For those friends and acquaintances who have thought to themselves, “How wonderful it must be to be a work-at-home mom!” or, “Gosh, that must be so nice, to work at HOME. In your JAMMIES. And get to be with your KIDS ALL DAY!” I’ve decided to give you a little glimpse into my glamorous world, so that you can continue to be jealous of my Very Sweet Gig.
FIrst, let me explain, for those who don’t know, what it is exactly that I do.
For one thing, I homeschool my youngest three children. Because I’m an idiot. And a masochist. (Actually, I do think it’s a great thing for kids, if you can swing it–it’s not for everyone, I know–and I may devote time some day to actually explaining why. But for now, I’m just going to bitch about it a little.)
This means that on any given day, I am solely responsible for the educational welfare of my kids. I can’t blame anyone but myself. That’s a lot of pressure.
I also generate income by writing. Writing articles for magazines, writing copy for various clients, and–get this!–I also want to write a book! Hahaha!! Because I don’t have enough to do! (Actually, it’s two books. Because one would be too easy.)
So, as if it weren’t easy enough to neglect three children (and their education, don’t forget) on a daily basis, I also have to make time to write creative, soul-arresting copy. For money.
(There’s also housecleaning, laundry, cooking…but we’re not even going to pretend that I give any serious attention to those things.)
A “normal” day has me getting up at around 8 a.m. to take my middle daughter to the horse ranch where she prefers to spend her time. By the time I get home, the kids’ dad has left for the day, and I begin to try and prod the other two school-aged kids into doing some work.
Or I let them just…continue sleeping. Or the ten-year-old boy (who is something akin to a feral child) goes out into the woods on our property.
Until the middle daughter is ready to be picked up, I try and workout. (By “try”, I mean that I go through my routine, stopping only for short rests and to referee the epic bickering matches between the two youngest children, the ten-year old and the thirteen-year-old. With a little practice, I think they could actually be looking at careers in professional bickering, although retaining amateur status could certainly lead to a spot in the Bickering Olympics. They’re that talented.)
After that, I encourage them to eat something healthy, and I set them to work on school and chores, and I begin my process.
1. Sit and look at wall, awash in agonizing, self-doubting writer’s block, wondering why on earth I do what I do.
2. Look at Facebook.
3. Try to ignore the sounds of rising sibling hostility from outside my bedroom door.
4. Scream, “STOP BICKERING” multiple times, through same door. (Note to self: Consider recording loop of voice yelling this, along with “LEAVE HIM/HER ALONE!”, to play at push of button, throughout house).
5. Cry a little.
6. Look at Facebook again.
7. Become struck with inspiration, and write furiously, ignoring sounds of Pokemon episodes coming through door. (Note to self: Remember to thank Pokemon for the co-parenting in front page dedication when book is published).
8. Call out (through gritted teeth), “THAT’S AN OUTSIDE ACTIVITY!”
9. Close out the day’s work with a sigh of relief, look over generated copy with satisfaction, feeling like King Kong. (Note to self: Find new descriptive metaphor. Remember what they did to King Kong.)
10. Summon the energy to interact meaningfully with children, hope that there’s something easily defrostable around for dinner. (Note to self: Think about dinner before dinnertime tomorrow).
(Alternative to #10: I jump in the car and speed off to jiu jitsu when the children’s father or an older sibling get home, cackling, “HAHA! SMELL YOU LATER!!!!” out the window and then experience about 3 seconds of guilt about it before rolling and choking my cares away with other adults who like to play fight.)
Now, this is a GOOD day, mind you.
And it’s just a basic template. I didn’t add in any toilet overflows, calls from my mother or grandmother, and I didn’t subtract time for any of the various seminars I have to give on a daily basis, about Why We Don’t Put Stuff Like That in the Blender, or What “Clean” Really Means.
But I’ll tell you what today’s detour was; explaining to a man why I wouldn’t buy any meat from his truck.
Have you experienced this? Someone coming to your door and giving you the spiel about how they’re in a bind, yada yada, they have all these wonderful steaks that are just going to waste, they’ll let you have them for a song…
Does anyone actually DO that?! Buy meat from a stranger?
Today, when my thoughtful scribblings were interrupted by the yowling of our large dog, and I made my way to the front door, pushing said dog and staring children aside, I was greeted by one such individual, and before he could get a quarter of the way through his rap, I simply said, “I’m not interested.”
“But MA’AM–” he intoned with wide eyes, gesturing at his dirty vehicle as if he had Adam Levine in the back, and was offering me a free game of Twister with him, “This is a GOOD DEAL…”
“Nope.” I said, flatly. “I don’t buy meat from strangers.”
He looked hurt, and so I gave a (hopefully) cheery little goodbye expression as I slammed the door, and went about getting back to my business.
It occurred to me that what I told him wasn’t actually true. In fact, you could say the opposite…I’ve only ever bought meat from strangers! (Let me make you aware that I do promote the idea of knowing ROUGHLY where your meat comes from, and I champion the cause of the Oklahoma Food Co-op to anyone who will listen).
But time was, as it often is, at a premium.
So I just said whatever came into my head.
Had I time and wherewithal to reason with him, I would have said, “Look. Don’t feel bad. Part of it is my personality–I’m more than a little OCD about food, and if that cute kid at Whole Foods couldn’t get me to eat an unwashed cherry tomato**, there’s no way in hell you’re ever going to get me to buy Mystery Meat from a stranger. I barely trust the USDA…why would I trust you?! How do I even know it’s beef?! It could be GIRAFFE MEAT! There’s no way to tell, I don’t have the technology!”
(**I’ll have to devote an entire section of this blog to my interactions with Whole Foods employees. Bless their idealism and cheeriness…they’re some of my favorite people on the planet. I suspect most of them are high, but…if chemically induced joviality is all I can get in the marketplace these days, I’ll take it. It’s too rare. Fight the Power!)
Of course, here I could go on a rant about how we can’t really trust The Man, and his Grocery Stores, any more than we can a dude in a suspicious truck, but I’ll spare you. You probably know all about that, anyway.
And besides…I’m a little tired, and it’s getting close to dinner time.
Off to see if there are any giraffe burgers to thaw…