I have spaces throughout my house where I sit down to work. I write for a living, and I have to find time to do that without children screaming and TVs blaring in my ears.
As soon as people hear I have triplets or that I have four children, the questions come. Then I tell them I work from home.
"How do you do THAT?"
I am very blessed that I have a career that I can do that. I know lots of moms who would love to do this. It is my dream job - to write and still be a mom at home.
It does have its downfalls; let me tell you.
My first reality experience of being a momma and a writer/reporter at the same time came when Lydia, now 9, was just one-and-a-half years old. I was doing an interview with a pastor by phone when Lydia came running into the room. She pulled on my shirt. With the phone still in my hand against my ear, I followed her back the hall and into the bathroom. She began waving the toilet plunger frantically.
No, nothing was stuck in the toilet. She just wanted to show me the new toy she found. So I balanced the phone on my shoulder, tucked my notebook under my arm and grabbed the plunger. The guy on the other end had no clue as I pointed to the bathroom door, motioning a giggling toddler out.
How was I going to do this?
A year later, our world turned upside down when the three babies arrived. I had taken a hiatus from my career when they were born. I started up again when they were about six months old. I was crazy.
Thank heavens I had people coming to my house to help bottle feed occasionally. So naptime was work time. I did my interviews either at that time or when my husband was home. Yes, I had burn-out days.
The real struggle came when the triplets were around the age Lydia was when the toilet plunger incident occurred. I was potty training. Honestly, to this day, I tell people that was harder than diapers and bottles. It was so bad I took another hiatus from working. I could not keep three little bottoms on a potty and answer the phone. I had to let it ring. You could not turn your back. Trust me.
Potty-training lasted more than a year. One was done at 21 months old. A second was just over 2 years old, and the third was 3 years old until she mastered the potty.
So I went back to work, doing photography only on the weekends and then gradually working my way into writing again.
The triplets went to preschool, and I picked up more publications. I had a couple half-days during the week where I could write in peace. Now they are in kindergarten and I get a few entire days at a time to travel to assignments and write even more. I love this freedom again.
However, it can still be interesting. I still have phone interviews that happen when the group is at home. I often will be in mid-conversation, and a child will burst into my office in tears asking me to dress her Ken doll because his shorts just won't make it past his knees. I often mouth words to them like "not now," "I'm on the phone," "stop it" and simply "get out."
My kids are pretty good lip readers now.
That doesn't mean they listen. Sometimes I have to juggle that phone and pull up Ken's britches. I once interviewed a senator by phone and apologized that there was a child in the background. Imagine how relieved I was when he said, "That's OK. I'm home with my two kids today, and we're all in our pajamas!"
Whew. What a relief.
So how do I work from home? I just do it. I am so thankful for the opportunity that even when all four are in school full time, I will keep on working in my pajamas. I have never had an interview completely destroyed because of a child. I just make it work.
I do become frustrated, however, when I point to the door and the child keeps saying "What?"
At least we're past the plunger-twirling stage.
Tabitha Goodling is a freelance writer from Juniata County. She and her husband, Jeremy, have been married 11 years and share four daughters: Lydia, 9, and triplets, Hope, Melinda and Lily, 6.