Working Mom 3.0: Proving yourself
Being a stay-at-home working mom can feel like an uphill battle. In this issue of Working Mom 3.0, writer Stephanie Taylor Christensen poses the question: How do you know all your hard work is getting you closer to the life you want for yourself and your family?
I recently considered refinancing our home loan to take advantage of low interest rates. When you've been working full-time for more than a decade, you take for granted that your dependable salary is a huge determining factor that deems you worthy (or not) by lenders' standards. Though I've been self-employed for a little over one year and generally feel good about the progress I've made, I haven't yet proven my entrepreneurial chops to the creditors, who require two years of self-employment history. By nature, becoming a stay-at-home working mom trying to build a non-traditional career can feel like an uphill climb that's always a little too steep. How do you prove to yourself that all your hard work is, in fact, working?
Proof comes in many forms
The Wall Street Journal recently reported that for many women, the more roles we juggle, the more energized and successful we feel. Some working moms base their success "doing at all" on the condition of their home, their status or their children's educational progress. For others, recognition from the outside world proves that we're professional forces to respect. Tara Kuczykowski is a successful mompreneur and founder of sites like Deal Seeking Mom and Unsophisticook. Today, Access Communications calls her site "one of the most influential mommy blogs," but it wasn't always that way. Kuczykowski's "moment of proof" came when Wal-Mart approached her for a partnership. "I recall sitting there for several minutes with my cursor over the delete button thinking it must be a scam," she says. "After all, what could I possibly offer a huge corporation like Wal-Mart as a mom of five kids living in a suburb of Columbus, Ohio? It turned out to be quite a bit, and one of the smartest things I've ever done was to take a chance and hit reply that day. It's a relationship that I've maintained three years later and has led to dozens of key opportunities for my blog."
The day after the conversation with my lender, I'll admit to feeling a little depleted and questioning whether, financially speaking, I'd actually created more trouble than good for my family by pursuing a new career and non-traditional career. In fact, my own moment of "proof" regarding my feelings of success came by email, too. No, it wasn't a major publisher asking to sign me to a million-dollar book deal, although for rebuilding my confidence, it may have been just as significant.
My "email proof" came from a former co-worker and fellow new mom writing to me for advice. Just as I had more than a year ago, she was struggling with spending her time in an industry she no longer felt passion for, while losing time with her infant, and was seeking my advice, as an "expert" who had been there, done that.
It was a small gesture, but it turns out that her recognition of where had I been, and where I had landed, was all I needed to remember that despite what the tax documents might say, I have already proven that I can, and will continue, to define my success on my own terms. How will you find your "moment of proof"?