When I had my first child, I was working in the marketing department of a large corporation. The job was fine, but it certainly wasn’t anything I was super passionate about. However, my husband had just started his own business, we had a baby and we had lots of bills to pay, so off to work I’d go. I was fortunate that the people I worked with were incredible, and made going to the office each day fun and engaging, but I always felt like something was missing.
The Christmas before I had my baby, I was gifted a DSLR camera by my family; after my daughter was born, I fell in love with photography. I gobbled up online tutorials and videos, researching new techniques in lighting, equipment and post production. Before I knew it, people were asking me to take photos of their kids, and slowly, I found my passion. I knew someday I wanted to be a professional photographer, but deep down, I never really thought it was possible. There were just too many variables … too many expenses, too much risk and a lot of fear on my part.
I switched jobs, but stayed in my industry, slowly working my way up the corporate ladder. I ended up being promoted to head of the department which is something I was extremely proud of. My identity was built upon being a working mom. I had my second child, and after maternity leave, I returned to work without a second thought. I still didn’t love my job, but it felt like a forgone conclusion. I made a good salary, I worked hard, I had some flexibility … life was good!
But I still felt like something was missing. As my children grew, I found it was harder and harder to balance my high stress job with my parenting duties. My husband’s company became extremely successful, and he was less and less able to pick up the slack on the home front. We were all exhausted, and together, we decided a change had to be made.
A year ago, I left the corporate world and started my own photography business … it was scary, but so very exciting! I can’t explain the emotions I had leaving a steady income. It was a mix of complete terror and utter thrill! The biggest change, however, was having to look at my identity in a totally different way. No longer was I the corporate mama. I had spent so many years self-identifying as a working mom, and now I wasn’t spending my days in an office, but instead in my home. The challenges were numerous, but completely different. When I worked out of the home, I worried about daycare and missing out on moments of my children’s lives. As a work-at-home mom, I worry about dividing my attention in too many directions and my children feeling like I’m constantly on my laptop. I worry about having less income and losing my professional momentum. I miss dropping the kids off and enjoying those blissful moments in an empty car listening to MY music or NPR. As a work-at-home mom, I often feel like there is no separation between work and home, which can lead to frustration and exhaustion (and microwaveable chicken nuggets for dinner!).
But (and this is a big one) I LOVE my job. I wake up excited for what I get to do that day. I don’t dread doing the work – I am energized by it. I get to work with creative, incredible people who invigorate and inspire me. It makes a huge difference when you are doing something you love, as opposed to a job you’re not passionate about. The happiness my work brings me pushes me to find solutions to the issues I experience as a work-at-home mom.
I’ve been in this mom game long enough to know there will ALWAYS be challenges. I just have to remember you can always change the plan and adjust when things are no longer working. Maybe someday I’ll decide that working at home is no longer functional for our family and I’ll head back to the corporate world. Maybe my business will grow and I will move out of my home office into my very own space. Maybe I’ll stay right where I am. My work status doesn’t define me or what kind of mom I am anymore. No matter what happens, I know it’s all going to be okay, as long as I listen to my gut and trust my instincts. After all, I’m a Mom Boss … I know what I’m doing!