Life as a Mommy Translator: Mother’s Day Interview with Chiara Rizzo and Barbara Ronca
For a special Mother’s day treat, AlfaBeta has decided to interview two “mommy translators” to get their input on what it’s like to be a freelancer and a mom. Our two moms are Barbara Ronca and Chiara Rizzo, friends who have collaborated in the past with the AlfaBeta team. They also have a joint blog together called
1) How long have you been a freelance translator?
B: I became a freelance translator ten years ago.
C: I’ve been a freelance translator full time since my second daughter, who is now eight years old, was born.
2) Why did you choose to become a freelancer?
B: I didn’t choose it, to be honest, it happened. I was working as an in-house editor and proofreader for a small publishing house in Rome. They needed a literary translator (EN>IT), and the publisher, sure that it could be the right job for me, asked me to give it a shot. It went well, I kept both jobs for a while and then when I left the publishing house, I went on with my freelance career.
C: I chose to become a freelancer just to be able to devote myself more freely to my daughters (before, I did an office job that involved frequent travel with related organizational problems in the management of the girls).
3) How old are your children?
B: She’s four months old.
C: I have two girls: Alice, 10, and Emma, 8.
4) Do you receive any help at home with your children?
B: Yes, my mum helps me quite a bit, and for the first weeks my partner was home with me and we cared for the baby together (I don’t breastfeed, so it’s easier to have external help).
C: Grandparents are very present and helpful, but for the most part, except for impossible joints, I take care of the girls and of their activities.
5) What is your daily routine?
B: I wake up a little earlier than my baby, have breakfast and plan (more or less) the day. I try to make a (minimal) to-do list. When she wakes up I feed her, change her and then we go out for a walk or play a bit. She still sleeps a lot, so I can work while she’s napping. Of course, every day is different, but I try to squeeze a bit of work here and there.
C: I drive the girls to school at 8 a.m. and then I work until 3.30 p.m. Then I go to pick them up and I take everything off because I drive them to their extracurricular activities. If it is necessary (depending on the workload I have), I work in the evening after they have gone to bed or partly during the weekend.
6) Do you find that now that you have children, it is harder to complete your work?
B: Yes, it’s harder because my schedule is less predictable, but I hope in time we’ll find our rhythm.
C: No, but I specify that my daughters have always been quite quiet and that they were born and raised with respect for the fact that “mom works, even if from home.”
7) Do you feel as though you’ve been able to successfully grow your career while still being a mom?
B: I am a “young” mum, so, I’m not sure what my career will be in the near future. But surely having a few good clients helped a lot in not having bad repercussions: I was able to stay home for a couple of months without being afraid of losing my job because we already had a good working relationship.
C: Yes, I am satisfied with how I have reconciled these two aspects of my life and over the years I have managed to increase the number of my clients and improve the quality of my collaborations.
8) What is the most overwhelming part about juggling both a career and being a mom?
B: My baby is still very young, so maybe ask me again in a few years! Right now sleep deprivation is surely not nice, even though (so far!) it’s not as terrible as I thought.
C: The hardest part is when the girls are sick or something unexpected happens. When planning activities, I always keep this possibility in mind, so that I have a reasonable margin of time for “events” which are not scheduled.
9) Do you think that juggling a career and being a mom will get easier as your children get older?
B: Maybe I’ll have a better routine, or she’ll go to school so it could be easier for me to go back to work full time; but I also think that newborn babies are “easier” than older children, in a way. They require your presence, but maybe an older kid has different (and harder to meet) needs. I guess we’ll see!
C: I don’t think so, I firmly believe so! 🙂 In the early years, for example, it was impossible for me to work when they were at home because they didn’t make a distinction between their big and small demands and my commitments. Now, they are able to manage themselves even while I’m at the computer.
10) Do you know other “Mommy translators,” and if so do they share similar ideals with you?
B: A lot of my colleagues have children, and they are all different people and mothers, of course. But when I think of motherhood and freelance job I think about my good friend Chiara Rizzo. We worked together in the last three or four years and created our blog. She has two daughters, and she always managed to spend time with them and work full time. She tries to be a good mum and a good translator, and she works hard to achieve it. I really admire her spirit and her strength.
C: Yeah, and they kind of confirm what I think. Obviously, it depends on the age of the child because it is undeniable that with very small children the problems of organization are greater.
11) Is there any other career path you would have considered besides freelance translator?
B: I’ve always wanted to be a literary scout, for a big literary agency. Who knows, maybe someday…
C: I studied journalism, and I’d have liked to be a reporter. But I’m afraid that “going on the hunt for news” would have been much more complicated, I’m satisfied with my choice! 😉
12) What sort of things do you do to unwind/relax during the day?
B: I read novels and I try to spend as much time as possible with friends and family. And I do a bit of yoga and meditation (when I have enough time).
C: I read books, I like cinema (alone, at times when employees are in the office, another little luxury of freelancers!) and I just stay with my girls. I often go for walks, to relax and spend some time in my thoughts.
13) Do you think that you will ever stop working and focus solely on being a mom, or vice versa?
B: I don’t think so, I love and I feel good in both roles.
C: No, I don’t think I would feel complete if I gave up one of these two fundamental aspects of my life and person.
14) What is the most rewarding part of being a mom?
B: Of course having a baby changes your world, in many many ways, and I am still in the honeymoon phase. Everything my baby does is magic to me, even when she gurgles! I love waking up to her smiling little face, even if this means that I slept only three hours in one night.
C: That’s a question I can’t answer, there are so many of them! As a freelance mother, perhaps the most rewarding aspect is that my daughters are aware of the job I do, that they esteem and appreciate me for it, and that they recognize its importance.
15) How are you going to celebrate this Mother’s Day?
B: Maybe reducing my to-do list for the day. Thanks to my daughter I am learning the importance of having something else to focus on, other than my job.
C: I’ll be watching a rhythmic gymnastics competition, in which both girls participate. What better way to celebrate (hopefully!) Mother’s Day than with a big win?
Make sure to show appreciation and love to all the hardworking mothers you know, this Mother’s Day!