On Motherhood and Business Ownership

Spoiler alert: My new Business of Baking podcast is going to launch vvvveeerrryyyyy soon, and I’m crazy excited about it.

This week I sat down to write my latest podcast episode, which is all about the things I/we did to survive simultaneously raising toddler triplets and growing a business. (If you’re new here, the long story short is that I started my business when my triplets were just about three years old. Yes, I’m freaking crazy. Yes, I survived it. No, it wasn’t easy.) Anyway as I was writing out the things I wanted to share, it occurred to me that one of the most difficult parts for me was not the time management, the logistics, or feeling like a bad Mom because I didn’t make it to ballet or basketball. Sure, those were hard. Harder was trying not to feel bad because I WANTED to be working MORE.

Yes. I just said that out loud. I wanted to work more than I wanted to play with Play-Doh or hang out in the local park.

I got frustrated with the limitations I thought motherhood was placing on me, mostly limitations of time and money.  There were times when I wanted to work on a cake a bit longer or talk to a client but my kids needed picking up or dropping off (or something!) They needed me to look after them, and that need was non-negotiable. There were times when I thought, “If I didn’t have to worry about mortgages and feeding kids, I’d gladly live off of 99c noodles and throw WAY more money at this business.” Having a family meant I simply could not take the financial risks I otherwise might have.  Don’t misunderstand me. My children are adored and very much wanted. It’s that I am a mother who loves to work, loves to achieve things, loves to be productive and has a very strong identity which is outside of being “the triplet Mom.” I wanted to spend time with my kiddos AND I wanted to be a kick ass businesswoman and many is the time I simply could not do both and it annoyed the shit out of me. After all, I have only 2 legs, 2 arms and 24 hours in each day. They had the same 24 hours but 6 arms, 6 legs and 3 mouths to feed. They win. Every time.

My family inside my new cake shop before we build the insides of it.

I’m not embarrassed or ashamed to say that I never wanted to be a stay at home Mom. The idea of running a business from home while my children ran around my legs was not at all appealing. I am in awe of mothers who make either of those choices because I think they need far more patience, selflessness and grace than I’ve got. Those choices were not the right ones for me. For mothers like me, we think it’s not acceptable to admit that we LIKE to work, that we don’t necessarily want to give up our careers and that yeah, we enjoy working A LOT. As it’s difficult to admit to those things (because we fear judgement by other mothers), we often end up quite isolated and therefore beat ourselves up for feeling as we do.  Sure, plenty of Moms in the park will nod and laugh if you say, “I’d so rather be drinking wine right now!” but not many are going to nod and laugh if you say, “I’d so rather be in the office right now!”

Another thing I feel no shame about – I love the attention, authority and positive reinforcement I get by being a business owner. When I talked about making an event special, how to create the structure of a cake, or I smoothed over the ruffled feathers of a disgruntled Mother in Law, people respected me and listened. When I led my employees with a mix of hard love and good grace, they appreciated it. When I walked into a room carrying a cake, people would stop and look at it and tell me how beautiful it was (and therefore, how amazing I was for creating it.) I crave and appreciate those things enormously…and while being a mother does have many of its own rewards, nobody is telling me how awesome I am because I filled in yet another set of permission forms. Most of a mother’s work goes unnoticed. I’m very fortunate because my kids DO notice and appreciate what I do for them, but that notice and appreciation is simply different to that you get in a work setting. It’s not better or worse, it’s different.

One of my last students before I sold my business: my daughter Alexis

Today, I wanted to shout out to those Moms who feel guilty because they wish they could work more and achieve more, faster. The Moms who like to work and sometimes guiltily wonder if their careers or businesses would be different or better if they didn’t have kids.  This doesn’t make us bad Moms. It doesn’t make us anything other than women who like to get shit done and who have no problem admitting that there is more than one part of ourselves which needs fulfillment.

If you’ve read any of my articles before you’d know I think that work/life balance is an entirely bullshit concept to begin with. After my Dad passed away, I (like many people I imagine who experience grief and loss) changed my entire perspective about time, love and family. I cared a lot more how and when I spent my time. I felt very strongly (and still do) that childhood can only be experienced once, while business is something that can and will wait and can be experienced at any time, even multiple times. As a result, I started to feel even more guilty about how much I wanted to work and how much I enjoyed it. I mean, life is short! I should be spending as much time as possible with my kids! I should be making Play-Doh by hand and feeding them organic everything and designing scavenger hunts on paper I made myself!

What a colossal waste of time that guilt was and what a massively bullshit story I had in my head.

Funny thing, the stories we have in our heads.

Now that I am able to look back at my children’s childhood (they’re fifteen now) I don’t have any regrets. No regrets about how much time I spent with them or how much time I spent working. On different days I had to do different things and my priorities had to shift and grow as their needs shifted and grew.  I still believe childhood won’t wait while business will – and I also know that MY LIFE won’t wait either.  My Dad has missed out on a lot of experiences because he lived a shorter life than he expected. Childhood won’t wait. Neither will my life and what I want to do with it.

For me, I’ve learned that it’s okay to love my kids AND love my job and want to spend more time on one or the other at different times. It’s because I value my kids lives AND my life that I try to find a way to make it work, however imperfectly.

You’re allowed to be imperfect too. 

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