In the same way that no two births are ever the same, neither are any one parents' experiences. This series explores any and every topic relating to pregnancy, birth and early parenthood, from a featured parent's perspective. This week our featured mom is the founder and managing director of Kismet Communications, Jessica Gares (@kismet_communications).
I’m a mom to a sweet and energetic toddler and I run my own communications consultancy. I’ve found that being a mother and entrepreneur fills my bucket almost equally, and I’m no longer afraid to admit it.
When I found out I was pregnant, I was determined to prove that I wouldn’t miss a beat. I wanted to lead all the projects, I wanted in on all the challenging files. Mat leave, what mat leave? I didn’t take a single sick day and I refused to let pregnancy slow me down.
But when baby Liam arrived, suddenly I was on his schedule and had to surrender to it all. Breastfeeding didn’t come easily and at the time it felt like the newborn phase would last forever; that I would never sleep again or escape from the piles of laundry or diaper explosions.
Despite finding our groove and experiencing pure joy as a new Mama, I was eager to get back to work around the nine-month mark. I took a chance on a new job straight out of my maternity leave, but with Liam starting daycare, he was constantly sick, and the role was demanding and lacked the flexibility that any new parent needs.
The days were long for both of us — he was often the first baby into daycare and the last one to leave. As the months passed, running on that hamster wheel for a job I didn’t even love was becoming increasingly harder to justify.
One morning I was running late (as usual!) for a strategy meeting that I, at the time, felt was impossible to miss. My butt had to be in that swivel chair because this was coming on the heels of having to work from home the previous week to take care of a feverish baby.
That morning Liam was clearly not 100 percent, which became clear when he threw up a little bit on his sweater en-route to daycare. I cleaned him up, took off the sweater, and told him that, mama just had to work.
I was so anxious about missing more work in a new role. All day I felt guilty, knowing my priorities were horribly misaligned. What kind of mother takes off a barfy sweater and sends their 13-month-old baby into daycare for what would surely be a ten-hour day?
Not this one anymore.
The next day I drafted my resignation letter and decided to follow my life-long dream of starting my own business. Entrepreneurship is scary, but the truth is I had to hit rock bottom. Poorly juggling a corporate job with motherhood gave me the courage to go for it.
I had all the normal fears: will I get clients? Will I get GOOD clients? What if I fail? How do I know what to charge? Do I really know what I’m doing? Do I suck? After my dismal back-to-work experience, my confidence wasn’t exactly soaring, but it was still in me somewhere.
As luck would have it, I signed with my first client on my last day of my corporate job and my first contract went from one communications plan to a PR and communications retainer that I still hold today – almost two years later.
Now success looks like walking my son to and from preschool (almost) everyday — and in between, advising the best clients on how to build their brands, get the media’s attention, and tell their stories.
Yes, it’s a constant balancing act. Yes, I’ve taken conference calls with Frozen blasting in the background.
But I know one thing for sure: work can almost always wait. The best clients understand that life happens and if they don’t, they aren’t right for me. And while I get so much joy from entrepreneurship, my family always comes first.