Before Poppy was born in 2009, I had full intentions of returning to my full time 9-to-5 job. We couldn’t figure out how we’d manage a family of three on one income in NYC, but then the stars realigned themselves unexpectedly and I found myself at home, raising a baby full-time, carefully budgeting to make it work.
When P was about a year old, I formally entered the workforce again, but in a part-time capacity. Or, at least, it was supposed to be part-time, but as anyone who’s run their own business knows, it rarely ends up that way. Before I knew it, I was juggling a handful of doula clients, working 3 days a week for my midwife & her partner, and assisting them at births as well. Some weeks, I worked 3 days in the office and went happily home to hang out with my family every evening. In other weeks, I worked 3 days in the office and attended a couple of back-to-back births at all hours of the day and night, pulling me away from my family for what felt like days on end. The universe always seemed to average things out eventually, but some weeks were a bit… hairy. To say the least.
When I discovered I was pregnant a second time, I had to rethink my professional plans all over again. I know some women return to the unpredictability of birth work when their babes are quite young, but I didn’t see that in the cards for me. When I started birth work the first time, my oldest was just over a year old and I can’t personally imagine making it work much earlier than that. As a breastfeeding mom, there are the logistical issues of bottles, feeding, & pumping to consider, but even more than that, I simply don’t want to be away from my little one unexpectedly for — potentially — many many hours. Or days. Nor do I have the kind of familial support necessary to do that kind of work with not one, but two very small children to care for. It truly takes a village to serve as a doula and a mother with any success and our most reliable villagers live halfway across the country.
Granted, if there’s anything I’d sacrifice everything for, it’s birth. After all, there’s really nothing like watching a baby take its first breath and people become parents before your eyes. But on-call doula work is hard, hard work, so I think I’d like to give it a little more time before I consider easing back into that lifestyle.
That being said, I’m itching to work. And I’m surprised by it.
When I was home with P, I didn’t get this bug until she was at least 6 months old. Maybe even 9. I was happy to be at home, but more than that, I think I was just overwhelmed by first time motherhood and had a hard time comprehending how I could do anything else terribly well at the same time. She was a needy baby and a terrible sleeper, so just getting through the day in a haze of exhaustion and coffee often felt like accomplishment enough. Boo, on the other hand, is a pretty magical babe. Of course, she has her tough days, like anyone, but on the whole, she sleeps like a champ and spends most of her days smiling like a goon. And while wrangling two certainly isn’t the easiest thing in the world, my second timer status has created a new calm about me.
Is the house a mess? Yep. Dinner made? Maybe. Laundry put away? Not a chance.
Is everyone alive, fed, and relatively happy? Yes.
Great. Then can I please use my brain now? Like, for real adult stuff? I don’t think I can read A Fly Went By one more time before I lose it. There, I’ve shoved the dirty laundry off my computer keyboard. I’m ready!
So here I am.
I’m not ready to work outside the home in any regular capacity yet if I don’t absolutely have to (Boo is just 4.5 months and exclusively nursing), but I would like to keep my professional chops sharp and bring in a little cash to add to our family budget (and it could certainly use the help). So I’m on the hunt for freelance work. (I’ve got a website and everything. Please, share it with your friends.)
This here little blog is a good start, but it makes me exactly zero dollars. My gig at Parenting was fantastic, but ended when my pregnancy did. And seeing as I’ve never freelanced in this capacity before, I’m sort of stumbling around, trying to figure out where and how to start, or what, exactly, I’d like to write about. After all, my interests are diverse, as is my professional background and education, so there are really about 900 different directions I could head.
I’ve been doing some networking among friends in the field, picking brains about what they do and how they got there and I plan to continue until I find my place. I also checked out a stack of books from the library, hoping to learn something by way of osmosis since I’ve hardly had a chance to crack them open. Until then, I’ll keep plugging away here, submitting pieces elsewhere as I’m able, and being grateful that I have this flexibility to explore new interests and new professional paths while continuing to care for my girls.
If anyone’s got any great tips or useful leads for “Getting a Freelance Life,” please do feel free to share them in the comments below. I’m not looking to make a full-time living or publish award winning pieces of journalism; just get a little exposure, earn a little cash, and do something I love.