I announced on social media this week that I am expecting a little one in late January. The news comes on the heels of my husband’s decision to leave his TV anchor role to become CFO of our digital media company.
I left my TV news reporting gig before launching the company, partly because after eight years in the business I desperately needed something new to sink my creative teeth into, and partly because the schedule demands were not conducive to the life I desired. My husband’s alarm would go off around 3:30 a.m., so he could make it to the studio on time, while my reporting shifts were rarely predictable, bouncing from days to nights to weekends and everything in-between.
There was already a little one in the house who was entering half-day kindergarten, which amplified the scheduling conundrum.
I fielded plenty of ‘what about your career?’ comments from well-meaning friends and family at the time, but I also received a lot of support, including that of some colleagues who openly said they wished they had the guts to do what I did.
The business has been and still is a lot of work, and I expect it will be for years to come. It’s exciting to run your own company, but with it comes huge responsibility. I’m constantly learning and evolving. Now, with a major life change coming for the married CEO and CFO, and the company still very much in digital startup mode, comes a fresh round of questions.
“What are you going to do?”
“Who will be your replacement while you’re gone?”
The first thing that comes to people’s minds is that a new baby equals the slowdown of the female founder or the company – that all of a sudden I will disappear for a certain amount of time. It happens to a lot of women, the whole self-inflicted glass-ceiling mindset. I can't predict how the transition will feel, so I haven't planned to take a set amount of time off, nor do I think I will ever be fully absent, except when I’m in labour.
If I can still run my business while fending off some serious morning sickness and fatigue for three months, I can still be present once the baby arrives, as long as I continue to take care of myself too. I've always felt the ability to stay connected virtually through email, by Skype or by phone can often be more effective than in-person meetings. In fact, this is the way the company often handles much of its client communications already.
We have a great team, and I know I can delegate some of my day-to-day tasks, and we have systems in place to give me comfort that everything will still flow smoothly. If new mothers can take the time to shoot, upload and blog dozens of pictures of their babies on social media, and they have long discussions about them online every day, I can definitely still be present in my business.
It won’t slow down, and neither will I, and that’s an approach not everyone will agree with. But I know I’ll still be able to be a great mother to my children, while continuing to build the dream.
When I took a year-long maternity leave from the news anchor desk when my daughter was born nearly 10 years ago, three weeks in I started my first online business, which allowed me to feel productive and creative outside of feedings and changings. I was a happy mother, I had a happy baby, and I learned a lot about motherhood and business over the course of that year.
Did my split focus negatively impact my child? Not one bit.
My life has been ‘busy’ and a lot of work for quite some time now, and that’s something I don’t have any desire to change. I still take time to unplug, but I won’t deny that I also thrive off of creating and growing in business. That will always be part of me, even with a new baby.
I have complete respect for women who choose to stay home and raise a family, but for me, part of what I want to represent for my children is that they can ‘have it all’ and not sacrifice one part of life to gain in another. I am confident I can be CEO of my business, and be there for my family, not skipping a beat as this massive and exciting change approaches.