September 12, 2007

The other day I was driving home from work and an emergency vehicle appeared on the horizon behind me, and as it came wailing up the road everyone in sight obediently slowed and pulled off to the side, and as all the cars waited patiently I thought how oddly kind the whole scene appeared, like if an alien was observing us from space they would see this generous giving-way sort of group movement and think what a selfless, supportive species we are.

Of course, a few minutes later I was nearly sideswiped by a fetid chunk of dickcheese yapping on their cell phone while blithely cutting their Range Rover into the lane inconveniently occupied by my car, so my newfound faith in humanity was short-lived.

In general I don’t really mind my commute, homicidal Range Rovers notwithstanding. It’s a nice space of time to zone out, ponder my life, and blast Ministry at top volume if I so choose.

Traffic is problematic, though. I take advantage of my office’s lax core hours policy by leaving the house late enough to miss the lion’s share of morning traffic, but there’s just no good way to get home (for those who are familiar with Seattle, I work over by the University Village Mall, and I live in Bellevue—it’s a clusterfuck any way you approach it). I get home late, Riley is always tired and cranky, and I only have a hectic hour or so with him before it’s bedtime.

My workplace office is scheduled to move sometime in the fall/winter timeframe, and my commute will become longer and, I think, even more congested. I don’t know exactly how it’s going to be on a regular basis, but there is potential for it to really and truly suck.

I think ahead to a new baby next year, and the costs of having two children in daycare. I think about my salary, and how immensely useful it is despite those associated daycare costs. I think about my future career and how I would love to move into freelancing full time someday but I can’t figure for the life of me how I could make enough each month to pay for the childcare I would need in order to have the time to work to pay for the childcare alone.

My ideal situation for the future is to be self-employed, and have a part-time childcare solution so I can dedicate that time to freelance projects. I’d like a really great nanny/babsitter who can care for the kids at my house, while I head out to various public wifi-and-caffeine zones (pro: holds my more pathological hermity tendencies at bay, con: fuels a potentially budget-breaking latte addiction).

This seems like an attainable goal, doesn’t it? I’m not sure why it feels so utterly impossible to me right now. Why my head is filled with giant dollar signs and logistical roadblocks instead of faith in my own dreams.

For now, I drive my commute and play music and think about all of these things and more, like why it is that Range Rovers have the vehicular equivalent of shark gills on their sides.

:::

PS: Thanks for the blog name votes and suggestions—we’re still chewing on the various ideas. I’ll let you know when the blog is up and running.

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hello insomnia
15 years ago

We’re in the same predicament babywise. I’d love to have another baby soon–because all the cool kids are doing it–but daycare plus mortgage plus new fancy camera gadgets that are never on clearance make it impossible and utterly terrifying to become self-employed.

And why is it the more I make, the more I spend? Could I ever revert back to a simpler lifestyle and take the freelancing plunge? I’ll think about that on my commute home. Seattle traffic at least gives me time to think, no?

taerna
taerna
15 years ago

i have a friend who left a cushy corporate job to do her own thing. it was very scary at first, but she really put her energy into marketing herself and the jobs started coming in faster than she could keep up with them. the one key difference between you and her is that she got started before her kiddo was born, but once he arrived, she found that perfect missing link: a college-age girl who could come in for 3-4 hours a few days a week and give her some non-screaming, non-“yes, I see it. yes, I see it. yes, for the love of all things holy, i see the water coming out of the faucet.” time to actually work. however, her silver bullet has always been her night-owlish tendencies. she’s always stayed up later, and had the luxury of a toddler who sleeps in, too. so those hours between 10p and 1a are like her magic hours.

you can do it!

Mary O
Mary O
15 years ago

Life decisions are tough. I’m sure whatever you choose to do will be right for you and your family. And if you find yourself not liking whatever path you’re on, it’s always ok to change it. There! You have my permission. =)

Pickles & Dimes
15 years ago

You can do it. You are an extremely gifted writer and you have a good idea of how to market yourself.

And when you succeed, pass along some tips, OK? (I want to be a self-employed writer someday too, before I have kids because childcare expenses here? SCARY.)

Kathryn
Kathryn
15 years ago

Your goal seems quite attainable, especially in light of your writing talents. You’ll make it work somehow.

My question is this, though: do you ever worry about putting stuff like this out on the interwebs where your employers could find it?

