I am so excited to be sharing this edition of “Things That Keep Me Up At Night” with you because it is a guest post written by a former client and now dear friend/fellow boss babe of mine, Jennifer Bridge. Jennifer is a mom of 2, wife of 1 and CEO, CFO, COO of Jennifer Bridge Photography. She is working her tail off, as all moms are, and staying up way too late at night trying to juggle all aspects of running a household and a small business. Without further ado, please welcome Jennifer Bridge, Mom Boss extraordinaire, and FANTASTIC writer!
I was laying awake, staring at the ceiling listening to the sounds of a sleeping house. My brain was spinning with obsessive thoughts of my business and all of the things I needed to tackle the following day. I was dreaming but not because I was blissfully sleeping. I began to think about all of the women I knew who might be tossing and turning like me and a thought began to form. They are just like me, they have children, they have a passion and a dream they are pursuing and they are probably exhausted… just like me. The next day I couldn’t shake that thought so I began to write…
This is my tribute to the Momboss. We all know her right? The friend or friend of a friend that is running her own small business while also running a household. You may even be her… and if you are, well then you my friend are in the right place. This is for you. If you are just here in support because you know a Momboss (or want to be one) then welcome, I am glad you are here. Let’s all pour a nice big glass of wine and raise them up to the women in our lives that are making sh$# happen.
If you’re asking yourself, what’s a Momboss? Or, am I a Momboss? It can be explained as a mom (work from home/work outside of home) that has also started a business and is juggling life as a both a mom and a CEO of her own company. The dual roles of mom and boss intertwine so delicately that you cannot separate the two. You are the boss of your kids, your household and yourself (and most likely your partner because you can’t help yourself). Your mom heart is at the center of everything you do. You are probably a superhero. If you have these symptoms… you are a Momboss.
I have to start with an admission of guilt. Before I took on this wild role of creative entrepreneur, I really didn’t understand anything about running a small business. For many years, I just considered photography to be my fun little side hustle. I only took clients that I knew and wasn’t focused on building a following. I didn’t have any strategies or plans or goals. I hid my images away in desktop files and rarely told people I was a photographer. I watched other women around me pursue various endeavors but never took into consideration what it was they were trying to build. I never asked them much about their businesses for two basic reasons. First, I didn’t want to hear a sales pitch and second, I literally had no idea how hard they were working.
If I could go back in time to all of the moments I encountered a woman who was trying to start her own business, I’d give her a huge hug, tell her she was amazing and genuinely listen to her product pitch, her big plans or her brilliant idea. And sure, I have supported lots of women in the past by showing up to their events or purchasing a few products and services here and there but did I genuinely listen? Nope. And I’m truly sorry about that. Again, for two basic reasons. First, I missed an opportunity to learn and second, I turned my back on someone who was just trying to make a dream come true.
I want to take a quick detour to elaborate on the sales pitch part of my judgments. I have heard other people describe similar feelings so I think it merits a deeper conversation. There are so many products and services available to all of us and it seems like everyday there is a new MLM (multi level marketing) or Direct Sales company presenting itself to consumers. My judgments against these types of companies comes from a deep-seated fear of being duped or taken advantage of….not the actual women who are at the forefront. I am admittedly way too skeptical and overly critical of gimmicks. I typically shut down whenever I see a sales pitch coming. It’s ridiculous. The thing I realize about this ludicrous judgment, is that not one of these women ever had the intention of tricking me!! What an egocentric reaction to these lovely ladies and their attempt to improve their lives and the lives of those around them. They simply wanted to share a piece of themselves with the world…and I wasn’t listening.
How did I not see this sooner? The realization that going into business for yourself is extremely challenging affirms my new opinion that nobody is trying to dupe me. At least not any of the Mombosses I know! Because here’s the thing, it is so hard to put yourself out there day in and day out and always be saying, “Look at me, look at what I can do!” And the more women I talk to, the clearer that becomes. We are all on this crazy entrepreneurial journey together and it takes a lot of time, a lot of energy, a lot of sacrifice and a lot of restless nights. So I don’t believe that anyone is intentionally trying to trick me anymore. A more accurate description might be that this woman learned of a really great product or service that enhanced her life in a way that she felt compelled to share with other women. It doesn’t mean I have to buy everything and she wouldn’t want me to unless I believed it was right for me. She also might be excited at the prospect of making a little extra cash for her family.
Which brings me to another challenging layer of being a Momboss. Cash flow. When I decided to stay home with our girls and leave a steady job,I knew it would be tough. We have made sacrifices and adjusted our spending to meet the basic needs of our family. We have cut out all the extras and try hard each month to stay on a budget. And even though I’m working my way through Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover, we still feel financial stress every single month. This leads to a ton of mom guilt. I have to constantly be wondering if I managed our money well enough. Did I spend too much at the grocery store? Did we eat out too much? Can I afford a night out with my girlfriends (because Lord knows I need/deserve it!)? Is a date night even possible?? And I don’t suspect I am alone in these thoughts… anyone with me?
My husband is a 5th grade teacher and our family of four lives on his salary. This is a
choice we made so that I could be home with the girls. I am fully aware of that and I’m by no means twisting your arm into thinking I have it harder than you. That is NOT what I am trying to do here. What I am trying to do here is make a simple connection. This guilt and constant feeling of survival is a huge motivator to go out and try to make an income too! I don’t want to just get by, I want us to thrive! Can I get an Amen??
But with that said, money is and never has been the sole motivator… at least not for me. I also haven’t met any other Momboss that decided to embark on this journey just for the money. It is so much more than the potential extra cash flow. It is about having an identity. It’s about nurturing a passion that runs deep and needs to have an outlet. It’s about the flexibility we can have to be with our family while also building something great. We are highly social creatures (some more than others ha ha) and we thrive on connection. Getting out into the world, meeting new people, having a conversation from beginning to end without constant tugs from the little humans at our feet… it makes us feel like we belong to something bigger.
This part of our life — the Boss part — is also coming in dead last in the race for our attention. It is damn hard to turn your back on your responsibilities at home. “We are often trying to tackle #allthethings during nap time or when the kids are at school. We have these small chunks of time that are full of distractions and disruptions. Sometimes, the only way to work on our dreams is to work late into the night after we put our kids down… and then we sacrifice time with our partners and our own sleep. What our friends and family see online is often the glamorous and fun side of our business. What they don’t see is the hustle and grind it took to knock out a blog, return an email, schedule a Facebook post, write a killer caption, make a live video, update FB & Instagram stories, network, work on the website, pay the bills, order the stuff, return phone calls, oh and support the clients… it goes on and on friends.”
I love my time with my girlies and I will always put them first. I will make thousands more sacrifices to try and make these dreams come true. I want my children to be proud of me for the hard work I am putting in so that they don’t have to go without. I think my Momboss friends would agree. We chose this dual role so we own it.
The connections I have made with other Mombosses since starting my photography business has been invaluable. I am very thankful for the many women that have encouraged, supported, loved, challenged and humored me thus far. You are a blessing to me.
And now, a Public Service Announcement: If you know a Momboss, go hug her and listen to her wild ideas. If you are a Momboss, keep kicking ass lady and let’s connect! If you are thinking of becoming a Momboss, go for it! I’ll be your first cheerleader! Let’s celebrate our wins together. Let’s work on the challenges together. And let’s all join hands and run off into the sunset with the millions we will make from our big fat profitable dreams. (Okay that last part is a little Kumbaya, even for me… but big dreams right?) Cheers!