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Who’s who and what’s what

July 30, 2009

I am a work-at-home mom (WAHM). My husband is a work-at-home dad (WAHD?). Our son – I’ll just call him “Blur,” a nickname that reflects his ability to move nearly at the speed of light and the appearance of every photograph we have of him – is a typical entropy-happy two year old who believes that no parent should have to spend his or her day attached to a computer when there are so many other, more fun things to do, such as entertain him. We coexist in a 1400-square-foot condo, a size that seemed perfectly reasonable when we purchased it but that now seems a little inadequate to contain all the energy the three of us create, often combustibly, as we bump into each other throughout the day.

It gets interesting around here, especially if we don’t compartmentalize and plan. We handle our situation by trading off. If my husband (why don’t we go ahead and call him WAHD?) and I both have a lot to do, one of us will take Blur in the morning while the other one works, and then we’ll switch off in the afternoon. If one of us is really, really busy on a particular day, that parent gets the entire day to work and the other gets the entire day to play cars, go to the park, watch Sesame Street, and keep Blur from doing stuff like chipping away at the hardwood floor or taking the closet doors off their hinges.

At the end of the day, both of us – no matter who worked and who did the bulk of the parenting – are exhausted. I used to stay up late and go to bed somewhere between midnight and 2 a.m. Now I find myself eying the bedroom at 9 or 10. Instead of watching movies all the way through, we usually have to watch them in segments. For instance, it took us four nights to get through The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, even though both WAHD and I really enjoyed it. As for free time, we have very little of it. Even typing this, I feel I’m being quite decadent with my schedule. 

Our friends often tell us how lucky we are to be at home every day with Blur. Here is my official response: Yes! Yes, it is! I love being with my child and watching him grow up. I love that I can wear my pajamas well into the afternoon if I feel like it. I love that I can have lunch at my own kitchen table, and I love that I do not have a boss (other than Blur) telling me what to do. I love that we can spend so much time together as a family.

Here is my unofficial response: Can I trade with you for a week? Working from home can be a giant pain in the derriere. Blur does not understand why his mom is at home but not with him. Blur sees nothing wrong with marching up to mommy’s desk and interrupting her train of thought, which is why every task seems to take twice as long as it should. I’m no stranger to feeling stressed out and torn up. If I’m making Blur happy and spending a lot of time with him, I’m putting work on hold. If I do a fabulous job at work, it usually means that Blur feels neglected. I care about my work and I care about Blur. I care about Blur more – but my work matters a lot to me, too, and besides, we need the income. We can’t afford to be a one-earner household. 

I’m sure I’m not alone in this, which is why I’m writing this blog. I figure that there are people out there who can relate. I’m sure there are other parents who feel like they’re constantly dropping all the balls in their own personal juggling acts. Being a parent is challenging and rewarding and stressful no matter who you are or what you do, but I do think that being a WAH parent comes with its own unique challenges and rewards.

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