Illustration by Victoria Borges
In the summer of 2015 I decided to leave the full-time workforce to pursue freelance writing. I knew there would be hardships along the way (i.e., managing an unbearable workload and throwing away my social life), but despite knowing the negatives, I still had a romantic vision of what it would be like to work from home.
I envisioned myself as a Virginia Woolf-Martha Stewart hybrid, spending my days writing productively in my office in “A Room of One’s Own” style, then mastering all things domestic, from cultivating an urban garden to putting up batches of preserved foods. Thinking back to this silly dream, it’s hard not to laugh at myself. A Virginia Woolf-Martha Stewart woman seems super-human, but at the same time, I like to dream big. I knew my ultimate happiness would be finding harmony between my work life and home life.
When I first started working from home, I’d roll out of bed and stagger downstairs to our back office, where I’d guzzle a pot of coffee as I did my work. Most days, I was isolated, typing away at my computer while letting my home fall into disrepair. My work stole my focus entirely, and I found myself longing for work-life balance.
I still dreamed of being a domestic goddess, though. To break up the monotony of plugging away in my office, I started giving myself breaks throughout the day to cook a meal, do chores and take the dog for walks. Embracing my inner hausfrau was just what the doctor ordered; it was cathartic. It was my daily breath of fresh air. Tending to my home provided a perfect and productive distraction, freeing my mind from the stress of work while getting my hands busy potting plants, preparing food and feathering my nest.
When I had writer’s block, I’d escape into my backyard to pick herbs and tomatoes, while basking in the sun and getting a Vitamin D fix. Or, I’d head to the kitchen to whip up a meal, or to the laundry room to tackle some loads of laundry.
I’m no Virginia Woolf and I’m no Martha Stewart, that’s for sure. My recipes don’t come out perfect, our house looks like a war zone at times, my prose is a work in progress and I miss an occasional deadline. But by embracing my domestic side, I’ve figured out how to harmoniously live and work in my home.
As a millennial, I grew up in an era where I believed the career world was pushed on women and staying at home was not supported in our culture. But through my time spent in our house, I’m finding that running a home is running a venture in itself. The work that comes with keeping a home is empowering. I’ve pushed myself to learn new skills, become more self-sufficient, and in the end, run a more sustainable household. And that in itself is empowering.
By spending all day, every day in our home, I’ve discovered a new, more enlightened side of myself. I’ve defined homemaking in my own way — allowing my work self and domestic self to co-exist. And, most importantly, I’ve created a space of my own.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Marissa Hermanson is a Richmond-based lifestyle journalist whose stories have been featured in national and local publications. As a freelance writer who spends most of her time working from home, Marissa has a deep appreciation for the household and the time and effort people put into personalizing their spaces.