When my daughter was born in 2009, I automatically assumed that after my three-and-a-half-month maternity leave, I would return to work as a high school teacher, pick up where I left off, and continue my career as a working mom.
Let’s just say that’s not how things turned out.
Sure, I returned to work, but each and every day, I was filled with a profound sense of sadness. This wasn’t the normal, “I’m-going-to-miss-my-baby” type of sadness; rather, I was experiencing an overwhelming sense of angst and anxiety on a daily basis. Perhaps it was because it had been such a multi-year challenge to become pregnant, or because her delivery had been fraught with a few terrifying moments. Whatever the reason, I had lost my career mojo the minute she entered this world.
My coworkers and friends who are full-time working mothers told me that it would get easier as time went on. For me, for whatever reason, it never did. In fact, as my babe grew, so did my anguish. When she turned two and started to realize that I was leaving for work, she would stand in her crib and cry, “Mama, no! Mama no go!” I’d drive to work in tears, heartbroken and frustrated. Here I was, paying for someone else to be with my child all day, when I desperately wanted her to be with me.
After two and a half years and many, many tearful breakdowns, my husband and I knew something had to change. However, we’re not wealthy by any means, so the thought of us losing my salary and benefits brought me to the edge of panic. Being a full-time stay-at-home mom would not be an option. I wanted to stay home, but I also needed to find a way to contribute to our family’s finances. And, if I’m being honest with myself, I needed and wanted to work to maintain my professional identity.
Before I was a teacher, I had spent time working in marketing and public relations and as a freelance writer. I started networking and through a friend and former colleague, ended up finding work as a freelance writer for a local magazine. From there, I picked up a few more assignments and before I knew it, I had a fully functioning part-time freelance writing business. I also connected with an online tutoring service to fill in the gaps between writing assignments. I learned to work around her schedule, getting up ridiculously early and then staying up late to get my assignments done.
Now, this isn’t to say that I’ve replaced my salary as a full-time teacher…yet. However, my work as a freelance writer has enabled me to be at home with my daughter while bringing home at least a few slices of bacon, if not quite the full pound. We’ve made plenty of “first world” lifestyle sacrifices–cable television, new cars and lengthy vacations, to name a few–but in the end, it’s been 100 percent worth it. The only regret I have is that I didn’t do it sooner.
Four years later, I’ve learned a great deal about what it takes to be a work-at-home mom. I’ve found that there are plenty of like-minded moms out there who want to stay home with their kids, but feel like they are trapped. I’ve also met many women who experienced exactly what I’ve gone through, leaving full-time careers to work from home or even start their own businesses. I’m here to tell you: as long as you’re a self-motivated individual, there are indeed options. Plenty of resources exist for finding legitimate part-time and full-time work-from-home jobs. In my next post, I will share some of those resources with you. Stay tuned!
Note: This is the first in a three-part series.