Working From Home When No One Needs You Around Anymore


Finally, TRIUMPH! Being able to work from home!

It has been years and decades since I have first tried to find a way to spend more time with my girls. A classic case of being careful what you wish for came when the challenge of working from home presented itself! More time with kids, less hassle of trains and cars, etc. Yes, please. It was what I was searching for 11 years ago when I walked away from a BIG corporate job and took a position with a smaller, family-oriented company.

After several years, proving myself and my work, I tried to arrange for a ‘work from home’ schedule. However, this was not met favorably this summer when cost calculations of maintaining an office in Manhattan proved to be prohibitive, the argument for working from home finally won out! “This is finally happening,” I thought, barely being able to contain my excitement when the Executive VP sat me down to tell me that my long time ask was becoming a reality.

I dreamed of helping the kids get ready for school and then enjoying quiet mornings after they left. I thought of the smile I would have on my face when the girls would come home, and I would take a break to prepare a snack as they told me about their day. Perfect!

Full disclosure, I am in my late 40’s, and my girls are 15 and 17 years old. Let’s say that my idyllic image of working from home isn’t exactly how I pictured it.

The girls get up exactly 30 minutes before they need to leave for school and speed around yelling out items they are looking for as they prepare to leave. “Where is my blue top? Did you take my white denim skirt? What happened to the forms I was supposed to have you sign?” They grab their lunch, run out the door, barely a ‘bye Mom’, and then hop in the car that the older one drives. And just like that, as soon as the morning hurricane began, it has ended.

I am left standing at the door wondering, “Now what?” After I walk the dog, who seems actually grateful, I sit to work. The silence is deafening. It is loudly quiet in the house. Time moves slowly. No one to say hello to, no one to ask, ‘How was your weekend,” no coffee station to walk to for a refill.

Yes, I think this working from home thing is different, and it will be a challenge. By lunchtime, I am not sure if I should eat at the dining room table or with my laptop as I would do at the office, and I remember I started laundry before I sat down this morning. Am I allowed to get up to switch it to the dryer? My sister calls, and I feel guilty as I take the call. Am I supposed to be taking personal calls while working from home? I wouldn’t think twice when I was at the office, but now it seems taboo like I’m hiding something. I get through the rest of the day thinking, maybe I need background music tomorrow and some ground rules for myself.

By 3 p.m., no one is home. I remember they have swim practice and won’t be home for another two hours. By the time they walk in, I am practically done for the day and thrilled I don’t have a commute home. My teens run into the house with a ‘hi Mom,’ which makes me smile and then a, “It was fine,” when asked how their day was. I am struck by the fact that they really do not need me here to take care of them or to make them breakfast or snack or to do very much for them at all.

It isn’t the same as when they were little. For years, I remember running around the house in the morning to get them and myself decently dressed, fed, and out the door on time.

So now that I am working from home, what is the upside? Do I wake up tomorrow and shower and get dressed to yet again sit at my laptop all day? Does it matter and to whom? As the old saying goes, “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it…,” to whom does it actually matter if I am dressed decently, showered, hair done, makeup?

And then it hits me. It matters to me! If at this point in my life, what my girls need me for is different than I imagined it to be, it still matters. Right now, fulfillment is personal.

It matters to me that before they go to college, I can see them hours later in the morning and then earlier in the afternoon than I would have if I needed to rush for the train. It matters to me that I take care of myself enough to work decently dressed, and dare I say, after some exercising (wow, who had time for that before?).

It is time for me to identify with what matters to me and how I view myself. 

I realize I am passionate about what I do, and I value myself enough to get myself together, be dressed, combed, and face this challenge of working from home, and some days without makeup!