01 Feb When you’re a freelancer AND a mom, editors don’t always cut you a break!
Hello everyone! So here I am, blogging, for, like, the first time since January 1. Or was it December 30? Doesn’t matter, I suppose. I had, at one point, intended for Rockmommy to be a destination blog. A one-stop shop for women who wanted to rock/play rock on their guitars/drums/whatever and also were moms. Alas, it’s just a personal dumping ground. I WILL rock again, I swear it. But the question is, when?
Life is great since I left the corporate journalism world to go freelance in May. I am a writer and a guitar teacher, working maybe 30 hours a week and spending the rest of the time with my two adorable sons and husband. It’s fantastic that I can do this now, and that I have a partner who is able to support me emotionally and financially. However, as I am starting to learn, not everyone “gets” it when you’re a mom AND a freelancer.
The parents of my guitar students are fantastic. We have an understanding that sometimes lessons need to be cancelled by one party (them) or the other (me) because kids are sick or parental duties are overwhelming.
But in journalism, other than CafeMom, the situation is different. I’m currently writing for a news-style online media outlet. And while my editor is totally cool with “Two Dude Tuesdays” and me doing work at night instead of early in the morning, when snow days happen, deadlines don’t move. Even though daycare is closed and I can’t get a sitter, I’m still expected to meet them. Of course, my editors are all (for the most part) understanding of my insane parenting challenges, but they have jobs to do and deadlines to meet. The real world doesn’t give a hoot about my personal situation!
If I were just writing op-eds, this would be fine. After all, exhausted as I am, I can still write from 8:30-10:30 p.m. or whatever. I’ve done it before. But phone interviews for news pieces are a different story. Being a journalist requires quite a bit of them — even in today’s e-mail-infused world — and it’s really difficult to tell a high-profile source, “I’m sorry if you hear my kids in the background.” I literally just told a source that I would put my baby in his crib and stick the other one in front of the TV to watch frozen. So professional, I know.
Pushing stories back a day or two, when they’re not evergreen, long-form features, is also difficult. Especially because journalism is competitive. If I can’t meet deadline, there’s a talented, young, child-free, commitment-free writer who can, indeed, meet deadlines. And while I’m talented, I’m not off-the-charts talented when it comes to being a healthcare writer. I cover stuff and I do a good job. But loads of other writers would, too.
I can only hope, as another snow day looms ahead, that a certain editor I am thinking about can have a bit more compassion when she sees that interviews were all conducted by e-mail when I hand in one of my weekly articles. I can only hope that when I do make calls, my sources don’t mind hearing my infant scream from his crib or Olaf the snowman announcing, “I like warm hugs!” I’m doing my absolute best to balance everything.
Speaking of which, now that I’m done breeding, I’d like to officially announce three goals for 2015:
1. Run 2 races (the 200-mile relay and either the Fairfield Half or something else, ideally)
2. Play a couple of shows (one in NYC/BK and one in CT would be amazing)
3. Finish my novel, editing aside.
Let’s hope at least two of these goals can be accomplished. XOXOX