An honest take on life and parenthood

Working part time from home – dream or drudgery?

on May 12, 2012

About 18 months after I had my daughter, I decided it was time to go back to work. I was intimidated by the prospect, but decided to get started. By sheer luck, my former employer called me out of the blue and asked me if I wanted to come back.

Hell, yeah!

I met with my former colleagues, and worked out the details. It was a dream come true for a working mother. I ended up not having to really look for a job, I already knew the company, and I was stepping back into the job I had before, so I didn’t need to start from scratch. Also, we worked out an arrangement where I could work 20 hours a week from home, with occasional visits to the office. Came back at my former hourly rate, and the deal was done.


Now, let me first say that I still consider myself incredibly lucky. This is every working mother’s dream. I work from home, a nanny looks after my daughter in our own home, and I don’t travel. It really doesn’t get any better than that.

Do not be fooled, however. This type of arrangement is still new to corporate America. The bottom line is that I was hired for 20 hours, but the workload is really 40+ hours. Yes, my friends, you heard that right. It’s a crazy workload. And because I am a proud overachiever, I jumped in and started swimming, bobbing up for air here and there, exclaiming that the water was much deeper and choppier than I anticipated, but I kept on swimming.

Here I am, six months in, and guess what? I am one stressed out mama jamma. Now that people realize that I am good at my job, I have the new blessing of – you guessed it – more work! If I were ambitious and hungry, I would be thrilled with this situation. But I’m really just extremely stressed and over-tired, because for 20 hours a week, I am giving the most intense, concentrated work time I have ever given in my entire life. Once I turn off that computer at 2 pm, I turn on as Mommy again, and I am going until 11 pm, because my daughter is a night owl. I get her to sleep, and go to sleep right with her. We wake up at 8 the next morning, and start all over again.

I am grateful and glad that I have the opportunity to work in my former profession, don’t get me wrong. Even ten years ago, this work arrangement probably would have never existed. But the reality is that this is still a man’s world, where the male breadwinners run the companies and their wives stay at home and take care of the kids. If you are a woman with young children who wants or needs to go back to work, you are in for a ride. The work is the work, and it needs to get done, and no one cares if you officially work 20 hours or 60, or if your child’s butt is exploding from three consecutive days of diahhrea.

Part time is really just a figment of a working mother’s imagination. If it makes you feel any better, yes, it exists on paper. It just isn’t reality yet.

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