I’m a work-from-home mother and I’m guilty AF
By Jessica Hooper
Six years ago, I made it my mission to enter the freelance world. My husband and I knew we wanted a child, so I set out to find work from home. My rationale was simple: “Why be away from my child 60+ hours of the week, when I could be home and be a doting mother while crushing it!” Easy, right?
I’m now a work from home mom to a three-year-old little girl, and the guilt is enormous some days. Yes, I’m home with my child but still not engaging with her. My desk tucked away in the corner of the dining room may as well be a cubicle 20 miles away in LA traffic. The guilt comes in waves when she comes to my desk to ask for a hug, when I see her all dressed up for ballet class, as she blows a kiss on the way out the door, the class I signed her up for because I would have such a “make my own schedule” work life that I’d be able to take her.
Then there’s the guilt about feeling guilty. The brattiness of even having these things to complain about does not escape me. In these moments, I quickly remind myself that my own mother worked full time. Most days, I did my homework in an unoccupied exam room while she finished her shift. There was no resentment; in fact, I thought my mom was a total bad ass.
As I take on the world of private school in Los Angeles and the sky-high tuition to go along with the already high cost of living here, the guilt is replaced with feelings of accomplishment for providing for myself and my family. Through all the shitty moments of beating myself up, being terrified of communicating to my colleagues that I’m unable to attend an event because I need to be with my daughter, and the fear of being viewed as not as committed as my colleagues without children, there is HOPE. I’m hopeful that my daughter is paying attention and seeing firsthand she can do the same.
My tips for Mamas:
1. Be upfront with your team. Don’t hide that you are a mother and that you enjoy being a mom. No need downplaying it; help set realistic expectations. Sometimes, you simply cannot participate; use it as an opportunity to let your team know that, in those moments, you’re depending on them and that you trust them. Also, let your family know that your work crew has been put on notice, but you’re still going to need their support too.
2. Plan for fun. If there is a big project/ deadline coming up, schedule family time for the week after. Build a sofa cushion fort in the living room and watch movies; thank your family for helping you get through that intense time
3. Remind yourself that, YES, you can have it all. It just might not always be at the same time. Shonda Rhimes summed it perfectly in her 2014 Dartmouth Commencement speech: “Whenever you see me somewhere succeeding in one area of my life, that almost certainly means I am failing in another area of my life. That is the Faustian bargain one makes with the devil that comes with being a powerful working woman who is also a powerful mother.”
To the working moms and to the women terrified of tackling motherhood and a career, my wish for you is to not take the bad days personally. The same way you’ll forgive your children and your partner will need to be applied to yourself. In those moments, when you feel you are in way over your head, remember your “why”. Somedays, it will be the only thing keeping you from losing your shit, from feeling pulled in so many directions at the same time. Remember your “why” and breathe.
Jessica Hooper makes things happen at DEC Artists, a solutions based company that prides itself on being able to provide new, innovative and disruptive ways of approaching the constantly changing world of entertainment, arts and social justice. You can follow her on Instagram at @stuffjesslikes.