For reasons I won't go into in this public space, I won't be teaching my usual class this spring. After my frustration/anger/surprise wore off, I realized that I'm mainly just sad about it. I loved my students. I enjoyed teaching writing for public relations, as it kept my skills fresh and -- I like to believe -- helped students learn some real-life writing skills that they will use every day of their professional lives. It was very fulfilling to watch them improve over 15 weeks, and I treasured every email I received from former students telling me about jobs they'd landed or experiences they had that they attributed to my class.
Teaching was also a regular use of my brain, a time to step away from being a mom and instead be a professional. It forced me to stay on top of the news, both world news as well as happenings in business and social media. It took me onto campus twice a week to sit at a desk in a half-decent outfit, interact with fellow lecturers and professors, and have fun, adult conversations. Also, since my husband works in the same department, it allowed me to know more about the players and events going on in his daily life. While I've enjoyed my at-home freelance work, teaching was a way to get out into the world.
So, what do I do now? I could become a full-time stay-at-home mom. It's what I'm doing now, and it's not so bad, occasionally awesome. Without the distractions of work (which included an overwhelming if not overblown need to be on the computer a lot), I've become a more regular cook, a better housekeeper, and a more engaged mom (we do craft projects! we go to the playground often! we bake together!). I've even returned to regular novel reading during the daylight hours (bliss!). I don't mind this role, and I'm wise enough to realize these moments with my children won't last forever. It is a true blessing that we can afford for me not to work (it's tight -- very tight -- but we're making it).
But I'd be lying if I said it was 100% fulfilling. I miss talking to adults every day. I miss using my brain. I miss having a compelling reason to keep up with the news. I hate that when D comes home, I sometimes find myself chatting about a TV show I watched that day. I also have to admit that I'm not fully comfortable having D earn all the household income. I want to contribute. I like contributing. (Yes, I am FULLY aware that full-time parenting is a huge contribution, but I like it better when some of the cash in our account comes from my side).
I have been pulling in a little money here and there with my freelance work. It's not a lot, but I have enjoyed the projects, especially when I get to work on travel guides. So that's my second option: work to get more freelance clients. This may mean hiring more babysitters when projects come in (thus cutting down my per-hour earnings significantly). It will mean more stress, more computer time, less child-engagement time. But it would also mean more financial security (a little more money would help with house projects and vacations that I dream about, wistfully...er, not to mention those savings accounts that need some padding). It would keep me from falling off the bandwagon of the professional communications world; it would be my oar in the water (<---go read this article).
So now I am emailing a few old connections, seeing if I can drum up some new business. I'm not sure what I want, but I sure won't know what it's like to have more clients unless I try for some. In the meantime, let me know if you need some writing/editing/proofreading help, or help managing a PR campaign. I'm your girl -- I just may need to rearrange my entire home and work life first....