Heater, Mother of Lance

Be ye not so stupid

This morning Marlo woke up with a headache, fever, stomachache and a sore throat. I’m sorry, forgive me if I am mistaken, but wasn’t the tonsillectomy was supposed to cure that last symptom—if not cure it then at least make it a less frequent occurrence than every seven hours, give or take ten minutes?

(Also, I will say it for you: HOLY GOD WHEN DID THAT KID GROW THOSE LIMBS? She has to kneel down when she talks to Shaquille O’Neal.)

And yeah, the tonsillectomy. That thing. I was supposed to report on that, and given how badly I missed that deadline I can’t imagine that my boss is satisfied with my performance. But my boss doesn’t keep track of this stuff, ask anyone who has ever worked for me. They’d unequivocally agree that 1) I shouldn’t be managing people, 2) I should never be in charge of managing another person, and 3) the nondisclosure agreement they signed prevents them from talking about just how much I should never be in charge of managing an employee.

This is my management style: here are the job requirements and the tools you will need to do the job, now please manage yourself without any further instruction because my ability to do the creative work that I have to do to make money and pay you your hourly wage prevents my brain from being able to keep track of what you are supposed to be doing.

This management style works really well for some people. This management style does not work at all whatsoever for some people.

Right now Marlo’s condition is stable, so I’m distracting her while I try to put the finishing touches on a 30-minute speech (with a 30-minute Q&A) that I’m giving in front of 550 people next Monday. Wait… she’s hungry… one second…

For those of you who work from home, you know that it’s almost impossible to get anything done with a sick kid in the house. Every five to ten minutes it’s:

“Mom, I’m cold.”

“Mom, I’m hot.”

“Mom, I’m thirsty.”

“Mom, it’s too bright in here.”

“Mom, it’s too dark in here.”

“Mom, I’m bored.”

“Mom.”

“Mom.”

“Mom.”

“Mommy.”

“Mommy.”

“Mommy.”

“Momma.”

“Momma.”

Twice in the last week when someone has asked me what I do for a living I’ve answered the best way I know how. This is hard because you cannot sum up this giant wad of odds and ends with, “I’m a writer.” You just can’t. You might think that’s the simplest answer, but it creates the most complicated back-and-forth of what kind of writing? where? when? for whom? how can you make money doing that? I don’t get it. What do you write? What’s a writer? What are words?

So I say, “I’m a writer, and I do a lot of freelance work and consulting around marketing and social media. Some speaking here and there.”

I leave out the part where I have to manage five different email accounts.

Twice in the last week someone has said in response to that: “So, do you actually work?

I was going to text this to the cohost of my podcast, John Bray, who has suffered this response over and over and over and over again, and then again and again and again, when he tells people he’s a freelance writer. Wait, Marlo’s eyelashes are hurting… one sec…

What are you supposed to say to that? I burst out laughing both times and shook my head.

“No, I don’t actually work,” and I left it at that. Both times the person thought I was being the rude one, but I’m not really sure what to say other than, “But I just told you what I do for work, which is that I work.”

I think the words “writer” and “freelance” conjure up some nebulous idea of endless leisure that is being wholly mistaken for what it actually is: flexibility. I will own that. I am privileged to be able to sit next to my sick kid and attempt to finish a speech. I don’t ever have to leave my sick kid at school because I can’t leave my job. I can always finish up a project after I’ve put her to bed, and not a day goes by when I don’t remind myself that the flexibility I enjoy is an absolute luxury.

I will admit, though, that there are days when I get caught in a nostalgic daydream about what it was like to leave my desk at 6:30PM, drive an hour home, and not have a single thought about work until I walked into my office the next morning and called my boss, “Dude.”

That boss should have never been in charge of managing people either, but look at me not blogging about work!

14 Comments
  • Angela

    2017/05/22 at 4:07 pm

    My first thought when I saw her picture was “Holy legs!” 🙂 Those dimples, though. . . she’s so beautiful!

