I used to work full time and had a nanny take care of my daughter every day. I currently work part-time, editing Kveller’s partner food site, The Nosher, and I rely on part-time babysitters and family help while working mainly from home. I have plenty of dear friends (whom I respect immensely) whose sole job is taking care of their families. One day I will likely go back to work full-time once again. (Or I will win the lottery and learn to play cello and raise goats, but that’s just a side note.)
My conclusion from these different working mom life experiences is that being a mom is really f!cking hard no matter what.
Even with this admission, I’ve been feeling a little sensitive, even defensive, lately about my role as a work-from-home mom, and I can’t quite put my finger on why.
Sometimes when I tell people “I am a food blogger/writer,” I get this look from working moms that radiates, “Ohhh, you sit at home and tinker in your kitchen.” Or, “Your husband makes enough money that you can have this sort of side hobby thing.” Let me say: Neither of those things is true.
My colleague (and friend), the fellow food blogger/writer/producer/amazing lady Gabi Moskowitz, shared this frustration in a recent piece she wrote about being a food blogger:
“… listing your entire resume to someone who is just trying to make casual conversation at a cocktail party is awkward and not very good social form, so I usually just say ‘I’m a food blogger.’”
Aside from the sometimes weird looks I get or the wide variety of assumptions people make about my “work life,” I’ve had some outright mean and judgmental things said and done to me.
Working moms with a full time schedule and “traditional” job have assumed I don’t have anything on my plate, and can easily (and happily) pick up their kid or serve as some charitable daycare facility. Side note: I don’t really like other people’s kids that much (with a few exceptions of course) so you can imagine my delight when some bratty child has overstayed their welcome, and some mother has disrespected my time so blatantly. I barely like my own bratty kid on a day-to-day basis.
So I kind of wanted to set the record straight about my life as a work-from-home food writer/blogger/editor/recipe tester/cookbook writer/super lady (if I do say so myself).
I wake up every day and have work to do, on top of taking care of my kids and my family. Even on the weekends. My typical day involves being on my laptop, answering to a team, having meetings, loading posts, making mistakes, corresponding with writers, feeling guilty or frustrated that something could be better, debating about wording, managing staff, and planning our content and strategy for weeks and months ahead of time. And then, yes, I get to do the fun stuff too: cover challah in frosting and sprinkles, try out new products, shoot videos all day with my amazing team, and even occasionally go out to a fun event or restaurant.
But I want to be completely transparent about my awesome job and flexibility (which I do not take for granted I promise): I have all the workload of a SAHM with comparable responsibilities of a full-time working mom, and a fraction of the help.
There are some days I stand at my kitchen counter with my head in my hands and wonder how I am going to get it all done. But I don’t think this is a unique moment for a work-from-home mom. I think it’s a feeling every mom has no matter the type of their immense workload.
And so I guess what I am trying to say in this long winded, super personal oversharing way, is that we need to (as we sort of say all the time) ugh stop the mom judging. My life as a work from home mom is not easier; it’s equally as challenging as when I was a full-time working mom. It’s just different. The same way each kind of mom makes choices that feel right, this is one of those choices. I traded in a full-time salary, benefits, and nanny for flexibility and time with my kids while they are young. I have countless friends and family members who are very clear: They would NEVER want to stay at home full time with their kids. They don’t have the patience, and they love working.
When I graduated from Smith College in 2004, CNN anchor Judy Woodruff was the commencement speaker, and I will never forget her words to us.
“Ladies, if you’re planning on working and being a mom: sleep now! Because you are going to be tired for the rest of your life.”
I don’t remember almost anything else she said in that speech, but those words haunted me because I knew it would be true.
So no, I am not sitting home “eating bon bons” on the couch. I am not just hanging at restaurants taking annoying iPhone photos and calling it “work,” though I kind of wish I was. I don’t want to watch your kid for you, nor do I want you to judge my choices, as I assume you don’t want me to judge yours . At the end of the day, we are all tired: work-from-home, work-from-the-office, and stay-at-home moms alike.