’t! You’re just a meany and I’m never going to be your sister again.
Eli: You have to be. You have no choice, duh.
Estella: Mom! She said I have no choice duh!
Me: Okay, out. I’m trying to work. Go argue somewhere else.
(Parenting downfall #1: Not enforcing the apology because I want them to go away and I know it will take a half hour to extract the insincere sentiment.)
Taos: Mom, have you seen my book?
Me: Which one?
Taos: The Red Pyramid
Taos: But mom, I just had it. Will you please help me find it?
Me: Not right now, I’m working. Think about where you were when you last had it.
Taos: I already did that and it didn’t work. Why do you always have to be working? Dad sucks at cleaning the house, you know.
Me: Taos, go out. I’ll be done in a little while.
Taos: You are like in love with that computer.
Me: Bye Taos. Go look under your bed.
(Parenting downfall #2: Not defending my husband or reprimanding the crude language, but quietly basking in the acknowledgement of my domestic superiority.)
A few more minutes:
Estella: Mom!!! Will you wipe me?
Me: Hunter!!! Estella needs you!
Hunter: She asked you! You’re better at it anyway.
Rolling eyes, I go to wipe the kid.
Estella: I’m not done yet.
Me: Come on, really? Why did you call me in here?
Estella: Because I wanted to.
Me: Well tell me when you’re done.
Estella: Okay. But don’t go away. Stay right there and wait.
I wait and wait while she sings and swings her legs.
Me: You done yet?
Estella: Yes but I want dad to wipe me.
Parenting downfall #3: Pressuring my kid to hurry up in the bathroom. Hope this doesn’t turn into some kind of intestinal distress down the road.
Back in my office…
Hunter: Hey, what do you think about the chicken coop being trapezoidal so I can just set four posts instead of six and put the door on the small end?
Me: Uhhh, okay.
Hunter: Come look at it with me.
Me: I’m working. Are you setting posts right now?
Hunter: Yea, come on.
We check it out…
Me: What about the roofline?
Hunter: I don’t know yet.
Me: Maybe you should draw it out.
Hunter: I think I’ll put the smoker and grill over here and build an awning over them. You know, it is the rainy season.
Me: Smoker? What smoker?
Hunter: The one I’m having built by those guys who build them for 120 pesos a day.
Me: Huh. What’s for dinner?
Hunter: I figure I can sell pulled pork sandwiches every Sunday out of your office, which is technically the tienda.
Me: Ummm, I’m going back to work now.
(Marriage downfall #1: Playing the cynic about my husband’s “great” ideas while wondering whether the dishes are done.)
All three girls: Mom, can we watch “The Secret Garden?” You said we could watch something later, and it’s later.
Me: Are your rooms clean?
Girls: Uhhh, yes.
Me: Okay, go.
(Parenting downfall #4: Not checking their rooms first even though the “uhhh” was a dead giveaway of the truth of the matter.)
Estella: Mom, smell me.
Me: (Smelling nothing) What do you smell like?
Estella: Chocolate. Little chocolate. Taos gave me some. Does this feel good? (Punching me repeatedly in the kidney.)
Me: No, it doesn’t.
Estella: I’m hungry.
Me: Go talk to your dad.
Good job family! An entire post’s worth of content in an hour. I knew you could do it.
Need another distraction from work (or an affirmation of your worth)? Here's an Ode to Modern-Day Mothers, 'cause you're pretty awesome.
About Beth Berry
Beth Berry is a writer, mother of four daughters and born idealist living the real life. When she's not orchestrating the household, she can be found in one of several precarious yoga poses, wandering indigenous Mayan food markets, or holed up in a sunny southern Mexican cafe with her laptop, a shade grown dark roast and a contemplative look on her face. Having lived against the grain as a baby-slinging, toddler-nursing, secondhand-shopping, wanna-be farmer for 17 years, she and her family decided to ditch the rat race for a taste of life abroad. Now, in addition to challenging conventional wisdom, she writes about her life-changing experiences working among women in extreme poverty and oppression. Keep up with her musings and adventures in imperfection at www.revolutionfromhome.com.
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