Free FallingAugust 30, 2010 at 6:28 pm | Posted in Family, Serial Commas | 33 Comments
Tags: Babies, Balance, Challenges, Children, Life, Motherhood, Multitasking, Personal, Work
I am addicted to freelance work. There, I said it.
When someone offers me a project — writing, editing, proofreading — I can’t say no. Even when the work is as exciting as changing an explosive diaper. Even when I have seven other projects I already agreed to. Even when there’s no time left for me.
In the months before Bun was born, I marathonned through project after project, hour after hour, night after night. I worked more so that I could take at least four months off after he arrived. Free and clear. No. More. Projects.
I would take a break. I would breathe. I would enjoy every sigh and snuggle with my new little one.
Two months in, I accepted a project. Then another. And another. I had four due last week. I’m pretty sure I’m a crazy person. But on the schedule there’s more work, more deadlines, more diapers, more insanity.
Here Comes My Girl
Flash back to four years ago. I always imagined I would be a mom with a career. I would have my kids and my corner cube. I had worked hard at my job, gotten promoted, decided I liked it better a rung or two back down the ladder, and finally established a comfortable, rewarding place for myself on the org chart.
Then I had Lollipop. She needed to eat all the time. She cried for reasons I didn’t understand. She required every ounce of my lagging energy. My piddly six weeks of maternity leave came and went. I was still a sleep-deprived wreck. I couldn’t fathom returning to work and actually … working. What’s more, I couldn’t imagine giving my daughter to someone else every morning. Needy as she was, she needed me. Or, really, I needed her.
So I quit. I decided to stay home. I packed up my cubicle and purged my hard drive. It was tough, and I cried. But it was right for me, right for Lollipop.
The Waiting Is the Hardest Part
And soon enough, of course, she wasn’t so needy. She slept through the night. I put her down for a morning nap and she slept. I put her down for an afternoon nap and she slept. It was a miracle.
So I took on a project. And here I am, two more kids and hundreds of projects later. A crazy person.
Somehow, I have let myself believe that I need to keep my toe in the professional pool. I have let my self-worth get wrapped up in the idea of bringing home the bacon, even just a slice. I have let myself think this kid-raising business is all well and good, but it doesn’t pay. Not in ways that pad the bank account anyway.
I Can’t Back Down
In my head, it goes like this: The more I work, the better off we’ll be. The more I work, the more we can save, the more organic food we can afford, the more fun things we can do as a family. And on and on.
But the more I work, the more I lose my mind. The more I lose precious time. The more my children grow up in those small ways I only notice when I’m really paying attention, not when I’m rushing through the morning to get to nap time so Mommy can just work already.
The more I work, the more I miss. So why can’t I stop??
Ah, work-life balance … How do you manage it? How do you find the strength to say no? Do you ever feel you need validation outside of your role as a mother?