While my counterparts in the corporate world find tech companies like Microsoft, Google, and Amazon dangling increasingly progressive parental paid leave packages in front of them, no such thing exists for freelancers. I had planned to take six weeks off from work, but “time off” means something different in the gig economy. The baby slept in a Rock ’n Play next to me while I emailed editors. I wrote to the soundtrack of my mother reading Is Your Mama a Llama? to my daughter. “‘No, she is not,’ is how Rhonda responded,” floated through my head as I discussed the plight of tea pickers in Sri Lanka or how dive bars weather gentrification.
When I was growing up, both my parents labored long hours outside of home, and I have memories of lighting Hanukkah candles in the on-call room of the hospital where my dad worked. I know that my parents’ hard work paved the way for me to go to good schools and land great jobs, but that experience also left me with the nagging feeling that I wanted to spend more time with my kid. I had no idea that would mean transcribing interviews while cringing at the baby shrieking in the background of the recording, or attending a conference with her strapped to my back. That’s what parenting in the gig economy turns out to be: a strange, mysterious path.
But one I walk with my daughter close at hand.