The Math of Working From Home

the math of working from home

My son was eleven months old when my husband got word that he'd found a job, after nine months of searching. I was working full time, racing back home twice a day to nurse my baby, who wouldn't take a bottle.

When my boss offered to help me find a transfer to our new city, I blurted out, "I'm not working anymore!" Because glory, hallelujah, I finally was getting what I'd longed and cried for since I first saw those tiny blue lines. I was going to be a stay at home mom. A few weeks later, I sat sobbing on the bathroom floor of our brand new (to us) duplex. The sunshine poured in the huge windows, the smell of fresh paint wafted on the AC, and my baby screamed in his bed.

All I could think was, "daycare could help him nap."

He did learn to nap, eventually, sort of, and we gave him a sister. I joined the ranks of a direct sales company, but it didn't take off as fast as I'd hoped, and by the end of Christmas and the beginning of a new year, we were broke. Credit cards maxed out, no way we could pay for our groceries next month broke, and oh look! We're pregnant again! When my friend called to tell me she had started a new business, and would I like a job--well, yes. Yes, I would like a job.


I took the job because it was the only way to make it all work, and all these years later, that’s still the only way to make it all work. We need the income, my kids need me in their lives all day (or maybe I need them in mine?). It's algebra, and I'm managing the variables.

x = staying at home and b = working. Now, we solve for y.

It was fun at first--being a work at home mom. New parts of my brain awakened, parts that hadn't been used in years, and I grew closer to my friend and boss because of our frequent strategy sessions. It was straight up luxurious to talk to someone about something other than time outs and baby food.


And then--then it was hard. My hours increased. My children increased in number and age and needs. It was lonely.

It's hard to find new friends when you don't have time for playdates.

I--we, work at home moms--do the changing of the diapers and the feeding of the babies, the cleaning-cooking-warming-up of the chicken nuggets. We do the podcasting and free webinars while we fold the laundry, trying to gain the MBA we sure as heck don't have time for now. We do the facebook-pinterest-instagram-snapchat-periscope-twitter scheduling in between naptimes to find the new customers, because we own this business. This business is ours.


Our kids need new shoes this summer, and money doesn’t grow on trees, so we do the outreaching, the sucking up of our pride to approach friends about potential business opportunities, the hustling late at night when everyone else has gone to bed.


We do the "muting" of the phone while hollering "QUIET" while we're on a business call, as if that really made a difference, the locking of the bathroom door so we can get one email off before closing, please dear Lord, and the pressing "play" on waaaay too many episodes of Dino Trux. We begin almost every email with, "I'm so sorry for the delay,” but we’re too busy to notice.


We do the canceling of playdates because the work load is too heavy, the wistful glances at the moms who have afternoons wide open, the searching glances among new faces, hungry for someone who understands.


We do long distance conference calls with children on our laps, client calls while nursing, typing away single-handedly.


And we're here! We're present! We fail at everything--and nothing, all at the same time. We're determined to not let a dream die, we're determined to earn the money, we're determined to be here, in this house, with these children, because we've decided that in here, with them, in these walls that close us in, it’s a thousand times better than any other place.


Nobody's singing our praises or rallying around us or chipping likenesses of us from granite, but they should be, because what we're doing is God's work. We're laying it down, day by day, rights to "private" time and long, hot showers, rights to sanity and expectations of normal, and we're doing it for love of our children. The love of our families.


We try. We try really, really hard. The algebra changes every time, but we rework our equations, and we keep on solving for y. And we find it. We try, and sometimes the math takes a long, long time, but we always find it. Eventually, we find y.

work at home moms

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