Four years ago, I was met with that dreaded day that all new working mothers face:
My 14 weeks of maternity leave had come to a close and I had to leave my 3-month old baby to go back to work.
Through tears, I drove to the office preparing myself for re-entry.
The day dragged on in a haze and I remember doing everything I could to focus on my work and not the little face staring at me from the picture frame on my desk.
I survived the day, but when I walked through the door I fell into my mother-in-law’s arms. I choked back tears telling her I couldn’t do this anymore. I knew this wasn’t how I wanted motherhood to go, yet I had no idea what to do to change it.
I had been working in my career in collegiate athletics marketing for almost a decade.
I was one of the top young pros in my field, being groomed for the highly esteemed role of a future Division I Athletic Director, a role that in 2015, the year after I left my corporate job, only 37 women out of 313 Division I athletic directors held the position. (1)
But after becoming a mom, it didn’t take long for me to realize, that juggling a demanding corporate career and raising a family meant sacrificing the latter and outsourcing the most important job of my lifetime.
All of this caught me by surprise, but I had become absolutely certain that very first day I went back; something had to give.
For the next 5 months, I was climbing an uphill battle in wanting to be present for my daughter, make a positive impact at work and be true to myself.
Long story short, my daughter won.
I quickly realized that to be a working mother in the corporate world, I was going to have to miss the moments I could never get back and decided that these moments were non-negotiables for me.
And so, 8 months after our little girl was born, I made the leap and launched my own business. I gave my notice with one new client on the books and made the courageous decision to figure it out along the way. I knew I had skills to help others, the tenacity and work ethic to get it done and a really important reason for making it all work.
In the early days, I grew my business during naptime.
That meant I had 2 hours per day to coach clients and then another 2-3 hours before bedtime when my husband got home from his job as a police officer.
And at first, I did it all: web and graphic design, photography, copywriting, editing and coaching. I focused on what people needed, what skills I had to offer, and created branding and marketing services to help them grow their businesses.
My days (while blurry) looked something like this-
Take care of my child.
Put her down for her first nap. (Work for 2 hours)
Post nap mama mode.
Do the family thing as my husband returned home from work.Work again at the computer until my eyes were crossing.
Sleep for a few hours and do it all over again.
I didn’t have the 40-50 hours per week to devote to growing my business that were required of me in my corporate career.
I made time where time allowed. I was creative, resourceful, and yes- I was willing to be exhausted for a while. I knew that working hard at the onset would more than pay off in the long run;
and being a New England born, former Division I athlete, myself...hard work has always been something I’ve known how to do.
But, in addition to the hard work, I was also extremely intentional with those pockets of time- I didn’t allow myself to be distracted with social media and mindless scrolling when I had one hour to focus on newsletters or web design.
I kept my eyes on the big picture and remembered why I walked away from a career that I loved for the life I was now living.
In my first calendar year as a Branding Strategist and Business Coach, I hit the one milestone I quietly set for myself. I didn’t even tell my husband I was working towards this goal, and then on the one-year anniversary of my business launch, I crunched my numbers one final time to realize that I did it. In year one of my business, I hit $100,000 in gross revenue while raising our girl full-time and working 15-20 hours per week.
It was in that moment that I realized the sky was the limit (I have since eclipsed the $1M mark in my company and we are on track to have our most profitable year yet.)
I learned that I could, in fact, merge my business life and my home life successfully and be wildly happy doing what I love while tending to the two most important corners of my world; my own heart and my family’s.
Today, I am the one who gets to raise my daughter, and I get to outsource parts of my business to other people- not the other way around- and I get to empower fellow mamapreneurs and women to pursue their dreams in the process
It seemed daunting at the time, but I always trusted that the sacrifices I made in the early days would lead me to what it was that I really wanted: to be fully present for my family and to be there for the things I couldn’t get a replay on.
My work is about helping women take radical personal responsibility for the trajectory of their lives. I don’t do that by accident; I do that because that is what I had to do myself to be the mother and wife that I knew I was meant to be. My business grew out of a necessity to live a life that was true to me.
And it turns out, following that path, not only helped me to come home to myself and my family but to a life of even greater service.
Where is your path leading you?
- New York Times, 2015; In Search for Athletic Directors, Women Are Neglected in Texas and Beyond https://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/16/sports/ncaafootball/women-athletic-directors-overlooked-in-texas-and-beyond.html