I am right in the middle of a critical interview. I have been waiting two days for this call.
To my 3-year-old, it seems like a good time to ask for help in the bathroom.
"Mommy! Come wipe me!" bellows the little voice, just loud enough that I am sure the caller heard.
I apologize and explain that I work from home and have a little helper.
Most people understand and mention a story about their own children. But occasionally, people don't find it amusing. Some ask, pointedly: "Is now a good time?"
No. Not really. But is there any such thing as a good time anymore?
These days, I do interviews wherever I can. Once, a source returned my call while I was shopping in a craft store with my toddler. I pulled out my notebook and started working. To keep my 3-year-old quiet, I opened bags of candy and handed them to her. I survived the interview, then had to pay a $6 candy tab.
So how do parents who work at home get anything done?
Lisa Roberts, author of "How to Raise a Family and a Career Under One Roof: A Parent's Guide to Home Business," said there are two types of parents who work at home: the segregators and the integrators. The segregators put boundaries up, have a physical office, time to work, time to be a parent and use a baby sitter.
The integrators mix it up and are often doing everything at once. Plus, they may not have the luxury of having a baby sitter.
I'm an integrator, which means work is often done late but interviews have to be done in the morning, especially if I am calling the East Coast.
Roberts, who worked from home for 15 years and started the career resource Web site http://www.en-parent.com, chose to have her four children close by while she worked. She set up a desk for her kids, had them put stamps on letters and gave them post-it notes.
She suggests trying to involve the kids as much as possible.
"It absolutely can be done," she said.
Jennifer Pine, a Henderson, Nev., mom who runs an event-planning business from her home, said she finds it a bit easier to work from home now that her 3-year-old and 5-year-old girls are older, but they are still too young to understand boundaries, such as no talking when mom is on the phone.
"I was on the phone trying to work and they're underneath the desk playing tent," she said. "It comes to the point where I just have to admit I have children, and I am not as professional as I'd like to be."
Pine said working at home means everything usually happens at once — the doorbell rings, the phone rings, a child needs something.
I consider it a challenge to get any writing done with 3-year-old interruptions. I can make a quick phone call, pour a bowl of cereal, ask her to play with her cars and pray that she is content for the next 15 minutes.
Sometimes it works, other times it's a disaster.
Those are the times, like when my daughter needed major potty help, when Roberts said you just have to let it go.
Let's hope the person on the other end of the phone understands.