Monday, April 26, 2010

the "s-word"

I’ve put 3 kids through preschool and met with their occasional resistance with what I think is a normal reaction--a combination of caving-in and dragging to. Frances, my just-turned-4-year-old, has been crying on the way to school for a month now, but this morning was the worst I can remember--ever--excruciating in it’s intensity, duration, and logic.

Frances started whaling at 7am with the first mention of the “s-word”. She screamed “I don’t want to go to school! I wanna go home and be with you!” the entire 16 block stroller trip and was still at it as I pried her off of me and ran out the preschool at 9:15. We’ve all dealt with “What’s wrong with you? Take her home already!” glares on the street. Generally, I can brush them off with the inner confidence that I know what I’m doing. Today I felt I deserved the raised eyebrow, winces and scowls. I probably should have brought her home.

But I needed to get a ton of work done today. I accept that I have to treat this new job as a real job. Yet knowing I was going to be here at home all day made the choice so much worse. (Couldn’t I have kept her home and done the work?) When I was going to an office and she--or her sisters before her--cried, there wasn’t such ambivalence. I had to go to work--end of story. I was proud of my hard-core resolve. I knew she would stop crying before I was on the subway. School was good. Work was important.

It hasn’t gotten past me that Frances started resisting school soon after I started working from home. I don’t know how her 4-year-old brain picked up on it, but she understands that mommy’s not going to an office anymore. (Could it be that I’ve worn the same t-shirt for 6 days straight?) I guess I should be flattered that she wants to be home now that I am but it just makes me want to cry myself.

I feel like I’m weaning her all over again--denying her a primal urge to merge (as my shrink would say). She doesn’t understand why I don’t want her home any more than she understood the buttoning of my shirt 3 years ago. Mommy needs a life, Frances.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

when the phone doesn't ring

I feel like I’m 32 and dating again. I sent a proposal for a project in and haven’t heard back from the client. I really want this project (guy) but the phone isn’t ringing and every time I check my email I feel like a loser. The interview (date) went well, so why isn’t the client calling? Did I botch the proposal (leave a lame message)?

Even worse, I heard a friend is up for the project as well. She’s a better fit (hotter, smarter) but she doesn’t even want it! Of course she’ll get it (him) because she can play all uninterested.

I seriously sucked at dating--what makes me think I can make it in the small business world? I’m lousy at networking and getting my name out there—how will this ever work? A month in the game and already second-guessing my marketability!

Please let this guy call.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

”working” mom

I officially started my business 3 weeks ago when I got my first client, the Joffrey Ballet School. It’s exactly the kind of project I want—re-branding—and, since we’re trying to lure moms of young kids and tweens to the school by making visuals more modern, the job is right there in my niche. It’s hard to believe I’m responsible for this; I have major “emperor’s new clothes” anxiety.

Now that I’m “working” from home everyday (still doesn’t feel like work yet) I can see how it’s effecting my parenting. I analyze this a lot, actually and here’s what I know so far. I can’t say I spend any more time with my kids now but the time I do spend with them is better. Mornings are a dream—it’s been months since I yelled at anyone. Because I don’t have to get myself together we’re not late and the whole brood is less stressed. As an added bonus we almost always have milk and a couple options for breakfast. And when I drop Frances at pre-k and she cries for 15 minutes I’m not checking my watch and grinding my teeth. Amazing

At night, instead of rolling in at 6:40 and being greeted by hungry, crabby kids and gulping down a beer as I sit down to eat, I buy groceries, pick up my youngest, and make dinner myself (while gulping down a beer). Life is a little saner. The food is better. We eat at 6.

And then I go back to work. When I should be doing homework with my kids or at least chilling with them on the front stoop, I’m sitting in front of the screen again. What the draw is I can’t say; I don’t have that much work. Am I trying to prove that it’s a “real” job? Or just trying to make up for the perceived under accomplishments of the day? (I went swimming and to 3 grocery stores before work.) Am I just a workaholic?

I’m not sure, but what I do know is: I may have switched my “face time” around but it’s still clocking in the same. The good news? I’m more likely to make pancakes (and we actually have the ingredients).

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Black jeans

It's a good thing I forgot my ID.

This morning I was off to a meeting with a potential client and realized he had mentioned bringing an ID to get into his building, which I didn’t have. Now that I’m not dragging my massive carry-all to work everyday I never have my wallet with me anymore (just some cash and a credit card). I ran home and, while there, happened to catch sight of myself in a mirror.

Even when I was working at an office I often left home without looking at myself. I threw on sunglasses dropped the kids at school and put myself together in the office bathroom. I’ve always been a dirty t-shirt weekend dresser but I made up for it at work. Believe it or not, just a year ago I was thought of as pretty stylish. To the point that, on the rare day I wore flats, folks were astonished at how short I really am without giant heels on.

So, flash forward to today. Six months of working at home and I am incapable of wearing anything but Converse and the SAME PAIR of black jeans. My hair is GREASY. I’m one of probably 10 women in Manhattan who hasn’t gone for that first Spring pedicure (why bother when you wear Converse?).

I know I just wrote about selling my work clothes but I still have a lot of nice stuff. Somehow it seems too daunting to put something “real” on. Now that I have more time you’d think I’d pluck my eyebrows and play with clothes I couldn’t get away with at the office yet I can barely wash my face. What is it about my new situation that makes me want to give up on maintenance? (My house is a mess too, BTW.)

I’m afraid I’ve lost my “edge.” Ironically, this was a big fear before my first child came into the picture. I saw myself wearing polar fleece and mom jeans as if they were a organic part of parenting. The fear was so sreal that I started wearing the giant heels in the pre Roma months—sort of a preemptive strike against dowdyness. I wouldn’t call myself dowdy today—Can one really be dowdy a NYC resident? I think there is an ejector button that eliminates all who fall that low.)—just a bit dirty and unmade (like a bed).

In case you’re wondering, I did manage to throw on a better shirt and some mascara on for the meeting. I did however forget the ID (again).

Monday, April 5, 2010


Last Saturday I held one of my semi-annual stoop sales. My friend Claire, my tenant Nanci and I are famous for our sales—we have repeat customers, sell good stuff and make good money. The difference this year was that I sold a lot my nice work clothes. I didn’t realize what was going on at the time—I just wistfully watched as some of my favorite skirts dresses and shoes (marc jacobs!) marched off with new owners while I pocketed a fraction of what the stuff had originally cost.

It was today that I realized what I had done: I had committed myself to this business. The fact is, I love clothes and one of my favorite aspects of going to the office was getting dressed for it. I’m also a collector of clothes (part of the fun of dressing up is the whole mix and match bit and you need a lot of options, right?) so parting with many perfectly fine pieces for $10 or $20 each didn’t make any sense. Generally I sell clothes that don’t flatter or fit me but Saturday I parted with items that did. I just cleaned out.

I read something recently about starting your own business. It said that to be successful you must totally invest yourself: get the business cards, do the web site, stop sending your resume out for jobs, etc. I don’t have business cards yet and as of this writing my site isn’t up but I think I made my own mental committment this week.