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The Next Chapter...

Fran Preston

Last week was a turning point in my life: I left my post as managing editor of Wednesday was officially my last day at Playboy's headquarters in Chicago—a place I've considered my home away from home for nearly a decade. I essentially grew up at Playboy. When I started as the copy editor I was a 27-year-old single girl about town (I simultaneously wrote a nightlife column for Chicago magazine during seven of those years and lived the life I wrote about). Now, I'm a 37-year-old mom and wife; a career woman with a family. Saying goodbye was bittersweet: Those were life-changing years for me and my career—I worked with some of the most talented writers, editors, photographers, designers, producers and ad execs in the business, including Mr. Playboy himself. I feel lucky to have been a part of history. And I loved every second of that job. So the obvious question now is: What's next?

I've been fantasizing about "what's next" for a long time now. Ever since I became a mom, I've wondered if the grass is any greener on the other side. Can I be my own boss? How will I juggle a full-time freelance career while being a part-time stay-at-home mom? Will I be happy with a schedule that allows for more flexibility? Obviously I love the idea of spending more time with Preston, but will I miss the corporate culture, and 9-to-5(ish) workday? The answers may seem obvious, but it's much more complicated than I thought. Working full time is all I've ever known; I've been doing it for 15 years.

As someone who likes structure, and the collaborative creative process, the idea of going out on my own is scary. I've always been envious of working moms whose companies allow them to work from home part time. But many of those moms say that working out of an office is actually easier for them. From my own experience, the days I worked from home were nice but difficult; I'd literally have to hide out in my bedroom/office so that Preston wouldn't know I was there. He'd peek under the door to look for me if he suspected I was home, and I'd have to turn down the lights and type as softly as possible, and whisper on conference calls. Working from home even with a nanny, when you have a curious, rambunctious toddler at home, is a tricky balancing act. Maybe even trickier than the one I've been doing as a full-time work-outside-the-home mom.

Whether I end up being a dedicated freelance writer and editor, and finally getting to write my book, or I end up going back to the corporate world, I know this change will ultimately be good for me, and good for our family. 

Timing is everything. I'm writing this blog from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico—a trip we planned long before I knew exactly when I'd be leaving Playboy. We're on a child-free vacation with two other couples; a much-needed, stress-free getaway with our closest friends (I strongly recommend doing this as soon as you leave your job, by the way). I have nothing but time to think about my future right now. And nothing but time to not think about anything other than what we're having for dinner tonight, and whether or not I should bother showering later. 

I think there comes a time in everyone's life when you need to take inventory—the hectic pace of juggling work and family doesn't give you much time for that. This distance is allowing me to get some perspective on what I really want for my future and what's best for our family. The truth is, my interests have changed—what I wanted when I was 27, both professionally and personally, is drastically different than what I want now.

I'm not going to lie though: This fork in the road is pretty frightening, but it's also kind of thrilling to know that I have endless opportunities ahead of me no matter which path I decide to take.

Work-from-home moms: Is the grass any greener? Am I crazy to think that I might actually miss the corporate world one day? 

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