I have a friend who sells long-lasting lipstick. Another sells leggings. Another drives around our neighborhood every week delivering fresh produce.
All of them have babies at home, and are trying to earn a little extra income. They do it so Christmas isn’t so hard and the mortgage doesn’t feel as heavy.
Every morning, I wake to notifications on my phone. There’s a Facebook page for every business, of course, and as the supporting friend, I joined all of them. So I learn when there’s a new product, or when a sale is happening. I also know when my one friend is out of fresh tomatoes and will be swapping avocados instead.
I do the same thing, only I write. I stay up way past any normal hour and pound my keyboard. I did this as a child and now I’m doing it at 30. It’s strange how things embed themselves in our bones and never really leave.
All of this to say, I see you, ladies.
I see you rising early in the morning to post on social media and respond to comments. I see you invoicing orders and packaging up materials. It’s really hard to load an armful of babies into the car and drive to the post office every day, but you’re doing it anyway.
I see you counting inventory and crafting late into the night. I see you taking pictures and editing them. I see you posting on Etsy and eBay, then watching like a hawk to see if anyone pounces.
It’s tough work making it work. It’s tough being a mom and a business owner, and no one really understands until they’re in the trenches right along with you.
I’m lying beside you. Enemy fire is whizzing by and every day is a new battle. There are noses to wipe and mouths to feed and preschool tuitions to pay and if you write down all of your duties as a mom, you could run out of paper in a heartbeat.
Add to that trying to make a buck, and we’re lucky if we fall into bed with a shred of sanity left.
But then we look over at our babies and their dirty mouths and golden hearts and suddenly, it makes sense why every penny counts, and if cosmetics or luxury loungewear can make our days a little more comfortable, so be it.
I see you making school lunches at midnight, and tallying orders at 1 a.m. I see you checking your phone all day, wondering if maybe you’re on it too much. It’s your connection to the outside world. Scroll Facebook at two in the afternoon while your babies play on the playground. I’m probably doing the same thing, mama.
I had a friend once who had a really great idea for a new business, in the realm of the buy-one-we’ll-give-one-away business model. She partnered with local manufacturers and started researching crowdfunding for business ventures.
She was successful, but ultimately opted to sell the business and spend more time at home. Even when we get our dreams, they change right before our very eyes.
Some of my friends work at home, and some work part-time in an office. Others work full-time and never stopped pulling on the scrubs or zipping up the pencil skirts.
I love all of them, and admire them. I see them at the school drop-off line and sit beside them at church. Some I’ve known since elementary school and some I just met this year, when our babies walked into the toddler class side by side.
I don’t know what the ideal career set-up should be, and I think it’s different for everyone. It looks like tons of coffee, messy buns, and wide smiles. It looks like Excel spreadsheet budgets and that stack of bills on the counter.
Before I had kids, I wrote proposals during the day and sold vintage clothes online in the evening. One helped pay the rent, and the other helped fill my soul. Ultimately, I gave both up when my daughter came but I never gave up that drive to contribute. So I started writing data sheets and marketing slicks after the kids went to bed and spent an entire mountain vacation behind my computer screen in 2015.
We can drive ourselves batty trying to juggle it all. We can cut down and criticize mamas who “mom” differently than we do while trying to earn a few bucks along the way.
I see you, breakfast waitresses with flour-stained aprons and guest checks to write. I see you, office gals squeezing postpartum skin into slacks and dominating the conference room. I see you, nurses working the night shift, who can’t remember the last time they watched their babies sleep in the dark.
What you’re doing is important. Who you are is important.
So, I celebrate you. And I cry, struggle, and laugh with you. I ache and tire with you and I’m also really proud.
I know you are, too.