Even though I am busier these days than I probably ever have been before, I’m pretty excited about where my life is headed. I’ve got plans in place, lots of big dreams, and passion galore about my current work. But you know what? I haven’t always felt this way.

Even in the not-so-distant past, I remember feeling like I had no direction. I didn’t know what my next career steps would be in particular. Three and a half years ago I had a baby and, looking back, I think that threw me for a pretty big loop. Motherhood has been wonderful and yet also exhausting, worrisome and challenging. In the early days of being a mom I didn’t have much space or time on my own to figure out where I was headed next, career-wise. I felt a little stuck, not only pressured by society and what it expected of me (breastfeed! stay at home! raise a perfect child!), but what I expected of myself. Oh yes, I’ve always had pretty high expectations of myself.

So how do I manage it all?

I try. And I keep on trying. And every day I feel a little bit of everything on the map between exhilarated and excited, passionate and “idea-ful”, and – yes – tired and cranky. But yet, I feel more free now than I ever have been. There is one change that I made this summer to my life that has a lot to do with that.

It sounds probably a little crazy and definitely self-serving (but that was the point) to say that I am thrilled that my daughter is now in full-time daycare during the week. But it has been an awakening for me. Whereas even three months ago my every hour not spent at my “day job” was spent with my daughter, now I have the freedom of a bunch of hours every week to devote to my business, child-free. And I must say I’m loving it!

Don’t get me wrong, I still feel that “mommy guilt” about taking time for myself to do what it is that I want to do, and I really wish I could figure out a way not to feel that anymore. But I tend to push that aside now and focus on what is really important – that my daughter is in a place that she loves, and I’m more able to focus on doing what I love – and feeding my brain at the same time.

And you know what? As a mom doing what I love, I’m dead certain I’m a happier person in general. And the hours that I spend with my daughter now are easier on both of us because of it.

That’s my kind of free.