Four years ago, my newspaper career came to a crashing halt. Just a few months shy of its 150th anniversary, the Rocky Mountain News in Denver shut its doors, and, after helping publish the final edition, I packed up my reporter notebooks, AP style book and piles of papers and went home.
And I stayed there.
With two daughters in daycare, I decided to start a freelance career, turning a spare basement room into an office, giving me the flexibility to spend precious time with my babies, while still writing and editing. It was awesome. Unless it wasn't awesome.
Things I loved: being able to volunteer in the pre-K classroom, pick-up after school, chaperone field trips and host play dates; getting to spend the afternoon at the park/botanic gardens/zoo/movies; having the flexibility to time my trip to the gym to coincide with The Daily Show.
Things I didn't love: the isolation, feeling guilty that I didn't have the laundry folded and the carpets vacuumed, feeling guilty that I didn't have a fancy, healthy dinner on the table, feeling guilty that I was spending too much time working and not enough parenting -- or too much time parenting and not enough working. Are you sensing a theme here?
The thing was, as fortunate as I am to have been able to spend all that time at home, being a sort-of-stay-at-home-mom who actually did work at home just wasn't working for me. So, with my youngest in kindergarten, I decided it was time to head back to the 40-hour a week office life. I was afraid my kids would be upset, but my daughters told me they were proud of me (swoon!) and wanted to go shopping with me for new clothes. "Does this mean you'll wear something besides yoga pants?" my oldest asked. And here I was worried they'd be upset at the change.
I've been back at the 9-to-5 grind for a couple of weeks now, and, this might sound crazy, but I kinda love it. Here are five reasons why:
- I'm forced to shower and wear clothes that aren't made with Lycra. As a work-from-home mom, this was my routine: Roll out of bed, throw on sweats and sneakers, slug coffee, check email, make breakfast and lunches, run kids to school. Hit the grocery store, work, go to the gym, more work, pick up kids, chauffeur to soccer, check email, make dinner, maybe shower before Glee starts, check email, work. Try being a stay-at-home or work-from-home mom for a few months and you will never, ever question how "those" women spend their days again. Now, I get to wear the cute heels and fancy clothes that have literally been gathering dust in the closet. I'll even throw on earrings or bangles and not wear my hair in a ponytail every day (some days, yes, let's not get ridiculous). Oh, and mascara? Lip gloss? Hello, old pals. My kids can't believe how fancy Mom is.
The truth is, whether you work at home, are a stay-at-home mom or work in an office, there's going to be great things and not-so-great things about it. It's figuring out the right fit that will tip the scales in your favor. For me, being in a creative setting around adults during the day makes me happy. And, you know what? That's OK. It's pretty fantastic, in fact. But, I will confess, I do miss you, yoga pants. Let's hang out this weekend.