Finding Freedom Through the Pen: A Young Mother’s Journey to Financial Autonomy
A baby born shatters the bedrock of your former life, sending continual shock-waves to disrupt everything you took for granted: sleeping in, eating regular meals, making phone calls, being able to leave the house whenever you want — and much more. The biggest thing that I noticed was that spontaneity was out the window for a season. Feedings dominated my life and my sole obsession became the quest for sleep. It goes without saying that in the difficult first year of having a baby, our finances were also severely affected as I had to step down from my full-time job.
At 29 years old, I became a stay-at-home mom.
For the first three months, I was in basic survival mode, so I didn’t mind much. But as I regained sleep and some normality to my schedule, my eyes were opened to how our couch had a hole in its cushion, that I hadn’t bought new makeup in months, and that my hair was long overdue for a touch up, but my bank account was sucked dry from the costs of formula and diapers.
I was completely and utterly financially dependent on my husband, and it crippled my self-esteem.
Before I go on, I want to say that I know plenty of women who are very happy being stay-at-home moms and they are thriving! Everyone has a different calling. I discovered in this season that mine went beyond homemaking. I wasn’t the awesome crafting mom who volunteered and had a ton of friends nearby to pass the time. I was alone, bored, stuck at home, and longing to take my daughter to fun events but lacking the funds to do anything.
I also have an independent personality, and I’m kind of a workaholic. Ever since I could drive, I had a job. I love making money and I love seeing the fruit of my labor. Letting go of something that gave me joy was likened to suddenly quitting a favorite hobby and it left a void inside of me.
On my desperate days, I’d pack my daughter into our 1999 Cavalier that had a few “service this” lights on and would walk my daughter around the local Petco to see some cute cats and gerbils to brighten her day. We’d then swing by the Wendy’s and grab one small fry, for her, not me.
When the tension became too much, I realized that I needed to do something. I was placing an undue burden on my husband to carry this immense responsibility of providing for us. The traditional model of the family is all well and good, but even in the Bible the wife in Proverbs 31 buys and sells items… meaning, she had a job! She was industrious, not sitting around asking her husband for handouts. She was hard-working and respected. I realized I had to do some soul searching and find out what I could do given the fact that our daughter was small and needed a parent at home.
I turned to what I realized I did all the time for free: writing.
It was by accident that I discovered that you can actually get paid for writing online. I just Googled “write online” and got directed to an ad on Craigslist about a content mill needing writers. I signed up and was utterly shocked I got accepted.
I can tell you the first $24 I made there made me do some crazy happy dances around the house that freaked out my family– mainly because they haven’t seen me happy in months.
I later joined other mills, graduating to premium platforms and private clients. The pizza money eventually became grocery money, then the grocery money then transformed into a decent monthly supplement that has enabled me to take over 1/3 of our bills.
Nearly 11 months into this adventure, here’s what has happened:
I bought a new car. FROM THIS DECADE.
I threw out all the socks with holes in them.
I tossed out all the worn-out clothes that didn’t fit and bought new ones I loved.
I bought my daughter a REAL birthday party package at a local venue.
I bought a family vacation.
I saw the lines of stress lift from my husband’s face. He works. Hard. He does all he can for us every day. Today’s costs of living have skyrocketed and it’s an act of love to help with the money even as the “stay at home” spouse.
Most of all, I regained my dignity. I regained a sense of purpose and pride. I had no more wasted time. I stopped playing inane cell phone games and used my spare time to make money for my family and myself.
I think there are women out there who feel stuck in not being able to help financially and are also struggling because they want to be at home with their kids. I’m here to help encourage these women that there is a way to help without leaving home. I’m not saying I make enough to take over all the bills- that’s pretty near impossible when 8 am-7 pm I am interrupted 500 times by a toddler asking me for juice and Goldfish. I’m saying that if you want to make extra money for your own fun girls’ nights, to pay for groceries, or to simply bank toward a college fund, it is possible right now.
I’m also saying that you can take writing online as far as you want it to go. As my daughter gets older, I have more time and am earning more. This is also related to the fact that I have gotten better at what I do and learned from other writer friends on how to properly price my work. This can become a full-time job. I’m only limited now by time and the number of late nights I can take.
In the end, you need to do what makes you happy. There is great dignity in being a homemaker and an awesome mom. If money becomes a pain point, however, and your husband is doing all he can- it can be a saving grace for you to find a way to supplement the household income to make things sustainable.
Every mom has a journey- whether it is to master the art of full homemaker status, to become a WAHM (working at home mom) like me, or to go back to work because that change of scenery helps you be a better mom when you are home. Wherever you are in your journey, I support you.
Today, I am a better mom. I have joy because I am happy with who I am and what I can do for my family. Yeah sure, we can say that “it’s not about the money”, but sometimes a little bit of extra income can help this momma pack her toddler in a safe new car and get some Mexican food without worrying about what’s in the bank.
And that is something.