The life of a working mother is often characterized as ‘death by a thousand cuts’. I have been a mother for the majority of my nearly 20 year career, always struggling for that elusive work-life balance. In all this time, I have never been faced with quite the same impediments as during these on-going COVID-19 social distancing and quarantining measures. I’m so incredibly thankful to be working at all when so many people are not; these are difficult times. I’m also thankful for the efforts of my company and colleagues to keep us moving forward.

I enjoy going to the office, love it actually. It’s typically the most relaxing part of my day. The coffee flows freely, I can work and listen to audiobooks uninterrupted, none of my co-workers ask me to make them a sandwich, connect their zoom call, or try to follow me into the bathroom. But to be completely fair, it’s not only the kids that disrupt the circadian rhythm of my workday; I have dogs too. Together they can create a cacophony so powerful as to disrupt conference calls and probably the rotation of the Earth. Working from Home (WFH) while the kids are also E-learning from home has given me a new appreciation for the escape of the office. 

At the office, I don’t feel like I have to be all things to all people. I can be a coffee swilling, cussing, Scientist who is so absorbed in a report that she forgets lunch until it’s 2:30.  But not during WFH. During WFH these whiny coworkers OF MY OWN MAKING want three squares a day. They want help with chemistry homework, connecting to an 8am Zoom call, or to tell me about a weird dream, gah… I know, I know… I hear you. Stop complaining. It’s been tough on everyone. But I will tell you as tough as it has been and as much as I enjoy the office and my colleagues, I don’t know how I feel about eventually going back. 

I’ve gained 3 hours a day of my life back, minimum, by eliminating my commute. I’ve enjoyed the departure from “Business Casual” but fear I have tumbled into some otherness. My look is now probably best described as leisure. I change from my night-time pajamas into daytime pajamas and I haven’t filled in my eyebrows since the middle of March! I’ve gotten to spend so much quality time with my family and we all still like each other! I’ve re-read most of Jane Austen. I’ve baked a million muffins and discovered the joys of the Kroger Click-List. My husband who is usually traveling has been home to help with difficult decisions like what to eat for dinner or whether I should cut my own bangs. 

In the next couple of weeks my kids virtually “return to school”. I gave a failing grade to the Rochford Home School last quarter and myself as administrator. Hopefully, we all have a better idea of what to expect and feel a bit better prepared than we were in March. We do not have a date set to return to the office yet. As much as I look forward to a return to normal, and the end of this scary time for the world, I’m hoping we can redefine “Business Casual” and maybe even be allowed to bring a puppy to the office when we do. 

About the Author:

Heather Rochford

Ms. Rochford joined Wilcox in 2016 as a Project Manager in the Investigation and Remediation Services Division and was promoted to Senior Project Manager in 2018.

Ms. Rochford holds a B.S. Natural Resources and Environmental Science from Purdue University, an M.S. Environmental Science from Indiana University with a concentration in Environmental Chemistry, Toxicology, and Risk Assessment, and has been an environmental consultant for more than 18 years. During that time, she has been active in the Midwest States Environmental Consultants Association and developed wide-ranging expertise, providing technical analysis and planning remediation activities for soil and groundwater impacted by petroleum hydrocarbons, organic solvents, and toxic metals at commercial and industrial sites, as well as management and disposal oversight of hazardous waste.