Just thirteen more days until I’m officially on maternity leave from what I call my “day job”–working at home part-time for the book publishing company I’ve been with for ten years. Thirteen more days until I can ignore that email account, those Dropbox notifications, the pressing pressure that I am responsible for hundreds and hundreds of pages of someone’s near-and-dear-yet-riddled-with-typos composition. Thirteen days!
What shall I do to celebrate? Spend mornings napping in a hammock? Indulge in a six-hour Pride and Prejudice marathon? Throw a handful of confetti and then collapse in a heap because I really, really, really need this break?
Yes, I should definitely do all of those. Definitely. Right after I finish writing those four articles and proofing those ten posts and cleaning up that eighty-page file and invoicing for those three jobs. Then I will relax. I mean, I’ll relax if the baby doesn’t need me for something, because chances are he’ll arrive before all my freelance deadlines do, a situation that’s…not ideal.
I picked up a ton of extra work while my husband was unemployed, and although I was doing it for the short-term money at the time, I actually scored a number of long-term contracts that I’m enjoying the heck out of and don’t want to lose. The work is different and new, the people I’m connecting with are smart and fun, and it certainly helps to have some extra income now that we’re adding an extra person to the family, and, and, and…And yet it’s probably insane to think I’ll be able to keep up the pace of 4+ hours of freelance work a day when I add a newborn to the mix, yeah? YEAH.
At this point, I have only vague plans to take some time off from the freelance circuit, and those vague plans include an admittedly skimpy haitus of only two weeks after the baby’s born (and no time prior to that) before jumping back into the pool. TWO WEEKS! Am I fooling myself? (I’m fooling myself.) Am I asking for trouble? (I’m asking for trouble.) Is two weeks too short? (Two weeks is WAY too short.)
I don’t want to lose this work because I like it so much. I don’t want to lose it because I like the way it makes my brain feel. I don’t want to lose it because I’m kind of addicted to the flurry of checks that come in the mail on days other than the 1st and 15th. I don’t want to lose it because I think freelancing will become an even bigger part of my work life once I’m the mom to two small children.
I’m hoping that because I want this work more than I need it, the act of having a baby will in short order make me want it less and therefore feel better about taking time away from it. I hope this will happen. (I think it will happen.) (It needs to happen.)
And honestly, I worry more about my ability to do quality work with a newborn in the house than I do about the practical logistics of caring for a newborn during work hours (having been through this once before, I now know I don’t have to be in the baby’s face “entertaining” and “enriching” him every time he opens his eyes), and on that point alone, I should make sure I give myself enough leeway that I don’t end up doing a half-assed job for clients I owe my very best work. And that’s not to mention that above all else I also owe both myself and my new son the best of what I can be as a mother.
So, hello, other freelancing moms out there! What did/do you do about maternity leave? Did you take time off? Did you suffer dire consequences? Did you suffer dire consequences because you didn’t take time off? How short is too short?