Sleep-deprived New Mom Shares the Raw Truth of Freelancing With a Newborn

People
week ago

When the idea of becoming a mom first crossed my mind, I painted a picture of the near future with overly optimistic strokes. I envisioned a vibrant, youthful version of myself, happily strolling down the street with a stroller, gazing at a smiling baby with adorable dimples. The fantasy continued with putting the little one to bed and peacefully working on the computer in blissful silence. However, reality turned out to be far more intricate and mundane than my rosy-colored imagination had painted.

I welcomed my son right after graduating from university, and those final months of thesis defense are now just a blur. My thoughts were consumed by the quest for an affordable cot and the minimal repairs needed for the nursery. Post-birth, the challenges multiplied, and the romanticized notion of overwhelming love at first sight with my baby didn’t quite hit the mark. Instead, my initial days were a mix of staring at my creation and mentally comparing baby formula prices.

Both my husband and I were fresh graduates, struggling with inadequate salaries. So, I dove into work almost immediately after recovering from childbirth. Starting with small part-time gigs and freelancing, I initially accepted any job that came my way, regardless of the pay. Over time, I carved a niche in the professional market, juggling deadlines while hiding in the bathroom to avoid waking my son.

Working conditions weren’t ideal, with my son’s sensitivity to every noise disrupting my workflow. In his early years, he clung to me like a baby sloth, making uninterrupted work a distant dream. Eventually, we found a compromise as he grew older, allowing me to work with him quietly beside me.

Amid this juggling act, my relationship with my husband was strained, fueled by his lack of understanding about the demands of my dual role. External pressure from my mother, with expectations of a pristine home and a dolled-up grandson, added to the turmoil. Even after my son started kindergarten, the misconception persisted, and judgmental glances from other mothers became a regular occurrence.

Despite the occasional chaos, my house isn’t always pristine, and mismatched socks may be my signature look. The promise to read the mountain of books on my shelves often succumbs to the allure of a quick read during a seaside getaway. Yet, amidst the chaos, I find solace in doing what I love, my husband sharing the household load, and witnessing my son’s growth.

Now, with a semblance of me-time in my schedule, I’ve stopped convincing others that working from home isn’t synonymous with lounging on the couch. If they find themselves in a similar situation, they’ll grasp the reality without my persuasion.

Friends and acquaintances, unaware of the silent battles I fought behind the scenes, would casually remark, “Why are you so tired? You’ve been home all day!”; or “I don’t understand why you’re stressed. You don’t have a boss breathing down your neck or a real job to worry about.”; and the most outraging one, “Why are you complaining? You get to stay home all day and do whatever you want. Some of us have to actually go to an office” These seemingly innocent comments echoed the widespread misunderstanding of the intricacies of working from home with a child. I found myself grappling with the need to explain that being at home didn’t equate to idle hours. Every stolen moment of concentration was a hard-fought victory amidst the interruptions and demands of a toddler.

Remote work and child-rearing demand a formidable dose of self-discipline. My day begins at 6 am with work emails, followed by house chores and preparing my son for kindergarten. Evenings are a balance of work and family time, with structured breaks for speech therapy and swimming practice twice a week.

Deviation from my meticulously planned schedule is unwelcome, emphasizing the need for advance notice for social events. My house isn’t always pristine; dishes pile up, and mismatched socks become my signature, casualties of impromptu superhero capes.

Yet, amidst the chaos, there’s a silver lining. I’m doing what I love, my husband shares the household load, and my son blossoms each day. With a semblance of me-time in my schedule, occasional indulgences like a manicure or a café outing with friends are now possible. No longer attempting to justify the intricacies of working from home, I’ve come to embrace the reality. For those in a similar boat, understanding will dawn naturally.

As this new mom navigates the challenges of freelancing with a newborn, another mother in a neighboring town is about to embark on a unique journey. Little does she know that her attempt to shift the dynamics of housework will not only surprise her family but also spark a transformation that none of them saw coming. Stay tuned for the eye-opening account of a mother’s quest for balance and cooperation in the next installment!

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