Ah, the joys of working at home with kids …
Ever been on a video conference and had your child stand in front of the webcam? It happened to me today while I was deep in conversation with my book collaborator for our weekly call. Like a conscientious mommy, I had set up Alina in the next room with a “fruit” water on her special chair in front of the TV before the meeting, and I was enjoying a professional (read: quiet and adult) discourse. Nevermind that Blues Clue’s was blaring in the background or that my colleauge may have heard it; for the first time in a long time, I was busy at work but tending to my daughter and feeling that, yes, I could somehow strike a contented (if albeit temporary) career/mom balance. Suddenly Alina’s little voice broke in.
“Hello, Mama!” she said, running into my “office” (stepson’s old room) and squeezing in between me and the keyboard. “Look, Mama, it’s you!”, she screamed, pointing at my image on the screen. Then she proceeded to wave and make funny faces as I whispered for her to finish the show, that Mama would be done soon. My colleauge, himself a new father, just laughed.
Then there was yesterday, my weekly “fun” day. I had spent a marathon night the evening before finishing a sales letter so that I could take Alina to the pool without worrying about an unfinished assignment. I had fed her and the dog and the cat, then loaded the beach bag and was FINALLY backing out of the driveway when my phone rang. It was my client. She couldn’t open the draft. As she spoke I stopped the car, prepared to re-enter the house and re-send the doc. That’s when Alina started crying, thinking that, because I had turned off the car and we were back in our driveway, that I wasn’t taking her to the pool after all. My client paused, a little uncertain I’m sure, as I whispered for Alina to be quiet, that Mama was on the phone and that we would still go to the pool in a little while. My words were of no comfort to her, and I quickly ended the conversation with the promise that my client would have the second draft in mere minutes.
Later, at the pool, my client called again to discuss a minor revision. I’m sure she heard happy screams and water splashes as I professionally assured her of a same-day turnaround.
It’s not that I expected to conduct home business transactions exactly the way I’d conducted them in the corporate sphere. It’s just that I never really expected screaming/shouting/laughing/crying/whining/excited preschooler chatter to form the backdrop for many (okay, most) of them.
Ah, well. So what if our meetings and phone calls might be a tad less than professional. The work always is.
Back to the pool …
by Elisa Garcia