When I was in high school, I wanted to be a broadcast journalist. In college, I shifted my career aspirations, focusing on writing—in particular, magazine writing. Post-college, right smack at the beginning of the economic recession of 2008, I was forced to be much more realistic and pursued work in a variety of fields in order to pay the bills, from event planning to public relations.
I soon found a job that was as close to a perfect fit as possible, working as an editor for an online publication, one which I could easily see myself doing for the foreseeable future.
And then I had a couple of babies and my career trajectory took a turn.
I stand here today, almost three years later, caring for my two little toddlers day in and day out, while doing freelance writing and editorial work during naps, early in the morning, and late into the evening. The pay isn’t regular, and the hours are odd and exhausting. I wasn’t expecting this change in my professional life, but then again, I wasn’t expecting my personal life to play out as it has.
As women, we often struggle as we transition into motherhood, and our careers may be one of the biggest areas of readjustment—no matter what path each of us is on. I had assumed I’d continue working in a fuller sense, but for now, I find myself, first and foremost, cleaning up messes and reading stories about dinosaurs, with my career sitting comfortably in second place.
As women, we often struggle as we transition into motherhood, and our careers may be one of the biggest areas of readjustment—no matter what path each of us is on.
But my laptop is still overflowing with open tabs. I have writing wishes and pitch ideas, website dreams, and more. I’m not working on these potential projects for hours a day though; these dreams are currently in slo-mo. And I’m finally OK with that.
I’ve loved to write since I was a little girl. I used to spend my days writing stories, creating books of my own, as well as journaling about all the ups and downs of my elementary school existence. I won awards in middle and high school for my way with words, and pursued journalism in college, sights set on a career in magazines in New York City.
After I got married, I landed a dream job as an editor for a digital publication, returning to my writing roots and loving it every day. I loved the editorial projects, the work-from-home setup, the people I worked with via the Internet. I formed amazing relationships within the industry and felt like the luckiest working woman in the world.
I had my first baby and returned to my desk a few months later, with the benefit of working with my little boy in the room right next to me with our nanny. It was my ideal arrangement, no doubt about it.
A little over a year later, we moved to a new state, prepared to have our second baby boy only 19 months after the first, and … I was laid off, as the company I worked for was sold. I decided to not search for a new full-time job at the time, as I’d have to go on maternity leave only a couple of months into a new role. I began a bit of freelance writing and spent my days caring for our active 1-year-old.
Our second child was born soon after, and the next year was spent figuring out life as a family of four, with little bits of writing work here and there, but nothing long term; we were purely in survival mode. After the baby turned 1 year old last fall, we began to breathe a bit easier, and I began to build up my resume and portfolio once again. I’ve since dove back into freelance writing, as well as editorial work with a handful of clients, giving me the opportunity to flex my creative muscles and help us afford the cost of living in the San Francisco area.
But here’s the thing: I don’t plan on expanding my work much more than where it is at currently. Childcare costs are exceptionally high here, making it difficult to afford care and bring home a profit. So, I’ll continue working on the sidelines, where I’ve learned that I need to be exceptionally cautious about not taking on too much (or else I crash hard).
But that doesn’t mean I’ve given up on me, on my passion for writing, or on my career in general.
I’ve often felt embarrassed to share my current work situation with others, for fear I’d be judged, thought to be lazy, or simply misunderstood. But today, I feel confident in my decision, one that I believe is best for our family at this time. Every path we take is a choice, and I am choosing this route at the moment, as it makes the most financial and logistical sense for the three most important people in my life.
I’m a big fan of the phrase “You can do anything, just not everything.” So for my family, right now, I’m choosing to be home with my littles and put my career on the backburner, letting it simmer instead of boil.
I’m a big fan of the phrase ‘You can do anything, just not everything.’ So for my family, right now, I’m choosing to be home with my littles and put my career on the backburner, letting it simmer instead of boil.
I’ve often felt alone in this murky middle space, not working full time, but also not being a traditional stay-at-home mom. I have a handful of girlfriends who also work the crazy freelance world, and they remind me that I’m not alone in this exhausting hustle, that they too struggle with the decision whether or not to swing all the way in one professional direction instead of stay in this middle ground. They give me an outlet to both vent to, and to reach out to when I need a reminder that this squeeze-in-work-whenever routine is worth it.
I stumbled upon the website Mother Untitled, shortly after my second baby was born, and I swear it was kismet. Having an online resource, reminding me that there are other moms who are working on figuring out this often confusing space between work and motherhood, giving me the credibility and encouragement to do so, is refreshing and welcomed.
It’s helped me to gain confidence in myself and my career decision.
I continue to keep my toolbox in working order as best I can in the meantime.
I love working with the publications and businesses I currently am involved with and continue to reach out to fellow writers and creatives, form relationships, take classes, and more.
It wouldn’t be fair to say this is only all about work though; it is also about my children. This conscious career slow-down provides me an amazing opportunity—an opportunity to be with my babies during this beautifully chaotic, messy, and overall brief, time of our lives. To spend the majority of my days with their smiles and giggles, to hold them when they need holding, to eat lunch with them at their little table, to play dinosaurs for hours—it’s important to me.
I’m not blind to the fact that being able to make this choice for our family does come from a place of privilege, that while it is a choice that we feel is the smartest all around, it was a choice made with various options to consider. It was a preferred choice among others. I don’t take that fact for granted, and it makes me appreciate this time even more so, and the work that has gone into, and continues to go into, making this current situation possible.
It may make the most financial sense for us, but this time together is special, and while it may not be for everyone, I do believe it’s for me right now.
My career may not be on a super clear or straightforward path at the moment. And that’s OK.
Motherhood teaches us a lot of things, and one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is to roll with it all, to follow the rhythm of life instead of fight against it. So as I do that with my babies, I’m going to do that with myself too. Our career aspirations often shift when we are younger, so why can’t they shift when we’re older as well? I believe it’s OK to continue to readjust your goals and dreams as life comes your way; it just may be one of the biggest joys that motherhood and life has to offer.
We just have to be open to receiving it.