In September, my family ventured north to the Western Maine Mountains for a camping weekend. The night before we trekked into the woods, we stayed with some friends. We hadn’t seen them since the spring and were thrilled to have a night to catch up.
Having put our son – H – to bed, I rounded the corner into the kitchen with a glass of wine. And that’s when I heard my husband tell our friends that I was “just a stay-at-home mom” and wasn’t really doing much work.
I froze, sending my red wine splashing up against the inside of my goblet. I suspected my husband – Big A – wasn’t taking my freelance writing business and pursuit of my master’s degree seriously, but I had never heard him say it out loud.
A pleasant, fake smile hid the anger boiling up inside me. He had no idea what it’s like to spend an entire day with a toddler, chasing H around, providing constant activities to stimulate our son’s racing mind, coaching the little guy not to pick his nose or bolt when we hopped out of the car. Big A doesn’t see me scramble to get the laundry done, dishwasher emptied and bed made before I sit down at my computer to respond to clients during H’s two-hour nap. No one is watching as I struggle to find the right words for a project, laboring to shift from mommy brain to professional writer brain.
But as I stifled murderous thoughts, I considered: Why would Big A know about my struggle to balance my work with motherhood? I never let on. By the time he walks in the door at 6pm each workday, the baby is fed and bathed. Meat is marinating, veggies are cut and rice is simmering. Toys are back in their woven baskets, ready to be dumped on the floor come morning.
Meanwhile, I haven’t showered or eaten a real meal all day, subsisting on scraps from H’s plate along with a handful of cashews and dried apricots for a little fruit and fiber. My BlackBerry keeps pinging with unanswered emails, and I’ve hit the “ignore” button more than a dozen times, prioritizing H’s cries over my clients’ beckoning.
My stress was building about the existing pile of projects. I hadn’t been able to grow my freelance writing business beyond two clients. I wasn’t taking enough time for me to be dedicated to this new career direction.
I quickly realized that Big A wasn’t taking my new career as an entrepreneur seriously because I wasn’t taking it seriously. I needed to change.
That weekend in Maine was glorious, filled with fall leaf peeping. And while Big A ran down the paths after H, I had a few moments to myself to come up with these resolutions:
- Hire someone to watch H a couple mornings a week. More un-interrupted time – in addition to H’s naptime – allows me to focus on my current projects.
- Ask my husband for time to work on the weekends. Big A only gets about 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening to play with H during the week. I need to view weekends as time for Big A to catch up with H. With me working in the mornings, Big A and H can voyage out on their own.
- Stick to a schedule. When I set aside time to work, I work. No surfing the web, reading blogs, or getting up to switch the laundry. Just me, my coffee and my laptop – all working in sync to meet my deadlines.
- Create a business plan. To grow my business, I have to carve out time to take stock in where I am and where I want to go. Even if it’s a loose plan, setting goals and putting them on paper will be a motivator.
- Be in the moment. When I’m writing, I write. But when I’m with H and Big A, I should try harder to be present and experience life's pulse rather than feel stressed about not answering work calls or emails.
These resolutions may not make my husband take my business seriously. But they’ll help me.