MOM + ENTREPRENEUR = Better Mom
He’s 22 months and he’s a ball of energy. He’s as tall as my dining room table and can reach over and knock my stack of papers over. He exerts his almost two-year-old will and climbs three flights of stairs on his own. He loves making a mess at dinner. When he says “mama,” with his arms stretched out to me, my heart melts.
It’s hard and it’s rewarding
Being an entrepreneur is HARD. It’s sometimes lonely, it takes patience, hard work, and inspiration.
Being a mom is also HARD. Your life doesn’t feel like your own, you cater to the needs of your small human. You (read: I) lose your identity a bit when you give up your wants for the sake of another human.
If you’re going through this right now, there’s hope. You can be a good mom. You can be a business woman.
Have you had a good cry session recently that felt like you had lost your soul a little bit caring for your family? Do you feel like you are so alone? Does nobody around you understand your desire to be “something more” than a mom? I get it. I felt so guilty for a while for even uttering the words, “I want to do more.”
When I read Dana Malstaff’s BOSS MOM (which I highly recommend), it solidified my realization that before my son, I had hopes and dreams; being a mom was part of that happiness equation that I envisioned in my future. I didn’t need the guilt for wanting other things too!
Taking a Bold Leap into Nothing
Let me tell you a little story…
When my son was 11 months old, I left my salaried, awesome job in Higher Education. It was a stressful decision because I loved my position, my responsibilities, and the way that the job had developed me as a professional. It was also an easy choice because my commute was about two and a half hours each way, including daycare stops. After 6 months of doing this awful commute in the DC metro area, which has some of the worst traffic patterns in the country, I was ready to be done and take a leap to not being in the position any more. Without much of an exit plan, I gave my supervisor several months notice that I would be leaving.
Every day of my commute, I’d pick my little boy up from daycare to a report that showed me how delighted his teachers were to have him in the classroom. It warmed my heart that he was developing and growing. While to some parents, it may have felt like they were cheated out of those memories, it only mattered to me that my boy was loved, nurtured and growing. When I gave my notice, something shifted in my experience as a mom. I stopped feeling like a taxi driver and a milk machine and started to feel like a partner in the journey to shape him as a person.
When my time at the University finally ended, I was sad. I felt like my identify went from working mom to full time stay at home mother. But honestly, I was so relieved that I didn’t have to commute any more. I’ll tell you, though, being a full time parent is tough. It takes energy, patience and a little intention to make sure that your kiddo is healthy, happy and nurtured. It was a challenge but I told myself I needed to be grateful for the opportunity. Many families are robbed of this experience for one reason or another and I needed to make the most of it. (read: lots of guilt)
From October to March, I thought hard about what I would do, if I were to go back to work. I wrote out my non-negotiables and figured out what values needed to be honored in order for me to return to work. These months were tough as my kiddo was learning to become incredibly mobile and independent and working on something for an extended period of time was becoming virtually impossible. It was wearing on me that I wasn’t being productive and I could be accomplishing more. I felt guilty that I didn’t believe that my son wasn’t a good enough “job” and that I craved more for myself.
Through several opportunities that allowed me to put my son into daycare three days a week, I got the courage to pursue my dreams of entrepreneurship. It was a few hours here and there, watering the plant that is the beginning stages of owning a business. Just in the first few weeks of my journey, I felt like I had started to grow a new form of my identity. External validation of doing good work and making an impact fueled my desire to do more of what I’d started.
I’m a better mom for it
Entrepreneurship has given me the opportunity to be fully committed to my work + my family. It has given me the freedom to decide when I work, and how hard I work. Being my own boss has given me the identity of being a productive and impactful professional in my industry. By having all of these experiences, I am able to be a better mother. Because I have an identity that’s separate than being my son’s mother, I feel more complete.
I feel better about myself and therefore, I am able to give more of my best self to my family. Even my husband who doesn’t always notice things like this has noticed that the energy that I emanate has changed since pursuing my own business adventure.
I have my kiddo in daycare three days a week. The rest of the time that I have him, I feel like I have an extra few days to be with him. I get to engage with him and see life from his eyes. We go to the library, the park, to playgroups, to the pool. Inspiration for my business flows from me by being present for my son. Feelings of mommy-guilt are strong. Whether I’m working or being a stay at home mom, I’ve experienced guilt. I am now more mindful of spending time with my family in a very intentional way. Being present for experiences rather than trying to multi-task while trying to also spend time with my family has been an ongoing lesson to achieve a balance of working and mommyhood.
This experience has taught me that by having a fulfilling career and being an emotionally present mom and wife, I can have a cup that runneth over. I have so much to live for and so many things I want to accomplish in my personal and professional lives.
Here are some questions to ask yourself if you’re struggling with similar issues, even if you aren’t an entrepreneur:
- Does the work that I do make me feel fulfilled?
- How do I feel when I’m the caretaker of my child all the time?
- What would it do for me and my family (emotionally, financially), if I could invest in myself to have my child be watched by a caretaker?
- What are you happy with right now?
- If you’re a stay at home mom now, what are your non-negotiables for going back to work?
- How would your child/children benefit from you going back to work? How would your children benefit if you stayed at home?
- What makes you feel like you’ve come alive? What is your calling?
- What does your ideal life or week look like?
- What would become available to me if I did choose to/or continued to work?
- How can I better take care of myself to make my situation work for my family?
Tell me, where are you in the mom or business owner journey?