I never considered myself an entrepreneur - I spent a long time working in a cubicle village in a government job. I guess in my own way I was - dreaming up new service delivery options, thinking of ways to provide more and better services and trying to establish thought leadership in my area of responsibility. My son’s dad was always the entrepreneurial type with a head for business and shiny shoes with a spiffy suit. These days, both my son’s dad and I are entrepreneurs juggling parenting responsibilities and our bottom lines. You try to leave your work at work but when your work is a corner of your living room, what’s a mom to do? I didn’t think my son would notice, but he did.
He watches us building our lives and businesses according to our preferences and he wishes he could do the same. He approaches tasks and obligations like business deals, trying to negotiate with, charm, and outwit the opponent across the boardroom/breakfast table. He sees that Mommy and Daddy do what they want, when they want, the way they want, and he doesn’t understand why he can’t too. Being a kid means he has to listen to teachers, coaches, and his parents and he doesn’t have the same flexibility to opt out of things like broccoli, homework, and running laps in the rain.
You see, he has picked up a thing or two. He has an entrepreneurial spirit himself. Once upon a time he went on a trip with his dad and he informed me that photos of his vacation would be available for purchase on his return. He knows as a blogger I buy stock photos and he was aiming to be the stock photo service OF MY OWN LIFE. Clever, I’ll give him that.
Another time, he tried to negotiate an allowance in exchange for him making social media graphics for my blog and suggested he could write jokes for me for money, daring me to tell him I don’t pay for content. He knows all too well my argument that content has value and should be compensated. He sure knows how to work his “warm market.” He also developed a business case for his summer camp attendance, “Think of how much you could get done if you didn’t have to worry about me, mommy. If you send me to summer camp, you can focus on your work for five whole days at a time!” I couldn’t be prouder (and that’s how he successfully negotiated four weeks of summer camp.)
As proud as I am of him, he couldn’t be prouder of me. My boyfriend was talking with admiration about a young lady he knew who owned more than one business and discussed at length all the work that goes into building multiple brands. My son sat quietly and finally said, “Mommy helps lots of people build their brands.” He then proceeded to rattle off all the value I offer, and I cheered a little inside because I didn’t think he noticed. I didn’t think he knew what I do hunched over my laptop, much less that he would be able to describe it (and sell it!) Owning my own business has changed not just how he sees me, but our whole lives.
I love the flexibility of not worrying about if he has to stay home sick from school. I used to worry about taking too many family related leave days, now he can rest peacefully at my side while I get things done. Daytime school activity that he really wants mommy to attend? No problem, I’ll just work in the evening and make up the time. Want to hit the beach all summer? Mommy will work nights and mornings and we can play all afternoon. Most of all, he loves knowing that no matter what, Mommy is there at home waiting. When it came time to decide as to if I should return to my day job or continue this path, his mind was made up. Mommy’s business had to continue.
I’m not just in business for myself, I’m in business for my whole family. I’m proud of the entrepreneurial lessons my son is learning from his father and I, even when he’s trying to sell me something. After all, I’m in his warm market (and his warm embrace) forever.
IMAGE SOURCE: GEORGIJEVIC VIA GETTY IMAGES