Pete
Pete
15 years ago

One option might be unemployment insurance as a swing loan. Most states allow you to claim unemployment insurance if your employer moves ‘X’ miles and you commute gets longer. The ‘X’ miles depends on the state. I don’t know what Washington pays but I was hoping to get laid off from my current job so I could start a software business out of my home. Bastard company wanted to keep me.

Rumblelizard
Rumblelizard
15 years ago

As long as you’ve got healthcare covered by JB’s job, I’d say everything else is do-able if you really want to do it. But that healthcare component, damn you need it.

BethanyWD
BethanyWD
15 years ago

My first reaction would be to move, because the commute time really cuts into family time. You work part-time/not 5 days a week, correct? Then it’s alot more doable. Plus, you just getting your house all fancy! =)
I commuted from Des Moines to Shoreline (throught Seattle) for 3 years by carpooling with little problem (about 45 – 1 hour). It only became unbearable after the birth of my son in 2003. We moved north (we’re now in Bothell) when he was 8 months old. I wouldn’t trade my short commute for anything.

Jess
15 years ago

With your writing and marketing skills, it’s definitely attainable, especially if you find a reliable college student who really likes kids. If you’re freelancing then your schedule will be flexible, which means you could accommodate the inevitable schedule changes with each new semester, which means you could get someone who could be with you for several years and really bond with the kids. When I was in college I babysat for the same family for three straight years, and it was really fantastic for both of us. The kids and I had a great relationship and the parents were super-comfortable with me because they knew me so well. The job meant money for books for me and affordable childcare for them because it wasn’t full-time. Come to think of it, the mother in that family was also a freelance writer.

Brooke
15 years ago

I’d love to write freelance too, but my current Workplace job isn’t even a writing job, so I have no portfolio with which to market. Alas! I have 50 mile RT commute and I’d love to leave that, too. My husband makes good but uncertain money as a consultant, and I carry all our health and dental, etc. I have no hope of leaving my job, although when I suggested this baby would be our first and last because working and morning sickness just do not jive, he looked like he was going to cry and said he’d find a way for me to stay home. Goodness. I wish I knew what I would do with that kind of time (’cause 5 kids wouldn’t suck it all up?), but I’d love to write, oh yes.

dregina
dregina
15 years ago

Any chance your current employer would let you work from home, even 3 days a week? If you put together a little report showing how much more money and time this new commute will take over the one you’ve currently got, could they see their way to cutting you some slack?

I went to my boss with a listing of the neighborhoods where my partner and I could afford to buy a house, and some information on how much more money/time it would take for me to get to/from work, and we’re working out the details of what it would mean for me to work from home 1/2 time. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know…………………..

Mary
Mary
15 years ago

That commute would be a deal breaker for me. My commute is generally about 7 minutes, though sometimes during rush hour it can be half an hour, and then I get very cranky.

A college student would cost a lot less to watch two kids than a daycare will, for sure. I too had a steady sitting job all through my last two years of college. I think it was three days a week five hours a day. I drove myself there, arranged my college classes around it, and it worked out great for all of us. If you’re nervous about it, you could stay in the house and work the first few times to make sure it’s going to be okay.

I have no doubt about your ability to make it as a writer. Anyone who can come up with the phrase “fetid chunk of dickcheese” is bound to be a smashing success!!!

Jean
Jean
15 years ago

You have an incredible free lance writing career ahead of you. If you got a fortune cookie tonight, that’s what it would say inside. The logistics may not be so simple, and it may take some time and some crafty juggling, but you are so worthy.

Jean
Jean
15 years ago

Oh yeah, I agree with the college student idea!!

Anna
Anna
15 years ago

I was a nanny in college as well. It was a few years ago, but I was paid 15/hr for 20/hrs a week (for a family in Bellevue :). It worked great with my schedule, provided a better part-time income than most jobs available to a college student and I got to know a really great family. I still spend time with them to this day.
Also, it provided the family with child care, a cook, a laundry lady and a part time maid. I also did most of the grocery shopping – with the kid or kids in tow. It was a great deal for both of us!

Robyn
Robyn
15 years ago

Why don’t you e-mail Dooce…you write as well as, if not better than her, and she makes a living from her journal alone (as far as I know).

