Tuesday, September 21, 2004


For a moment yesterday I felt like Superwoman.

Really, the feeling was good for most of the day — Helena was at daycare, I'd had a productive morning of billable work, the house was clean, dinner under way.

We are achieving normalcy. J-F and I both are lazy by nature and tend to feel overwhelmed to the point of paralysis regarding just about anything that needs doing, but we're pulling ourselves together.

I've instituted a schedule of chores, which, 2 days in, has been held to. All in an effort to free up free time, particularly weekends. Why didn't I do this before? Now we have grocery night, laundry night, bathroom-cleaning night, cat-brushing night, etc. I'm very excited about this. It feels so. . . productive. Like the world is suddenly manageable.

Helena's a bit sniffly, but in fine spirits. She started her music classes, making a foray into the world of percussion. She's learned a new song, in French, about apples, coincidentally her current fruit of choice. We've had reports that she's standing up to the daycare bully — there was bound to be one — not just standing her own ground, but coming to the defense of others. The group leader says she's never seen that kind of behaviour in one so young. When the troublemaker was kicking one of the girls, Helena stepped in, warning, "Touche pas!"

She makes me proud. I'm not convinced I have a right to that feeling just for providing a little genetic material and making sure she's fed when she's hungry. She's a good and wholly remarkable person with or without me. And whether I deserve to or not, I feel proud.

Then came this moment yesterday when I popped out for a brisk walk for a break (to return a DVD — I sure do love them Coen boys, but Ladykillers was a little slow; I dozed off midway), and there was a spring in my step, and I felt pounds lighter from the weight of the world having been lifted just a little, and everything (my body and my life) felt streamlined, and I smiled to myself, thinking, "I'm a mommy. A pretty good mommy," like it was my little secret to hold against the world.

I can do this. The whole freelance editor, working mommy, organized urbanite thing. I can do that. And I feel sexy, too.


Suzanne said...

Hi, Isabella.

I found your blog through CE-L and have been enjoying your posts. I felt compelled to comment on this one in particular because I've been contemplating switching from my full-time editing job to part-time freelance. I'm cheered to see that someone is managing to juggle both editing at home and raising a small child. (I have two myself.) Any words of wisdom/warning about such a switch?

Isabella said...

Wisdom? Me? Haven't you been paying attention Suzanne? I'm a mess.

Warning? It's really hard.

You're already a step up on me in that you're planning, not winging it.

How old are your kids?

I've managed only in the sense that somehow I pulled it together to get through to the next phase. Thank goodness Helena is in fulltime daycare now.

I started taking on contracts when Helena was about a year old (almost a year ago); in some ways, it was much easier then than over the last few months — she was less mobile, less vocal, and less demanding generally (less interesting too) and napped more.

There's a Yahoo group (Work-at-Home Parents and Professionals) that I learned about through CE-L — it's not a particularly active group, but you might find some encouragement either by joining in or in the archives.

If I had to do it again (and I'm honestly not sure that I would choose to), I would:
1. Schedule my life, clearly dividing work time from family time. Set specific work goals (x hours of work/day, or finish editing section 2 by Wednesday) — my client may give me a deadline but doesn't care how I manage my time, but the sense of accomplishment from those "little" tasks is priceless.
2. Define my office space. We live in cramped quarters, so it wasn't possible for me to close a door behind me, but what a difference it would make.
3. Arrange for daycare. Even a sworn commitment from a husband that childcare is his responsibility during set hours on set days. Or half-days with a relative or neighbour. Anything.

I wish you the best of luck, Suzanne.