Wednesday, September 25, 2013

They call them "Mommy Wars"...

Even before I had a baby, people were so inquisitive about what my life was like working from home. To be honest, before I started to work remotely, I too didn't quite see the reality of what working comprised.

Are you picturing pajamas and coffee, TV remote in hand? I did too. Before.

I work for The Network of International Christian Schools, specifically NorthStar Academy. I teach several courses to middle and high school students in the content areas of Social Studies and English. Writing courses, grading papers/assessments, and communicating with students via email and Skype comprises about 50% of my job.

The other 50% is spent on administrative tasks; I wear multiple hats in this category, so even writing down specific work tasks would take some time.

The bottom line is that I DO work. I DO have a job to do. I just do it at HOME. 

(FYI: I do get to work in sweats and PJs, however, from the top up, I must look presentable; I never know when I will have to Skype with my bosses, parents, students etc.)

Sometimes I LOVE the fact that my workplace is my couch, or my office upstairs, or my family room floor. It is great to be able to touch base with students, parents, and co-workers anywhere, anytime. Further, the invention of the smart phone has meant that I can literally work in a bathroom stall at Target, if I needed to (not saying this has happened...).

That same blessing (working anytime, anywhere) is also the greatest curse. I find it really hard to SHUT OFF work. I don't leave a physical building and return the next day. I feel a constant pressure to keep up with emails; I know they will just keep accumulating if I don't get to them as they come in! I don't want to make fellow teachers, parents, or students wait for my replies. Further, I have to figure out issues of time zones--- I speak to parents/students and interview teachers from all over the globe! It IS really cool, but also can be stressful trying to fit in and figure out how to connect to those who need my time.

Oh yeah... and I JUST HAD A BABY.

Throw Gabe into the above mix, and working from home becomes a full fledged circus!

Diaper changes, breastfeeding, and all things baby care are scattered throughout the day. Last week I went from feeding Gabe to interviewing a teacher candidate in Belgium (all the while PRAYING that Gabe would stay asleep through the conclusion of the interview). Grading student essays, speaking on the phone with a parents, and conference calls are daily occurances too.  Such calls are hard to schedule right now because the baby is on his own schedule; so far, I have had three meetings scheduled and have had to secretly breastfeed him and pray his burps and slurps were not audible to the people with whom I spoke...  Yes! Working from home is a breeze!

HOWEVER, I am totally blessed to have the job I have; I do love it! I am so lucky to be able to stay home and be with Gabe all day and not leave him with anyone else. I am trying to soak up these early days of motherhood all the while trying to stay on top of things with work. I am so lucky to be able to keep a foot in the world of education, challenging myself to keep up with all of the latest technology, continually getting the opportunity to teach kids all over the world.

But here's the thing: What is my label?

There are two, apparently rigid and opinionated MOTHERING CAMPS I am now straddling: Stay-at-home moms vs. Working moms. Which one am I? 

I want to be good at my job. I want to do it well. At the same time, I want to soak up every minute with Gabe that I can. I do affirm that parenting is my number one calling right now. Regardless, it is difficult to balance both worlds.

I can see how both "sides" feel; stay at home moms don't feel validated and working moms feel judged. BOTH camps are doing really great things and are, in their own ways, remarkable.

It's sad; instead of being a united front of MOMS, we are divided into camps. This motherhood thing is tough enough without the labels and division. Seriously. Take a step back and breathe, relish that MOTHERHOOD is the unifying factor here. I waited a long time to be in the motherhood camp at all, so let's stop and smell the roses (or diapers) here for a bit, okay?

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