I started working from home about six years ago, after I moved to Canada and got everything I ever asked for. Everything I ever asked for was, of course, to be able to stay home full time with my kids (and not totally suffer for it - I did in fact stay home full time with my sons and we ate sogoddamnmuch Kraft dinner and it was worth every bite). IN Canada, I actually wasn't allowed to work. Visas are weird. So is being a full time stay at home mom in a new country where you literally don't know a single person except the people directly to either side of your condo and you only really know them because that one night that you left the country in the middle of the night with your kids in tow, they'd offered to hold you while the cops beat your door in with sledgehammers to retrieve your children from their deee-runk! father.
Can you tell I haven't been writing in a while? All of that should have been seven words. Man, when the levee breaks, I tell you WHAT.
So there I was, after a year of being a single mother with three very small kids and a potentially-ex husband in an entirely different country while living off of my two nights a week at the bar tips and a pathetic amount of assistance from the kids' dad in an 800 sq ft apartment, standing in the middle of the most gorgeous place on Earth in a quaint townhome and nothing at all do to but take care of it, and those kids.
I hated it, of course.
Thanks to the magic of the internet, the right someone was able to find that post, and he offered me a small little side gig that paid out of America, so Canada could shove it in my house-shoes and smoke it, and my days of working from home commenced.
They quickly expanded beyond the confines of that small little side gig into a real live big girl job with a title and a teency bit of supreme executive power and a'ight stock options and a lunch hour and everything.
Before all of that I waited tables. I loved waiting tables. I was really good at waiting tables. I gave waiting tables a lot of shit, but you know what? Waiting tables was something I couldn't do at home, and my kids never once asked me to stop serving that Côtes du Rhône and help them fold a duct tape wallet RIGHT NOW OR EVERYTHING WILL END.
My family has never really figured out what working from home means. They get mad if I won't let them play games or get on the computer after school because GAH, YOU ARE ON THE COMPUTER. The kids' dad used to expect to come home to dinner and a clean house, and I was like ARE YOU GOING TO COOK AND CLEAN? and he was like I AM WORKING and that my friends is THE POINT. I don't leave, so they don't think of it as work. One of the kids once said that their dad deserved to sit on the couch and watch TV instead of helping me with the dishes because he worked all day every day.
Brains sure are hard to scrub off of popcorn ceilings.
They think I type all day, and that is not an exaggeration I took my two sons to Mom 2.013 Summit with me this year because I wanted, no, I needed them to see exactly what it is I do all day. They were like YOU GET FREE STUFF FROM PRETTY GIRLS IN SUPERHERO COSTUMES ALL DAY?
My plan clearly needs some rethinking.
They did get a bit of a glimpse, or at least some context, into what I do at the computer all day, and I think it may have helped some. Of course, that didn't stop TXU from calling me yesterday to tell me, not ask me, to bring his homework to him that he'd left in his overnight bag from his dad's. This is where you point at the monitor and judge me, because you know that if I bring him the homework, I'm the problem, right? Well, I am, and I did, but only because A) I could and B) he'd worked all weekend on that homework and I have divorce-guilt.
Had he left it on the computer, that may have been another issue entirely. Which is exactly what he did this morning.
So it's 7:38 am and he is ringing my damn phone of it's non-existent hook, and I just keep ignoring his call because he wants SOMETHING and I am not in any state to deliver ANYTHING except coffee to my face at 7:38 am, and he gets the point eventually and hangs up. And then he calls me from the school. And then he starts texting me.
Can you get it to me by 8:03 am? My boss would be hard-pressed to say that to me.
But the thing is, he worked SO HARD on that music. I should know, I listened to him play and replay and note and re-note and play and play and zomgmakeitstop until he had all the music written out perfectly. He's so squirrel! with everything in his life that when he really focuses, when he sits down and does something all the way start to finish, I just want to hold onto it because I know that he must really truly madly deeply love the hell out of it. I knew what would happen if I said no, I wouldn't bring it - he'd panic, then he'd get angry, then he'd get upset, and then he'd have a shitty day. I don't want to be the cause of his shitty days. I also don't want to have to drag my seven year old daughter out of her morning routine to go rescue her brother who could finish his work (bravo!) but couldn't get it from the desk to his backpack (boo!).
So I told him no.
And I heard it. I heard him run through panic, then anger, then sadness. And it broke my heart, but I had to do it. At some point, these kids all have to be let to fall on their own, of their own, and they have to figure out how to get back up on their own, by their own. Their mother isn't going to be there with their homework and a cape all of their lives, and if I keep letting them think I will, then I am the problem.
Turns out, he explained what happened to his teacher and she is giving him until tomorrow am to turn in his assignment. I had nothing to do with this conversation. I'd be willing to bet, however, that he learned a way more valuable life-lesson during that negotiation than the reiteration of my unboundaried love for him would have reaped. And it only hurt us both a little.