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What Today's Working Mom Looks Like

I was raised by my grandmother, a single parent who worked as a cook for the Los Angeles school district for nearly all of her adult life. She worked to put me through college with the hope that I would have a long and secure career. But the world my grandmother prepared me for has almost dissolved entirely.

We now have a global economy in which workers, rather than sign on with a single company, must make their own way. This economy has given women, particularly black women (the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in the U.S. according to Forbes magazine), new opportunities and paths to financial empowerment.

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Since my son was born eight years ago, I've worked from home, and I've been able, most months, to cover my expenses as a writer and a life coach. It has never been easy and there have been times when I have needed assistance from family or social services.

We have choices now, and like me, many women are asking themselves what type of work will add value to their lives beyond dollars and cents.

Being flexible with my time has been the key to balancing work and parenting. Writing and seeing clients has given me the ability to control my own work schedule and be available for my son. When I realized I would need to return to work, the thought of being in an office or anywhere without flexibility for eight hours per day, five days per week, seemed unrealistic. Honestly, I'd grown accustomed to owning my time, and committing all of those precious hours to a job I didn't enjoy or desire seemed like a form of prison. And if there's one thing motherhood has taught me, it's that I should not sacrifice myself for my child. If I'm miserable, I can be no good for my son. So while working in an office for an entire day has never been something I've attached to feeling good, the limitations that come with it now just feel out of the question.

Understanding who I am and what type of work environments I thrive within, I've set out in this new economic world to build a work life that will not only support me financially but will also feed my spirit. After speaking with several moms who are also interested in making money in ways that give them freedom, I came up with some themes for a work life that might inspire me (or at least not deplete me). The four themes are interaction, well-being for women, communication and nutrition. Once I got clear about the themes, I set out to find jobs that would match the tasks I'm naturally good at.

Driver

After my brother-in-law starting driving for Uber, it occurred to me that this would be a great way to meet lots of people and make a few dollars. The problem was I needed a reliable car. I did some research and learned that Uber offers a leasing program for potential drivers who need a new or like-new vehicle, even if his or her credit was challenged. I spoke with several people within this program to find out how realistic it would me for me and my lifestyle, and I took the leap. I'm now an Uber driver (with a new car!).

Gym Assistant

A dear friend of mine opened a women's gym in the neighborhood I grew up in, the Crenshaw district of L.A. After years of neglect, the community is currently undergoing a huge face-lift, and my friend's new gym, Total Woman Gym and Spa, is part of that revitalization. Working at the gym gives me a chance to do two things I love: Helping women improve their sense of well-being and helping a good friend. Having been in this community my entire life, I have strong relationships to church organizations and nonprofit groups in the neighborhood. I love this work.

Mental Illness Media Rep

Like many people, I have a mentally ill family member. Over the years, I've watched his illness shift the lives of his parents, my aunt and uncle. Fortunately my aunt had the mind to get involved with the local chapter of the National Association of Mental Illness. When she asked me about handling their social media and blog from home, for a few hours per week, I happily agreed. Watching her dedication to spreading information about mental health inspires me, and I get to communicate (which I love!) an important message.

Milk Maker

One of my favorite jobs is making homemade artisan almond milk. A few months ago I was doing a food detox and after reading the ingredients of almond milk, I realized how easy (and much cheaper) it was to make my own. I then began my journey to find the organic products including raw and organic almonds, organic dates, vanilla and purified water. I purchased a nut bag and a Vitamix blender and a small business was born. After I get my orders for the week, I shop for and my produce my weekly milk. I either deliver the product or my customers pick it up. It's fun, healthy and delicious.

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My grandma had no idea I'd have so many choices that were never afforded to her. I've spoken with moms who do virtual-assistant work, sell products through Etsy, hold traditional full-time positions or like my friend, who has three children, opened a well-established franchise. We have choices now, and like me, many women are asking themselves what type of work will add value to their lives beyond dollars and cents. Career is becoming something we can design to fit our strengths, our schedules and our dreams.

Image via Getty Images

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