Over the summer, something wonderful happened. My freelance writing business got really busy.
I’ve been on my own for more than two years now, and business has been steady, thankfully. However, this summer, one of my clients started ramping up, which trickled down to me. Also, thankfully.
With this newfound busy-ness, an old monster has reared its ugly head: the plight of a working mother.
Before I went freelance, I was a full-time career person, putting in my 40 hours per week until my twins were about 2 years old. Then, I peeled back my schedule to four days per week. Now, who knows how many hours a week I work—writing, interviewing, designing, pitching, laundry, cleaning, keeping the kids alive, etc. Honestly, I have no idea how I did it all when I worked outside my house.
I’m starting to feel the stress of maintaining “The Balance.” Along with that stress I feel a bitterness, too, that wasn’t there before.
An example, a client called me on a Tuesday to ask if I could go to a business lunch on Thursday that same week. Mentally, I went through the calendars of every sitter I have on call. Then I catalogued all the professional clothing I own—is any of it clean? Finally, I checked my calendar. Nope. I promised the kids I’d take them to the zoo, which worked out because none of my sitters was available anyway.
I’m trying hard to be taken seriously as a writer and a leader so having to pull the parent card makes me feel like my polished veneer is getting sticky fingerprints.
I love my kids with every ounce of my being; I hope that goes without saying. But I need an identity outside of motherhood. I need to feel value beyond my ability to pack lunches. I am more than my capacity for singing cartoon theme songs and expertly cutting up food.
I need to feel that I am a person who happens to be a mother, a writer, a friend, a wife. I am all of these things. Somedays, I’m more a writer than a mother, others I’m a mother and wife. Lately, I’m a runner, too.
Getting to this point was very liberating. First, I had to bypass my mom guilt and tell it to shut up. Just because I want to pursue a hobby, interest, career or anything else, doesn’t mean I’m a less dedicated mom. In fact, I’ve started telling my kids when they ask where I’m going, that I’m doing this for me, that it’s important for me to be fulfilled. While they are my world, they aren’t the only things in it—and that’s ok.
I hope one day they can look at my parenting and think that I did a pretty good job, for them and for me. Hopefully, they’ll remember the days they were sick and home from school when I worked in their fort with them. Maybe they’ll piece together that my freelancing made it possible to have those extras such as a Disney trip. The cherry on top would be their pride in me making it on my own.
I’m going to keep my fingers crossed.
– Rebecca Calappi is a freelance writer, adoptive mom to twins, and past Parenting Program participant. Surprisingly, she’s mostly sane.