People Making Headlines in...
The following was the first entry of the New York Women in Communications blog, which was launched in January 2007.
I am a reluctant freelancer. I have no choice. You see, I have always been a fulltime staff editor. Then, the magazine where I worked ceased publication. Some of my colleagues found work again; most didn't. And interestingly, many of those were mid career women. Our long experience had become a hindrance: We were too expensive. And we had children.
While struggling to cut corners, editors and publishers rely on unpaid interns fresh out of college who work 24/7, on inexperienced young part timers without health insurance and on us hordes of freelancers frustrated professionals who are poorly paid. Some enjoy this arrangement and the flexible work hours. But I hate it.
I miss the daily discussions around the water cooler. I miss attending editorial meetings, delegating tasks and being part of a team. I miss the frenzy just before deadline. I miss being visible. Hell, I even miss my morning commute in the crowded subway, holding on for dear life to my steaming cup of coffee with one hand, while trying to keep together all sections of the paper in the other.
As a freelance writer/editor and mother of a 6-year-old, I am often confronted with the same argument: "You ought to be thrilled working from home! You can spend more time with your daughter! I wish I were in your shoes." "No, I am not thrilled!" I almost shout in reply. "Yeah, I am at home, but that is my office! My work hours are the same as yours - and then some. I don't lounge in my pajamas in front of the TV and watch Judge Judy. I am an editor who works from home. And my daughter is at school until early evening." "Oh." I hear the other side inhale sharply, and I always detect a hint of disapproval that I don't pick up my daughter earlier. I detect annoyance that I'm not satisfied that I am not a fulltime housewife and mom or a hired worker bee.
Too many women acknowledge a working mother only if she works outside her home. They have trouble categorizing me: Is she part-time mom doing some work on the side? Is she a freelancer because she's not good enough to be hired? Is she a pampered, bored housewife with time to spare? Many people don't hold fulltime freelancing in high esteem, and they don't count freelancing mothers with the general work force.
I am part of it.