I cringed. Please don’t, I thought. Not now.
It was Day 1 of working from home during the quarantine.
I normally work from home, and I’ve developed a pretty good routine since I started doing so eight months ago. However, my three kids are normally in daycare, and my home office is typically quiet and serene.
But, as we all know, that’s not the case anymore thanks to Covid-19.
My five year old doesn’t quite understand that even when I go into my office and close the door, I’m at work and need to be left alone.
At this particular moment, I’m on a conference call with my colleagues. And at this particular moment, my five year old REALLY needs to tell me something: something I know isn’t going to be appropriate to scream in the background of a conference call.
I was right. And thankfully, I was able to hit the mute button at warp speed.
“MOMMY!” she continued. “I. HAVE. TO. POOP!”
I breathed a sigh of relief that my line was muted. I quickly escorted her to the bathroom while my co-workers continued the discussion without any idea what was going on over on my end of the line.
That was back in March, before any of us knew or understood the severity of the coronavirus. It was well before we knew what it would mean for us and our families.
Mommy Is Working
My five year old, along with her two younger sisters, have come to understand that when Mommy is in her office with the door closed, she’s working. We are lucky that my husband is able to be home now, but of course, watching three girls ages five and under is a huge undertaking.
There are still several times throughout the day when someone is banging on my (locked) door and screaming my name for no apparent reason.
My boss, who has never actually met my kids, now knows them all by name. He now also knows random bits of information about them, like the fact that my oldest hates green beans.
Initially, I worried about being able to stay productive while my kids were home. I’m thankful that my job hasn’t really been affected other than work trips being canceled. I’m very fortunate to have a flexible and supportive boss. But being home, of course, means more conference calls, video chats, and group discussions.
When I had a big presentation to give virtually last week, my husband took the kids out for a two-hour field trip. That way we could avoid another inappropriate announcement.
It’s Not Just You
There was one day, though, when I realized there are countless women dealing with the exact same thing. I was once again on a video call with maybe ten other people. The woman who called the meeting was in the middle of discussing some important information when a little head peeked up from the bottom of the screen. It was her two-year-old daughter.
This woman took it in stride, acknowledging her daughter’s presence and explaining that this is her life now. Her kids will make appearances during meetings, and she doesn’t have a choice. I’m not sure what her family situation is, but I wanted to jump through the screen and give her a hug.
We’re all in a strange place right now, and I know we are all adjusting the best that we can. The news media keeps calling it uncharted territory, which is beyond accurate. So I’m choosing to take it day by day, support my husband as much as possible while maintaining my work load, and strive to find the humor in this crazy situation we’ve found ourselves in. Because let’s face it, some of our quarantine stories are pretty darn hilarious.
Hang in there.