People, you know who you are, often ask me what it is like to be a work-at-home dad. Some people tend to think it is all fun and games, never considering the fact that I’m putting in a collective 60+ hours each week in actual “work” for sources that actually “pay” me. Others think that it would drive them crazy—that they would never get anything done with kids underfoot. The latter is closer to the truth, but I would be a fool to complain about it. There are worse things than kids underfoot.
That said, here is a typical day in my life (in this scenario it was Tuesday):
The conference call was at 2:30, the same time that school lets out. I stood outside the classroom talking about these and those while smiling broadly at my son like he was the only one there.
We walked to the park, his hand in mine, my phone on mute and his mouth anything but. He ran off to play with his friends and I sat in the shade of a lonely tree nodding at people that couldn’t see me and drawing stares from those that could.
Every so often we would wave at one another.
This is my multitasking—a normal day of working at home and all that comes with it. There are lunches made over a warm breakfast, notes signed for stuff I skimmed, the frustrated scramble of forgotten things, and the grooming of two children that take it personally.
The routine: First we drop my wife off at work, and then I leave the boys to a new day of public education. Home is a sip of coffee, a dog to pet, a breath to take, and then I write until the phone rings. A knock at the door. An important email. Texts. Skype. Phone. The dogs are barking. The coffee is cold. Phone. Someone tagged me on Facebook. The deadlines go straight to voicemail.
There are not enough hours to get through half of it, and then I am standing in a school restroom haunted by the smell of aimless generations, helping my son make a square shield of tissue paper upon a cold, small seat of porcelain. I am talking into a microphone hanging loosely from my shirt, the topic is trending, and my son is grunting loudly.
I’m already on mute by the time the toilet flushes.
Sometimes working at home means working in a stall with a stinky 6-year-old, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Although I could do without the smell.
But wait, there’s more! After school I take the boys home and help them with their homework while trying to put the finishing touches on whatever project of mine was due the week before, and the phone. And the phone.
Then it is back to pick up my wife, a family walk on the beach, the rinsing of sand, a healthy dinner, a bit of TV, and just like that we missed bedtime again. There are teeth to brush, stories to share, kisses goodnight, and soon everyone is asleep but me.
I work for hours in a quiet house with a silent phone. There may be whiskey where coffee used to be. Sometimes there is both.
The sun rises over morning mist and flocks of noise. I am too often there to see it.