Mom Interviews

Joni B. Cole

Author of "Water Cooler Diaries"

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Do you work from home, or go to an office? If you work from home, how do you stay focused and schedule time for your work? What do you do if inspiration strikes and you're knee-deep in dinner preparations?

Well, it would be pretty rare that I'd be knee-deep in dinner preparations -- we eat a lot of frozen food! It's a valid question; it's where we all live, as working moms, whether we work at home or not. I've always worked at home, and my kids have always been great. I do a lot of phone interviews. Sometimes I'm on the air, and they've always been really respectful, because they've always seen me work at home.

It's a bit related to quality time and how you find it. When I need six hours, which is quite often, they'll give it to me, or my husband will arrange to make it work. He's extremely supportive. They know that this is a job, and that my job is at least full time, often more than that. So they'll give me the time, or I'll make the time. It's hard. It's not any harder than going into an office and physically being away, but it feels like I'm always working -- I'm sure the kids see me as always working -- but you have to be a master at multitasking.

What's the most difficult part, for you, about the work-parenting-life juggle? I actually love work and I love the parenting and they're both more than obviously full time jobs. So it's finding the time. There aren't enough hours in the day. When I have a deadline, I make the time for work, and the kids are good about it, but a lot of the time there's this low-level guilt that's going on. I'm not in there watching the movie with them, or they're outside playing and having fun and I'm not on the swing watching them. Last year, I was just consumed with Water Cooler Diaries and I feel sometimes like I'm separate from the family. Particularly after a heavy duty, longer period of work, I almost feel like I have to reinsert myself. In more traditional times when the dad would go away to work, they'd have to reinsert themselves in the family... it's a hard feeling.

On the one hand, I'm so grateful that the family unit is so strong, but I'd like to be more a part of it! Even with that white noise of guilt, I love that my kids see me working, I love that they're proud of that. I love that they get it. I think that's a real gift that working women give their kids. We focus so much on all the time we're not spending with them, but they're seeing that we have viable, independent lives, and that's a pretty important thing they're going to take into adulthood.

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