This is a word that has been coming up a lot. I get asked every now and then if I mind sharing such personal details about my life on a public blog. The answer would be no. I wouldn’t write anything that I wouldn’t feel comfortable sharing. The other question I might get asked is “why?”. I often say that this blog is more for me than for any audience, but the “why” part of it did become a little more clear when I sat down a few weeks ago with Joanne Wilson who interviewed me for her Woman Entrepreneur Mondays series. We talked, among many things that morning over coffee, about how we were both in agreement that there could be more sharing and honest discussion among women, particularly women who were also working mothers. This is happening more these days on the web via social media and blogs, but there still could be so much more – and I don’t mean fashion tips on what shape dress is the most flattering on your post-pregnancy body or what color wall will be the next trend in kid rooms. I love eye candy distractions as much as the next girl, but I do have a limit, and at the end of the day the most inspiring content on the web for me isn’t going to be a moodboard.
I totally get that blogging of this nature isn’t for everyone. You open yourself up and you’re also opening yourself up to haters, critics, and people who just can’t help themselves by telling you what they think of you. But that’s ok. It’s worth it to get a comment or an email from a reader who can relate to something I’m writing and who then doesn’t feel so lonely for feeling the same things, or from someone who might aspire to have children one day, but can’t quite figure out how to make it work with their career. Our life path isn’t for everyone and I’ve never aspired to be some kind of role model for “the working mother”, but if I’ve helped shed some light to anyone’s questions on balancing work and family by perhaps showing that parenthood and a career doesn’t have to be so black and white, that there are alternative lifestyles out there beyond a 9-5 existence, then I’m happy to have helped in that small way.
Things have changed since I first became a mom in 2004. Things are shifting and the economy isn’t the same. It seemed like most of the new mothers I was meeting back then decided to stay home. Some of the moms went back to work full time after their 3 month maternity leave and I didn’t see them very much after that. I rarely, if ever, met a mother who freelanced like I did and I often felt like I couldn’t relate to either the stay-at-home moms or the working moms because really, in one sense, I was both. I wish there were other people that I could have talked to back then who could relate to the kind of life that we were trying to build, but we just figured it out ourselves as we went along. Our situation was born because we couldn’t afford full time childcare, but we couldn’t live off of Mark’s salary either, so I needed to work. I was always the main breadwinner of the family and that wasn’t necessarily going to change just because we had kids. Somehow we made it happen in the past 7 years through juggling schedules, a PT nanny 2 days a week (up until last summer) and tag team childcare even if it meant that we were sleeping less or that Mark often went to my mother’s group playdates in place of me. If we were being really honest with ourselves, the juggling may have played a part in a few lost projects or jobs, so it’s not been without sacrifices. Often, it was stressful. But in the past few years, I have met more families like ours. I meet women all the time who are starting or running small businesses while raising their kids, or families where both the parents are freelancers or own a business together. Perhaps the change in economy has instigated this, or perhaps we’re all starting to think differently about what it means to be working parents since the traditional structure of corporate America doesn’t make it easy to be a working mom.
And this is why I choose to share. It’s not because I think my life is better than yours (I assure you, it is probably not). It’s not because I aspire to be some kind of role model or blog celebrity (that whole concept is so weird and strange). It’s not because I have anything to teach anybody. What I do have, through age and experience for a lack of a better way to describe it, are stories and I genuinely believe that through sharing, we can help each other out. To tell each other that it’s ok to get angry, to be sad and frustrated, to be scared and lonely sometimes. That it’s ok to be all of these things even as mothers. Although I love my children dearly and I am proud of the little people that they are turning out to be, being a mother isn’t my greatest achievement in life. It may very well turn out to be in the end, but I don’t know this to be true yet because I haven’t finished living my life. Being a mother isn’t what defines me. It’s part of who I am, but it isn’t what defines me. I get to decide what does.