They say necessity is the mother of invention and when it comes to my work, that couldn’t be more true. I became a work-from-home mom because I had no other choices. We were in that weird segment of income earners who couldn’t afford to live on one income, but also couldn’t afford the cost of daycare.
I had to get really creative. For a time, that meant working overnights and dragging myself through the day while home with my toddler. As you can imagine, that didn’t work for very long. I switched to working days when I got pregnant with my second child, working long shifts on the weekends when my husband was home.
Eventually, my freelance writing career, something I had been working at for some time, took off. I quit my job and gleefully began my life as a work-from-home mom.
All I wanted was to be with my kids, and to work just enough during their nap and after bedtime to pay our bills. With time, however, I started to write more. I was given more opportunities to write about the things I enjoyed and to write more than I could tackle while my kids were asleep.
I surprised myself when I fell in love with my work.
I have felt guilty for loving my work as much as I do. Now that I write more, I need help with my kids during the week. I leave them with a babysitter occasionally or my mom takes them to the park and out for lunch so I can work. Even though I feel sad about missing out on an afternoon running around with my kids, I enjoy the time I spend working.
I used to feel a yearning to be home with them when I worked my other jobs. Now, even though I do miss them, I don’t itch to leave my work behind like I used to. I like the time I spend doing my work and I like the time I spend with my kids. For me, it feels really balanced.
Still, there seems to be something taboo about admitting I look forward to my job, that I’m glad to have something outside of raising my children. This taboo exists mostly for mothers, of course, since men don’t face the same pressures to magically become exceptional caregivers whose world revolves around their children as soon as they welcome a child into the world. It’s as if we’re not allowed to enjoy anything nearly as much as we enjoy our children. It’s as if we aren’t good mothers unless we feel guilty for the time we spend away from our kids.
You know what? I’m done feeling guilty about how much I like my work. Being a mother is only part of what makes me who I am. Besides, what I do when I am away from my kids helps me to be better when we’re together.
It isn’t all about being the best me, either. I may not be saving lives when I leave my kids with the babysitter, but I know that what I do matters. I don’t just write to get my words out there. I want women like me, who are struggling with motherhood, dealing with postpartum depression or just trying to figure out who they are now that they’re a mom, to know they aren’t alone. I want them to know that other women feel the things they feel and I hope my words do that. I hope that my words are a way of giving back.
I’m through with the idea that good mothers can’t be good workers, too. I’m done believing I can’t give myself to my work and give myself to my family, that I can’t strike a balance between the two. I refuse to downplay my love of my work just so I won’t be judged for feeling passionate about something besides my family.