I’m not sure how much of a mother’s personality comes from her career, her children, her life perspective or her own personality traits that have been recessed since everything else came along. I have plenty of friends who don’t have a career inside or outside of the home. I have ample friends who are highly educated professionals in their fields as they work for “the man” and then there are those of us who cross all the lines and seem to do everything all at once.
I’m thinking back about seven years trying to get a grasp of who I was when I first started an online business. I’m curious how much the online writing career has shaped me over that time. It’s actually quite interesting – but then, since this is anything but a true scientific experiment – we can’t really determine how much life changes a mother and how much a freelance career does. I’d like to hazard a guess, however. I think it changes us quite dramatically.
Work-at-Home Moms Never Stop
I have lots of friends who work. They work in offices and they teach in schools. They stop working when the workday ends. Sure they may answer the occasional email or stay late for an open house, but the evenings are “their time.” I guess that could be true for a work-at-home parent who works during the day, but with clients all over the globe, it’s not unusual for me to be on the phone at 10 pm talking to clients even if I was writing at 6 that morning. I wake up in the morning with IMs waiting for me. For “normal” moms – career or not, it’s considered odd to be up working at 10:30 at night. For most of my clients, it’s bizarre to not be available at that time – it’s when all the good brainstorming happens.
Work-at-Home Moms Work Harder
I have the double benefit of having two careers. Quite honestly, I work hard at both, but once upon a time I had an office job. (It could have been a career, but I disliked it intensely.) If I still had that job and I wrote, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that I’d be making more than I am now teaching, and that I’d be working a heck of a lot less during the daytime than I do now. (The money wasn’t worth the torture, before you ask). Just think about the time you worked in an office. How long was your lunch break? How often did you stop to catch up with a colleague or “brainstorm” with a manager? How long were those never ending meetings in the conference room?
Now think about the working moms you know – and this can be extended to virtually any freelance or self-employed person. We know the value of a dollar and our minutes translate directly into cash in most cases. Sure, I’d love to sit and chat on someone else’s dime, but that’s not happening in my current universe. It doesn’t matter if you’re selling Tupperware or legal advice, moms working at home have a set amount of time to work, and they respect it immensely. I can’t say the same for people in any of the various out-of-home careers I’ve had over the years.
WAHM Are More Opinionated
This may be totally personal, but I seem to have grown more opinionated over the years. (Incidentally, you can substitute ‘cocky’ or ‘arrogant’ in for opinionated if you’d like.) I might not be making millions, but I have all of the ingredients of success – a business that’s been in the black since Day 1 with substantial profits going on seven years. I have freedom and I can adjust my income simply by adjusting my hours or effort. It’s heady stuff.
I’m reasonably sure that level of confidence translates into other areas of life. I’m not afraid to ask questions, and I stand up for myself and my friends when necessary. That wasn’t me eight years ago. I was more restrained and shrank from an argument. Now I can hold my own professionally and earn more respect for it. I’m enjoying the confidence this has given me. I hope the other working moms out there feel the same way.