The guilt that comes from working from home + “Miracle Girl” by Andrew Roe


I had this dream when my girls were little. To work from home, doing what I loved: writing.

When the girls were really little, I taught school. We somehow made that work with very little daycare involved; my husband mostly worked nights, I worked days. When he got a job that required 13 weeks of training in another state, I took that as my cue to be a stay-at-home mom for awhile.

We moved to Ohio about a year after I quit teaching. I had done some part-time work, and continued that in Ohio. I tell people I never worked harder than I worked to be a stay-at-home mom.

And then the dream fell into my lap. A job that was mostly from home. A job writing.

Both girls were in school, so there was quite time. After a few months, the job became even more from home, which was nice. At least during the school year.

Then summer hit. And things got tougher.

It’s hard for girls to understand that I’m not just sitting in front of my computer messing around. Especially my younger daughter, my daughter with Down syndrome. She knows I want to be outside, that I would love to be outside, but instead I’m stuck, typing (she doesn’t see writing, she sees typing).

She wants me to take her to the pool, or the zoo, or the park. She wants to go on a bike ride, or a walk, or even just play in the backyard. She wants me to make her cookies, or play Barbies, or do an art project.

She gets almost as exasperated with me as she does with her older, way-too-cool-to-play big sister. She hates the words, ‘I have to work.’

She’s not home all summer, otherwise I would be looking or childcare. She’s only here for about three weeks, then she goes to day camp for five weeks. Then we’ll go on vacation, and then school starts again.

So I get to feel guilty for working in front of her. My older daughter gets it, she understands. And that’s kind of cool. She gets to see me working, and what goes on during my day, and that her mom puts words together into sentences and gets paid for it (not for this–this is just fun and just for free books. I love free books, but it won’t feed us dinner).

Katy, though, my baby, doesn’t understand that mom is working. She doesn’t like it when I’m not all in for her. In her ideal mind, it would be her and I off on grand adventures (with her sister and dad along sometimes, but mostly just us), with snacks and fun all around.

But it’s not that way and it’s never going to be that way. We will have the moments  when I’m not working, the mornings and the nights, when we can have small adventures.

What I have is a job where I don’t have to rush out of the house, or worry about getting home. I have a job where we can fit in our mini adventures, as small as they may be. We can take morning walks, or evening bike rides, or many half days at the pool. Our days are a balancing act, but it works.

I guess every mother feels guilt. A stay-at-home mother may feel that she can’t give her kids everything. A working mom may feel that she’s missing the moments of her children’s lives. Me? A stay-at-home working mom? I feel both. I know what my kids wants (they tell me all the time), and I know what moments I’m missing. Guess what? Such is life. I’m human, I feel guilt, and that’s normal. I will give my girls what I think they actually need and a few things they want, and I will give fill their days with moments I can fit in between sentences.

Like every other good mother I know, I will try to do it all. And I will feel guilty for the things I can’t get done. And, just like every other mother I know, I will deal with the guilt, and I will do my best.

And I’ll hope that my best will be good enough.

And now, here’s a mother trying to do her best in The Miracle Girl.

Even in our darkest moments, humans have a way of searching for hope. When things seem done and over, even the most pessimistic people seem to hold out for the miraculous, even in the most unlikely of places. And sometimes, miracles do happen.

Andrew Roe’s The Miracle Girl is all about those people searching for a miracle, and how it can their lives.

The Premise

As the world holds its collective breath, waiting for Y2K and the turn of a new century, a small house on a quiet street shelters a young girl in a coma-like state. This child, Anabelle Vincent, is said to have performed a miracle, and then another, and then another. Soon the visitors are lined up down the block, bringing chaos and hope in equal doses.

A character driven novel, The Miracle Girl changes perspective to tell readers the story of Anabelle’s mother Karen, a kind woman devoted to her daughter, unsure of where to draw the line with the miracle-seekers and media; Anabelle’s father John, a man so overwhelmed that he leaves it all behind; and Anabelle herself, trapped in her own mind.

Is Anabelle a conduit for miracles, or is she just bring hope? Is there a difference? That’s the biggest question in this novel.

My Thoughts

The Miracle Girl is a nice story, but its beauty lies in its characters. Beyond Karen, John, and Anabelle, we hear the story through a myriad of people touched by Anabelle and her gift.

The story is all about the hope Anabelle brings to people, and that may be the biggest miracle of all. So much of the story is told by those unsure of miracles, but willing to give it a try, but there are also those who don’t believe in miracles, and those close to the family, watching to see what happens.

I thought the story was okay. I didn’t love it all, but I didn’t hate it, either. But Roe develops great characters, and that is where it got me. I wanted more of them and their thoughts, especially John, who was so conflicted and lost. My reading was caught in cheering for him.

If the characters hadn’t been so strong, I would have given this one 2.5 stars, maybe three. But the characters bring it up to  3.5 stars. I LOVED the characters.


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