… do not exist. You do you. And that’s it.
When I found out I was pregnant, I did what most self-employed Millennials do. I googled for support. And came up short. With a growing number of mothers who are entrepreneurs and/or self-employed, why wasn’t there a go-to resource to help us navigate this chapter of our lives that is already filled with financial insecurity and overall uncertainty about the choices we had made in life so far? My initial plan was to wait for Katherine Wintsch’s forthcoming book “Slay Like A Mother” and have her tell me how to do this. Then I found out it wouldn’t hit the market until early next year, and I had to come up with an alternative. And this is it:
The term “mompreneur” has always made me cringe. If you love and associate with it, great! And no offense. Simply not my cup of tea. My friend Ashley once pointed out “We never talk about dadpreneurs, do we?” And yet, I feel there is a difference. I don’t like the language of “lead parent” or “primary caregiver”. It’s possible I just don’t care for these types of labels. In the case of my family, I have been spending most days with our baby girl while papa goes off to work. I genuinely and deeply enjoy it. Everyone assures me that these first years will fly by and - since this might be our only child - I am hanging on to these many sweet moments for dear life.
As soon as people found out I was pregnant, everyone had advice for me. I heard first hand stories of labor that lasted sixty hours and was guaranteed I would be unable to work out or wash my hair or feed myself for the first year of my daughter’s life.
With 32 short years of life experience I knew better than to buy into all these nightmares and freak out preemptively. I listened to all of them (not that you have a choice), took what advice I thought made sense, and generously ignored the rest. I figured I would have enough time to lose my cool once she was born. And as it turned out, none of these horror scenarios came true for us (yet).
Disclaimer: I do not attribute our current quality of life to my badass skills as a mother whatsoever. It turns out my daughter loves to sleep and eat (she takes after me in that regard), and is a happy camper most of the time. Compared to working full time during my pregnancy, I suddenly found myself having time to cook, read and mentally prepare myself for our upcoming move to Canada. Were she a baby that doesn’t sleep through the night, gets sick a lot or doesn’t eat, this blog post would sound very different or - more likely - wouldn’t even exist for lack of sleep and sanity on my part. But she is she and that how we find ourselves here.
The Business Side
My early research left me with the conclusion that in order to take maternity leave as a self-employed woman, I had the option to sign up for short-term disability insurance (too late when I found out) or work extra hard throughout my pregnancy. Let’s pause her for a second. Not only was I repulsed by the idea that maternity leave qualified me as “disabled”, but I would have had to sign up for this insurance months before I found out I was pregnant. And trying to cram three+ months worth of work into a schedule that was already bursting at the seams was Out. Of. The. Question. I couldn’t even put my second shoe on without breaking into a sweat.
Instead, I started hamstering my money. I spent hours finagling financial models for different scenarios of maternity leave. How much would I need to take three months off? And five months? I chose wisely what to spend money on and got a kick out of watching my bank balance grow.
Further, I didn’t tell anyone when I would be back. I simply didn’t know. And I wanted flexibility once she was born. If being home with a newborn all day turned out to make me miserable, I wanted the option of going back to work. And if I enjoyed maternity leave so much that I never wanted to work again, I wanted to keep that option open, too. Being two extreme ends of a spectrum, I suspected the truth to lie somewhere in between. And it did.
You do you.
As for me, we moved from the U.S. to Canada when our daughter was four months old. If you know anything about me (or read this blogpost) you know that I thrive on structure. When we arrived in Toronto, I set myself three goals to keep me focused throughout the ups and downs of everyday life:
And here is what that looks like in real life:
Do I ever get impatient about not working harder? Absolutely.
Do I grow concerned every time I check my once promising bank balance? You bet!
Do I wish we had family or friends up here that I could turn to for help or advice, or a simple chat over coffee? A full-throated YES!
But I know that doubts and fears don’t help me move forward. I also know that they will pass if I stare them down long enough without giving in. And on the occasion that I risk spinning out of control, I remind myself that I have never heard a parent say “I wish I had spent less time with my daughter/son when they were little.”
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the support of my wonderful husband who keeps me grounded, reminds me of what matters and has my back with everything I do. Thank you.
Observations from living the life of a Social Venturer