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Two months ago, I started working out of the house. Three-day-a-week barista job. Nothing big, right? Just a part-time job, making some coffee for some people, no big whoop.

Kidding.

It was a BIG DEAL, you guys. I haven’t had a job outside the home in six years. It took a fair amount of mental adjustment, and force-fed me some new perspective.

Basically, I’d like to share what I’ve learned about…

Being away from the kids for longer than a 22 minute (length of Curious George episode) shower.

My most common shifts are eight hours, three days in a row, usually on the weekends.

On Day One, it feels pretty good. You’ve spent all week tending to the needs of your family, and, suddenly, you’re guaranteed two 15 minute instances and one 30 minute instance of break-time. Scheduled ALONE TIME. You speak to adults all day and drink hefty amounts of delicious coffee. Sure, you’re busy, but the day goes fast and you return home genuinely excited to listen to stories about Storm Troopers and not quite making it to the toilet on time.

Fast-forward to Day Three. Your feet hurt, oh my gosh they hurt. You’ve been following the orders (iced coffee with a splash of half-and-half, topped with the foam from NONFAT steamed milk) of under-caffeinated people since Friday, and you hate thinking about the fact that you’re not practicing letters or feeding the new fish with your tiny humans.

Continue on to Day One of next weekend. You’re glad to be back. It’s nice to pee by yourself in this employee bathroom. (The cycle continues.)

What it’s like to come home from work and then having to… work.

Yeah, that’s unpleasant. And also nice. Basically, it’s very confusing.

It’s so so nice to come home and see your family. It’s also exhausting to come home and participate actively after you’ve been doing that all day long in a completely different setting. This is a little hard for me to admit because, on the SAHM end of things, when my husband comes home from work, I hear angels singing a beautiful song with lyrics that involve me sitting on the couch while someone else gets the toddler a bowl of yogurt.

I want a break. He wants a break. No one really gets a break. We both kind of get a break. You see how this can be frustrating and bewildering.

Guilt.

Ah, guilt. Guilt is an automatic birth-gift that sneaks in with all those 0-3 sized feetie pajamas and baby shoes that never get used, wrapped up nicely in paper made of tears and self-doubt.

Guess what? The type of guilt I experienced at work was different from what I was used to (I’m missing developmental milestones, I really wish I could have seen them do that), but the amount was exactly the same.

When I’m pouring coffee into a customer’s paper cup with a recyclable sleeve, I stress about parenting just as much as I do when I’m pouring coffee into my favorite mug at home.

What’s my point?

I have visited the other side, and I have learned many things. I’m happy to have a better understanding of my husband, and I’m happy to have a better understanding of my friends who work outside their homes. Life is hard and life is awesome, and we’re all just doing the best we can.

High-fives all around? Good. Now let’s all take a nap.

(Not together. That would be weird.)

Lauren Bonk

Lauren Bonk is a freelance copywriter out of Omaha who's been wrangling family life and words since 2010. She always shows up with a healthy dose of optimism, a mug of coffee in her hand, and a solid high five. (But not too solid, because coffee is hot and that would be painful.)

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