Lauren Bacon and Emira Mears Present

The Boss of You

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Balancing Work & Motherhood: the Journey Begins

October 2nd, 2009 by Emira · 23 Comments

Yesterday I received a very topical and timely email in my inbox from one of my favourite email newsletters, YoyoBelly. The email, which you can read here, was all about Employment Insurance in Canada for gals taking time off to have a baby and for those of you working in Canada and planning for a mat leave it is a great resource. You see, here in Canada we get a year’s paid maternity leave, that is of course unless your self employed (though there’s a happy exception for those of you fortunate enough to live in Quebec where the self-employed gal is eligible).

I’ve been thinking a lot. A lot. About balancing maternity leave, motherhood and entrepreneurship for the last several months as after nearly 3 years of trying, my partner and I are expecting a wee one in February of this year. I’ve not been making this particularly well known on ye olde internets up until now, though anyone who’s been paying close attention to the Smoking Lily blog would have picked up a clue. At first we were cautious due to a history of miscarriage and a slightly rocky start, then I was frankly too damn sick to be bothered to blog about it, but now I’m coming out of the fog and spending a lot of time thinking about how I’ll be juggling the world of business ownership and motherhood. I plan on sharing a lot of those thoughts, and the fantastic wisdom I’ve been gathering from other gals who’ve been down this road before, here over the coming months/years as things unfold.

If you’re a mom balancing self-employment or business ownership with a little person (or people) in tow, I’d love to know what the biggest challenges for you have been — from big picture to smaller details — and if you have wisdom to share I’m all ears. I’ll be reaching out to some of the mom/entrepreneur rockstars in my universe to gather wisdom and hopefully somewhere along the line I’ll have some answers and not just a head full of questions like I do now!

A final word. I have to admit that I’m also a little bit squeamish about my shifting identity from entrepreneur to mommy-entrepreneur. There’s an undercurrent in discourse that belittles/discounts the contributions of women in the business world already, and once we tack “mom” onto things it seems like that undercurrent gets a little louder. Wrestling with this identity shift is a funny place for me to be as a) I’ve wanted to be a mom for a very, very long time and in no way see it as detracting from my identity, b) the mom’s I know — whether they run their own business or not — are in no way a lesser group of women when it comes to bringing talent/strength and skills to the table. That said, I’m a bit nervous about being stuck in a new box, that I guess I don’t (yet anyway) see as my primary defining characteristic. It will all be a process I know, but I’d love to hear what some of you think on this topic as well.

Oh and one final thing. Now that I’m sharing my impending motherhood with the world, I have to point you all to a fabulous new site for mom’s Off Beat Mama brought to the internets by Ariel of Off Beat Bride fame, it’s a fabulous read for those of us not so comfy with traditional parenting roles.

Tags: Our Story · Thoughts

23 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Chookooloonks // Oct 2, 2009 at 10:01 am

    Congratulations! As someone who is both a mom, and who used your book when I launched my own business almost exactly 1 year ago, I have no doubt that you’re going to handle this with aplomb. Really, really.

    Very best wishes to you. And trust me: come February, you’ll see that the best has arrived. :)


  • 2 Jen MacCormack // Oct 2, 2009 at 10:26 am

    Yes I second that, congratulations!

    And as a working woman who is planning on having a baby very soon I look forward to learning ways to achieve that balance as well. It took me 38 years just to find that balance in my life without a child!


  • 3 Paula G // Oct 2, 2009 at 11:00 am

    Congratulations Emira! So excited for you… I’m sure it’ll be a whole new journey…and who knows maybe another book ;-)

  • 4 Emira // Oct 2, 2009 at 11:16 am

    Thanks all. And Jen, ya, not so sure I’ve found that yet which may make this a bit more challenging :) That said, the race is on!

  • 5 Sue Sinclair, Raspberry Kids // Oct 2, 2009 at 11:20 am

    Congratulations once again Emira,
    We tried for quite a while as well and when it finally happens, even though that is what you wanted all along, the reality starts to settle in and along with all the physical changes you go through, you really wonder, question & fantasize what your life will be like when the babe arrives. By fantasize I mean FREAK OUT.

