“I have to work from home for a while”.
I started working when I was fourteen, wearing the stink of spoiled soft serve and making blizzards you couldn’t spill at Dairy Queen for $3.25 an hour. I worked retail, did office work, telemarketing. I nannied my way through college, taught summer art classes for the NYC Parks Department. I substitute taught in NYC public school in Brooklyn for a year. I worked until I had my first son, went back to work the week I found out I was pregnant with my second, and worked until my due date. I worked part-time freelance until we moved abroad. And while I wouldn’t say I miss working, there are certain things I miss. Completed projects, (there are always more dirty socks), a tidy space no one else can invade, (even my Tampax boxes have been dumped out and used for mini spaceships). Being reasonably sure that no one is going to barge into the toilet while I’m using it is nice too. Money. Real shoes. Adult conversation. A sense of achievement and accomplishment. Shoes.
For reasons ranging from tax issues to nursing infants, I haven’t worked in 4 years. For 4 years I haven’t pulled in a paycheck but I have pretty whole-heartedly thrown myself into taking care of my home and my family. And while I am not perfect, I think I do a pretty decent job. So while my work is at home, domestically engineering and life fairy-ing and all the other good stuff that goes into making a house a home, home is MY OFFICE. And this is why I had to hide my horror when my husband announced his intentions. If he works from home, he will be in MY OFFICE SPACE. I know what you are thinking. But it’s his home too! But for the sake of argument, let’s say that during school hours, it’s my office. Imagine someone coming in and plonking themselves down in your office for a week. Leaving crumbs and other detritus in a tell-tale trail leading to their half eaten sandwich and their apple core and their mug of cold coffee. No one would like that, right?
I’m no different.
I have gotten used to the house, during school hours, being my space. Every morning after everyone leaves, I straighten out all the throw cushions and pick up the 72 remotes that are laying on the floor. The thought of someone else hanging around, messing up my throw cushions makes me uneasy. Even if it is my husband. I have my routines, my schedules, my own quirky way of how I like things done. I have a haphazard writing schedule and if the sun ever shines in Denmark again, I will be back on my bike. For the most part, everything gets done, but I am edgy at the thought of anyone seeing how or when it gets done. Like laws and sausages. I don’t want an oversight committee coming and letting me know there may be a more efficient way to mop. And I certainly don’t need to contemplate where the mop handle may end up if such a suggestion was offered.
There is another issue of course. Despite the fact that the school keeps trying to suck me into various committees and projects and chaperoning positions, with both kids in school, I finally have some free time. And while I’m not laying about watching General Hospital swilling champagne and eating chocolate, yes, there is some ‘me’ time in there. And for some female, Catholic, privileged, mother reason, I feel guilty about it. My husband would never begrudge me free time. In fact he heartily endorsed me making free time back when it cost a lot of money to do so. I’m sure on some deeply unconscious level I fear that he may think what I do all day is not worth keeping me in shoes. I don’t have the therapy hours or the patience to figure out why having time for myself induces feelings of guilt. It’s far easier to worry about the state of my throw cushions.
So when the time comes, I will suggest Starbucks. They offer free wi-fi, better lunches. And he can mess up their cushions with impunity. Shame there are no Dairy Queens in Denmark though, he might have garnered a discount on a blizzard.