Business person or/and mom? –I believe I managed to turn the “or” into an “and”

I consider that article as kind of a continuation to my previous one….. Trying to combine being a mom, a wife and a business partner has often made me feel I badly needed some kind of a special training for doing all that simultaneously. Why isn’t there any school for parents? It might be so helpful in moments.

I spent my initial year of my busy life as a working mom filled up to the brim with guilty conscience. I radiated guilt. I started working when our first kid, our son, was just months old and I was still breastfeeding him. Well, what I actually did was breastfeeding some baby bottles which later bottle-fed him. This was what I used to call “an indirect breastfeeding” and I was told that it was done all over the world by a large number of busy moms. But anyway, no matter that millions of moms did it, that made me feel guiltier and guiltier.

I did enjoy every second of our playing, hugging, reading, so I even started office-cheating on my partner-husband by sneaking out of work earlier to do more things together with our son. Which … made me feel what? – yes, guiltier again…

Then we had our second kid, our daughter, who was three months prematurely born (“born” is not even a close term, as our symbiosis during pregnancy turned out to be life-threatening for both of us, so she was “extracted” in 30th week, with hopes of survival). She needed me even more than words can explain. I could not even think of letting anyone take care of her but me for about a year and a half after all we had been through….

So, I tried hard to take care of kids during the day and doing some work at night, thus juggling sometimes indiscriminately, sometimes masterfully, the heavy balls of family and business for some time. Then, I decided to step back into the office. The solution for my husband and me was to go for the modern option of compensating the “missing Me” at home - by hiring two ladies simultaneously to take care of each kid. Smart move? Well, kind of, or at least so it seemed at the beginning.

We hired a retired neonatal ward nurse to take care of our daughter (who was close to 2 years old then) and a retired teacher to be the tutor/nanny of our son (who was 9), then bravely fighting the losing battle of becoming a better student. The moment our son had a couple of D’s and our daughter went into her second serious viral infection on the verge of pneumonia was actually my awakening call. That was the end of my quite unsuccessful “nanny experiment”.

It seemed like the right time for me to take the family bull by the horns – no more babysitters, or nannies, or housekeepers. The idea of any more strangers taking care of our own things, moreover – of our very own children, seemed to have lost any appeal at that point. My kids were silently crying for help, so I had to set out my priorities in life.

I started by dividing my day-time in three – taking care of a rather small girl, then taking care of a slightly older elementary student boy, then taking care of my portion of the business. Did I want the best for my children and was I able to be a really inspiring mom for them? I guessed yes. Then, I believed it was all a matter of good organization. Running a private business makes you totally stuck to it and yet it gives you some flexibility. What I could not do during office hours, I certainly could do much later, at home. Not very convenient but it kind of did do.

I was also wise enough to turn for help to my mom and she was there for me. Sometimes nagging, but helpful nonetheless, and I am so grateful she did that for me. What I was not able to do, she always did, as my substitute. That also taught me humbleness, as you could not insist on having things exactly your way when you need to ask for help.

I was groping in the dark, slowly finding my way as a “good parent” to our kids. Sometimes I did a number of chaotic actions one day, then another day I managed to do just brilliant. You seem to lose one thing now, then succeed in another, no clear path ahead.

I started seeing myself as a kind of six-armed semi-goddess. I used my first pair of arms to raise our very young sweet daughter. She had started her life at a little over 2 lb of weight (and even with prospects of being retarded), so she needed tons of special care to get to a good level of physical and mental development - which she did, and she did it amazingly.

I used my next pair to help our wonderful son get back on the track of good grades at his elementary school, still in Bulgaria - where lessons used to be so extensive and complicated for a young mind, that they were close to useless. His progress was so significant that I felt like flying with joy.

I used my last pair to do everything else that called for me - office work, housework, cooking, hugging, loving, everything. I did tons of mistakes I deeply regretted and I also took so many perfect steps I doubted I was capable of. The fact that we can learn so much from our doing wrong is so relieving and worthwhile.

I am quite proud of what I did at the “Mom Sector of My Life”. Today, three and half years after our moving to the US, our kids are doing just great. Our daughter has arrived here at the age of 4, not being able to say a word in English. Today she is an excellent second-grader who has exceptional results and is a passionate reader. Our son is an intelligent teenager who is quite ambitious and has big dreams of a future in fine arts – a field he is quite good at.

Sometimes I enjoy the unique privilege of having two amazing young advisors who are extremely helpful in time of huge stress – so wise and mature that I can not but listen to what they have to say. I believe I must have done pretty well as a mom in the long run, judging by results….

This article was originally written for MyVenturePad.com (published January 11, 2008)