    The challenges are many but the rewards are well worth it and the word “balance” almost becomes laughable. Not sure there is such a thing. Some days I am a really good Mommy, other days I am really good at my business and some days when I am totally rocking it, I’m pretty good at both. I won’t scare you about the days when I am not good at either :-(

    My advice would be is that you can have it all. It is all about the choices you make and check the guilt at the door (although I am still pretty hard on myself at times).

    You already have an amazing network and this will only continue to grow with the new people you are bound to meet on the parenthood train.

    I too read your book and certainly hope in between feedings, diaper changes, well baby checkups and being in a delusional sleep deprived state a new book emerges.

    I can see the title now …

    Baby. The new Boss of You.
    Sue Sinclair
    Chief Executive Mom, Raspberry Kids

    On the Web:
    Read our Blog:
    Tweet with Us:
    Become a fan:
    More details:

  • 6 dusty // Oct 2, 2009 at 11:47 am

    great article. and would like to send out a quiet humble shout-out to all the dads/husbands that support 100% their wonderful partners/momtrepreneurs/entrepreneurs (or however you define yourself) in their quest to balance their careers with motherhood, a formidable task at the best of times.

    women are indeed charting new territory and the paradigm shifts abound, as men are also re-learning what it means to be a dad and a partner in this new and very exciting climate in which we are raising our children.

    the future looks bright indeed.

    with light

  • 7 Amber // Oct 2, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    Congratulations! And thanks for linking to my article on yoyobelly. :)

    Balancing motherhood is hard. And you’re right, there is still sort of a stigma around motherhood. But I believe it’s so totally worth it. And I also believe that we’re teaching our kids a valuable lesson and making it just a little bit easier on them in the process. By just doing what we do, we change the world for the better.

  • 8 Kris Klaasen // Oct 2, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    Congrats Emira!

    I’ll share some of my insights from the dad side of being an business owner /entrepreneur and a parent as time goes on. ;-)

  • 9 Megan // Oct 2, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    Emira congratulations! I’m so very happy for you all!

  • 10 Ducky // Oct 2, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    Congratulations!! How exciting!

  • 11 Stacelynn // Oct 2, 2009 at 6:34 pm

    Congrats Emira! I went through the same emotions but eleven years into this parenting thing I now know I wouldn’t have done it any other way. I got to do the full-on attachment parenting and extended breastfeeding & still have a thriving career. Tiring yes, but my totally cool daughter (well I think so anyway ;) has been raised witnessing her mom run a successful business and I know that has contributed positively to her view of what women are capable of. You go girl! We’re all here to support you…

  • 12 pam chaloult // Oct 2, 2009 at 7:06 pm

    I am soooo happy for you! Congratulations to you both. This journey of self discovery as a new mom is something that is so filled with emotions that it’s sometimes hard to put into words.

    Would love to chat at some point soon and have you meet miss olivia, too.

    Congrats! xo

  • 13 Mya // Oct 2, 2009 at 10:51 pm

    New identity: MOM-preneur. You’ll never look back. Congrats, so exciting!

  • 14 Erin // Oct 3, 2009 at 6:24 am

    Congrats, I know you will take this adventure and run with it! How exciting.

    I have been an entrepreneur since right after my son was born 3 years ago. I started my business thinking that, like most people, working from home and being a mom was going to be the best thing I’ve ever done, soon to realize that I am only human not super human.

    Make sure that you keep work and baby separate. Trying to entwine the two is frustrating and rarely leads to feeling like your in control. I work from home but realize when my little one at 1 was not benefiting from me working all day and him sitting in from on some blocks or the tv he needed real interacting not just in spurts when I wasn’t busy at the moment. Putting him in daycare a couple hours a week was great for him and I and then his grandmother watches him 2 days a week. This way I get all my work done during the day and he gets my full attention when he’s home.

    Again, good luck and I can’t wait to read about your adventure!

  • 15 Becky // Oct 3, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    Welcome to the adventure! I hear you loud and clear on the identity shift. Like you, I had a very strong calling to be a mom, and I also have gifts that I realized need to be developed and shared. Thus far, mom and entrepreneur have merged into a business plan I hope to launch this year. It’s aimed at supporting parents of all kinds sort out who we are (or re-discover who was there in the first place) in this crazy process of parenthood. Even from the time you start thinking of being a parent, you begin to transition so many parts of yourself in unique ways. Who we are on the “other” side is a melding of the person we were and who we become as a mom. Being a parent enhances your identity, even though it can be a bit of confusing place to be at first. That little person just rocks your world, in a good way.

