Karen Green: Out Of My Element


Being A WAHM: My Worlds Finally Collide

Why did I think this was going to be easy?

Keep your eye on the horizon when working at home

Summer has been flying by. Well, no, not exactly flying, which insinuates not only speed, but also a degree of grace, some precision, and a destination. Summer here has been a whirlwind. A blur, a stumble, a lark, a poorly choreographed dance that delights in its spontaneity even as we trip over each other's feet.

We have days of enjoyment and moments of pure glee and a few snippets of relaxation, but even in the midst of those, I am scrambling for purchase on a constantly churning sea of obligations.

The truth is, I may have bitten off more than I could chew this summer, and I have no choice but to deal with it. Which means my children have no choice but to deal with it.

When we moved to the cornfield two years ago (!), our goal was to live a simpler, more comfortable life than we had in Toronto, while working less. The cost of living here allows for that, but it meant that I had to also bring in some money as a freelance writer while staying home with the kids. I have been very lucky in that avenue so far; with near-constant, satisfying writing gigs coming my way since the moment I quit my fulltime job as a copywriter.

But here’s the thing about freelancing—you don't say no to good jobs. Especially the jobs that will still be around once the kids are back in school. Freelancing is often a feast-or-famine pursuit, and even when you feel stuffed from the feast, you have to remember that at any time, the table may be laid bare. So you keep feasting.

You keep feasting even though you only have a week or two of camp planned for your kids. You feast even though you feel like the TV has been on way too much. You feast even though others are wondering where you are, and if you have forgotten about them. You feast even though the timing, to put it bluntly, really sucks.

My worlds have finally collided this summer, and I am now understanding the very real, very impenetrable issues surrounding being a WAHM. I have begun getting up earlier, working later, and remaining dedicated to making plans with my children, for my children.

But the truth is, I feel like I have spent much of this summer so far, exactly one room away from my kids. I work while they entertain themselves. And sometimes, the distance between rooms feels like it may as well be a city block. Or a city.

I’m not unhappy, and neither are they, it seems. Professionally, I am thrilled. But I need to know if that balance can exist. My kids enjoy each other’s company, and understand the importance of my work. They also know that when I say, in half an hour we’ll go to the library, I mean it. They have been ridiculously good-natured and accommodating. They don’t think I’m being a bad mother. They are giving me a break.

Wish I could say the same.

Do you work at home? What are your tricks?