Sorry Husband, You Can't Work Here

by Sarah Harris

My husband recently hit the job lottery and was given the opportunity to work remotely. At first we were excited about the possibility that he could work from home. So long, 45-minute commute! See ya never! He’d have more time with us in the morning and the evening and, as an added bonus, hooray for Family Lunch Time! In my mind, for a split second, it looked perfect. But I’m a stay-at-home mom with three little kids. Once I thought about what that new reality would actually look like, I knew that a “Home Office” just wasn’t going to work for our family.

Need to make a phone call, honey? Good luck with that.

A large part of my husband’s job requires him to be on the phone, talking to clients. Talking on the phone with kids in the house is impossible. Believe me. I’ve tried. The dialing of or ringing of a phone elicits a Pavlovian response in my children, initiating a sudden and intense Need For Attention and Snacks. Also? Kids are loud. Especially when there are three of them. We’d either need to sound-proof a room or teach our children to speak at a quiet, respectful volume, neither of which is actually going to happen.

Sorry, kids, Daddy can’t play with you now.

My husband is the Fun Dad. When he gets home from work, he’s the Sword Fighter, the Body-Slamming Wrestler, the Tiara-Wearing Tea Party Guest, the Wiffle Ball Pitcher, the Scooter Racer, and the Fort Builder. I do all those things, too, of course but somehow it’s always better with dad. I only birthed you, dear children, it’s fine. If my husband worked from home, it would be a full-time job for me just to keep the kids out of his work space.

No, he can’t “just watch the kids for a minute.”

There have been many times in my life as a Mommy of Small Children that the thought of running a simple errand has brought me nearly to tears. I’m not talking about the big errands: The Target run, the weekly grocery shopping trip, back-to-school shopping, etc. They’re in a class of their own, requiring significant time, preparation, and strategy. No, I’m talking about those quick pop-in errands that you used to accomplish without even realizing it. Now that you have kids and diapers and car seats and snacks and potty tries (as in, “Everyone try to go potty before we leave!”) to factor in, a trip to the post office, pharmacy or bank takes an hour. An HOUR.

If my husband worked from home, “Honey, I need to mail this package. You good with the kids? Great! I’ll be back in ten!” would become a common refrain in this house and I’m pretty sure I would start to abuse my newfound freedom. Wow, I was in and out of there in 3 minutes! I have time to stop by this coffee shop before heading home. Oh, look! There’s Meghan! I haven’t seen her in ages! Sure, Meghan, I’d love to sit and catch up over these steaming-hot vanilla lattes!

And, no, he can’t run out and get you a latte.

What’s the point of having two adults in the house all day if one of them can’t just stop what he’s doing and make a coffee run for the team? There isn’t one.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Sure, I’m exhausted by the time my husband gets home from work in the evening. I’ve had a long, draining day meeting the physical, emotional and social needs of these three small people. I’ve given them everything I’ve had to give, even ignoring my own needs to eat a nourishing meal, use the bathroom or engage in adult conversation. I have managed to get through another day without screaming in their faces: “EVERYONE JUST STOP TOUCHING ME!” Or maybe I haven’t and I’ve completely lost my patience and my mind and my sense of self.

But my husband has had a long day at the office. He’s worked hard and he’s tired, too.

There’s truly nothing better than greeting my man at the door with a beer in one hand and a baby on my hip. I kiss him and hand him the cranky kid who’s been attached to me since she woke up from her too-short nap 3-and-a-half hours ago. “Good luck!” I call back to him as I take my beer to the front porch. “The boys are in timeout and she’s a mess. I’ll be outside!”

My 5 p.m. Daddy’s Home! Alone Time is sacred so, sorry babe. You don’t have to work at the office, but you can’t work here.