Friday, April 27, 2007

The fearless freelancing mother

Back in 2000, I hated my job at a university computer help desk so much that I was willing to do just about anything to get out. So I did: I started my own freelance writing business. My birthday present to myself was leaving the workplace. I figured if it didn't pan out, I could always go back to tech support - in a different company. But it did pan out. Within two months, I made my first sale. My first article appeared in October 2001, and the following year I got contracts that carried me through 2002. I felt I'd arrived. You could say I was, in a word, fearless.

That all changed in late 2002, when I found out I was pregnant with my first child. Even though I'd started to freelance with an eye toward staying home with children, reality scared me badly. I got an inkling of what it might be like when I totally lost my brain, when the hormones made me so scattered that I had to wonder if this was what it was like to work around a talkative, active little boy. (It is, only louder, though it is slightly easier to pick up the thread of what I was doing.)

Fortunately, I was working for editors who were also parents - or becoming parents. One was pregnant with her fifth child, due not long before me. The other's wife was due with their first, just a few weeks after me. They were sympathetic and supportive, and they waited for me during my protracted maternity leave.

Pregnant with #2, I found I wasn't quite so fearful. The placenta brain wasn't so bad this time around, and even though Hamlet had dropped his nap the year before, I was able to take on other work that didn't necessitate blocks of quiet time. Fearlessness came once I realized the most crucial aspect of working at home with children: to succeed, I had to find ways to be flexible. To be willing to change the type of work I was willing to do, to change my expectations about my time - and my kids'.

This year sees me blogging for a Disney subsidiary, continuing the work I did for an architectural PR firm, and a few other odds and ends to keep my irons in the public-safety fire. In other words, six years after I first quit my "real" job, I'm still a successful freelancer - and a successful mother, too. That knowledge keeps me fearless that whatever life throws my way, I'll be able to handle it and still survive.

* This post brought to you today by MotherTalk, which is promoting the release of Arianna Huffington's new book, "Becoming Fearless." Thanks to Miriam Peskowitz for inviting me to participate!

Labels: ,

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Playing catch-up

I had such plans for this past week. Rain Dog was on vacation. We were going to clean out our embarrassingly cluttered basement; I was going to work on a manuscript or two, my website, and yes, this blog.

Instead, we lost power for three days. I've been playing catch-up ever since. Hope to be back soon with a pithier post, but instead, I leave you with the reading list I amassed for my birthday:

Suspicious Circumstances
To the Power of Three
What the Dead Know
The Guards
The Brooklyn Follies