Finding the Gray

I recently wrote about the decision of leaving the workforce versus remaining in the work force after having a baby. The two choices of stay-at-home parent and work-out-of-the-home parent seem to have such definitive boundaries around what they are.

But what about when employment means something different than putting on a blazer every morning, making a commute, and settling into a desk chair for the next nine hours?

What about the parents who earn an income through nontraditional means? People who take something they’re passionate about and adapt it to where the where of what they do is not as important as the what of what they do. I have had lots of role models in my life who have taken this route: a mother who does medical transcription from home, a family friend who grooms dogs, and a cousin who canes chairs just to name a few.

After months of considering my own options—stay at a job I love or leave the workforce to stay with a future child I love—I was never able to settle on a plan that left my heart at peace. The distinct borders of the two paths left me feeling trapped, until I did what I’m guessing a lot of motherhood will look like. I took a step back from the black and white and found the gray.

I asked myself what I really wanted to be doing. And the answer was to do what I enjoy the most about my current job (write) and be with my future children.

I discussed my plans with my current employer ten weeks ahead of my due date and they have been nothing but supportive. I reached out to contacts from other organizations and have started to foster a network of future freelance writing opportunities. There is not a clear-cut path for the work-from-home parent but there is also not a clear-cut path for the work-out-of the home parent or the stay-at-home parent.

The long and short of it is all mothers work. There is enough work to be done in raising children and running a household to fill up every minute of every week. The mothers who clock 50+ hours a week at the office and come home to their babies are master taskers. And the mothers who embark on a new career direction are often stepping into uncharted waters. But we’re all the same. We’re all required to be brave when we’re not sure we can handle it. We all work until we’re exhausted and then work some more. And above all else, we all love our children.

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