“Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” In the late 90s, I cut out this quote from a magazine. I traded in my Birkenstocks for pointy toed shoes and a friend, acting as my stylist, advised me to order jackets and pants from Coldwater Creek. As I spent money, my partner spent time telling co-workers about the plan. They laughed and said if it were the case for them, they’d wear pajamas every day. They wanted to work from home.
When I got the job I thought I wanted my income increased, just like the article predicted. My pointy toed shoes looked fabulous as I climbed the ladder but they hurt! My stress level, chocolate intake, blood pressure, alcohol consumption, weight and length of workday also increased. Before long, I too started to dream of working from home in my in pajamas. I didn’t own pajamas but I’m sure I could find them at Coldwater Creek.
This longing for something just out of reach didn’t go unnoticed by my family. My dad grows the greenest grass in Oregon. (Just to be clear, pot is legal here but it’s not that kind of grass he grows.) If I said the grass were greener on the other side of the fence, my dad would likely say that it’s time to water and fertilize more on my side. In my dream job, I looked for the positive and found comfy shoes so I could march onward but my dream of working from home continued.
I got the chance to work from home after I retired. Just a month into my new gig, the affordable housing crisis in our area left our niece and her toddler homeless. We opened a room to them in our home and within no time, I was working from home. By caring for her child while she worked, I saved her $1100 a month. Investing in the life of a child is priceless but it required clothes. Yoga pants and a tank top became my new uniform.
My little guest wasn’t meeting major milestones so my second job was as an advocate and research assistant for our niece as she navigated the world of autism. While I could attend webinars and investigate strategies for supporting our boy in my pajamas, I felt more official if I had pants on. Finding affordable housing, speech therapists, occupational therapists and early intervention specialists and implementing the strategies I’d learned during the time I provided child care had me working from home more hours a week than my high stress job away from home. While yoga-pants were indeed a perk, working from home wasn’t all that I’d dreamed.
Our guests moved out at the end of May but were quickly replaced by another. My oldest son has bragged about the benefits of working from home for the past year. He loves the flexibility, being able to spend time with his dog throughout the day, and doing household projects or chores when he’s on hold with a client. As he prepares to sell his home, he and his very large dog, are temporarily staying with us. As I’ve watched his “working from home” in action, I realize that I’m not cut out for such a strenuous workload.
Right now the sun rises early. The light shines through the blinds in his room before 5:00am. He’s wakes with a start thinking he’s late for work but waits until he gets his first email or call of the day before getting up. I’m not a late sleeper, but I wake up to his voice daily now. He continues talking as he plays with the dog in the back yard. He’s on the phone still as he makes a mid-day meal or puts a load of laundry in the washer. He doesn’t stop. It’s exhausting just watching him. Because his pay is based on commission, his sales are proof to his employer that he’s pulling his weight for the company. He works his tail off!
After watching him for a week, I’ve decided that I aspire instead to have a dog’s life. I want someone to meet my needs and to tell me they love me a hundred times a day. I want someone to clean up after me and rub my tummy. I want to look adoringly into the eyes of another and know that they are my everything. I want to balance cookies on my nose and have self-control to not gobble them up. Because my amazing grand-dog is such a loving fellow, this morning I woke up with my pajamas covered in dog hair. With my fur covered pjs, I realized that I am living the dream.