    Your book and blog have been a huge resource and inspiration as I go about daily life with an almost two-year-old and bringing this business alive. So, thank you! And may I share my prototypes with you? I’d love your feedback.

  • 16 Ariel // Oct 4, 2009 at 10:18 am

    Congratulations! (Oh, and thanks for the link to :)

    It’s interesting because in setting up offbeatmama, one of the biggest issues on my mind was my own pregnancy and maternity. There was a lot of reader interest in the new site, but I was immediately aware that launching a new web business venture right before starting maternity leave was a recipe for disaster.

    One of the first decisions I made about the site was that much of the work would have to be delegated … which is, uh, CHALLENGING for me to say that least. But it was a great pre-parenthood exercise in asking for help and recognizing my own need for balancing immediate ambitions with the demands of impending motherhood.

    Anyway — congratulations again, and here’s to the delicate balance of motherhood and self-employment!

  • 17 Stephanie Daga // Oct 4, 2009 at 9:06 pm

    Congratulations Emira!

    As a mom and an entrepreneur, I think the best piece of advice I can give to you is this:

    Do not let anyone tell you how to parent. (And for that matter, do not let anyone tell you how to run your business). Accept advice, listen to others trials and tribs, but in the end, you parent the way you feel works best for you and baby.

    I come from a world of a mom and a mom in law who do not understand what being an entrepreneur means (or what it takes to be successful one). I get a lot of “think about your child first”; “you pay attention to your clients more than you do your child”. I know in my heart, that I do everything for my two children. And last time I checked, me, my kids, and my hubby, were happy as a family. Nobody will know the dynamic of your family better than you … so just listen to yourself.

    Children are an endless source of inspiration. I expect that when the time comes for you to “return to work” you will be full of new and exciting ideas!

    Again, congratulations!
    Stephanie Daga

    (I love your book!)

  • 18 Laurie // Oct 7, 2009 at 10:43 am

    Congratulations! Being a mom-preneur is amazing and overwhelming, but so worth it! My biggest challenge in running a business and being a mom has been admitting I need help and phone calls, lol. So hard to find time for professional sounding biz calls with a little one around, but that’s where the whole accepting help or finding daycare comes in handy!!

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  • 20 Felicia Lee // Oct 9, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    Hi Emira

    Congratulations! I think the hardest thing for me is wanting to have it all on both the business and the mom front, and accepting that you CAN have it all, just not all at the same time.

    And certainly connecting with other mom entrepreneurs that know exactly what my struggles are helps me keep the ups/downs in perspective.

    I wouldn’t trade being a mom for anything else!

    Felicia Lee

  • 21 Suzanne // Oct 10, 2009 at 7:32 am

    First of all congratulations.
    I’m quite sure that you will manage well, because if you can balance work with your own life, you are already so much further than most mommies.
    I have tried to set up some business of my own in the last five years, since I became a mom and just cannot motivate myself enough to work, while being at home with kids. Somehow I’m more a mom than an entrepreneur.
    I’m still trying to set up something, while my second one will be born next month. And I’m quite sure that as soon as I set eyes on the littlest addition to the family, entrepreneurship will not be important any more.
    If you find any ways to keep focused on working, let me know!

  • 22 Mattie // Oct 11, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    Congrats. Soon you will be wearing your heart on your sleeve!

    The one thing that I find challenging is really listening to my kids when I have a deadline. So I make lots of lists in different books. One for business and the other for family stuff. This way when I get thoughts/ideas. I write them down so that I don’t have to be preoccupied when I am on mummy time.


  • 23 Juliette // Oct 15, 2009 at 10:15 am

    Congrats Emira! I struggled a lot with figuring out how to keep everything afloat with my daughter when she was born 3 years ago and what I learned is that trying to take care of a baby f/t and run a business is pretty insane. I’d recommend getting help with one or the other and initially you might find getting help with the biz is the better route. For me, as she got older, getting her in a daycare she really enjoys has given me back the balance I need and the activity and learnign she craves. Just remember, they do grow up fast and things keep getting easier!
    Best of Luck!