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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Telecommuting Mommies IV (or When Others Think it's Easy)

It never fails. You're out to dinner with friends, and someone leans over the table and whispers, "Wish I could work at home too! I could use some peace and quiet." Or they say they'd work on their tan. Or their shopping techniques. You probably fall into one of two camps. You either white-knuckle the tablecloth, grin, and say, "Yes, it certainly is the life." Or you have a prepared rant that takes up the rest of dinner, silencing your friends, and putting a kibosh on anyone ordering dessert. Could there be a middle ground to these responses? After all, you know you work harder than you ever have in your life. You should receive a standing ovation when you walk into a room. People should offer to give you their seat, insisting you must be exhausted and "would you like a second glass of Chablis?"

But the reality is, few are sympathetic to our plight. So how do we make the world realize how heroic we are? Should we just go ahead and toot our own horns? This is not an easy question to answer. I've struggled with it since the day I announced I'd be working from home. When someone makes a remark that implies your situation is easy, it's not worth it to your blood pressure to say absolutely nothing. For those who have simply thrown out an innocent comment, just smile and say you've never worked harder in your life, but the rewards are great. There's nothing wrong in letting someone know you're a hard worker, a real tough cookie. But then leave it at that. If they're interested, they'll ask more and you can give them more insight. After all, you never know when you might be talking to a future work-at-home parent.

When it hits closer to home, it's a more sensitive situation. If a family member thinks you're loaded with free time now that you're home, you might be tempted to lay into them, or at least get a good amount of complaining in. Who wouldn't? It's hard when a parent or possibly your spouse doesn't understand you actually have less free time than when you worked on location. Still, complaining only has a way of shutting the ears of the ones who probably need to hear it most of all. The best solution here would be honest communication. Try having a heart-to-heart without it coming across as a venting of your grievances. You may be surprised to find they really do know you're working hard, but they just haven't expressed it to you. (Feel free here to ask them for extra compliments. A once-a-day plan is always nice.)

In the end, the only opinion that matters is your own. You know you work hard, so pat yourself on the back, raise that glass of Chablis, and know that someday those kids will thank you. And most importantly, you'll have all the memories of being there for their first words, first steps, and first day of school. Now, who would give that up? Certainly not you!


Mayberry said...

I usually just smile and say "Yes, it IS great!" because most of the time, I do feel like I'm very lucky to have the set-up I have.

When it is a co-worker, I do try to find a way to remind them that I have the same responsibilities I had when I was in the office. Now with no tech support!

thanks for stopping by my blog the other day!

Lisa said...

Being a work at home mom for the past 7 years, I have heard my share of patronizing remarks. But mostly, when I tell someone what I do, they look at me as if I just stepped off a spaceship. "You do what? And you do it on the Internet?"

The Anonymous Mama said...

When I first announced I'd be working from home while raising a baby, I heard a lot of you-can't-do-it remarks. While I was privately wondering that myself, I sure didn't want to hear it from anyone else! Well, they don't say that anymore. My coworkers back at the office have been wonderful, which is a huge encouragement to me. I'm glad to hear, Lisa, that you've been at it for 7 years! Another encouragement!

Laura said...

You said it! I just told my husband the other day that the EASY way out would be to get a job outside the home. Ha ha Working from home.. whether you "work" as in get a paycheck or "work" as in run a house, take care of children... it IS the hardest job EVER!!!!