How to lean in to your career AND motherhood


Working mom

because-I-said-so-greenWho says it’s hard to work from home when you have little kids? Days like these are a piece of cake:

6:40 a.m. Today is the day! Big interview. Not one to name drop, but am interviewing famous celebrity who has played everything from animated talking dog to murder detective. Have spent hours preparing and have magically set interview time to coincide with baby’s nap. Am planning to pawn 3-year-old daughter off to neighbor during interview, just to ensure absolute quiet and focus.  After all, am serious career woman.

9:15 a.m. Two older boys off to school. Hallelujah for fall! Hallelujah for school! Wait, did I say that out loud?  I mean, boo for school! Boo for fall! Is just so very sad without all four kids at home all day. Must post about that to Instagram.

Will just clean house, read stories, push babies on swings until naptime, then sit down to work. Can have it all — motherhood and career. Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg is right: You just need to lean in. Is so simple. Balancing work and motherhood is no big deal.

1 p.m.  Daughter off to neighbor’s house. Baby sleeping in crib like a champ. Easy peasy.  Time to work.

1:15. p.m. Boss calls to talk ideas for photo illustration to accompany upcoming family finance article. Wants to spray a baby with gold paint and pin money to his diaper. Wants to spray paint my baby.

Am having a hard time understanding visual metaphor: Do some people have children made of gold and cash who actually produce money? Mine make it disappear. Perhaps should look into child labor, but for now tell boss am impressed with his creativity and will totally give the idea some thought. (Will NEVER let him spray paint my baby.)

1:20 p.m. Look out home office window and see pest control salesman walking up driveway. Mad dash to beat baby-waking doorbell. Politely explain do not want pest control services. Then explain do not want pest control services. Then rudely explain do not want pest control services, and deliver tearful 10-minute tirade about how hard it is to work from home. Pest control salesman retreats hastily, leaving the number of his therapist on business card.

1:35 p.m. Start transcribing notes from earlier interview about community fundraiser. Am behind because of boss and pest control salesman, but is no big deal. Can finish up tonight after kids are in bed.

1:40 p.m. Ding. Ding. Ding. Neighbor kid is ringing doorbell, looking for friends. Using voice that sounds like scary witch from Snow White, explain that daughter isn’t home. And that little kids who ring doorbells will be given poisoned apples for lunch.

1:41 p.m. Doorbell has awakened baby. Baby is screaming. Bring baby a bottle to drink in his crib. Offer to pay for college, buy him a pony and let him turn our master bedroom into a skatepark if he’ll just go back to bed, just this once.

1:45 p.m.  Give up on transcription and instead prepare for 2 p.m. interview. Decide several questions are lame, and that questions are too fixated on celebrity’s 20-year-old detective show. Must instead inquire about current reality show celebrity is promoting.

 1:55 p.m. Ding. Ding. Ding. Doorbell-ringing neighbor kid has located daughter and other neighbor. All three have decided they HAVE to play at my house. Daughter is crying and says she only wants to be at home. Moral dilemma: Don’t have time to schlep the kids back down the street. Can’t lock them out.

Sigh, pour three cups of bribery pink milk, and turn on Disney Channel’s “Sofia the First.” Offer to pay for their college, buy them each a pony and let them turn my living room into a trampoline gym if they watch TV and stay quiet during the interview.

2 p.m.  Start interview right on time. Celebrity is warm, and kind, and telling all sorts of funny stories. Wonder if she knows I’m at home in pajamas. Wonder if she’s at home in pajamas, too. Love my job.

2:07 p.m. Baby wakes up and starts to whimper. Utter silent prayer that he’ll go back to bed. Try to focus on interview. Hear pitter patter of six little feet making their way downstairs. Hate my job.

Daughter is knocking on office door.  Daughter is howling. Baby is howling.

Lock office door. Daughter pounds so loud it rattles the glass. See six little hands poking fingers under door.

“Is everything alright, dear?” asks celebrity.

“Yes,” I say. “There’s just some, um, construction, next door.

And we’re having a windstorm.

And my office is next to a pet store, and the dogs are really excited about the new shipment of fetch toys.

Now tell me again about working with Flavor Flav.”

2:10 p.m. Office door is actually shaking. Glass in center may break. Flash back to early days as a newspaper editor, when an intern abruptly cut off interview with musician by saying, “Can I call you back? I have to go to the bathroom.”

Was horrified at the time, but now think that intern might have been a genius.

Can I tell America’s Sweetheart I need to call her back after I pee? Or confess that I’m just a mom and sometimes magazine freelancer with a home office located way too close to the baby’s nursery?

Consider explaining everything, but decide to just forge ahead.  Scrap half the planned questions and end the interview midsentence, without even asking what it’s like to kiss Tom Selleck.

Will there be enough material for a story? Don’t even care. From shouting outside, is clear that uprising is about to give way to full-on coup.

2:20 p.m. House is an absolute tornado. Baby screaming in crib. Daughter and friends have painted their hair and faces with pink lipstick and are fighting over whose turn it is to be the leader.

Have decided should give up sleeping entirely and find new career working nights. Telephone psychic? E.R. doctor? Convenience store clerk? Grave digger?

Will just give it some thought. But first will comfort baby, wash off daughter and company’s clown faces … and be grateful that I didn’t try to interview over Skype.

Lean in, baby. Lean in.


Elyssa Andrus has worked as a journalist for 14 years, most recently as the lifestyle editor at the Daily Herald newspaper in Provo. She is a contributor to the KSL-TV show "Studio 5" and is co-author of the book "Happy Homemaking" (Cedar Fort, 2012) with Natalie Hollingshead. She lives with her husband and four young children in Utah Valley.

One Comment

  1. AvatarAngie Reply

    This was so funny!! Why does it sound so familiar? It is easy to see why you won an award with this piece, I loved it!

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