I open my laptop, with hope, for what feels like the 700th time this morning and wince when I hear tiny feet rushing from behind.
“Mama, deet-dint cho. Deet-dint cho, Mama.”
He’s decided the show, chosen exactly three minutes ago, is no longer acceptable breakfast entertainment. He needs a “different show” and he’s not leaving my desk without my hand in his.
Our noise-making boy is two. He’s full of fire and curiosity and is busier than his two older brothers were at his age…combined. While the older boys are just four years apart, Ezra surprised us seven years after brother number two.
He’s a joy and a challenge and a constant reminder of life’s unwillingness to grant us control.
When your children are eleven and seven years old, you’ve long-forgotten the baby stages. The sleepless nights. The around-the-clock nursings. The postpartum depression. The fatigue and delirium that can only be induced by the arrival of a fresh, fragile, and demanding little human.
Equally so, you’ve only now remembered the awe that seizes you as they observe the world they’ve been welcomed into. You’re surprised with how easy it is to love someone who is, by all accounts, a stranger in your home.
It’s a weird tension that in many ways embodies the path that is parenthood.
“Mama. Mama. MA-ma. Deet-dint cho.”
I look at the work on my screen, begging for attention, then gaze into his hazel eyes, framed by impossibly beautiful lashes, and get up from my chair once again.
This cycle of sitting and rising will happen at least 100 times in a normal workday. It’s a chaos I’ve adjusted to on some levels, but one that tears me down on many others.
Work-from-home days are, quite frankly, a mess. A beautiful mess, I’ll euphemistically explain to strangers—strangers who smile with kindness in their eyes, strangers who think I am the luckiest woman alive to have a job that allows me to work from the comfort of my own home, strangers who are convinced I am blessed to spend all this time with a sweet boy who loves me (so damn much).
And I am.
I’ve enjoyed the gift of knowing my child is home safe with me. I’ve avoided astronomical daycare fees and utilized the freedom of fitting work in around a busy life. I’ve had the luxury of dropping everything in a moment’s notice to collect a sick or injured child from school.
But it’s hard.
Incredibly, ridiculously, laughably hard.
You see, there’s a work-from-home myth that’s been perpetuated—an imagined paradise of morning coffee-sipping (in jammies, no doubt) while the sun softly breaks through the shades. Freedom-seekers fantasize of lazy days, filled with happy children who play peacefully next to their mamas and papas while work is done—work that’s intermittently paused by laundry and pee-breaks and cuddles and even a nice afternoon stroll (in real pants, we hope).
But it’s not just the work-out-of-home folks. I’ve spent years battling my own narratives, too, making constant concessions to an existence I imagined so—so!—differently.
I’ve felt inadequate as a mother when the laundry and dishes pile up, even though I’ve been home the entire time. I’ve wrestled with crippling guilt over turning on the television so I can sneak even twenty minutes of paid time into my shift. I’ve felt despair over workdays that bleed into nights because those sleepy hours are the only true uninterrupted moments I have. I’ve swallowed feelings of resentment when three hours of time invested equaled a mere hour’s worth of work logged.
I wake up every single morning convinced today will be different. And it never is.
We create stories, it’s what we do.
But those tales we tell ourselves lead us further and further away from what’s in front of us. And fighting against what’s real pushes us further and further away from any semblance of peace.
This journey has taught me a great deal about speaking to my experience, allowing those sugar-coated words to fall away to expose honest, often raw, truths. I’ve granted myself permission to let things feel uncomfortable for the strangers and to stand in solidarity with those who have also made the choice to juggle these roles.
I’ve taken a stand for myself, learning about boundaries and self-care in a way that’s been foreign to me my entire life, leaning into grounding practices that can be as present in my day-to-day activities as this wild child undoubtedly is.
Work-from-home life (and parenting in general) is not for the faint of heart. It forces us to face discomfort that we’d much rather turn away from. But I’m here to remind you that we’re more resilient than we give ourselves credit for and we’re doing much better than we think we are, always.
So to all the work-from-home parents juggling it all, feeling like an absolute failure on most days: I see you. You are the unsung heroes in these children’s and employers’ lives.
And to all the work-away-from-home parents, I see you too. I know the “work” is far from over when you step over the threshold into your happy, equally-chaotic home.
This parenting stuff is hard, a thankless existence that somehow allows us to repeatedly rise and sit into spaces we never knew existed—as often as (if not more than) I get up from this rolling office chair.
If you’re seeking out your own grounding moments, try this brief one-minute "office chair practice" to slow things down:
Feel free to stay in your chair at your desk in front of your laptop. Place both feet steadily on the ground. Rest your hands on your thighs, palms down. Relax your shoulders. Close your eyes, or leave them half-open if you'd prefer. Let your belly get soft. Now relax your jaw.
Breathing through your nose, inhale to a slow count of 4. Stop at the top of the inhale, and then exhale to a slow count of 4. Stop at the bottom of the exhale, feeling the stillness at the end of the breath. As you inhale, think to yourself, "Here" and as you exhale, "Now."
If and when you get distracted, you can simply say to yourself, "Life is happening." Then gently come back to your breath, and begin again.
Follow your breath for several rounds, until you can start to feel life slowing down. When ready, slowly ease back into your senses and open your eyes.
May this practice be of service and bring you that semblance of peace we’re all seeking these days.