“That’s it. I’m buying pillows,” I told my husband as I clutched a wad of fabric. My disappointment as visible as the botched seems. It looked so easy. My sister-in-law helped make a curtain for my kitchen window. I thought “I’ll save money and make matching pillows too. Maybe, I’ll even sell them on Etsy!” A friend graciously loaned me time on her sewing machine. It was a disaster. I mean, I’m crafty enough. I spray paint things. I enjoy decorating my home but my foray into pillow making wasn’t about creativity— it was about cash.
Everywhere I look and especially online, I see many of my stay-at-home mom friends engaged in some kind of hustle. Selling essential oils, Arbonne, bags, wraps, cookies, clothing and more. It seems like we’re all clipping coupons, buying used or in bulk and otherwise trying to pull the months together by lopsided ends. My working mom friends hustle for time-off, hustle a side business (maybe one day they can quit their day jobs), hustle to pay the high cost of childcare. Heck, we’re all hustling to make dinner, teach manners and make the minutes count. Motherhood. One. Monumental. Hustle.
I’m currently hustling to become a freelance writer in the space between diaper changes and trips to Chick-Filet. Last week, I pitched two ideas to an editor. No response. This week, I’m discouraged but back at it. Millions of people blog every day. Millions. A post flat lines after seven hours—that’s only slightly longer than it takes for me to put my kids to sleep. Freelance job postings want writers with a strong, hip and snarky voice. That’s not me. I keep my head up. Maybe some editor will take a chance. In the meantime, I distract myself with projects, The Bachelorette and the business of raising kids.
I’m not the only mom struggling to turn her hobby into her hustle. Living on one income can tax a family. I realize I shouldn’t complain. I am lucky to do it. I want to do it. I am sure single moms and any family making less than a quarter of a million dollars a year also struggle. That’s why so many of us turn to side businesses to make it work. Guess, we’re no different than the moms in India stringing beads together-selling bracelets- to empower their families. American moms are just lucky enough to be able to charge groceries in a pinch. Obviously, that’s not sustainable. My hobby actually costs my family money. Running a website, computer programs, a domain name, it all adds up. I would give up writing altogether but it’s my only real creative outlet outside of motherhood. (We all need some sort of identity outside of our roles as mothers.) Plus, Brené Brown says “Unused creativity isn’t benign. It metastasizes.” It causes cancer. At least cancer of the soul. My soul yearns to write and be creative. For others, it may be the longing to sing, paint or design jewelry.
Sure, we can all follow Kendra Scott, Joanna Gaines or Liz Gilbert on Instagram but wouldn’t it be great to do something great ourselves? Breakout writers and authors get invited to movie premieres— the rest of us lie awake at night with words knocking on our skulls. I often write in the middle of the night and while I nurse my ten month-old-baby. I’m wearing out my thumb and my eyesight typing on my phone. (That’s how I wrote my first book) I end up nursing my daughter predominately on the left breast because I’m right-handed. Talk about imbalance. It’s like I’m walking around with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito on my chest. Oh, there I go. So not hip… (For those under 33, my boobs look like Shaquille O’Neill and Kevin Hart standing side by side.) It’s not pretty. Sorry, Kevin Heart. But I love to write. I love sharing this experience even if no one cares to read about it. I know my children are worth the hustle. If I worked, you know I’d be hustling in different ways.
Speaking of which, I left a career I loved to be home for dinners, to nurse exclusively and spend most of my day with my kids. Aside from computer programs and a domain name, I give up extras and keep writing because it keeps me sane— even though I should use what little free time I have to sell makeup or make pillow covers to sell on Etsy. Hustle, Believe, Receive by Sarah Centrella is one of the books on my summer reading list. Is that all it takes? Okay, I’ll open the book. I’ll write and stretch my faith like cellophane over leftovers. I’ll keep eating leftovers. I’ll continue to tiptoe on the tightrope that constitutes our budget. Writing through the discouragement is a little easier knowing I’m not the only mom smiling through the struggle. At least, I can afford the pillows. (Well, sort of <3)
Camaron Brooks is a mother of three little ones. She loves her family, coffee, writing, reading, and getting outdoors. She’s inspired to live her best life through mindfulness, gratitude and impromptu dance parties in her living room. She’s the author of Studio Baby. She chronicles her sometimes hilarious first year as a mom, reflects on her time working as a reporter and offers a takeaway, affirmation or set of questions after each chapter to help other moms embrace the journey.