As a pregnant, stay-at-home mom to a 3 and a half year old, I was starting to feel like something was missing. My daughter would be starting school full time in the fall, and soon I would be doing the “sleepless nights, endless feedings and spit up” routine all over again. Don’t get me wrong, I adored being home with my first child and felt fortunate and grateful that we were able to make it work, but after a few years of this, I was beginning to feel my identity slowly fading. I felt as though I was “just mommy” now, and that wasn’t enough to me. Where was the excitement? If I didn’t use my talent and creativity, would it start to wither away? Would I ever get it back? These questions were nagging at my self worth, but I wasn’t ready to get back into the 9 to 5 grind either. So, I filed my feelings away for the greater good of my family. I thought I was doing them a favor, when in actuality it was a disservice.
Around this time, I happened upon a booming direct sales company. I was intrigued, and my wheels started turning. I just knew it was something I could be successful at, and I started to get excited about the idea of jumping on board. I could use my background in marketing, social media, retail, sales…all wrapped up in one! I was also 7 months pregnant, and it wasn’t exactly perfect timing. So, naturally I did what any sane, pregnant woman who is hopped up on hormones does: I jumped in headfirst!
While a lot of direct sales companies get a bad rap, I actually did quite well for myself and was proud of the work I did. I met a lot of new friends and learned the ins and outs of running a business. I was also slowly learning something new about myself—when I tackle a job, I’m all in. I give it 200 percent, and strive to be the best. I don’t do it to compete with my peers, but to prove to myself that I can succeed.
The problem is, when you give your all to something, other aspects of your life start to suffer.
I put pressure on myself to meet a certain sales quota, and in doing so I was making tons of personal sacrifices. I missed several weekend events with my family. The events that I could attend were spent on my phone, distracted by checking social media notifications and responding to customers. Bedtime stories and nighttime nursing sessions were cut short, and the guilt was heavy. Once my business got off the ground, I even hired a nanny to lend a hand with the baby and household chores. I couldn’t give both my son and my business the attention they deserved. I justified it by telling myself that “at least he was just in the next room…I could pop my head in and see him anytime I wanted!”
I had something to prove, and I wanted my kids to know what hard work looked like.
Then one day, about a year into the business, the nanny was taking my son for a walk. It was a beautiful, cool morning (and we all know we don’t get many of those in New Orleans!) I remember being jealous, thinking, “Man, if only I could be the one taking him for a walk right now.” Then it hit me. What the heck was stopping me? I slowly panned my office filled with boxes and racks of inventory, and started sobbing like a melodramatic 5 year old. I looked around at everything I had built and asked myself, “What have I done?”
Why was I putting this pressure on myself? Looking back, I launched myself so fully into the direct sales lifestyle because I needed to prove that I still had that spark and ambition to chase a goal and achieve it.
But the thing that I thought I was missing, was right in front of me all along.
Yes, I was just mommy. But “just mommy” meant I got to be totally present for those two crazy creatures every day. I was fortunate that I didn’t have to worry about juggling sales quotas, marketing strategies and how dinner would get done. I had the choice to, instead, play Barbies with my daughter, pretend to fight fires with my son and not be thinking in the back of my mind about how I needed to check my phone for notifications. Once I came to that conclusion, there was no going back. I quickly sold off all of my product and have been happily home again with my kids ever since.
I can confidently say I have no regrets about starting the business. I already had an immense amount of respect for working moms, and my experience helped me relate to them so much more. I made a nice chunk of money to put towards some bigger purchases for our family, made lasting friendships and got to see both sides of the coin. But the best part is, now I don’t take being a stay-at-home mom for granted, and I’m grateful to be exactly where I am.
I will have my time to shine again, one day. In the meantime, I’ll soak in the sticky play dates, carpool dance parties and afternoon cuddles.