Woman Reading
Image by maxymedia via Flickr

This post is a blatant theft from Rachelle Gardner’s blog.  You can see her original post, asking “Do you ever take a day off?” here.  Generally, I don’t try to “copycat” other blogs, but reading her post made me think about my life, and the lives of freelancers in general.  Mostly, though, about work-at-home moms.

My mom worked full-time when I was growing up.  My parents divorced, and she had no other choice.  I was lucky enough to have her home with me full-time for the first four or so years of my life, but then she was back out in the workforce doing the 9-5 thing (or 8:30 – 4:30 in her case if I remember correctly).  She worked Monday through Friday in a job where she was, in my opinion, frequently smarter than the people she worked under.  I’ve done that myself, and know just how much it sucks to go to work every day knowing you are taking orders from some ass who couldn’t competently be in charge of a cat, much less an office.  Not that all of my bosses/higher-ups were like that, nor were all of my mom’s.  We’ve both had friendships come from work too.

I am lucky enough to be working from home (mostly).  I am with my youngest all day, and my two older kids when they are not in school or somewhere else.  I am here when my husband leaves for work, and when he gets home.  I don’t have to drive to work in rain or snow or sleet or hail….you get the idea.

But there is something about my mom’s job and mine that are similar.  When she got home from her day job, or when I’m not doing work online or writing an article or story, we are in our other job, as “mom.”  There are kids to be fed and taken care of, pets, a house needing cleaning, laundry to be done, dishes (which never seem to end).  Books to be read to kids, games to be played, shows to be watched together, movies.  Trips to do things together, trips to the park or the lake or the ocean, trips to the grocery store, or that Axis of Evil, Walmart (just my opinion, nobody needs to litigate).  There is homework to correct, bills to pay, rooms to be straightened, dishes to wash (yes, again), and kids to be tucked in.  It never ends.

The only difference is that for her, eventually I went to sleep and she could at least spend a little time reading or watching her own shows–when she wasn’t up worrying about how to pay for my braces or how long her car would last, of course.  On my end, when the kids are asleep or M. is napping, I’m working.  Online, on the house, on a story, whatever.  I do get to read a bit, but I don’t get to pick what I read very often because there is always a new book needing to be reviewed somewhere.  There is just no such thing as down time.

I still feel lucky, nonetheless.  I love my kids, and even on the days when they drive me crazy (and there are quite a few of those at times), I still would rather be aggravated by them than my former district manager any day of the week.  Being home is one of the greatest things in life.  There will never be an office anywhere else that could compare.  It’s not the house (which is a disaster, don’t ask), or the location, or the view although it is lovely.  It’s being in one’s own space and not having to pretend to be happy and upbeat when you’re not or professional when you secretly want to dye your hair bright pink.  Or maybe red.  Not that I would ever do that.  Or even consider it.  Really.

But when you boil it all down, what it comes down to is this:  Moms do NOT get days off.

I can’t speak for dad’s.  I’m not one, and never will be.  I’m not trying to exclude them, so don’t anyone get their panties in a bunch over it.  I’m just saying that, from my perspective as a mom (and not a dad), there’s no such thing as a day off.  I’ve heard all the “take time for yourself” nonsense, but reality gets in the way of that.  If I get to shower without a kid in the bathroom “keeping me company,” and not hearing a three-year-old burst into tears because of some imagined slight or something not being done “the way mama does it,” it’s a banner day.  Come to think of it, if I GET to shower it’s a banner day.  I swear, there was a brief period when things were particularly busy that my youngest would see me getting showered and dressed, and ask me in a panicky voice, “Where are you going?” because to her, a clean, dressed mama–complete with makeup and not wearing a ponytail–meant I was going out somewhere (job interview, shopping, whatever) without her.

Do I take vacations with my family?  Occasionally.

Do I do fun things with my family? Absolutely.

Do I get a day off–meaning one where you get to relax and do whatever you want (or do nothing) for a whole day?  Of course not!  Do you?