Easily the best thing that has happened to working. Ever.
Except maybe winning the lottery.
In Denver I woke up at 5:30, dropped Mason off at preschool by 6:45 (his poor teacher always had a giant Starbucks coffee), then drove a minimum of 50 minutes to be at work at 7:45. Why start so early? Taking only a 30-minute lunch, I would get off at 4:15 to pick Mason up and be home by 5:30. Once home, an Alaskan Pale Ale would be slowly relished, then dinner cooked and eaten while watching a Big Bang Theory rerun. A three-year-old’s bedtime routine starts around 7pm and so another day in the grinder would come to a close. I spent about two or three waking hours with my kid every weekday. Tony was no better and was being pressured to put in 50 hours or more at work. Pathetic. This is the same routine for countless families all over the globe. Not this family, not anymore. This was a major driver in our decision to pull the rip cord. We’re out!
Tony was counting the minutes till he could tell his job sayonara but I didn’t mind mine and I was given some good advice to just ask to work remotely from New Zealand. What’s the worst that could happen? My boss replied casually, “I don’t see why not.” I love this woman.
Nowadays, I get up at 5:40, shower, and shuffle to my desk in the living room by 6:00 where I eat breakfast while I check emails. I work through lunch because I graze all day from the kitchen and usually sign off anywhere between 2:00 and 4:30. Some days my company gets 10.5 hours out of me solely because I work from home. Other days I work only eight, which means I stop at 2:00 and walk to pick up my son from preschool. I gained three-and-a-half hours per day with my son which makes me happier and less stressed. I also get more alone time. I get about an hour-and-a-half of peaceful work time in the dark solitude of morning, then that music to a mom’s ears of sleepy bare feet pattering through the kitchen pricks my ears. Within seconds, my overgrown bundle of joy is strewn across my lap for a morning snuggle. I bury my nose in his hair and give thanks for these special moments (when I would otherwise be stuck on an icy highway).
Some days I ride my bike to pick up Mason and I’ll carry his bike with me. Other days I walk and set up a scavenger hunt of little treats for him to find on the way home. Whatever the mode, we always stop in the little bus stop shelter for a rest and a chat. He likes to maneuver one house’s front section which is made up of over-sized river stones. We’ve seen mama birds carrying worms to their babies nesting up high. We’ve seen the odd dead duck and a cute kitty who followed us for several blocks. We stop at the same stream every day to see what new bits of rubbish have been tossed into it since the day before. We stop to watch bees buzzing about the lavender and talk about how they make honey by spitting it back and forth into each other’s mouths. Some days we stop at McKendry Park to see the tulips or the tree blossoms or to pick plums, depending on the season. We often hear Mr. Whippy’s siren song as he trolls nearby, but we can never pinpoint the direction well enough to find him and buy some of his tempting soft serve ice cream.
Mr. Whippy is very cheeky. Not only does he hit the schools in the arvo, but he circles my house all day while I work. He must do a massive trade with the stay-at-home moms. Mr. Whippy’s truck plays one song and one song only, “Greensleeves”, which is all fine and dandy if one is a devotee of English folk songs. Being from semi-rural American stock, I know this song as “What Child is This?” and, no matter how I angled it, I could not make the connection between ice cream and Jesus.
I do think Jesus would have appreciated Mr. Whippy, had it existed in his day. Or even Moses, who would have thought he was hallucinating when he heard “Greensleeves” and spotted Mr. Whippy slowly approaching across the desert sands. It’s a brilliant product for that setting too as it does not melt. I once held two cones for a couple of girls who wanted to go on the bouncy castle before it shut down for the day. They spent about 12 minutes on the castle, after which I handed back their cones in the exact same condition I received them. Not a drop had dripped. I have eaten Mr. Whippy exactly once. Halfway through the festive treat, I began to suspect something was amiss when my ice cream was not actually cold.
Back “at” work the following Monday after surviving my near-death Mr. Whippy poisoning, I was not feeling my best and was relieved that my job’s dress code is somewhere south of business casual. I usually sport my Active Intent (possibly the best brand name ever for cheap workout gear) sweat pants, comfy top, and sock feet. I haven’t been uncomfortable in a meeting in ages. Luckily no one is into video conferences. However, this dressing habit doesn’t serve me well in public. I have developed a low tolerance for tight clothes. Developed isn’t exactly correct as I have had armpit claustrophobia and an irrational fear of scarves and turtlenecks my whole life. Working from home has taken me to whole new levels of clothing aversion. On a recent hot day, while chasing my son around the park, I had to quell the overwhelming urge to take my bra off.
My in-laws happen to work from home as well which, luckily for the neighbors and delivery men, forces me to wear clothing (read muumuu). Nana and Grandad currently work for the same employer and have worked together in some capacity for around twenty years. Then they spend all evening and all weekend together and still seem to enjoy each other’s company. My skeptical side still expects to find the secret spot where they have hidden their drafted plans to kill one another. Actually I’m surprised neither side has tried to enlist me yet. It’s always an inside job, isn’t it? If one ever approaches me with an offer, I could play both sides and make a mint.
Notwithstanding all the murder plots, this cohabiting and coworking does wonders for my appetite. As I have mentioned before, food is a big event in our house. Easily one third of the conversations during the work day involve meal planning, which is not that unbalanced considering the plenitude of mealtimes on offer. These convos are especially hunger-inducing when I am not the one cooking the meal. In those cases, I usually recommend lobster. Or cereal. Whichever. Even boring food tastes amazing when someone else cooks it.
Grandad is a connoisseur of curries and he makes my eyes burn at my desk with all his roasted spice grinding in the kitchen. I weep through my spreadsheets and sniffle with every mouse click like I’m watching Breakfast at Tiffany’s, not tracking corporate performance indicators. He will slow cook the meat all afternoon until my keyboard is a drooly mess. On these nights there is not much for me to do, so I wander into the kitchen, hang around drinking and smiling, and generally feeling like Oprah Winfrey as my personal chef brings exotic flavors into my life. I channel her and envision how this exciting episode concludes, with me/her exclaiming:
“YOU get to work from home!
YOU get to work from home!
And YOU get to work from home!”
Kiwi Glossary: Arvo. Afternoon. Well, exercising didn’t happen this morning due to all the meal interruptions. Might have to push it out to this arvo.