Ever since I left my full-time job at the AG's office, I've had something of a freelance career. Last year was a profitable one for me; I earned almost as much working part-time as I did working full time, and I got to work at home in my pjs if I wanted to. Work this year has been a bit slower, and I haven't been as diligent about pursuing more contracts. I didn't look for work this spring because I was focussed on Danskin. Then I was put on partial bed rest and didn't feel like working.
Two weeks ago I started feeling I was ready to get back to freelancing and sent feelers to two editors at Holt. In the past, it's taken a few weeks - even months - for work projects to get rolling there. So I figured that I could send out the inquiries and then still have some time to recover from childbirth before I started working. Instead, I got an immediate contract offer, which I accepted. I started working on the project this weekend, fitting it in around demands from three kids and a husband. It was a bit of a struggle, but I'll get used to working again, I'm sure.
One friend asked why I felt the need to take on work right now, and I couldn't come up with a real answer other than my compulsive need to do too much. But her question got me thinking about why I feel the need to work.
One reason is that I've had a paying job of some sort since I was 16 years old, and it feels wrong to me to not have one - like I'm a slacker. Also, I like to contribute financially to the household. I know intellectually that taking care of three kids, keeping track of my husband and managing a house are huge contributions to our family, but I feel less guilty about spending money if I'm bringing some in. For the record, Brandon has never once pushed me to take on work - this is all my doing.
One other thing I struggle with is my identity as a stay-at-home mom. I'm glad I made the choice to stay home with our kids, and I'm grateful that I'm able to. But I like to be able to say that I'm a MOM and a freelancer; mom always comes first.
The intellectual stimulation I get from work is also helpful to my well being. I need to be able to stretch my brain beyond Dr. Seuss books and playdoh. Some day, when the kids are grown and in school, I'll be able to work more hours, and by working now and keeping my skills and contacts, I'll be in a better position to take on more work later.
I did manage to meet my first deadline for this project this morning, despite Campbell. He was fussy and didn't want to be put down. So I'd walk him until he slept, put him in his seat and work frantically until he woke up, when I would start the whole process over again. But since I did meet me deadline, I'm going to reward myself this afternoon with a nap.