Christina
15 years ago

I have to say selfishly that I hope you keep working part time in a regular way because you are one of the few bloggers I read who actually works even part time. I sometimes feel I have few comrades who blog and work full or part time that I can completely relate to. I work full time and my son goes to day care full time. As we contemplate baby #2 I just assume I will keep working because there are no other plans in place for something otherwise… That can feel lonely…

On the other hand, I hope you achieve that zen of what you want because that would kick ass!!!

Laziza
Laziza
15 years ago

And keeping the current job but telecommuting is not an option? Phooey.

Ingrid
Ingrid
15 years ago

Commute I understand. My husband commutes to build the monsterous light Rail (wave at him when you go by!) from near Olympia. Every. Single. Day. Save for holy Hawk Sunday, mind you.

Melissa
Melissa
15 years ago

We just moved out of our city to the burbs and the commute change has been a bitch for my husband. He desperately misses the little extra time he had to spend in the mornings with our daughter. Additional commute and additional baby are going to be a tough mix in my opinion. When you are ready, I say make the jump. You have been taking on new writing adventures and from what it looks like, you have been successful.

I understand the financial worries but I have a feeling that you and JB can make it work. It’s a big jump but just like a previous post said…it doesn’t have to be a permanent thing. You can be a mom and still follow your dreams. :)

Swistle
15 years ago

I always have a little weep when we all pull over for an emergency vehicle! It’s so TOUCHING!

I find these sorts of decisions/thoughts overwhelming, too.

honeybecke
honeybecke
15 years ago

Based on your readership here, there and everywhere on the web, I’d say that your prospective employers are already reading and loving you. I’m fairly certain people who read your blogs could possibly need your writing skills (for $$$!) in the future. I know you probably wouldn’t ever be like, hey! guys! toss me a bone here and hire me! But see what I’m saying? If I needed a freelance writer I know right where I would find one. She might be covered in baby spit up and need a shower, but the girl can write!

I think you should go for it.

Kim
Kim
15 years ago

That’s a crazy commute!

willikat
15 years ago

i think you could do it. no doubt in my mind. (hey, take it from me, i’m an editor). and, for the working from home thing–don’t you have something to do with technology. ;) couldn’t they hook you up with some badass video conferencing???
also, please do it so that the rest of us know it’s possible. :)

Angella
15 years ago

I am self-employed. I would never go back, but there is the constant struggle between “me” time and “kid” time and “hubby” time.

Oh yeah. And trying to actually get work done.

The flexibility is worth it in the end…it’s just hard to find the balance. It’s a daily pursuit :)

Lesley
Lesley
15 years ago

Telework! I love this solution. I am actually at my desk during the time I would ordinarily be on the road. I’m no longer spending oodles at Starbucks (my own coffee tastes better) and I can make lunch at home. Yum.

I get more done, too!

I know, it’s problematic with some employers, but usually the high tech people are on board with this. It would, of course, only be possible if Riley’s in daycare during the hours you’re working. But if you only had to go to the office one day a week…would that make your life easier?

Lesley
Lesley
15 years ago

P.S. You could always throw ads on this page, like Dooce, and earn income. I believe she’s earning 6-figures from her blog.

LauraH
15 years ago

What I have learned, over the past few weeks, is to live your life with no regrets. Shoot for that dream if it is what you really wish for. Be happy over all. Because you never know what might happen. Good luck.

el-e-e
15 years ago

I am in the same situation. I have this grand IDEA of what I want my work-life to be like when this baby arrives (i.e., much less commuting and much more flexibility/time with kids). but how to actually accomplish that? Take the plunge? Baffles me.

Barb
Barb
15 years ago

My husband says I have a 10-minute rule for employment as I’ve never worked farther than 10 minutes from home. Of course, we are in a Midwestern small city and that’s not unheard of for a lot of people. I hate driving! Sometimes even the 10 minutes is more than I would prefer. The worst problem right now is getting behind 6 combines on their very slow way to a field to be plowed under. Hee.

If I had to work from home, I’d never get anything done because I need more structure, I think. Daycare costs used to kill us, too, but we lived through it. Really, it’s only for 8-10 years. Trust me, that time flew by. The worst time is when the kids are too old for daycare but not old enough to stay home by themselves. Now THAT was a time period that I would have preferred working from home!

