Last month my eldest daughter celebrated her thirteenth birthday, and the end of her pre-teen years coincides with the end of my working-from-home years. It also coincides with the one-year anniversary of starting my own marketing firm, Benecomms.
When I started working from home, it was part happenstance; a move to a new city and an opportunity to take a PR job from home. Now, I’ve always worked really hard in my career, and given it my all, so I was under no illusion that this role would mean eating bonbons all day long. But I had no idea how tough it would be.
The days were lonely; I did not have time to join mommy groups and had only phone contact with colleagues. Plus I soon realized that the demands of billable life left little room for an infant, so away she went to daycare. I tinkered with my hours in an effort to have more time with her, but in an ultra-small business with few others to pick up the slack, it was virtually impossible. While there were benefits - like no commute - overall I found myself in the trap that many women fall into, feeling like they are not succeeding at parenting or at work. Torn in two.
Looking back I realize I didn’t give myself enough credit for some of the huge accomplishments, both personal and professional, that I managed to pull out of my hat, despite lack of sleep and all the demands of motherhood. I was a vice president at a thriving PR firm that I helped build from one employee to almost a dozen in less than three years, all while breastfeeding for much of that time.
Today, as we finish decorating our new offices, I couldn’t be happier to be the proud momma of a one-year old (business), to have a space that we can fill with talent and creativity. Already our small team has come up with good ideas around our brainstorming table. Like the interactive “How Deadly Is Your Soil?” map we ideated for our rescue client to help raise awareness of the growing number of worker deaths in trenches. The best ideas usually arise from teams.
Recently co-working spaces have started springing up that are tailored to women (like We The Broad in Richmond, VA and The Locality – which launches tomorrow – in Raleigh. I’m happy to see it; I’ve long thought the world could use a WeWork equivalent - a “SheWork” if you will (Silicon Valley wannna fund me for that?!) - a space that swaps beer on tap for pumping rooms, yoga and daycare in the basement. A girl can dream. I digress.
Progress is happening, which gives me hope that my daughters' will have more and better options when it comes time for them to build families, and companies, if they choose. In the meantime, Benecomms will be doing what it can to help.