Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Striking the Balance

I do not believe I have the answers to the work/life balance. If I did, I would write a book and appear on every national talk show in the nation. I would be mighty rich.

But after nearly 16 months of parenting, I can say honestly that there may not be a balance. Something always has to give.

At the moment, this is a particularly vexing truth for me because I am finding myself at a crossroads. My freelance work has picked up enough that I am now feeling that two days of childcare might not be enough. Additionally, my childcare needs are about to be complicated by the fact that there is going to be yet another human in my house in August.

What is a mom to do?

Here is the thing: I have made no small secret of the fact that my career is extremely important to me, especially now. I am willing to make a lot of sacrifices to get what I want. In fact, I think, in retrospect, a lot of the reason I left my old job was not because I needed more time with my baby (although that was a part of it) but because the job was not really doing it for me.

Throughout my life, I have stayed in jobs I did not like and that were not fulfilling for silly reasons. Now, it is all me. I love it. I love the variety of work freelancing affords. I love that I can write about pets, parenting, pizza and health care and get paid what I am worth for it. I love that I do not have a boss looking over my shoulder and telling me what to do. And yes, I admit it, I love just a little bit (ok, a lot) that I could probably make more next year than the boss who let me go at my old job while having all the flexibility I want.

But therein lies the problem. The flexibility I love so much will be the first thing to go should I decide to really do this. I see the path to making six figures + (the goal of most freelancers), but I am not sure that I want to take the steps to get there. On the other hand, I know myself. I drop everything for work. I find a way to make it happen. If I am really honest with myself, my priority is work. This is not to say that I would not choose my child over work if the situation were dire, but the reality is that I would sacrifice more than I once believed I would for success.

I guess I am learning more about myself everyday.

Now I need to make some decisions. Do I keep pursuing projects with the dogged determination that has proven so (KNOCK WOOD) successful these last few months? Or do I scale back, cease marketing so much and try to hold the tentative balance I have struck between intellectual/material success and motherhood?

I am not sure.

I keep hoping that it will work itself out without a decision on my part. That may happen. On the other hand, it may not. And with the new baby coming, I am trying to figure out who I am, what I want and what I am willing to sacrifice to get there.

Oh yeah, and I only have two months to get there. Advice is welcome.

In other news, we have a likely winner of the name game.... drum roll please... In August, expect to welcome Alijah Henry to this blog... It is still subject to change, but we are rather fond of it for many, many reasons. So, at least one dilemma is close to resolution.


Lis Garrett said...

I can say this with certainty: life will become A LOT more complicated once the new baby comes along. I hate to say this, only because it makes me sound awful, but you will look upon your friends with "only one child," (and you will say "only") and wonder if they know just how easy they have it.

If you are as serious about your freelance work as you say you are, secure a few extra spots for your daughter in daycare and put your son on the waiting list pronto. I won't say that working from home with children is impossible, but it is definitely difficult.

As rotten as it sounds, I am counting down the days until Bridget is in kindergarten (2.5 years to go). At that point, I will have SIX BLESSED HOURS during the day to work. Right now, I am able to work only a few hours each day, for 15-20 minutes at a time. Not so great for productivity (or a six-figure income).

I think you know what you want. And I think you know what you have to do to get it.

There is no such thing as balance when it comes to work and kids.

Kristi said...

We've talked about this, and it seems you know already which direction you're leaning. Ultimately, you'll do what's best for you and your family, and in that case, it's impossible to make a wrong decision.