Why I planned my career around a yet-to-be-conceived child.
I determined that I wanted to be a writer (and a ballerina... and an actress... and an archaeologist...) when I was 5. At about the same time, I decided that I would also be a mother. In fact—snotty brat that I was—I often told my own mother how I'd do things differently once little Anastasia Kay Brookes was in my life (don't ask).
22 years later, post-wedding and post-honeymoon, I still wanted to be a writer... and a mother. And more than anything else, I wanted to be home to raise my children. So my husband and I sat down and hashed out how we could keep me at home full-time without going bankrupt, going into foreclosure, becoming homeless and perhaps resorting to cannibalism. Is There A Perfect Time To Get Pregnant?
In the coming year, I moved onto my husband's health insurance plan, secured a freelance copy editing gig that was regular enough to allow me to leave my full-time job in book publishing, and took on a post-college internship as a means of breaking into online media and building my clips. I started contacting everyone in my personal and professional networks to let them know that I was a free agent, so that I could start building up a stable of regular clients. I worked my booty off. My husband had given me a year to make this work. Within six months, I had matched my previous book publishing salary.
Then, six months later, the recession hit, and the newspaper that was my main source of income folded.
My husband and I argued a lot about money that year. He wanted me to try harder, and to focus on short-term goals rather than long-term goals. I wanted him to see that I was trying to build a business that could support our kids a year or two down the road, and allow me to stay home and care for them. I didn't want to waste time on work that didn't move me closer to that goal.
I understood where he was coming from, though. He was stuck at a job he hated—too scared by the recession to try leaving—and handling the pressures of being the primary breadwinner. And when he wasn't at his full-time job, he was working hard to build up his own web development company on the side.
We were both stressed out. We were both anxious. We both said a lot of things that we didn't really mean.
These days, we're a lot happier. We both landed—in the midst of the recession—new jobs that we totally love (mine is part-time, and allows me to be home four days a week). Our side businesses are growing, and I've diversified even further. I earned a career coaching certification and started coaching fellow word nerds on the side.
How did we make it to this mostly-blissful point?