Today is Mother’s Day. A day where all Mothers are honored for everything they do.
As moms we want everything for our children that we never had. We want them to have the best food, the best school, and the most nurturing environment possible. For some moms that means staying at home, for other moms that means placing them in the capable hands of a professional childcare provider while they work outside the home.
It’s ironic that on a day dedicated to Mothers I should be feeling like such a failure.
You see, I grew up in an environment where I very rarely if ever received any praise for anything I did. I grew up in an Asian household. My mom was widowed and raised us on her own. The standards were high and the rules were many. It wasn’t often that we received much other than criticism, but it was her way of loving us.
What happens when you grow up in that sort of environment is that you seek praise elsewhere. I imagine it’s what molded my very Orange personality, which is a personality that is very outgoing, gregarious, needs to be the center of the party and requires words of affirmation.
But as a mom you’re your own worst critic. You question every day whether you’re feeding them the right food, have them in the right school, socialize them enough, manage their emotions properly, don’t yell at them too much. You’re your own worst critic.
This is particularly difficult when both you and your husband are entrepreneurs. In the infancy of small businesses, the demands are many. You have to invest a significant amount of time in building your brand, being present, making tweaks and constantly innovating. This is particularly true when you work in consumer business.
July of last year I started the process of becoming a full time LuLaRoe retailer. Simultaneously I was working in my own marketing business. It was a difficult transition. I was at the office from 9am to 9pm many nights. Simultaneously, Kyle was trying to get a brewery off the ground. He worked a regular 8-5 job and then went to work at that brewery after I got home until 11pm or 12am most nights.
Prior to this, our children had the regular toddler day care life. We dropped them off at 7:15am and picked them up around 5:30pm. Being heavily invested into our careers, our children were often in the small group of the last children to be picked up. Back then I felt that we didn’t get enough time with them. After all, a few minutes in the morning and then 2 hours before they go to bed isn’t much.
I didn’t place much importance on those two hours. We, like many other families, lived for the weekends. But once we started the process of opening our own business, things changed. We started getting more incident reports from the school about our 4 year old. We wrote them off – but over time they became more serious, until we made the decision to pull him out of school.
Now I realize this is a lot of framing, and since it’s been so long since I wrote about my life, some of you may not see that I”ll come to my point – but it’s coming, nonetheless.
A few months ago we decided that it was time for Kyle to leave his full time job so that we could have a more consistent schedule with the kids. I had the ability to attempt to remake his income by pushing my business a little more…but I seriously underestimated what would be required to replace another 6 figure income in my business, and for the last few months we’ve struggled pretty heavily with our bills.
It’s probably the worst financial situation that we’ve been in since we both got let go from our in-house consulting positions. But we were committed to making it work. The kids mattered too much.
We found an amazing nanny. We knew that the amount of time we would spend with them needed to be quality and that we couldn’t be trying to simultaneously build businesses and be with them full time. In my eyes when you bring on someone else who is much better than you at something you need done – it’s always a win.
Over the last few months we’ve spent more time with our children than ever before and built our businesses into something that I’m super proud of. While we still have yet to bring our incomes to what they were previously, we understand that this is a process and if we continue to build – it will come.
But what I didn’t realize also came with being a committed entrepreneur was also judgement of lifestyle. See, it’s our job to make people on the outside of our businesses feel like they’re missing a party. So many of the photos that we post on Facebook are of us celebrating with friends, having a great time and, well, partying.
Yes. In the simplest terms, we get paid (well, one of us does for now, anyway) to party. It’s our job to bring more and more people to our events so that they purchase our products. That comes with a significant time commitment. It means that we have to be there. Talking to people, engaging with customers, upselling them, inviting them to become more loyal customers and spending time creating an atmosphere. We have to expand our network – we have to make sure that every single person has an incredible time. It’s something that, as a business owner (particularly in the beginning), no one else can create for you. Kyle brings a certain amount of knowledge in marketing and relationship building. I bring a completely different ability to see and read energies in a room and make very small adjustments to ensure that everyone is having the best possible time.
It seems very easy – and it’s likely that we make it seem easy, because hospitality is something that either comes very naturally to you, or not.
(I swear this all will make sense soon).
In the back of my head, I thought – we’re working on our businesses and we’ve hired someone amazing to teach and spend time with our children while we do this. We’re making time sacrifices now to spend more time later. My feelings were affirmed at a training I went to on a cruise where one of the top retailers in the company told a room full of people that sacrifices were necessary in order to excel at the highest level in anything.
We posted a lot of amazing photos having a good time on that cruise, but what others may not have seen was the strategic building sessions. Many told us that we deserved the time away.
But others, I discovered today, were busy judging us as parents.
Last night I discovered that one of our regular sitters had a very strong opinion of the validity of what I do for a living and how good or bad of a parent that makes me.
After working for 12 straight hours yesterday, with my very last customer checkout timing in at 9:40pm (for a party that was supposed to end at 8pm), to be called a terrible parent when you’re just barely scraping by and trying to do the very best by your kids is… a dagger.
I can’t even tell you how that makes me feel. Because if you know anything about people that grow up in Asian households, you know that becomes the voice in the back of their head. In their eyes, they’re never doing anything right. Something can always be improved. The smallest successes are failures in other ways.
Kyle was at a beer festival yesterday and happened to tour 3 Daughters. A brewery that he and Logan admire very much. He found out their taproom sales 5 months in are higher than what 3 Daugthers were at the same point after they opened. It gave us all hope – hope that we’re doing things right. That all of these sacrifices might eventually be worth it. But at the same time, we both knew that it didn’t mean the work was over.
When you’re an orange personality, it’s okay to be your own worst critic, because it’s what makes you push and push to be better and better. You’re competitive by nature and want to be seen as the best by your peers.
But when you discover from someone on Mothers Day that some of your good friends think that you’re a terrible parent that doesn’t spend enough time with your kids. It’s a shot to the heart.
I didn’t intend to spend Mothers Day a complete emotional wreck. Mainly because I spend most days a complete emotional wreck as a mom – and I felt that MAYBE today I could feel enough. I don’t know where we go from here. I thought that just like every other set of parents, we were doing the best we possibly could. That despite the overdue bills, the long hours, the time away – that we were making an investment in all of our futures.
Here’s the thing.
What you don’t realize when you judge other mothers out loud is that they’re human too. They’re doing the best they possibly can with the resources that they have. Being a mom looks different for every single person.
It’s a long, hard road. And unfortunately there’s not a lot of report cards along the way to tell you where to go. We’re in a position where we’re ready to make some transitions in our family – and our businesses aren’t going anywhere. But I know that we won’t allow ourselves to not come out on top.
So, for today, despite my constant battle with anxiety and self worth – I hope this sets aside all of these emotions and allows me to feel, for just a moment, like I’m every bit the good mother that I’m striving to be, no matter how hard I work.
I hope you know, too, that you are so much more than enough. You work so hard for what you have and it isn’t less or more than anyone else.
You, like me, are an incredible mother.
Give yourself the credit you deserve today. We are ALL in this together.
Happy Mothers Day.