Not long ago, my husband told me that he wouldn’t be able to take our kids to the sitter’s in the morning as we had planned. He had an early work meeting scheduled, and did I mind if they went a different day?
Oh, sure, hubby, no problem. Despite the fact that my husband and I both work full time and contribute to our family’s finances (and I, in fact, make more), when push comes to shove and a child gets sick or there’s a package that needs signing for, only one of us is expected to rearrange work to accommodate life: me.
I happen to be part of a very secret group of women: the invisible generation of “moms who work from home.”
I’m a full-time freelance writer, which means that if I’m not working, I’m not making money. Working as a freelancer means having the freedom to be the one to stay home with a sick kid, but it also means a tremendous amount of stress because I’m trying to maintain normal business hours and run every aspect of a functioning business, from marketing and content creation to the backend work of taxes and expense management, sometimes while holding a small child’s puke bucket. I have interviewed celebrities while changing a baby’s poopy diaper and it’s not always easy to feel like the professional I am.
Like Wonder Woman, women who work from home appear completely normal on the outside. (OK, so maybe fantasizing that I look like Gal Gadot is a stretch, but you get my drift.) We do the cleaning and the cooking and the child chauffeuring and the diaper changing and the doctor’s visits, and we’re always that person who’s home to sign for the random delivery or take care of the kid with a fever.
To the outside world, I might seem like a woman who has all the time in the world to rearrange her schedule at the drop of a hat. But in truth? I’m a professional, earning an income. And the fact that people can’t recognize that is frustrating as hell.
Part of a ‘secret club’
Working from home means so many things to mothers these days — from working professional jobs, like graphic design, data inputting or programming, to the influx of network-marketing and direct-sales activities, like Beachbody, essential oils or leggings.
But working from home when you’re a mother with children also means signing up to become part of what feels like a secret club that no one really knows about: It means fighting a near-constant battle to prove yourself to the outside world.
One of the hardest parts about working from home with kids is that many people don’t realize that what we do is a “real job.” As Lauren Wellbank, a Pennsylvania-based mom of a 2-year old and a 3-month old has seen, getting validation that work done at home is still “real work” is nearly impossible.
“(People) don’t see what I do as an actual job because I am at home with my kids,” she explains.
Almost every mother I know who works from home has the same top complaints: No one really “gets” what we do, we are basically working a full-time job on top of another full-time job, and sometimes other moms don’t understand that we can’t always drop everything to babysit or go out for the occasional play date.
Personally, a lot of my frustration comes from the fact that it’s hard to feel like a professional when I’m spending most days at home, working in my pajamas, taking care of kids at the same time.
It can also be frustrating to constantly feel like you have to explain yourself when you turn down yet another invitation or play date or volunteer request because you have to work. Or, when you go to a party and everyone asks how your husband’s job is going, not even considering that you work, too.
So fellow moms of the invisible club of women who work from home, let me just assure you that I see you, and I see your efforts. Keep on doing what you’re doing, and smile that secret smile that I know you do when you’re kicking ass and switching laundry and answering emails and keeping the kids happy and providing for your family, all while being home with them.
We really are like Wonder Woman … with a much better paycheck.