Nobody knows this story; I've never told it before. But there was a time, about 12 years ago, that I almost quit Fenix.
I thought about it everyday. I even had a plan (not a good one).
Why did I want to quit Fenix? Emotions. I had just given birth to my 1st child and, since I was the owner of the business I had a business to run, I had to get back to work right away. I did not have the novelty of taking time off with my newborn. Fack.
I thought I could do it all
I thought I could do it all, I really did. I thought I could work while he napped, be home during the day but work at night, go in for 4 hours a day and spend the rest of the day at home with him.
But that all fell apart. You can't run a business like that; not long term.
I was exhausted. I was running thin. I was nursing all night and working all day. But worse, my emotions were a wreck. I wanted to be home with my baby. I felt terrible every single time I left the house. I hated leaving him. HATED it.
I didn't want to go to our office Xmas party that year and I tried everything to get out of it. But, without the owner, there was no Xmas party, so I had to leave him again and go entertain the employees (at least, that's how I felt). I owed the team a party. I just didn't want to be there.
On his first Christmas I spent Dec 27th writing a massive RFP that was due Dec 29th for a client, and project, I desperately needed. I HAD to write that RFP; we needed that win to sustain the business. And we did win it.
But at what expense? Every single day I was torn. Every day I hated leaving and simply wanted a day to be with him. How hard could that be, moms do it every single day. Even on the days I did spend at home I was answering email, participating in conference calls and expected to be available.
So I decided I would quit.
So I decided I would quit
It was that important to me. He was my whole world and I wanted my priorities straight. I wanted to love him and watch him grow, not manage projects and go to meetings.
But all of these people were relying on me. My employees would be without a job if I just quit. I had a responsibility to them, didn't I?
And then came my voice of reason: my mom. Be patient she said, try to organize a better balance for yourself now, so that you can reap the freedom and flexibility of business ownership later. Yes, she understood I was upset that I didn't get 1 year maternity leave, but perhaps I could organize my life to have time off and a flexible work schedule long term, not just for one year. It would pay off better in the end she reasoned.
And she was right. I struggled with the "how"but when I finally walked into work and told my employees and clients that I was working only 3 days a week, and shorter hours on those day, everyone accepted it. They tried not to bother me on my precious days off. Clients began conversations with "I know you're not in tomorrow, so let's do it next week". People understood and accepted my new work routine.
And it was the best thing that happened to me work-wise. I changed my "norm" of working and people accepted it. They tried to abide by it.
It was time to ask more of my employees, to get them to take their share of responsibilities at the company, to not rely on "me" for everything. And once this was put in place new employees simply accepted it as the "working norm". This has been the format I have used ever since.
I had to orchestrate the life I wanted
I now no longer make ANY apologies for staying home on a PD day, leaving early for a bus run, taking off March Break, Xmas and any other day I feel like it. It's what I need to be happy, and to be both a present and engaged mom, as well as a business owner.
It hasn't always been easy and some people have tried to push back. But this is my life.
And my mom was right: although I didn't get a whole year off to spend with my children, no employer would ever give me the time off I want, and need, today. No employer would ever let me choose the days I work, the hours I work and the way I work. No one but me. I had to orchestrate the life I wanted.
I needed to stay at Fenix. And 17 years later it has all worked out. Thanks Mom.