  • Jan

    2017/05/22 at 4:49 pm

    My tonsillectomy at around age 3 (back when there were still dinosaurs) also changed nothing. I’m sorry modern science has changed nothing about that surgery. Decades later I had pain in a different area and because the doctor saw I was female, fat and forty, he said must be your gallbladder and it must be removed immediately or you will die and also I have an opening in my schedule just before I go on vacation and the extra couple grand for forty minutes work will help. That surgery did change something – I still had the pain but also non-stop, projectile diarhhea. I am so popular at parties. A specialist informed me the problem was I did not properly adjust to the surgery. I still don’t know what that means other than another couple thousand dollars. Not looking for pity, I just had not seen any reference to poop in your post and I wanted to work it in. Your. Welcome.

    I hope Marlo feels better soon 😉

  • Michael Mathews

    2017/05/22 at 5:26 pm

    I am not a writer but I have worked at home a lot, and I know exactly what you mean. It’s kind of funny that in this day and age of more people freelancing and piecing together enough income to pay their bills, people seem even less attuned to what that life is actually like.

  • The Absent Minded Housewife

    2017/05/22 at 6:25 pm

    When I get asked what I do and I respond that I make costumes and sell them on the internet, I get a wide array of responses.

    On the rare instance I then get asked if I can make them size 40 baby onesies.

    No, no I can’t.

    But hey, when my kid is puking, I promise not to get it on your fabric choices.

  • Erika

    2017/05/22 at 6:43 pm

    My favorite response when I tell people I have my own business designing merchandise for Amazon is, “so, will you ever get a real job again?” ?

  • Kelly B

    2017/05/23 at 6:54 am

    Just tell people you are a marketing and communications consultant and hand people your card. Then try to network with them earnestly.

  • Twyla Gordon

    2017/05/23 at 8:40 am

    Oh wow I had the EXACT same thing happen to me. The only thing that has saved me was taking Olestyr its a powder you put in water and like magic the diarhhea stopped! God help me if I forget it even once though.

  • Kim

    2017/05/23 at 9:15 am

    Thank you for so accurately describing my management style. I should post this in any job description for a job that reports to me.

  • Miss lee

    2017/05/23 at 1:38 pm

    Envious of your jobs.

  • Jan

    2017/05/23 at 4:09 pm

    My understanding is that diarhhea is a very common (read standard) side effect of gallbladder surgery but since diarhhea is usually not considered polite conversation no one tells you including the doctors. Thank goodness Heather has brought poop out into the open! I also had a script for a powder that was a poop binder that I found life altering. But after a while it was rather like building a poop dam, then the poop dam burst, rinse, repeat. I started taking some major probiotics specifically Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics Professional Formula (Amazon) and that helped in healing my gut but what pushed it all over the top for me is fermented foods, specifically Sauerkraut. Trader Joe’s has a pickled Sauerkraut that works well but I also bought a big bag at the grocery store. Never tried canned. Just a couple tablespoons, I eat it everyday and poop like a champion. Is there a poop championship? Anyway, I can’t remember the last time I needed the life-altering powder. Not a doctor, not suggesting you change what works for you. Poop as you will. Just sharing my sixteen year poopy path.

  • Cheney Meaghan

    2017/05/24 at 1:03 am

    That is a very lucky luxury that I am working on having for myself, but I think I’m going to need more direction and a higher dose of Adderall.

  • Cheney Meaghan

    2017/05/24 at 1:05 am

    Hold up, you had projectile diarrhea for sixteen years after your gallbladder surgery? Holy shit, I’m sorry! All I got from that surgery was a gnarly scar and the knowledge that I’m incredibly allergic to adhesives. Bleh.

  • Marissa

    2017/05/24 at 7:25 am

    Next time you should respond “I am the brand ambassador for single moms, who swear, drink, talk about poop and vaginas, and secretly run the world. It is highly lucrative.”

  • Sarah Tate Dunlap

    2017/05/24 at 8:11 am

    Full circle FTW!!!

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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