When I think about my job now in comparison to where I used to work, there’s no question I am a hundred—a thousand—times more fulfilled and happy than I used to be. I could list the reasons why, but it would take many increasingly expletive-laden paragraphs and I’d likely burn any remaining bridges down to cinders along the way.

Suffice to say I am insanely grateful for the opportunity to earn my paychecks writing from home. Not a day goes by that I don’t feel lucky as hell to have found myself in a career that’s perfect for me right now—I have the flexibility of freelancing, with the stability of a regular income. It’s a goddamned dream come true.

In my dreams, though, I somehow managed to gloss over the part where I actually get the work done. Maybe I pictured some sort of romantic scenario involving the words pouring forth with ease as I luxuriate over my laptop in my quiet home office, sipping sun-steeped iced tea while I periodically take a break to wave at my cherubic children, who have naturally found occupied themselves with some peaceful and industrious activity such as polishing the stainless steel appliances while independently serving their developmental needs, Montessori-style.

I don’t really have to tell you that the reality is nothing like this, do I? Still, let me make it perfectly clear: oh god the reality is nothing like this.

If there is a way to combine working from home with small children without involving the television, I have not managed to figure it out. The only way I can sit at the computer long enough to meet a deadline is to stash the boys in front of the screen and pump Curious George directly into their tender growing face-holes.

(O, television! Teacher, mother, secret lover.)

I always think an article isn’t going to take that long, but I routinely underestimate everything that’s involved. There’s the process of pitching my topic ideas, which can take much longer than any of the actual writing. Pitching involves looking at what’s trending, trying to come up with a unique angle on the story—this is where The Stir differs from the great majority of entertainment sites, as they discourage re-reporting in favor of strong opinion*—and emailing back and forth with an editor to approve the topic and come up with the right eyeball-grabbing title for it.

*Ask me how easy it is to come up with an opinion on, say, The Real Housewives of Wherever. NOT EASY.

Then there’s the content itself, which must include a photo, but said photo cannot be held to copyright laws, so I either have to go digging through Flickr for Creative Commons-licensed images or I have to use The Stir’s account to purchase a photo from an agency. This entire workflow makes me a little crazed whenever I see blogs that blatantly rip off high-quality media photos because HELLO. STEALING. Not only is that kind of shitty and wrong, but more importantly, if I can’t do it, BY GOD YOU SHOULDN’T BE ABLE TO EITHER.

Anyway, then there’s the tagging and categorizing and getting the right number of characters before that annoying-ass jump (you know, the ubiquitous “Read More” button I wish would die in a web-wide fire) and formatting the text and adding the randomly bolded terms that seem to appeal to folks who prefer to skim or maybe there’s some other important reason for it that I don’t know about but whatever, I just bold some shit like crazy and hope I did it right.

Which is all to say that producing three articles a day takes a lot of time. I have a babysitter who comes by a few hours a week, but I can’t save all my work for when she’s there, because it’s all about what’s trending and when. (Dear America: stop searching for Kim Kardashian. Please.)

So that is the compromise: I get to stay home with my boys, but I have to spend part of my day shushing them and distracting them with the TV. It’s not ideal, but I know for me it’s a damn sight better than it was, and I hope to god it is for them too.

Is there any possible parenting scenario that does not involve guilt? I remember thinking that things would be so perfect if I could work from home. Is there any such thing, you think? An utterly perfectly flawless setup for parent and child? If there is, I’ve yet to meet someone who’s living it.

Comments

61 Responses to “The myth of perfect”

  1. Jen on June 18th, 2011 1:28 pm

    I’m living a similar life. I do consulting and operations management from home. Kale watches TV. Sometimes I feel tremendous guilt about the amount he occasionally watches but I can’t tell if I’m feeling guilt because I’m not happy about how much TV he watches, or if I am feeling guilt because I think that others look at me poorly. Sometimes, when there is a deadline, he will watch HOURS of TV at a time. I work in the kitchen on a laptop and so can get up and attend to him and interact with him, but it’s not perfect and every time I get up I find it just adds more time to making the deadlines. I will say that he is getting really good at entertaining himself without TV these days – he’s starting to find things that keep him interested for a while at a time. Maybe this is just temporary.

