the smell of my desperation has become a stench

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!

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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