Last week I had the pleasure of welcoming National Parenting Columnist for the CBC, Karen Horsman into my home where she interviewed me on the topic of striking the work/life balance. When we were arranging the date, I thought it was cute when she asked if there would be suitable background noise, appropriate for the segment. I let her know that noise is our speciality and we can serve it up anyway she likes it. Along with background noise, we can do headache creating noise, noise that makes the walls shake, playing in the pool noise, noise in the form of shrills, thrills, cries and laughter. Heck, we can make the kind of noise that gets neighbours calling City Council and Children’s Services. Some families fancy themselves as musicians or athletes. Nope, not us – we’re just the loud family.
It was a timely interview because the Savvymom Mom Entrepreneur of the Year award is about to wrap up. We’ve been pretty involved with it – we’re the original recipients, I sit on the Advisory Board and one of the prizes is a year of mentorship with us Mabel mamas.
The notion of dropping out of the traditional workforce to start a business is based almost entirely on wanting to somehow manage all those balls we mamas have in the air. There are, however, quite a few misconceptions about the mompreneur lifestyle. It sometimes appears to the outsider that we mompreneurs work during nap-time, send e-mails between diaper changes and make phone calls when the kids are playing quietly. I remember thinking my life would be in perfect balance – going from teleconference to play date without skipping a beat. The reality is that while we do have some flexibility, it does not give you the time you need to get your work done. So, go ahead and enjoy that afternoon at the park or that morning helping out at the nursery school co-op, but be prepared to be hunched over your computer long after midnight.
I remember the early Mabel years fondly, but with a puzzled look on my face. Only four years ago I was pregnant with my fourth kid and working at the Mabel office from 9:00pm – 3:00am. Dawn came early when you heard that first squawk from a little one at 6:00am. I remember one particular Mabel mama drove to Montreal (6 hours away) with newborn in tow. She spent one hour looking at some equipment only to turn around and drive back home. It was sort of the opposite to any cool road trip you’ve ever done. Highlights included breastfeeding at truck stops and driving with one hand as the other reached to the back car seat to pat and stroke the annoyed infant.
When we first noticed that we Mabel mamas were the emerging “Poster Child” of the mompreneur scene, we were caught a bit off guard. We thought of ourselves as entrepreneurs and initially bucked our new label. Then we realized – everything we do and the reason our business exists is because we are mothers. Indeed, we now wear that title as a badge of honour. Sure we often have to trade in luxuries like sleep, proper meals and watching reality TV. The trade-off is having some flexibility and it was a choice we made very deliberately.
We were quoted after we won the Savvymom Award and we think it sums up our position well:
“A Mom Entrepreneur starts a business to be able to make choices. We choose to live as dynamic business owners, enthusiastic mothers and inspired women.
We just thought it sounded better than our original quote of:
“In our hormonally imbalanced and irrational states, we choose to live as over-extended and under-paid business owners, exhausted mothers and neurotic and somewhat manic women.”
To check out the 2008 nominees and to vote, head here: