I used to have this kickass job where I worked from 12:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. and had six weeks’ paid vacation. I spent my nights and mornings (though morning might be pushing it because I would get up at 10:00 a.m. after going to bed at 2:00 a.m.) and write. I knew I had it good, but didn’t realize how good until I had kids. And I had that incredible, leisurely schedule for almost eight years until my son was born. The wee hours of the night no longer meant writing; now, they were about breastfeeding and watching Millionaire Matchmaker. I had to arrange my work schedule to suit my new life as a mom and suddenly had to be at work at 7:30 a.m. My writing took a backseat, but though I missed it, I was so happy being a mom.
I started writing again until I got pregnant with my daughter, and nausea, exhaustion and a toddler took precedence over my characters. In Canada, we get one year’s maternity leave (we’re so lucky, I know), and when my mat leave was almost up, I had to take a good look at the kind of life I envisioned for my family. The idea of being jolted awake by a screeching alarm, racing around the house like a crazy person and shuttling the kids to two different places before I’d even had my second cup of coffee didn’t sound like a recipe for happiness. And with the inevitable sicknesses my kids would pass back and forth because they’re always on top of each other, how was I going to take that much time off work? And join parents’ council and really be there for my kids the way I wanted to? Oh, and pay the bills?
Well, I was actually tired of teaching after over 15 years and had always wanted to start my own business so when my daughter was a year old, I opened Perfect Pen Communications, my freelance writing/editing company. Having my own business and being able to work from home and write and edit all day was something I had only dreamed about. And when clients started pouring in, I was quite stunned. I’d never been up on the latest technology and hadn’t realized that working virtually was going to be the success it is. I now had exactly what I wanted—my own business, I could stay home with my daughter for another year and a half and was able to pick my son up early and spend serious quality time with my kids. What I hadn’t realized was how hard it was going to be to juggle being a mom and a business owner.
And then there was my writing. I’ve been writing for thirty years, and the time had come for me to put myself out there again. I was terrified and excited and when I looked at my kids’ beautiful faces, I knew that I wanted to show them that you have to follow your dreams. So, in 2011, I wrote up an article about my unfortunate identify theft and sent it off to one of Toronto’s most read newspapers. Shockingly, they accepted it and so began my career as a journalist. I was writing for magazines, websites and newspapers and the editing jobs were coming fast and furious. All of which made me so happy, but I had to do it while being a stay-at-home mom. I worked during my daughter’s naps and at night, running around until the last bit of weight fell off my boobs, and I looked like a strangled chicken.
I loved having the time for my kids and doing my own thing, but if I kept up the pace I was working at, I would surely have tossed myself out of a window. So, we hired a caregiver to help us two days a week, and I took on more jobs. At the same time, I decided to finally publish Finding Lucas, a novel that I’d been working on for a long time and was very proud of.
Fast forward a couple of years, and now both of my kids are in school and daycare. I have my days to work and write, though I never quite seem to be able to get enough writing done. My time consists of answering emails and promoting Finding Lucas, connecting with my beloved Twitter and Facebook friends, working on my clients’ projects (many of which are manuscripts, which I love to edit) and writing blog posts, articles and revising Everything But, my second novel. I also clean the house, make dinner, do the laundry, arrange doctor, dentist and eye appointments, schedule birthday parties and playdates, all with my phone at my side at all times lest the school call.
I love every bit of it. But, I am, of course, exhausted and you can hide snacks in the circles under my eyes. I’m a night owl so even though I wake up early to get the kids ready for school, make breakfasts and lunches and do some dishes, it is rare to find me in bed before midnight. I want my relaxation and reading time and to cuddle up with my husband, too. As more people read Finding Lucas, I’m invited to evening events and have a trip planned to New York City (where I will finally get to meet my amazing friend, Francine LaSala!), which will be the longest I have ever been away from my kids. As happy as I am to have my own thing, my kids will always come first. I am a mom, an author and a business owner, and it is all I ever wanted. More coffee, please!
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Samantha Stroh Bailey has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen. In fact, she even sent her first manuscript, Freddy the Flame, to publishers when she was ten years old. After 15 years of teaching ESL to adults, including at the University of Toronto, she decided to live her dreams of being a ful-ltime writer and editor. Now the owner of Perfect Pen Communications, she not only gets to write novels, but also writes and edits for magazines, websites, businesses, students and other authors. Her work has appeared in Now Magazine, The Village Post, Oxford University Press, Abilities Magazine, on mommyish.com and many other publications. Samantha also has a Masters of Education in Applied Linguistics. She lives in Toronto with her husband and two children. Finding Lucas is her first novel.