Sometimes I find the hardest thing about being a freelancer is that I seem to be living a double life. On one hand, I am sort of like the women whose full-time job is mothering. I can do some of the things they can do. I can pick up my kids, volunteer at school, take a short walk in the middle of the day.
But I am also the worker-bee, tethered to my phone and thinking anxiously about the messages piling up on my computer.
I can sit on the preschool playground for a precious half-hour after I pick up my daughter and let her play. I can chat with the moms in their tennis outfits and talk about the special at Whole Foods this week. Scallops! I can even mention the recipe that I was eyeing online.
I can mention it, but I won’t have time to make it. That’s because I also have a lot in common with the odd father or career woman moonlighting on the playground. They have half an eye on the phone and half an eye on their children. If someone takes a header into the playground equipment they are caught off guard because they were looking at their screens or had that weird vacant look in their eyes that signifies worry about something going on at work.
Sometimes I am just like them, too.
I work mostly because my family needs the income. I would like to play tennis on weekday mornings, and not worry about Groupon’s IPO or the number of middle class jobs in New York City, but I can’t.
Freelancing has enabled me to spend more time with my kids and still make enough money to afford the house in the Alexandria suburbs. I pick items from both columns: stay-at-home mom and worker-bee. I keep an eye on the phone and the clock and remember my deadlines and that people in offices are counting on me. I also bask in the playground sunshine at pickup times, and I try not to be so worried about my e-mail that I miss seeing the way Quinn’s hair looks as red as as the leaves on the fall maple trees.
That is my double life.
Honestly, I would probably mess up the scallops, anyway.
- Elizabeth MacBride