I'm Working It as Fast as I Can


I answered a call from a Wall Street Journal reporter last week and for a couple of days, my world spun out of control.  Reporters are like wizards. One little phone call for just another story can send an average everyday housewife into a tizzy.

What started out to be some comments about an online article about stay-at-home parents I wrote three years ago had me contemplating getting my bangs cut for a photo shoot. This rarely happens in my world. I don’t often have a specific reason to have a good hair day.

Apparently this is how it’s done in the big leagues. If a story is going to have a photo run with it, you get a photographer to come to your house and do an all-day photo shoot. Starting with me making the beds in the morning all the way to the dentist appointments I had in the late afternoon. The papers I worked for never did this, as far as I know. We had our photographers running from one assignment to the next, snapping wildly, jotting down a few names and running off to the next assignment. And back then they had to develop and print their pictures, too. (At least I think that’s what they were doing for all those hours in the darkroom.)

The Wall Street Journal story wasn’t just about me. I was one of several people who talked about what it’s like to be at home when other, more successful people, are at work. The photo shoot was to be documentary style; a day-in-the-life-of-a-stay-at-home mom.

Attention fellow housewives, work-from-home people and stay-at-home parents:  If anyone at the Journal looks closely at the contact sheet from my photo shoot, if they don’t fall asleep mid-viewing, the lid could be blown off our dirty little secret. How often we check our Facebook pages is only the tip of the iceberg. I carefully hid the bon-bons and the Soap Opera Digests, but it doesn’t look good.

I had no appreciation for these powers when I was a reporter and photographer myself.  I wish I had known how much I influenced the hundreds of Ohioans I interviewed and photographed. They never let on. I wonder how many new outfits were bought, early haircuts were gotten, how much over-the-counter IBS remedies were purchased, because I picked up the phone and said, “Can I come over Monday to photograph you?”

I’m not used to being on this side of the interview. The only other time I made the paper was when the Washington Post interviewed me and my friend Dianne when we stood in line for the Clinton Inaugural Store (I was freezing cold and pregnant and I don’t think my bangs looked good that day, either.), and when my housework schedule solution was included in a Working Mother magazine article. (I think the editors at Working Mother were fascinated by the fact that my husband and I did everything - cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping - on Friday night after work, just to get it over with, even if it meant ironing in front of a sci-fi movie at 2 a.m., which it sometimes did. We were able to enjoy our weekends by taking frequent naps.)

The whole thing was a fun experience, though: Being photographed Lindsay Lohan style, and being interviewed by a well-known writer - even I recognized his name and knew about some of his books, and I’m just a housewife.

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