I am in the workplace, yet work from a sunny porch. I'm not in a 9-5 job with an HR department mandating my vacation time and maternity leave, but when I found out I was pregnant, a little bit of fear for my job included itself in the celebrations. I am an entrepreneur, a woman who runs a lot of things at once (not a one-woman-show, but...) and I'm pregnant.
CONFESSION #1: Assumptions
As someone who hires others for project-based jobs, and works with people on an ongoing basis in order to produce website projects for Tin Shingle and Katie James Pixelated, I have an awareness of children, and if children can affect deadlines I set for clients. The same goes for any life issue, and for any busy contractor who is managing several clients at once, but there is a certain assumption from others once "baby" or "pregnant" is mentioned, that you won't be available anymore, or for a while. My confession is that this does cross my mind that they might be right, despite my total support of mothers working (I don't even like calling it out because I see it as such a normal thing), and my total knowledge that mothers can handle working and raising a family. But the truth is, stuff happens that prevents you from working at your usual pace. And it's not like you can hide your pregnancy. People want to be happy for you, wish you well, and may need to know if you ate all of the wrong foods one weekend, followed by a stupid Wendy's cookie dough Frosty, because it explains why you "fell off the grid" one Monday when you got suddenly sick (what? no more fried fish and chips?). Or, the tests that come up, like the gestational diabetes screening test that takes an hour, requiring you to book projects on that day that do not require you to be online, but that you can work on (designing website mockups, reconciling Amex charges in QuickBooks, answering emails to keep jobs spinning, etc). So...you're still working, you're just working from an OB room, answering email on the iPhone and working with team members to get deadlines done. Not to mention the fact that that that screening test just led to the 3-hour confirmation test for a Tuesday morning at 8:15am, where you'd have to stay in the OB room for 3 hours while nurses draw blood once an hour while you've been fasting. Not to worry. This busy entrepreneur was raised by a mother who always packed her a back of goodies on road trips, so I will not be idle.
CONFESSION #2: Entrepreneurial Life at the End of the Tunnel to the New World
As much as I don't want Tin Shingle members and clients thinking I will disappear..., will I actually disappear? Will I find that iPhone app that turns the phone into a modem for a Mac (where is that darn thing??) This is a first time pregnancy, so I have no idea what my days and nights will be like, aside from stories people have shared. I confess that I do think my work life will end. I know this isn't true, because if it ended I would be twitching all the way to the kitchen. My mother raised me to have a career, which I have. The only difference is, I never wore all of those suits she bought me, and I don't work for a company that provides for me health insurance (I got that through the Freelancers Union, and now through my husband's union). So even though I know that I won't disappear and that my business will end, I have no idea what it will all look like (members and clients take note: this is just the fear talking... ;) I'm not going anywhere).
CONFESSION #3: Inspired by others I see doing it
One of the best benefits of my career and as co-founder of Tin Shingle, the entrepreneurs agency with community, is that I am surrounded by other entrepreneurs of like mind and lifestyle. They alone show me that I can do it. That I can raise a happy family and a happy career at the same time.
- Katie Danziger of nomie baby has three children and was so inspired by her experiences with them, that she created her nomie baby car seat cover. She just landed her product in Diapers.com and BuyBuyBaby.com.
- Cori Snyder Schuman of Celebrity Chef the Game has figured out how to distribute her board game for foodies through Amazon while raising her daughter.
- Outi Putkonan of Mugi Pottery Studio raises two rambunctious children while co-running an Upper West Side pottery studio in NYC, and she's filled that studio to the max with adult and kids classes, Date Night with Pottery, and many other ideas that she cranks into fruition. Our last phonecall was to dicuss website enhancements, which she conducted from the privacy of their coner of an ER while her son got stitches.
- Kathy Malone of the Brooklyn Indie Designers Market on Smith Street. Kathy raises her son, who sometimes helps run the booth, while achieving her dream of starting a weekly market - with a big red and white tent - for independent designers to sell from.
- Gina Papalia Stricks of Grasshopper Pilates in Soho, raises her two children, balancing her daughter's growing desire to mix and match her wardrobe to be as developed as her mother's, and Gina's new studio location and business partners (also first time pregnant!).
This list can go on and on.
The entrepreneurial lifestyle is not normal by any means, but it is liberating. One of my motivations for quitting my job and going out on my own as a website designer was to have my choice of vacation time. My husband works in the film industry, so while his working days can be very long and without break, his actual breaks can be for long stretches where he would take off on adventures. In theory, this is a great idea to tag along. In reality, I tag along, but I have permanent seats in different Paneras and Starbucks around the country that offer free wireless and an environment where I'm not saying "no, sorry I can't come" to family members who may be doing fun lifestyle things. The balance of life with work is maybe my biggest entrepreneurial challenge at the moment because they both bring me joy.
CONFESSION #4: The Lifestyle Balance
Which brings me to my final confession: I am looking forward to the schedule mandates. In college, I watched one of my roommates be so busy, yet get the best grades, have fun with her friends, and work as the manager of a dessert restaurant to support her way through school. In my final two years of college, I stepped up and took on a slew of projects, including a job and studying. My theory was that because of her busy schedule, she had to be planned, and she couldn't procrastinate. She couldn't afford to, or she'd miss deadlines for papers, or be tired at work. I am a person who can meander. I wouldn't call it ADD, I would call it stimulation, which sometimes works in my favor to get other things done that maybe didn't make it to the list but should have. The baby will have needs that must be met. There is no putting off feeding it, like I put off my own lunch. Thankfully, I do have some preparation for this, in that I have a dog and two cats who I love, and it's my dog who I can make time for to walk or pet or feed, which takes time away from working.
Already this pregnancy is improving my work life. It is making me schedule in a way that I only thought about (sad...thinking about how to schedule). I have to take the plunge to bring on an ongoing assistant, a Digital Traffic Controller, that I've been putting off for a year. That is the next logical step in terms of investment in my business, and one that needs to be made, pregnancy or not. So you see, these are all good things!