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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

What Do You Even Do All Day?

This isn't your typical post about stay at home moms and how hard they work. I won't be going on about how we're teachers, janitors, nurses, etc. Though that's all very true, this post is about my surprise about how hard I actually work now that I don't work. I can't compare myself to anyone else. I'm sure I fall short in the grand scheme of things. There are so many mothers out there, working and not, who are able to accomplish so very much in each short day. No, I can't compare to them. I can only compare my past working self to my current self, and doing that, I can say with absolute certainty that I am working harder now than I ever have in my life.

When I was working for a weekly paycheck, I was being paid for my time. My work was deadline oriented, and I didn't need 40 hours a week to do it. I worked, really worked, for a few hours a day, finding other ways to fill the gaps in between. Perhaps that's why I didn't climb the ladder as fast as I would have liked to.

Having to work for myself this past year has been an eye-opening experience. My deadline work is now paid for by the project, meaning, those six extra hours of money coming in for nothing is gone. The projects usually don't pay so well. The economy is rough now, and after an entire year of networking and expanding my base for freelance jobs, I am just now being paid what I was being paid in 2005 for freelance work, when money flowed more freely.

So, what did I do all day, and what do I do all day?

When I worked, I showed up. I had a cup of coffee. I opened a rundown and  selected news stories to go in that rundown in whichever order I preferred. I stayed on top of reporters to make sure they kept their scripts to length and made their deadline for the show. I wrote the news stories in the blocks, often times simply rewriting earlier stories because not much changes between news casts, believe it or not. I chose graphics, video and sound for my pieces, except for those that were already cut. And that's basically it. I was responsible for a half hour of news a day. I was done in a few hours, to be honest.

My work was given to me, handed to me on  a platter. All I had to do was do it. There was no thinking involved, no networking, no pitching. I didn't have to come up with ideas, I didn't have to play nice, I didn't have to create my own projects to bring in my money. I was paid for my time.

These days, I still get up and have a cup of coffee. But in addition to cooking, cleaning and taking care of the kids, I work. Some days it feels as though I will drown from it all. I pound out article after article, some for hardly any pay, some for reasonable prices. Some for free. I edit book after book after book, barely closing out of one first draft before starting on another. Every moment that my children are sleeping or otherwise occupied, I am typing. Sometimes I take a break to clean.

I think being a stay at home mom has really brought me far as a person. If and when I do go back to the working world, I hope I'll be able to self-motivate the way I have been doing in my year of freelance. It takes time and patience to get the projects, but once they arrive, they come in waves. Then it takes diligence and time-management to get it all done while playing dollhouse, riding trikes, and building castles. My days run together, but that's okay. It's not necessarily a bad thing.

I'm writing this because I often complain about and worry about my new line of work / not work. I feel like I'm missing out on real life by not punching a clock. That I've perhaps sacrificed my career and will never get it back.

I want to remind myself that even if I don't get it back, I haven't been wasting my time here. If anything, I've become a better worker, not a worse one.

This is true, I think, for all stay at home moms, not just freelancers. Even if you stay at home in the true sense of the term, caring for your kids and keeping your house, you are working as you've never worked before. You're efficient and loving and creating your own future in your happy home. You are probably the best worker you've ever been. And since your boss is yourself and your family, you get to reap all the benefits.

And it goes for working moms, too, even moreso. It's no joyride to leave your kids for hours a day, only to come home to cook, clean and care for them after you've worked all day. But, again, you're efficient and loving and creating your own future in your happy home. No matter which road you decide to travel down, you are making the best life for your family through your hard work and tenacity and your love.

Don't ever let anyone tell you differently...especially not yourself.

If you like this blog, please vote on Tales of an Unlikely Mother is number 17, just scroll down and click on the thumbs up! Thank you so, so much.

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