3 Lessons Children Can Learn From a Freelancing Parent

Lessons From a Freelancing Parent
[tweetmeme]My children know there’s something strange about their Mom.

She doesn’t have a job, for one thing. Heck, she wears yoga pants all day. Yet she manages to pay for family vacations and surprise packages from Amazon.com. She claims that articles wake her up at two a.m., wanting to be birthed. And she’s always around. Seriously, doesn’t this woman have better things to do?

It can be strange for a child to grow up with a parent who works at home as a freelancer.

It’s rare nowadays to come home to a house smelling of brownies. Or to know that somebody will always answer the phone when the school calls in an emergency. Or, gasp, to spend so much time with your parent. What will your friends think?

But, it is precisely in living a life that is so against the grain, so counter-cultural, that I hope my children are learning lessons that will enhance their own lives.

More specifically, here are the lessons I hope they’re learning from their weird, freelancing Mom:

1. Parenthood and Career Can Mix

Two of my children are female. Society would have them believe that when they become mothers they will most likely have to sacrifice their careers. Or, at least, that they would have to neglect their families to pursue successful careers.

By watching me, I hope my daughters are learning that they can have both. Freelancing isn’t a way for me to settle for something less. I didn’t “give up” a lucrative job to become a more hands-on Mom.

No, I’m doing exactly what I want to do, what I’ve always longed to do — and that includes caring for my family.

As they see me pounding away at the computer while their brother naps, I hope this lesson gets imprinted in their minds and hearts.

2. Artists Eat

We all know the phrase, “starving artist.” Creative people are fun to have around, but they never make any money, right?

I would love to see the day when that belief becomes a myth. My heart breaks every time I hear of a parent discouraging their children from pursuing artistic or creative fields… because they don’t want them to wind up as starving artists.

“Just make it a hobby,” they say. “You can do that on your spare time,” they advise. Not knowing that performing, creating art, painting with words or making music is what makes their children’s hearts blaze with passion.  A high-paying career in finance would extinguish that fire. Their tummies may be full, but their souls will be famished.

(On the other hand, if finance is your child’s passion, that’s a whole different story.)

I tell my children, “You can do anything you want (when you grow up) as long as it’s not illegal, immoral, or dangerous.” Whatever it is, I’ll show them how to make it profitable.

Talent pays. Be talented.

3. Presence is Better than Presents

It’s true, I’ll probably make more money by taking a full-time job or freelancing full-time and sticking the munchkins in a daycare.

What would I do with all that extra money? I would buy my kids expensive toys, clothes and holidays to make up for my absence and assuage the guilt that would nag me. Been there, done that.

Children grow up fast. They really do. That baby I used to dance to sleep to my favorite rock song is now a teenager who would stop kissing me good-bye if I let her get away with it. Does she remember all the expensive stuff we showered her with (she was an only child for six years)? Hubby and I do, but our daughter? Hardly.

What about “quality” time? Well, quantity is a part of quality. No matter how much fun you’re having with your child, for example, if you can spare only ten minutes, then it’s not quality time.

Just being physically present, on the other hand, can be comforting in and of itself. There’s no need to manufacture witty banter, life-changing advice, or roaring good fun. Those will come up, naturally, just by being together. Childhood memories are made up of experiences, not stuff.

Ultimately, I’d like my children to realize that freelancing is my way of creating the life I want: a life made up of family, personal growth, and creative freedom. It’s not right for everybody, but it’s just perfect for me.

I hope my children will have the courage to create the lives that will make them happy too.

Share Your Lessons

If you’re a freelancing parent, what lessons would you like to teach your children? Or, if you grew up with a freelancing parent, what did you pick up from them that’s useful in your life today?

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