Thursday, April 06, 2006

Yesterday I talked to a group of young mothers, complete with babes in arm, strollers and all that "stuff" you need when caring for a young infant. These moms get together once a week at a local restaurant in Toronto to have lunch and hear from a guest speaker.

Mothers in the City was the brainchild of new stay-at-home mother, Jordan Maher and her girlfriend Laurin Mayer. Together they run, a service that enables Toronto moms to get out and meet other adults with similar interests.

Talking to twenty mothers and at least twenty infants was definitely a different speaking gig. It reminded me of my early days as a parent, when together with four other mothers we started the Oakville Parent Child Centre. That was twenty-five years ago, but seeing those tiny babes made it seem just like yesterday.

My topic was starting your own business and there was keen interest in this subject. There were lots of questions, and even better answers from some of the women in the group who have already started a business. These bright young women were interested in finding some way to supplement their family income, while still being available for their children.

I've actually often compared motherhood to starting a business. There's that same sense of excitement, fear, intensity and self-doubt. When you're pregnant you read all the books, take the prenatal classes and maybe talk to some friends who have ventured before you, but they are not always completely honest and nothing really prepares you for being a parent. Bringing that baby home from the hospital has to be one of the most scary but exciting experiences in your career as a mother.

Likewise, when you start a business, you read a few books, do some research and maybe attend a few classes, but reality turns out to be somewhat different. No one tells you it can be lonely, or that the phone won't ring or that there will be days when you question your decision to branch out on your own. We follow that "if we built it, they will come" mentality but it isn't that simple.

So what's the answer? Just as Jordan and Laurin have found - getting together with other people who are in a similar situation. First you find that you're not alone. When you compare notes, you'll discover that some people have it worse off than you. Be grateful. With time, you'll find that the friends you make will become your biggest supporters, as a parent or a business owner. These people will be your cheerleaders, will celebrate your successes, and bolster you up and remind you of your unique talents on days when you doubt yourself.

Clearly I don't do well on my own. When I was a young mom, it was the Parent Child Centre, and as a new business owner, I started Company of Women. And when I am a senior - who knows what sort of support group it will be - maybe the raging grannies!

Get connected. It makes a difference.

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