Monday, April 02, 2007

Did I Just Earn Myself a New Acronym?

My morning mug of coffee goes down like liquid velvet. Birds chirping, the tick-tock of a wall clock and my own keyboard pecks are the only sounds I hear. My two youngest are still asleep and their big brother is already off to his first day back at kindergarten following two weeks of Spring break.

I'm mulling a few things in the finite peace and quiet. Nothing major. Some items notable. Other passing and insignificant.

Let's start with a significant realization: Mama can still bring home the bacon. Make that mama can still bring home the bacon (work) FROM HOME -- even while the kids are still young enough to BE HOME, right alongside her, attempting to steal her attention from earning that very bacon.

Yes, I'm fresh off of two contract copyrighting jobs, one big, one small. Jobs that jogged my writing/editing brain. Jobs that reminded me that I "still got it." Jobs that rebooted my dwindling intellect. Jobs that made me feel proud that I accomplished them at all with three young children afoot, only feet away from their laptop-absorbed mama.

Jobs I couldn't have done without the help of fellow working mamas (thanks so much, Amanda) and mini-mamas (babysitters Alex and Camille). Jobs that I couldn't have done without the ever-patient Hubster's battery, memory and wireless card upgrades to my laptop, and without his uncanny ability to listen to me bitch about said jobs for hours on end. Oh, and there's the hours and hours of daddy-ing (I refuse to call this "babysitting" because it's simply not when you're the father) he logged in my absence (during my exciting "alone time" work escapes to free wireless-enabled coffee house after coffee house).

Jobs that made me feel rusty and naive for a number of reasons, the key reason being NOT CHARGING HOURLY and a HELL OF A LOT MORE. Jobs that made me wish I didn't obssess over the details, didn't expect perfection from myself. Jobs that I learned too late I could have charged upwards of $120 an hour for. Major mistake. Never again will I rush into work without having properly researched the market's "going rate" for comparable work/skills. (How could I afford to be picky when hard up for cash? I couldn't. I was happy to have paying work at all.)

Jobs that made me realize that I should have been achieving this kind of rewarding, paying work all along, all through my six years as a stay-home mom. Jobs that made me feel like a slouch for not taking them on earlier, for not easing my husband's financial stress before today.

(How many sentences can I feebly start with "Jobs"? Let me see ...)

Jobs. Work. Actual career output. Creative fulfillment. Reasons to wake up and get dressed OTHER than the kids, who must always be fed, nutritionally, physically, spiritually, developmentally and in every other way possible.

Last week, while steeped in 20-something neighborhood descriptions that I somehow meticulously researched and carefully wrote in stolen half-moments between (unhealthful, rushed) meals, (7-Eleven) groceries, (where's the clean underwear around here?) laundry, (so this is how Penicillin was discovered) dishes, (Shoot. We're late for another game!) basketball practices, (Um, late again?!) school drop-offs and pick-ups, I realized that I CAN work and stay-home mom (that's right - SAHM is more than a noun, it's verb ... just go with it, okay?).

Despite three-, four- and five-hour nights of sleep, despite mounting dust I never really dusted or could be bothered with in the first place, I CAN. I DID. I WORKED. (Crap. Now that he knows I can do both mom-ing and working, my husband will no doubt expect me to take on more!)

While helping feed the family (a teeny bit financially and generously literally), I fed myself. I fed my interests. I fed my writing passions. I won't hide that I fed my writer's ego a bit too. Okay, a lot.

There's something to be said for still chasing your career dreams while at-home mothering. Even if it's a bitch to do. Even if you aren't exactly writing fulfilling, award-winning content. I will never again shelve my selfish career desires. Thanks to WAHM-ing, I realize that I can dedicate far more time than before to crafting my book. No stalling. No whining. No excuses. No inhaling a pint of Ben and Jerry's instead of writing.

'Much respect to work-at-home moms who come 'round my (blog) way. For once, I DO know how you do it.



At 11:48 AM, Blogger Mama Sarita said...

As much as it is serious effort for me to drag my kids around for the massage therapy/birth doula thing I am doing, it feeds me. Even though my 'earnings' are almost negligable to the household right now, the sense of satisfaction I have over a job well done is really priceless. It also is laying the groundwork for later when I am going to be more available to work.
Congrats on your new role of juggling the full time stay at home mama gig with the full time freelancer!

At 11:52 AM, Blogger Rach said...

Am proud of you and your achievements honey, you rock, with big shiny bells on! Well done

At 5:40 PM, Blogger hellomelissa said...

i was doing some at-home-mom work-from-home today and got a zillion questions from a client. he apologized for the questions. i wrote back... "you don't understand. your questions actually make me feel USEFUL."

At 9:51 PM, Blogger karenkt said...

I doubt your husband will expect you to bring home more bacon AS MUCH AS he'll realize how much the little things count when you're doing just the mom thing and not the WAHM thing. But isn't it great to have that ol' "paid gig" engine dusted off, started up, and running so smoothly again?

At 10:59 PM, Blogger Domestic Slackstress said...

Karenkt -- Paid work IS great. Rewarding non-mom work is a PowerBar for the brain. Now why is it that being a mom, possibly the toughest (and most rewarding) job in the world/history is the only unpaid job left?! Why isn't there a monetary value to such trying labor?! Ugh.

At 8:04 AM, Blogger charlotte said...

WELL done to you! What a feeling, huh? I started WAHM-ing about four years ago, and even though I do everything in a rush, and nothing perfectly well, I wouldn't stop. As you say, it feeds me. The main skill I've learned is to compartmentalise - when I'm with my kids, I switch off the work stuff, when I'm working, I switch off the kid stuff. I try not to let stress from one leak into the other. Also, the reality of having children means that I don't take the work stuff quite as seriously as I used to - I do my best in the circumstances, but there comes a point when I can do no more.

At 6:49 AM, Blogger ewe are here said...

I'm impressed, not only that you're working a bit from home with children but that you like what you do.

I still need to figure out what I'm going to do in my 'second career' after my boys are a tad older... but starting something from home doesn't sound like a bad plan. I'm just not sure what to start.

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