Women are expected to be everything to everyone at all times – we are supposed to be amazing at our job, then go home and be amazing moms, and then go to the gym and have amazing bodies, and then be amazing partners to our spouse, amazing cooks, clean house . . . the list goes on and on. With all this pressure and expectations, it is no surprise to me the amount of prescribed antidepressants have increased an exponential amount in the last decade. I don’t know the answers, but I know my story. And one thing I know that can affect change (besides VOTING!) is sharing our stories and getting the conversation started. So here is a condensed version of my story and the genesis of Kinetic Legal.
A few weeks ago, my two kids and I were driving to the zoo on my day “off” from my job and one of my two full days with the kids during the week. As we passed the beautiful older houses in the North City Park neighborhood we had left a couple of years ago, I pointed towards the street we had lived on and said to my three-year-old daughter, Lou, “when you were first born, you lived in that house up there.”
She looked up the street and from the back seat said: “I missed you.” What? Lou was only ten months old when we left the city for the suburbs.
“You were working all the time and I never saw you. I missed you.” How could she remember that? I tried to think about conversations we had had that would trigger her comment. I asked my husband if he had spoken to her about our time spent there. He shook his head no.
The comment was a knife to my heart. My sweet daughter’s memory of that house is that I wasn’t there. And I wasn’t.
Ever since I was a young girl, I imagined myself as a successful woman, making a difference and a little money. Kids were a fuzzy possibility but nothing I ever prioritized in my life plan.
I have worked hard my entire life to be “successful” – whatever that means. I attended college on an athletic scholarship, went to law school, clerked, got a good job and made a good salary. Nothing came easy for me but I persevered. I was proud of myself and how far I had come.
Then Ms. Lou and shortly thereafter Mr. T came along and changed everything. Career took a back seat. My work ambitions waned. I wanted to be with my kids. There was a complete shift in my identity and everything I knew.
I couldn’t be away from them every day. It tore my heart out to leave them. I missed so many milestones, and cried on the way to and from work. I didn’t know how to change the circumstances, but knew I wanted to yet was nervous about how we would pay our bills if I quit, so instead fate intervened and I was laid off. While at the time devastating as I saw it as a failure on my end, it turned out to be the best thing to ever happen to me.
When working full time, I wasn’t a good employee, or mom, or wife, or friend, or human. I was spread too thin, and wasn’t living my truth as someone who prioritized family above anything else.
So I took a risk. I put myself out there. I started my own practice, Kinetic Legal. It gave me the control I wanted over my hours and client base. I am present at home, and committed to my clients when working. And I LOVE my clients – small business owners building businesses for the betterment of their own family and the community. My kids have blossomed having me around more. My marriage is healthier than ever. I work out and see my friends. Every single day I am grateful.
But this doesn’t come without cost. It can be lonely and isolating. No one ever taught me how to develop business so this comes as a consistent learning experience and challenge. I sometimes get insecure about my path when I see my former colleagues accomplishing what I once had wanted–making partner or running for office. I don’t get a consistent paycheck and money comes in cycles, or not at all.
But that’s ok. When I had my children, my identity and priorities completely shifted. No longer was my job and career my biggest priority. While I may not be running for office any time soon, I am building a business that I’m proud of.
I join a growing group of women who are doing the same thing. By creating our own business, we control our time and the amount of work we take on. When challenges arise in other areas of our lives, we can scale back or take on additional help. Instead of having to be everything to everyone at all times, we are creating a new way to “have it all” through women entrepreneurship. And while nowhere near perfect, hopefully it is one step closer to finding the balance I seek for a happy fulfilling life. I know Lou is happy to have me around more.