The Backstabbing World of Working From Home

Working from home means I often walk from room to room while carrying a laptop and wearing noise cancelling headphones. The headphones often feel like I’m entering a vacuum, the modern seashell to an ear. While I sit at my desk in Doha I can immediately be transported to a colleague’s inner city Melbourne apartment with the muffled sounds of traffic in the background. I’ll catch the sound of an ambulance siren making its way past a window as a file is transferred into a dropbox.

“It should be in your inbox now.”

While I’m pouring my 5am coffee I’m in the home office of a colleague in the US who has just put the kids to bed. With the next call I’m off to rural Victoria discussing what’s for lunch at the local bakery

I’ve made my own assumptions about the surroundings of others. The sound of boots on timber floors, balcony doors that open to the noise of the city. I often wonder how my own noise translates, the barking beagle, the sound of the nutri-bullet as my youngest makes his morning smoothie.

There’s always a period of transition each morning. I’ll make my way upstairs to my office as the children come down for breakfast. With my headphones firmly secured there’s always a guessing game as to if I’m on the phone or not. As they approach me they’ll tilt their head like labradors to enquire if I’m speaking with someone.

“Are your working?” they’ll mouth with puppy dog eyes.

I’ll raise a hand like a sock puppet and press my fingers together to confirm I’m on the phone. If I’m not, the headphones are lifted and I’m immediately transported to their world. Field trip forms are signed, money is handed out for year books, sleepovers denied and approved. It’s often at this time that I’ll remind the kids that I’m actually working, that these questions need to be saved for the afternoons, that they do have an alternative parent, to parent.

A few days ago as I wandered into my office I noticed Mr 12 hiding behind a door, nothing to really worry about I guess, if he hadn’t have been wearing a boxing glove (a remnant of my 12 weeks of boxing classes a few years ago). He was in what can only be descibed as a pounce position.

“Working”. I told myself. “They’ll sort it out”. I told myself. I closed the door to my office.

The first scream was of fear. It was shrill. There was shouting from one, giggles from the other.

The next scream was of pain. Like a punch, or a jab.

The next words were panicked, desperate. Something serious had happened.

As I raced out of my office, headphones still on, laptop left behind, I could hear my youngest…

“I’m sorry! I’m so sorry! You scared me.”

There he stood with a pencil in his hand, arm still raised.


It turns out if you want to surprise someone by sneaking up on them and then boxing them with a glove, you should probably make sure they’re not holding a freshly sharpened pencil at the time.

I found our boxer on the bathroom floor. He was lucky. Round One had him with a lovely scratch down his back with small traces of lead left behind.

“He stabbed me in the back!”

“Did you just sneak up on him and punch him with a boxing glove?”

“Maybe, but he stabbed me in the back!”

People were made to apologise, then hug, then get on with it and get ready for school.

I returned back to my office, my headphones, my other world.

Parenting. Work. And miles in between.

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  1. OMG You handle all this so well. The picture you painted is very funny.

  2. I can relate to everything you have said. My kids don’t even know their other parent you know their father the other half that helped bring them into being exists at times. I can be long in bed with the door shut curtains drawn in silence with a migraine and they will walk straight passed their Dad to wake me up to ask what’s for dinner (in you know 6hrs) and I will say um no idea I am sick how about you ask your father, in fact why didn’t you. Their reply will always be he is either playing on his phone and didn’t want to disturb him or asleep and didn’t want to wake him but you know, now worries with disturbing the person lying in a silent dark room!!!

  3. I agree with Darlene. You handle this very well 🙂
    Thank you for sharing.


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