My entire life, I have always thought, “Ah, to work from home.” The dream was to wake up, stroll downstairs to enjoy coffee on my balcony, watching the rats scurry to their offices while I caught up on the days events from NPR. After a breakfast of soft cheese, toast, and fruit, I would wander into my perfectly appointed office to begin the labors of the day. I would occasionally stop to refill my coffee mug, to make and enjoy a leisurly lunch, and perhaps even pop into the backyard to work while the children quielty frolicked in the backyard. At the end of the day, I would turn off the computer, content with the amount of work I had accomplished, free of the distractions and politics of an office environment, and pour myself a glass of wine to get a start on dinner.
Every single part of that dream was a lie.
I have been incredibly fortunate to have a job the last several years that is is work from home. When 2020 struck with the warning and shock of a tsunami, I was fortunately prepared. I had everything I needed to be a fully encapsulated worker bee in the comfort of my own home. I had worked from home for the previous 18 months, and felt prepared; how much was life really going to change for me. Oh boy…
I was not prepared for the new frentic energy of Pandemic Life in this household. With four humans and two canines trying to share a 2-bedroom apartment, the chances of someones toes getting stepped on or fuse being lit is un-erringly high. There are four different schedules, naps (sadly, not mine), homework, phone calls, training meetings, clients, emergencies, homework, meals, changes of plans, and also homework.
The average day does not involve what could be described as a dream. Upon waking up, usually from a night’s sleep that involved getting various children and dogs back to sleep, I get up in time to rush through my morning ablutions and plop myself down in my chair for a meeting. Sometimes I can grab coffee before, but usually not. After the meeting it is work until, hopefully, my wonderful wife has had time to get some food on a plate for me while trying to herd the sacks of cats that I swear are impersonating our children.
Then I blink and it is time for the littlest to take a nap, which means that the room that has been my office reverts back to being the kid’s room, and I have to find a new place to work. I try to time this around my lunch, but sometimes there are meetings, or calls, or emergencies. Through all of this, the 1st grader is doing his school work.
I’m not sure I remember much of my 1st grade experience. I have vauge recolations of learning to tell time on an analog clock, of reading, and…of not liking my teacher very much. My child may share a few of those memories. This has to be a difficult time for him too; out of a classroom, home all the time, not really understanding the reasons for this life-changing event. But also, why can’t we just do 19+17=? and move on with our lives? Or why can’t you just copy the lines, or read the story, or…ugh.
Then there is my wife. She is holding this house together with her bare hands. She has a business she is trying to keep going, despite a global health emergency that has essentially shut down her industry. She is teaching, and developing ways to continue to push her students forward. She is doing the shopping and the lion’s share of the cooking, and keeping our son on track with his schoolwork and…she just does it. We try to split the chores we can, and each help to get the have-to’s doene. Without her, we would be sunk. And with only two or three breakdowns to her credit, I am damned impressed!
Yes, working from home was the dream, but that dream is very different from the reality. That isn’t bad or good, it just is the reality we are living in right now. Eventually the older one will go back to school, the other will have their own room to nap in. My wife will be able to do what she always expected to do, and I will have that perfectly appointed office. In the meantime, we are alive, we are healthy, and we have everything we need to live, survive, and to keep moving forward. And, for now, that is all we need.
Until next time…stay safe, stay sane, and good luck.