Becoming a Working Mom

Letting go of your business (even just a little) friggin’ hurts!

I’m an entrepreneur, yes. But not the kind who’s built a business that now has a hundred employees and runs itself. Quite the opposite, actually. I’m the kind who’s in professional services – I’m a copywriter who works directly with my clients. I’m heavily involved and working hard on a daily basis.

In other words, no maternity leave for moi.

I’ve Been a Working Mother Since Day One

The thought of letting my inbox accumulate for more than a day makes me a little jittery. To me, sifting through the crap and answering any legitimate messages isn’t work. It’s just something I do. Customer service is ridiculously important to me. Make my clients wait more than a few hours to hear back from me? Never.

So, naturally, one of the items on my hospital packing list prior to my son’s birth was my laptop.

About an hour before we left the hospital, we were waiting for one more test (the hearing test) and had a few minutes to kill. My husband was enjoying time with the little guy so, in my mind, it only made sense for me to take this opportunity to check my emails.

If you’re self employed, if you’re dedicated to your work, if you don’t have a mat leave or if you’re just generally a woman who’s always “connected” I know you get it. If you don’t fall into one of these categories, you might think this is downright crazy!

Let me explain something: emptying my email inbox at the hospital makes me smart, not crazy. It was a small yet significant task that demonstrates one key fact about me…

I’m a productivity addict.

No matter what I’m doing, no matter who I’m with, no matter what the setting, productivity is key. And you know what? It’s part of what makes me a good worker, a good business owner and a good mother!

Dealing with Unfinished Work

About a week before I gave birth, I turned off my ad campaign. All my regular and existing clients were fully informed of my situation months before my due date, knowing very well that projects might get interrupted, depending on when exactly my little one decided to make an appearance.

Apparently he couldn’t wait because I delivered two weeks early. Needless to say, that meant unfinished work and projects on hold. Something that didn’t sit too well with me.

You see, I’m anything but a procrastinator. I like having first drafts of all copy that I write to be complete significantly in advance of any final deadline so I can ponder it, let it simmer and then revisit it multiple times before my clients ever see the work once.

If you’ve got kids you know that in the first couple of weeks after you give birth life is mayhem! You’re trying to figure out what the hell you’re doing, you’re discovering who your baby is, you’re treasuring those first few precious moments, and you’re establishing some kind of routine with your partner as you do your best to raise the next kid genius.

There ain’t no time for work!

This was the start of my “letting go” process.

hand-letting-go
Accepting the Fact that I Have to Let Go

It didn’t take me long to realize a few very important things:

  1. You only get the first day, of the first week, of the first month, with your first child, once.
  2. There’ll always be work to do.
  3. You have the rest of your life to work and make money.
  4. Taking a break doesn’t make you any less of a business owner.
  5. If you don’t give your baby all of you, you’re not only cheating yourself but your baby too.
  6. You made a choice to become a mom – so be one!

Saying “No” to Business Isn’t in My DNA

Even though I turned off my ad campaign, doesn’t mean I wasn’t getting new leads. In fact, I worked my ass off for years to make sure that all my new business wasn’t only coming from paid online advertising. My sites are search engine optimized too.
Potential clients were still knocking at my door.

In the first couple of weeks I made the mistake of accepting new projects, thinking that as long as I extended my deadlines, I’d be able to manage.

Yeah right!

I quickly realized that caring for a newborn is a full-time job. And when you tack on doctor’s appointments, specialist consultations, unexpected procedures and unforeseen treatments (all to try and fix my painful latching issues with breastfeeding), there really is NO TIME for work.

So I had to say “no”.

A lot.

And then sit back and try to calmly deal with the knots in my stomach as I realized it’s just not in my makeup to turn away business.

Benefits of Being a Working Mom

I’m happy to say that it really does get easier. It’s been three and a half months and I’ve accepted the fact that I can’t say “yes!” to every single project. But, I can to some. I’m a happy, thriving and PRODUCTIVE working mom. And I’ve learned that, in fact, I’m glad I don’t have a mat leave.

Here’s why:

When you’re a working mom, you:

  • Maximize your time
  • Become more efficient (I’ll explain my theory behind this in my next post)
  • Make excellent use of your time when Baby is asleep
  • Watch less TV
  • Get the intellectual stimulation you need to still feel like yourself
  • Are always productive
  • Make money
  • Feel good about yourself
  • Get the best of both worlds

Are you a working mother?
What have you learned?
Do you love your work time or do you envy your mat leave friends?

Tell me all about it.

4 thoughts on “Becoming a Working Mom”

  1. Sounds like we have the same “problems!” I remember answering email in the hospital and during late night feedings. It’s part of the gig being a freelance graphic artist. My clients were both deeply appreciative and incredibly generous in their support of my situation and continued to give me their business because of the relationships I’ve built.

    For me, career is an important part of my identity and contributes to a healthy, happy, balanced momma for my daughter. All of the benefits of being a working mom that you mentioned above are spot on!

  2. I couldn’t agree more, Jen. My work is a huge part of who I am too!

    Like you, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how accommodating my clients have been and I couldn’t be more appreciative of their continued business. It’s so nice to maintain a balanced lifestyle, but it’s certainly challenging!

    Wow, emails during feedings. Impressive!

  3. As a young woman, feminist and (possibly, maybe, one day, eventually…etc. etc. a mother) I am really appreciating your blog. My favourite thing that you said in this post was that being a working mom meant you got to keep feeling like yourself. I feel like that is something that people – especially women – often feel they can’t say. As if to be a good mom you have to stop other initiatives that make you happy and refocus entirely on the wee babe when in fact I think children who grow up seeing their parents are passionate about their lives and what they do will foster the same joy and initiative in the little ones. That said, what an adjustment to balance it all and have to scale back some to enjoy being a new parent – you are only human after all! It is an honour to watch you and your new family embrace this new and exciting part of your lives!

    1. My dear Claire. How proud I am of you. You’ve grown into a beautiful, intelligent and driven young woman. Thank you so much for the positive feedback – it means so much to me, you have no idea! I couldn’t agree more. And I think, more and more today, women (and mothers) are coming to the realization that there CAN be a happy, balanced middle ground. If you’re willing to compromise, shift a few things around, scale back, scale up, and most importantly, ADAPT, you can live a life that fulfills you in many different ways. Not just one. And I think there’s tremendous value in that.

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