On the Isle of Misfit Toys

Working from home is not without immense amounts of challenges.

There is the significant amount of self-discipline you must maintain in order to get anything done.

There is the need for space to have designated work space that is separate from your living space and your play space and your sleep space and you’re eating space. That’s just for you.

If you have children it’s a whole other ballgame. Because you got to make sure that there’s space for the children and their needs.

So when the stay-at-home orders came down from Governors and Mayors across the country in 2020, I like many other parents went into a dead panic tailspin. Not because I doubt my ability to parent. Not because I doubt my ability to work from home and to have the self-discipline to do it. But because I was completely unprepared for the idea of having to care for infant twins and homeschool a four-year-old while preparing him for kindergarten while I worked my regular 40-hour job.

It seemed like a damn near impossibility. And I knew I was not alone in this. I reached out to all of my friends (who were also parents) seeking what they were doing. I was greatly comforted by the responses that I received.

Everyone was overwhelmed.

Two years later. Students have returned to school. Mask mandates have been lifted. There are vaccines for school-aged children. And everyone is eager to get out and about ‘like normal’.

And therein lies the rub. Who’s ‘normal’ are we rushing back to?

In these past two years, I have come to deeply value working from home. I can be on top of my first grader as he navigates school (which is a family effort anyway). I can drive my 86 year old grandmother to her appointments (because she really shouldn’t be out by herself anymore). And had complete detoxification of office politics (not that I ever played Game of Cubicles anyway). I don’t want to go back to the office. The thought of it gives me anxiety. So much more is accomplished when seven people aren’t listening to my every conversation (and adding their input).

It’s been pretty great. I’ve worked out my work life around my mom life. That structure has given me the ability to pick up my creative life again, in a very real and meaningful way.

Photo: Gary Gold

After two long years putting in that kind of work, why would I want to give it up for something that I know will psychologically drain me?

These past two years I have come to realize that working in a capitalist economy does not have to be a spiritual death sentence. There is no need to sacrifice our quality of life for career, or vice versa. Office culture is not healthy in this country. The complexity of historical interactions of cultures in this country make offices a very tense place to be.

So I will ask again, who’s normal are we trying to return to? The one where burnout, exhaustion, and pettiness reign supreme?

No thanks. I’m good.

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