I remember, one fine summer day, sitting on a patio or something, and saying something really naive along the lines of, "I think I'm pretty well prepared for a baby considering that I own a business. I mean, owning a business is kind of like having a baby..." Then I probably took a sip of Pinot Grigio and felt really good about myself.
Ha! Okay, reality check: having a baby is NOT JUST LIKE owning your own business. But, to be fair to the comparison, I'm going to tell you some of the ways that owning a business does prepare you for the almighty job of motherhood.
1) Sleep Deprivation
When Shoshanna and I started up New Moon together in 1998 we worked 16 hour days pretty regularly, and would often get home by 3 or 4 in the morning, and maybe catch a few hours of sleep after playing a nice round of Mario Kart (it relaxed us).
I don't need to elaborate much on the sleep thing with a baby. We've all heard the horror stories. And they're true.
2) You're Not in Control
Okay, well, you're kind of in control because you started your own business, but when some jerk breaks into your truck and steals your freshly-iced cakes, or when a random smoldering fire starts in a basket of hot laundry (yeah, that was a weird one), or when your distributor rips you off and you can't pay the rent - well, then you're just really not in control.
The only thing I feel I have any control over with the baby are my reactions. And when I haven't slept, or forgot to eat, or feel kinda bummed that I wear the same clothes all the time and my hair looks like a Robin's nest, then my reactions aren't exactly as graceful as intended.
3) Change is the Only Constant
I'm learning that to succeed in business, you have to build an infrastructure that can hold the constant change. Back-up plans, and extra pairs of hands, and being incredibly resourceful when the s**t hits the fan - these are keys. Because just when things are lollying all lovely along, someone quits, or you lose an account, or the water is shut off for the day. Or - something wonderful and surprising answers your prayers (like big, unexpected cookie orders).
Same goes with baby. Our little guy is changing every day. Teeth, and crawling, and pincer grasping like mad, and making new sounds of approval or disdain, and giving me these huge open-mouthed kisses. I never know who I'll wake up to. At 4am. And 5am.
4) It's a Ton of Work
I think this is why I thought I could hack the baby thing; because I know how to work my butt off. Owning a business is like working three jobs all the time, and always having your attention linked to the wellbeing of your business - often in the middle of the night when ideas and/or stress start racing.
The work of a baby is altogether different. Yes, there is manual labour involved: wiping bums, making food, doing laundry, picking up, carrying, soothing, cleaning up after, lugging carseats and strollers etc... etc... But it's the emotional work that makes it all different. I want to say that it's easy to bust butt because you just love that little thing oh-so-much (which does make a huge difference), but you're still pooped, and while you're changing that diaper or making that food, you're also showering a little being with love and attention. Multi-tasking at its finest.
5) You do it Because You Love it
Now this is true: Over the 13 years that I have owned New Moon, I have done every job that the business required of me. I've been the janitor, the baker, the dishwasher, bookkeeper, packer, driver - all of it. And to be totally honest, even when I was dog-tired, I did those jobs with joy because I knew they were feeding my dream. Honestly.
And now, with rugrat in tow, I am sure I will do even more jobs: mommy, friend, entertainer, chauffeur, personal chef, guidance counsellor, soccer coach (yikes), janitor, dishwasher, all of it. But here's the difference: that will feed his dream, and if his dream can be fed, then I have truly done my work in this world.