Emily
Emily
15 years ago

Oh, I know so much what you mean. I spent a year in a 9-5 job and ended up going back to school (and hooray! more student loans!) to avoid any more of it. Freelancing sounds amazing, but overwhelming as well.

As for the nannying possibility, I’m sure you could find someone who wants the same schedule as you. I have several friends who nannied after graduating from college, maybe 30 hours a week, just coming to the house and – though you have that cleaning service – also handled some kitchen duties. Sweet!

Eric's Mommy
Eric's Mommy
15 years ago

I had a similar thing happen to me this morning. A policecar came flying up in the left lane and I was in the right the jackass next to me, also talking on his cell in his SUV just decided to pull into my lane where MY car was! He barely made it and of course I layed on the horn and I think I said motherfucker a few times.

I have an hour long commute now that my company has moved. It sucks I can’t stand it. Sometimes I think it is not even worth it.

As far as being self employeed, you can do it! You have wonderful writing skills.

We tossed around having another child but the whole daycare cost thing (our son never had to be in daycare because my husband was a stay at home Dad for awhile) much to my dismay because I would really like to have another :(

M.A.
15 years ago

Stay home and write a book. There are (at the time I wrote this) 33 of us that would buy it. Time you started charging for your fabulous writing skills!

Nona
Nona
15 years ago

I didn’t read all the comments, so this may have been mentioned-but check out nearby home-based daycares maybe? There are also students and others who would love to come to your house to watch your kids. The home based daycare is usually a lot cheaper than center, plus there are less kids and therefore less potential for toddler sickness and general funk. In our state home based daycares have the option to be certified and inspected (mine is, because I want the best place for the kids). I hope you find something that works soon, and I bet you’ll be able to freelance sooner than you expect! (Just blind faith in your abilities.)

Joanne
15 years ago

It feels nearly impossible, but I know it can be done. For me, now is not the time to think about it because I am currently being driven mad by a 2 year old and expecting another little darling in January (sound familiar?). But as soon as I have this baby, I am going to figure something out. I want to have a nanny come in one or two days a week and do something during that time to pay for it. I also want to have the nanny stay late one day (maybe Friday?) and have a date with my husband every freaking week. I have a friend who does it and loves it. Sometimes I think about cleaning houses, because I’m really good at it and it’s good money and they have just recently built fancy schmancy condos right around me. But then I think that’s pretty isolated too, and also perhaps a waste of my very expensive Masters degree. But I’ll figure it out and you will too, somehow. I know people do it, surely we can too!

Christine
15 years ago

This is what happened to us. I’m expecting our third child in November/December, and the cost for daycare for a toddler and an infant would suck up one entire paycheck. So come the end of the year, I am staying home. I’ll be working PRN (temping) as a speech pathologist (what I do now) because I get almost twice as much an hour to do the temp work and I can do some weekends and late afternoons/evenings when my husband gets home from work.

I’m scared about the change, but I’m also looking forward to it. The good thing is any money I bring in will be essentially ‘extra’, without daycare. I’m hoping to line up a college student to help out sometime, too, next year when the baby is older.

victoria
victoria
15 years ago

For some reason this post puts me in mind of Anne Lamott’s writing about how, pregnant with her son, aced with becoming a a single mom and trying to figure out how to support herself AND a baby-to-be with nothing but her writing talent (and this was before she’d had any commercial success).

This is not advice. I’m not writing this to say “And look how well that worked out for her!”

It’s just, I’m really moved by your dilemma (as I am by Lamott’s writing). The question you’re confronting seems to me to be about how to live, how to make the most of this life that is so incredibly your own.

Alyson
15 years ago

Self employment is an option. I did it after baby #2, freelancing at home as opposed to being a secretary just to pay for daycare. But then again, my #1 was already in Kindergarten, so my costs were a little different. Couple of suggestions, though, look into the costs of a nanny. I don’t know how much a nanny is, but it may be worthwhile to locate one/research the use of one, now. Maybe the cost of a nanny is cheaper than having two little ones in daycare.

Other idea, REALLY research freelancing, or flextime, or jobsharing, or telecommuting (at least parttime telecommuting). There are options. The questions are, do they work for your family; and is your employer open to those options.

jonniker
15 years ago

Ah yes. Welcome to my daily struggle. I love my job (LOVE), but actually don’t make enough at the moment to even justify daycare, and I don’t work a 9-5 gig.

