Hitting the Surface

Three-and-a-half years ago, I wrote this post about my decision to quit my full-time job to freelance. Six weeks later, when Isabella was 13 months old, I left the corporate world. I had been working full-time from home since she was about six weeks old, having cut my maternity leave short for my employer, since the person they hired to temporarily fill in for me while I was out turned out to be a flake.

I've freelanced (technical, marketing, and social media writing) and taught English and New Media online since then. I have been fortunate that the work has been steady, even in this economy.

But as anyone who holds a job and is also the parent to young children knows, it is very difficult to juggle work, family, and personal time. I often felt that I did neither of my "jobs" (motherhood and writing/teaching) very well. One always suffered because the other demanded my time. My office doesn't have a door. I was constantly interrupted. My childcare situation was basically non-existent. I worked 7 days a week, 7pm-midnight, and as much during the day as two sporadically napping toddlers would give me.

But beyond the time-management and logistical stresses of freelancing, beyond the fact that I had little-to-no time to run, to read, or just to veg out on the couch watching bad reality tv, was the fact that I was not enjoying my time at home with my kids.

The pressures of work existed simultaneously with the ever-present needs of my children. And while in my professional life I thrive on pressure and even enjoy it, I often felt like my kids were swallowing me alive.

And if I'm being completely honest (and if you're a long-time reader, you know that here, I always am), the transition from having worked full-time for 10 years to freelancing while staying home with first one, and then three children was really difficult. For me, motherhood is the hardest job in the world. I am not a natural mother.

Building endless block towers, changing endless diapers, and meeting endless needs are part of motherhood, but I had spent the 10 years prior to having Isabella working jobs that while not perfect, provided me with a sense of accomplishment and achievement. There are no accolades for a job well done in the motherhood. And while spontaneous kisses and hugs, cuddles, and stories told under warm blankets are awesome, I needed more than those could give me. Even though I freelanced and taught, I lacked that professional adult communication I needed. I lacked the feeling that I was contributing to something greater than a perfect peanut butter sandwich. I had abandoned a huge part of my pre-motherhood life, thinking that it was the right choice for me and for my family when perhaps it really wasn't.

Which leads me to this:

One of my freelance gigs is writing the blog for my health club and maintaining their Facebook page. They wanted to further develop their social media programs and asked me for a quote. A few weeks ago, they offered me a full-time job as the Social Media Director for the parent company that owns my health club and 10 others (9 in the U.S. and one in Montreal). It is an incredible opportunity about which I am ridiculously excited. There is some travel involved. I went to Montreal for one day a few weeks ago. In April, I'm headed to Chicago. I am engaging on a regular basis with really smart and educated people, who are eager to learn how social media can help their clubs. I'm at the start of something great that will hopefully change the way business and marketing is done in the clubs. The job marries my loves of fitness, writing, and new media. It's as close to perfect right now as it could get.

The job is remote, which means I can continue to work from home. They bought me an iPhone and an ultra-fast business-class laptop is on its way. I've finally, after so many years of winging it, hired a babysitter who comes in the afternoons, Monday-Friday. In the mornings, I either take the kids to my health club and work (or sometimes work out) there, or one of my relatives comes over so I can work. I still work many hours at night. It's not an ideal situation yet. I need more childcare help, and will hopefully figure out a better schedule soon, which will of course change again in the summer and again in the fall once school begins for the kids, but it's a start.

It's early days still. There are kinks to straighten out and adjustments to be made.

But I've long felt I would be a better mother if I worked full-time.

After several years of feeling like I'm drowning, I finally feel like I'm hitting the surface.

14 Responses to “Hitting the Surface”

  1. # Blogger Jesser

    Wonderful, Kristi! I'm very happy for you and your family. It sounds like a great situation for all. Best of luck on your new journey.  

  2. # Blogger shokufeh

    Congratulations, Kristi! I've always marveled at how you seemed to hold it all together somehow, even while struggling. I'm glad the struggle won't seem to tough. I'm hoping this version of the balance so many of us seek brings you more happiness. It sounds like a great job!  

  3. # Blogger Pregnantly Plump

    Congratulations! Sounds like a great job. I'm very happy for you.  

  4. # Blogger MsGraysea

    I am so happy for you, and just have a feeling that you are going to love this new position and thrive.
    You have been such an inspiration, in your honesty, and your dedication.
    You go girl!!  

  5. # Anonymous Ness at Drovers Run

    (insert sound of cheering crowds here)

    You deserve all of it - and if I dare say it - the iPhone is like the cherry on the cake right? Awesome!

    The babysitter for the afternoons - hello! YAHOOOO!

    Again, you deserve all of it and more.  

  6. # Anonymous Christine

    So happy that you've found something you're excited about! The job seems like a great match for you. :)  

  7. # Blogger Debbie

    Yay! I'm excited for you. :)  

  8. # Blogger Veronica

    Congratulations! The iPhone part is the best! ;)  

  9. # Blogger Rebecca

    Awesome! Congratulations! I am able to work from home 4 days a week (5 if I really wanted to but I like going in to the office once a week) and it's a great way to keep the balance. I also travel from time to time (every other month lately but that is unusual). People always ask me if I miss my kids or I'm enjoying my time away, I always say a little of both!  

  10. # Blogger Hannah

    I'm so very happy for you, Kristi.


  11. # Anonymous Anonymous

    Hey Kristi,
    I know I don't comment often, but I want you to know that I am still a faithful follower, and I am SO PROUD of you!
    I think you are really hard on yourself as you have done an awesome job being a SAHM, while still pursuing your dreams.
    This is the most phenomenal opportunity and it couldn't have landed in a better and more competant person's lap.
    Congratulations! (and I like the club's blog too!)

  12. # Blogger Hopeful Mother

    I am thrilled for you, and you are SO deserving!  

  13. # Blogger Kristi

    Thanks, everyone! I truly appreciate all your kind words.  

  14. # Blogger Kimberly

    Fantastic! This is so wonderfully fantastic, not to mention, inspiring, since I have been fantasizing about pitching a similar concept to my gym! So many congrats and best wishes!  

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