I was still six years away from having kids when I left my job as the assistant director of a social service agency in 2003. In fact, kids weren't on my mind at all. "If I have them, I have them. If I don't, I don't," was my mantra.
Three kids later, it’s an attitude that I find astonishing — the mother part of my identity now irrevocable.
Back then, my 403(b) was meager. I had no savings. I had no plan B. I just knew that my job was soul strangling and I had to get out. I landed a job as a tour director in Puerto Rico and set up a new life on the island. I realized I'd need to supplement my income during the off-season, and what better way than to parlay my island knowledge into travel writing? Twelve years in and back in New York City, I'm a full-time freelancer, as is my husband.
Before we had children, our friends often said that they envied us. They said they’d love a lifestyle like ours with such freedom and flexibility.
But after we had children, a lot of them pitied us. How could we ever get work done? Weren't we dying for "adult time"? Didn't we lament the fact that our freelance careers didn't provide basic benefits like parental leave? They were surprised to hear that we were perfectly happy, even though we both worked right up to — and immediately following — each birth.
Unsolicited advice soon followed: "You should really take some time off to enjoy the kids," one friend said. "They won't be babies forever."
What she didn't realize is that we were enjoying our babies. While our 9-to-5 friends were required to squeeze their parenting, relationships, and other interests into a couple of exhausted hours each evening or on over-scheduled weekends, my husband and I were a triple threat: full-time parents, full-time partners, and full-time freelancers.
Making this arrangement work requires a dual juggling act. Here’s how we do it.