The Freelance Life |by Sarah Noel

When I found out I was pregnant with our first daughter, I was more than two years into a job I was no longer enjoying. I couldn’t find my place in the culture, and I knew my skills were being under-utilized. Job searching while pregnant seemed like an impossibility, and I hadn’t yet resolved how my roles as writer and mother would intertwine once our baby was born.

As a point of passion, even while working full-time, I would freelance now and again. It was fun to pick up a fashion story or an interior design piece for local magazines, and I had good enough relationships with some editors to be considered for assignment from time-to-time. With this in the back of my mind, I left my full-time position, took some seasonal work during my pregnancy, and decided to make motherhood my every day venture after the birth.

Since then—six years and another baby later—I’ve entered into what many call …

work-from-home territory. Or I’m a stay-at-home mom who has her own side gig going. I went from not knowing how work life and mom life would intertwine to playing both of those roles simultaneously. I’ve never been a full-time freelancer, but then again, I’ve got stuff to devote time to outside of motherhood. In some ways, I’ve got the best of both worlds; in other ways, boundaries are really blurry and it can be tough to balance.

When it comes to freelancing or self-employment, there are lots of motivators, lots of important lines to draw, and all sorts of details to consider. And even being married to a hard-working man who supports my decision to both work and parent at home, all of those little nuances are still embedded in my decision-making. But, for me, what it comes down to is this: I want to choose life over work. In the end, that was what was most important to me. I had the opportunity to put my mom life first, and so I took it, because these years are fleeting.

But I think there is another piece to my choice, one that I maybe don’t give myself enough credit for. It’s the inspiration behind working outside of motherhood, when I don’t necessarily have to. That comes down to choosing work you love. I love all of my work: I love being a mom, and I also love being a writer. Sometimes I have to draw a line between those two identities, but often times I get to draw a line around them both—this is who I am.

This year, my husband also created his own business; and let me tell you, it’s a big deal when both adults of the family are suddenly working for themselves. There are a lot of hard, scary, confusing moments. There are late nights, sitting side-by-side on the couch, typing away. And we’ve had to accept all of the ways our careers mean we don’t look like traditional families do.

Still, for us, it was choosing life first. For every late night we might have, there is also an afternoon where we can pick the kids up from school together. We can spur-of-the-moment decide to escape for the long weekend, and invest that time into our family. Not only that, we’re able to focus that work time on the things that we love, and that makes us feel happier, more whole—even if we have to sort through difficult stuff too.

I see this phase of our life as a luxury in so many ways. I imagine that it won’t always look like this; and when the time comes where we shift into a more traditional gear, probably the pros will outweigh the cons. When that time comes, to make that decision will still be to choose life—the life that makes the most sense for our family and the one where we can give our energy and time to something that we love.

The point is, no matter how tough, when you’re staying true to yourself, when you’re dreaming big and making the most of current opportunities, when you’re pouring into your family and your identity, it is worth it. It is worth it to find yourself there and to grow up together in those moments, whatever it looks like for you.

(Thank you, Sarah Noel. Image by Héléne Delmarie via Design Sponge)

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