I plan to go full-time freelance with a kid, but wonder the same thing. However, I keep hearing of all sorts of options we don’t know anything about — flex nannies, shared babysitters, part-time child-care centers, etc. We’ll have to see when the time comes, I suppose.

chelsea
15 years ago

That commute is evil…I had to do Bellevue -> Tacoma last Friday afternoon. Took me two hours.

I commute from Ballard to Renton everyday, and I dream of being able to telecommute. I know it isn’t ideal when group projects are involved, but anything to avoid the evils of I-5 is worth it to me.

Josh
15 years ago

I hate driving. Let me rephrase that, I love driving I just hate everyone else who owns a vehicle. All of you. I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be harsh, but everyone besides me needs to get off the road, ASAP. I have bad road rage too. I switch from a pretty mellow person into a hate fueled death machine in the blink of an eye. I will cuss assholes out. I will throw beverages at people cutting me off or riding my ass. And if you try and merge into my lane whist I’m in it, I will pull your ass over and beat the living shit out of you. No joke, I’ve fought people for doing that before. Stay off highway 401 if you want to live. You’ve been warned.

Kristin
15 years ago

Hey, if I can do it, you can do it. And I’m actually pretty sure I can help a little, if you want. I owe you an email on this, and if you don’t see it in the next week, nudge me!

Kathryn
Kathryn
15 years ago

Thanks for responding, Linda. I hope I didn’t come across as nosy, I’m just curious how this whole “opening yourself up to the public, i.e., your employer” thing works, really. I know that I’ve come across the “anonymous” blog of a colleague entirely by accident, and it makes me wonder what the boundaries are. It also makes me worry that I ought to be more professionally careful in my own limited internet forays.

superblondgirl
15 years ago

Oh, freelancing in cafes….. That sounds heavenly. Pretty much no matter what the freelancing is about. I could totally do my job in a cafe.

virg
15 years ago

You have an incredibly popular blog. Why not put some ads on it and let that generate a little extra revenue for you? Dooce did it and her family is living off of that now.

Josh
15 years ago

So check this shit out. I was driving home from lunch and got stuck in a traffic jam because this big ass train (as if there were some other kind of train) was stopped across the road. Well I waited and waited and I was getting pissed of because I was now twenty minutes late, so I pulled a U-ey (how the hell do you spell that?) and took the highway down one fucking block to where I work.

Well I’m driving without a license so when I saw a cop stopped right at the turn onto my works road I was freaking out. I’m allergic to cops I think. Anyway, turns out he wasn’t even in the car, it was just there to catch peoples attention so they didn’t crash into the stopped train. You know like the jack ass on the other side of the train had done. No shit, I saw a real life train wreck. I’ve waited a long time for this, and had several almost sightings, but alas, emergency workers are pretty speedy when it comes to cleaning up train wrecks and body parts and what not.

But the point is, as I sat there staring at this fucked-all-to-hell SUV that some poor bastard had managed to get smashed by a machine on tracks that warns you with lights, bells, ear splitting whistles, thunderous round shaking wheels, and giant striped bars, I remembered your blog which I had just read. And how you had sort of liked how everyone pulled together to help someone in need by letting the ambulance through. And as I sat there rubbernecking like hell, I realised I do not have that urge. I really like carnage and mayhem. And I really don’t have much sympathy for other people. I guess I’m a bad person. But I’m a bad person who saw an actual train wreck, so I win.

honeybecke
honeybecke
15 years ago

Yeah, me again:
Not that it is up to us, but I wouldn’t care if you made money off this blog. It wouldn’t be “selling out” in my opinion. Of course ads might be a little annoying, but who the hell cares in the long run? I come here for the content of the page and I doubt that would change just because you have ads.
If you could make some mula out of it, then of course I would be tickled pink for you.

happy for you!

JennB
JennB
15 years ago

When you find the solution, please let me know – I hope they’ll be hiring out East, too. I’m thinking about grad school so that I can find my dream research job that will pay me big bucks, with awesome benefits, flexibility, and then I’ll have my cake and eat it too.
I’ll let you know if it works out.
I think we’re all hitting our mid-life crises (good lord, this means I’ll only live to 68!! if I’m truly at mid-life). We want the family, the home, the career, and the inspirational everything else. Does it really exist?

http://www.opaqueprintproduction.com/jbblog