Doing What You Love or Loving What You Do?

I read a comment on a financial blog written by a woman who resented her situation in life. She hated being the primary breadwinner and having almost sole responsibility of her child. She hated that her husband (who she didn’t actually hate, by the way) couldn’t seem to get it together and didn’t have the ability to support her while she stayed home. She had always dreamed of staying home and enjoying her babies without the burden of employment or the pesky business of bills, but now while she tried to finished her law degree, work during the day and raise her baby during the time she had left, she was about as far from the dream as possible.

The point she was making was that even though she cared about her husband, she was so insanely envious of mothers who don’t have to work that she was regretting her marriage. She claimed she should have married a richer man or one who could support her better to stay home. While cringe-worthy on a few levels, this poor woman and her gripe on how much is now expected of the modern woman did strike a chord. After all, I work during the day, work almost every night and raise the kids in between. I have had more than a few burned out days over the years. I might have even had a few unfortunate thoughts about my husband from time to time – usually when he does the unthinkable crime of not bringing in the trashcans. (Trash is HIS job; dishes are mine.)

Loving what you do.

However the big difference here is that I choose to do as much as I do. I actually like it. It’s insane, but money isn’t the only reward for either of my jobs, and I think for any mother to tack on a freelance writing career or even a few hours a week on easy articles for extra cash while she is home, you have to enjoy it. Tolerating the extra workload won’t do. You can only tolerate so long.

Love it or just like it?

Once upon a time I had the choice of which career I wanted to pursue. I stayed home for a year after having my second as a work-at-home mom thinking I’d love it. I didn’t though. I didn’t feel complete with that career choice. Even though I was writing like a maniac while spending copious amounts of my time with my children I didn’t feel like my brain was fully engaged. As any educator worth her salt will tell you, teaching can be a very hard job or a calling. For me, it’s the latter. So I went back to teaching. And wound up doing both jobs because I need both financially for the time being and because I enjoy both. I could easily scrap them both and go work in an office somewhere for much more, but it’s not what I want to do so I don’t do it.

There are plenty of ways to make money. I’ve had plenty of other jobs that I should have loved. I was a business process risk consultant for a time with a (then) Big 5 firm. I got to travel, I was paid very well, I was on my way up – but I quit. It didn’t feel right. I worked in accounting doing almost nothing all day and getting paid well for it. It took seven years of teaching to earn my way back up to that salary after I walked away from that job. While the financial pinch hurt then and it still hurts occasionally now with my husband rebuilding a career, I have never regretted leaving to do something I’d do for free. That was my primary motivator at the time.

Money as a motivator.

Money is a powerful thing. We all want to be comfortable and secure, but what price are we willing to pay for it? The married woman commenting on how she should have married better was willing to “work” for her money in what we now consider a tasteless way. She’s currently working a job she doesn’t like and complaining about the life she’s leading. It makes me grateful that I can work in two jobs I enjoy, but it does make me concerned for those who enter this industry with money signs in their eyes. I’m also concerned for this woman, and hope she can find a path she does enjoy someday.

Freelancing is serious business and it’s not easy. Tossing off a regurgitated article or two might be simple enough, but actually making writing your business is more complicated and it takes a huge amount of stamina and determination just like any other form of self-employment. To some extent, being paid to write takes away some of the freedom and flexibility of the craft itself. I’m not a “craft” writer, but even when I’m writing in one of my specialty niches, I have to tone the piece a certain way or take on a topic I’m not crazy about.

Mothers have a hard job already and any parent who plans to add to her workload with a writing career or even just a few spare articles should understand what she’s getting into. Start slow and be sure you enjoy what you’re doing – not just the money it brings you. And please, if you’re forcing yourself to write while secretly loathing the obligation or process, find another way of earning money that you do enjoy. Your time is intensely valuable.

Please don’t believe the hype that writing is an easy way for moms to earn tons of money. It can be easy at times, but you’d better be ready for the parts that aren’t. And taking the bad with the good is much easier if you actually enjoy what you’re doing.

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Rebecca is a full-time everything. She teaches English and reading to her much loved, if challenging, high school students during the day and is a freelance education writer in the evenings. With almost ten years in the classroom and advanced degrees in business and information science, Rebecca specializes in materials that inform, educate and entertain. Rebecca indulges herself by pretending to have spare time and writing about the ups and downs of being a freelancing mama whenever she gets a chance.

2 thoughts on “Doing What You Love or Loving What You Do?”

  1. Bravo, Rebecca. I really enjoyed this post. I worked the 9 to 5, which actually turned into 6:30 to 6:30 for many years, hating the fact that I had to do it, although I did enjoy the work and my co-workers, but couldn’t convince my employer to let me telecommute.

    When I got remarried it required me to move several states away (no transfer here) so I quit work. My husband can pay the bills (we’re still stretched thin) which allows me to stay at home and pursue writing, which I’ve always wanted to do.

    I feel bad for this woman…it wasn’t until I’d remarried that I realized (actually my husband pointed it out to me) that I could have taken a job closer to where I was living at the time, and had more time to spend with the kids, but because I’d fallen into the trap of “more money is better” I didn’t see that fact.

    Bottom line is, this woman needs to rethink her lifestyle choices and see what is really most important…time with her family. If it means she has to shop thrift stores and second hand shops, or even be on public assistance for a bit until she can change things, then her kids will probably remember her being with them more than the “stuff” they got when they were kids.

    And as for that “more money is better” thing…have you realized that the more you make the more you spend? I know I have! ;-D

  2. I wasn’t a freelance writer when my kids were small and I used to go to work crying because I had to leave my babies and would miss all the new things they did that day. I wasn’t there for the first words, steps or so many other things. But I had no choice and I often did resent my poor husband who was hardworking if not pulling in a big income.

    Today as I live in the chaos that I create when I let everything go in favor of meeting freelance deadlines, I know it wouldn’t be much different if I was at home writing with my children. It sounds like madness to me. I have total respect and admiration for the moms who must be so super-organized and keep to their schedules to be good writers and good Moms.

    What do women want? We want it all, but at what price.


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