The snow will soon blow into town with a vengeance. With it comes many unwelcome three-word combinations, like shovel the walk, scrape the windows, and major highway delays. But perhaps the dirtiest, filthiest, most dreaded of three-word phrases to be uttered from male to female during the long, cold days of winter….

Working From Home.

This prospect presents conflicts even for the dual-working couples with stand-offs over shared Internet lines and whose conference call earns the louder voice, but pain and suffering is felt uniquely by the stay-at-home mother. Normally the Queen of her castle, the master of her domain, she is suddenly and unapologetically dethroned and stripped of her royal garb. Sometimes she’s even made to pack up her earthly possessions and small loyal servants into a carriage to travel to a far-away kingdom, crown clattering on the street like a discarded tuna can.

A weather-induced coup will bring the castle walls in like nothing else. I’m used to seeing the King in his bedclothes at night, but there’s something unsavory about it on a Tuesday at noon. I’m accustomed to being asked, “what’s for lunch,” on a weekend, but to hear those words midweek — by 10 a.m. no less — is something different altogether, particularly when followed by “what’s for dinner,” 15 minutes after lunch is finished.

The constant and far too casual presence of the King confuses the subjects, as well. Pleas are met with rejection for he’s too busy, working. And when I ask for a few minutes of aid so that I might do something exotic and liberating, like laundry, I, too, am rejected. See, while working from home may seem like a lot of sofa-sitting and genital-scratching to an outsider, it always becomes an urgent and mandatory duty when confronted with a request to change a diaper, scrape a windshield, or permit the wife a private toilet experience.

One might think this rare peephole into the daily rigors the Queen endures might give the King some added respect for her role within the royal hierarchy. It doesn’t. Instead, she is met with questions about the way she manages the heirs. “Do you let them play with markers on the counter everyday?” “Do you think they need to pour applesauce all over the floor?” Before she can defend her position — “Hold that thought, conference call. Can you all go upstairs?”

That’s the worst part of spousal work-at-home, the exile to a bedroom. With inclement weather, the upstairs bedrooms become like the holding pen of a castle tower. Inevitably the 15-minute conference call becomes a two-hour one and the captives begin to jaundice and wither like the family from Flowers in the Attic.

Hours are spent plotting ways to get the King to turn the horses toward a coffee shop and pondering how the Obamas, the Royals of the work-at-home scenario, proceed. At the end of a grueling week in the White House, Michelle probably sneaks a call to the Queen of the United Arab Emirates, pleading for an urgent summit in Abu Dhabi: “Please, Mrs. Nahyan, I just need him out of the house for a couple of days. I’ll take the Sheikh next month for you….”