Jun 26Embracing “Mom” Means Redefining Me

Some girls know from an early age they want to be moms. They play with baby dolls, Barbie dolls, younger siblings, pretending to be moms, orchestrating the daily movements of their little charges.  And as they grow up, go to school, take jobs, travel, wherever their paths take them, they know without a shadow of a doubt that becoming a mom is something they will do.

I was not one of those girls. I spent the requisite amount of time with Barbie and baby dolls, and loved children, but never saw motherhood in my future. When I met my husband, we were both old enough that I thought “yippee, hopefully he is beyond the point of wanting children.” I was wrong.

Flash forward a few years. We’re happy newlyweds, and having been laid off from what I considered my dream job, I’ve decided to go entrepreneur and create a board game about food and chefs, Celebrity Chef! The Game.  Professionally I am exactly where I want to be. Life is great, and I am so in love with my honey that we decide to try and make a baby.

Looking at it practically, as someone who was only a few months away from the launch of her first product, we decided to start trying in late August, our calculus was it would take at least two-three months of trying before anything would happen. Then I’d be pregnant for nine months, giving me almost a year of “uninterrupted entrepreneurialness” before any baby would be on the scene. We’d figure out the rest of the game plan then.

HAH! Literally two weeks after we started trying and only three weeks before the game hit stores, I peed on a stick and everything in my life changed. Obviously we were thrilled, but this was sooner than we had planned. Turning my brain away from I’M PREGNANT and back to work was a challenge of nearly epic proportion.  Then came the morning sickness, which anyone who has been pregnant will tell you, is not confined to morning. All I knew was those months were supposed to be about me as a professional, not about me as a puker, who could barely eat or keep her eyes open, let alone get a reasonable amount of work done. Instead of having a “normal” pregnancy and gradually bonding and starting to truly feel this baby growing inside of me, I was forced to make her the priority from almost day one.

I did eventually feel better and find some balance, but was learning that once you start down that path to “mom,” everything else rearranges to accommodate. Eight weeks before her due date, I developed severe preeclampsia and Sara arrived via emergency C-section. And as everyone tells you, every aspect of your life DOES indeed change.

She was (is!) magical. But even in those early weeks, I knew I didn’t want to be a stay at home mom. As an entrepreneur, I never even had a true maternity leave and when my work hours ramped back up, and Sara spent more and more time with a sitter, I realized what a truly lucky position I was in. I had the best of both worlds. There was rarely a rush out the door in the mornings, and I could enjoy my coffee while Sara had her breakfast, then retreat to my home office for a few hours of work. When she was ready for lunch, I could take a break and sit with her while she ate, and when she had play dates at the house, I could join them for a bit, and get to know her “baby posse.”

That said, I certainly was not working as many hours as before, and my business reflected that. Combined with the recession, this was not good news. After two years of trying to make the game a hit, I wasn’t generating enough income, and decided to try to sell the company and move on to something else.

There is nothing like a job search to generate some introspection about who we are, what we want and what we find important. I had always been ambitious, and genuinely liked working, but the thought of leaving the house every day and going to an office suddenly now seemed unbearable. Even though I didn’t want to stay home, I also didn’t want to give up the precious time I spent with Sara throughout the day.

It took a surprisingly little amount of soul searching to make peace with this new reality; if I wanted to keep the current arrangement of working from home, my options were more limited in terms of advancement.

There isn’t a single thread of me that wants to get back on the traditional corporate ladder of success.  While I struggle with the work/home balance while working AT HOME, and with the feeling that my “mom and wife duties” don’t have as much value as those in the work environment (that’s a story that I’ll save for another day!), I know that the answer is to find a way to feel that what I do professionally and what I do at home contribute to a whole.  It means redefining success and career satisfaction. And that’s why I started Lunch With Sara. I know there are many moms who have made a similar choice, and who struggle with the same issues.

As I sit here and type, I can’t say that I have it all figured out. But every few minutes I can hear Sara laughing  downstairs, and I know I wouldn’t have it any other way.