When I first published, about a dozen years ago, writers talked a lot about not being taken seriously. Their families didn’t respect their writing time. Their friends thought their work was just a hobby. We gave and attended workshops on how to guard your time and not feel guilty about not answering the phone or the door to the bored neighbor who wants to have coffee.
I thought in 2017 this attitude had passed. After all, people are working more flexible schedules now, and with the advances in technology, more people work from home. Personally, I feel like I’ve proven myself to anyone who might question whether writing is my job or just a hobby. I’ve published over 30 books with four more releasing this year. What else do I have to do to be taken seriously?
Apparently, I have to get an office. There seems to be something about physically going to an office to work, as opposed to the kitchen table or a home office, that is magical. An office away from home magically legitimizes your work. I’m being sarcastic…sort of. But I don’t know how else to account for family member requests that I babysit their children during work hours, for friends that ask me to meet them for breakfast after school drop off, or for the school itself who seems to expect me to put folders together or teach a lesson on gardening or collect boxtops during the school day. Even my daughter, who is seven, asks me at least once a week if I am a stay-at-home mom. I have told her a dozen times that I’m a work-at-home mom. Yes, my schedule allows me to pick her up when school ends. She doesn’t have to go to after-school care. Yes, I can take her to dance or gymnastics or playdates. Much of the time when she’s in an extracurricular class, I’m working on my computer. I spend a lot of my weekends working too. But since I don’t go to an office, like her father, all those books I write must just magically appear. No matter how many times I explain that I must work when she is at school, she seems skeptical.
My mother was a stay-at-home mom for much of my childhood, and she was always super busy. There was laundry and cleaning and cooking to do. And that’s a never-ending and thankless job. There is nothing wrong with being a stay-at-home mom. If I wasn’t a writer and I could afford it, I would be a stay-at-home mom. I think a lot of moms wish they could spend more time with their kids. But even if I was a stay-at-home mom, that wouldn’t mean I would want to spend my day at the school or having coffee and chatting, or babysitting other people’s children. And I would never assume a stay-at-home mom had nothing to do. I always assume my stay-at-home mom friends have a daily schedule, just like I do.
And really that’s all I want. The common courtesy of treating me and my career with respect. No matter if I do it at home or in an office, whether I’m paid for it or do it out of love for my family. As a culture, let’s stop Jane Jetson-ing women. I’m referring to “The Jetsons,” a 1960s/1980s TV show that claimed to show us the future, and in that future women spent all their time at the mall. It’s a stereotype that, though not as blatant as it was in the 60s and 80s, is still with us today.
I’m not going shopping today. I can’t because No, Really, I Have a Job.