  2. Anonymous on June 18th, 2011 2:05 pm

    Who says our kids even WANT to spend that much time with US? Is this our interpretation of what we think they want, or what they really want? I mean, as a kid, I know I wanted my SAHM mom around less. I liked my autonomy, my ability to play with my sister slightly unsupervised, or to watch our TV shows in peace, without her interference. I mean, truthfully, in my child mind, she was kind of a buzz kill with all her rules and calling my name and barking orders. Seriously, let’s not be so full of ourselves to think our kids want us all up in their business all the time.

  3. kendra! on June 18th, 2011 5:39 pm

    I can tell you about guilt-free parenting. It involves going to grad school with a newborn and completing an internship while spitting out freelance deadlines to buttress one’s non-existent clips. It involves sleeping sometimes 3-4 hours a night. It involves zero guilt because one is too busy caffeine-bonging oneself to stay awake and not drive into opposing traffic. I lived this for a year. Never. Again. Let’s move to France, hey?

  4. Amy on June 18th, 2011 5:43 pm

    I like the idea of a neighborhood teen/mothers helper. My oldest is 12- not yet babysitting, but she could definitely care for and entertain kids, and she would LOVE to have a job like that (wouldn’t charge much either.)
    Maybe contact your local homeschool coop- one of our best sitters was a homeschooled teen who was very flexible with her time, and quite used to helping with younger siblings.

  5. Gleemonex on June 19th, 2011 2:49 pm

    “(O, television! Teacher, mother, secret lover.)”

    DYING! Yes. Without Yo Gabba Gabba, my 3-days-in-office/2-days-working-from-home setup would’ve flamed out a long time ago. Guilt when I’m at the office because I miss her, guilt when I’m home because “this is the last time I can pretend to wash you in the baby bath — I have to get back on the computer.” No way to win. Just get ‘er done. We’ll be OK. And so will they. :-)

  6. Guinness74 on June 21st, 2011 7:33 am

    Feel free to use any of my CC-licensed images on my Flickr account. I can’t, unfortunately, imagine a single one of them being useful unless you’re writing about Erin Andrews at some point. But, I take pictures for fun, and if somebody else can use them, all the better. I only ask that I get the attribution; no more, no less.

  7. Carrie on June 21st, 2011 8:00 pm

    I hear you. it hit me like a ton of bricks recently as the last year i’ve been a full time SAHM all while running 2 business and owning 5 income properties. GAH.

    I noticed the DD3.5 has all but raised herself. She’s spent it being toted around, shushed, watching tv, etc.

    Only recently have I brought in additional help to entertain her (not sure if it’s affordable).

    I’m sad, because I’m actually glad that in Sept most of my troubles will be over when DD5.5 goes to school fulltime and DD3.5 will be part-time. Allowing me many blissful hours of productive work time !

    Another thing I noticed that I can get alot more done having a sitter over for 2 hours then I can working around her for 10 !

  8. Stacy H-W on June 22nd, 2011 12:31 pm

    Maybe you could set them in front of educational tv….like the dvds from Leapfrog. They are fun and teach something.

    http://www.amazon.com/LeapFrog-Learning-DVD-Set-LEAPFROG/dp/B002LYD2M6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1308770910&sr=8-1

    My kids loved them and would watch them all the time. It helped them learn letter sounds, words, math etc.

    Just an idea. There is not a good solution unfortunately.

  9. Cherish on July 5th, 2011 1:47 pm

    Thank you for telling it like it is woman! I too work from home and let’s just say I’m not going to win a parenting award any time soon. The babysitter (TV) is on more than I would like, but like you, I haven’t found a better solution yet.
    Thanks for keeping it real.

  10. 42nd street photo on May 12th, 2014 5:17 pm

    42nd street photo…

    The myth of perfect : All & Sundry…

  11. a&f 香水 on February 22nd, 2015 5:08 pm

    雖然這些對短褲非常靈活,你一定要注意你的鞋,以便您進行優雅的,隨便看看。
    a&f 香水 http://www.corraldebustos.gov.ar/bichemictw/AF.html

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