Opening Doors

How motherhood led me to a fulfilling career

Motherhood, I think we can all agree, is a beautiful thing. Don’t get me wrong, it has its drawbacks: operating on minimal sleep, dealing with tantrums, endlessly cleaning up messes...  Nonetheless, the rewards of motherhood are tremendous, and the moments of beauty are real and raw. There is no feeling equal to snuggling with your little one and reading him or her a favourite story, or being the go-to person for hugs and kisses. At the same time, being a parent is the most challenging role that I have ever had. When I reflect upon the fact that – like so many other parents – I have held, and continue to hold, a number of other roles. I find myself challenged by the juggling act imposed by these roles, and how to perform this act with skill, grace, and on occasion, sanity.

This is my journey

Being a parent was not always my primary objective in life. Throughout university, I felt that I would be unfulfilled without obtaining my “dream” job. Being arguably the pickiest professional in the world, my dream career had to include passion, excitement, working with people, opportunity, and of course needed to be profitable. I loved to set people up, and often joked about wanting to work as a professional matchmaker. Lo and behold, as a graduate, I actually found work as a matchmaker for a dating service! For a while, it seemed like this was the perfect job for me. However, I increasingly felt like I wanted more. I moved on to try several different jobs in film production, fundraising, and administrative work, but none of these seemed to fit; I was not prepared to compromise on my dreams, even if they were not yet clearly defined. The search for my dream job continued…

After a few years in the workforce, I returned to university to pursue a social work degree. Learning about advocacy and social justice opened my eyes how I could make a meaningful difference in others’ lives. As a social worker, I was able to find some work in my field, and had the privilege to work with some incredible populations: refugees, adults with developmental disabilities, and survivors of abuse at a women’s shelter. As I gained experience connecting others with beneficial resources, I continued to plan my next steps in the search for that perfect job. However, unbeknownst to me, my search was about to become a whole lot more interesting…

I met my husband shortly after beginning my social work program. He was experiencing his own career revelations about the time that we started dating, a common ground for us. Sensing adventure, we moved across the country to Guelph not long after getting married – and then I was pregnant! After my son was born, time was a blur – both because my sleep deprived mind did not distinguish an hour from a week and because minutes were measured out in baby naps. In the blink of an eye, I realized that it was time to revisit the career question. For the most part, being a mom was is fulfilling. I loved my new “job”, despite the gruelling hours and demanding boss. But… I also had other longstanding dreams to fulfill!

 

The prospect of journeying back to the working world seemed daunting. I spoke with many other parents who, like me, have grappled with this question – how can I be loyal to both my career aspirations and to my new family? I was encouraged after experiencing an epiphany shared by moms throughout time… no standard solution to this question exists! After wading in the employmentpool, my encouragement soon gave way to disappointment. I was unable to find a job that both justified the costs of day care and the many years of studying, gaining experience, soul-searching, and pondering. Without a clear vision, I began to wonder and question whether I would ever hold my professional dreams fulfilled.

My moment of inspiration happened during an episode of the parenting podcast, “The Longest Shortest Time”. I was listening to the show’s host talk about organizing a speed-dating event for moms to “date” other moms. As I listened, I thought to myself about how much fun I might have at such an event, or that it might be even more fun to organize an event like that myself. That was it! Everything clicked. I had always enjoyed bringing people together, connecting people with resources, services, and ideas. I had always been creative, and skilled at organizing events. However, I had recently gained experiences as a new parent, accompanied by an understanding of the social needs of parents… spending all of your time with an infant can feel really isolating! With that, Modern Mommy Events was born – my idea for a company that creates and hosts events to help bring parents together and recharge through much-needed adult interaction. Encouraged by a supportive husband and friends, I overcame my fears to pursue my dreams – this time with a clear vision and a new approach – as an entrepreneur.

It is hard for me to believe that over a year has elapsed since that moment, and that during that year, my idea has thrived from that initial burst of inspiration to an actual business. I can truly say I that I have found my calling, and all of my previous working experiences, from matchmaking to social work and everything in-between, have led to this opportunity to fulfill my professional dreams. Not only do I have the privilege of providing parents with a place to have fun and seek some respite from their parental duties, but get to constantly challenge my own creative abilities as well. I am also finding out with how much I have to learn! I can't help but feel appreciative of all the twists and turns my professional life has taken to get to this point, because I feel that I am now doing exactly what I need to be doing: being a mom to my amazing little boy, a wife to my wonderful husband, and supporting parents so they can recharge and feel good about themselves. And to think that I owe it all to motherhood!

If you are considering taking the entrepreneurial plunge and turning your own ideas into a business, I say: do it! It’s no easy path, and there are many stumbling blocks, but there are also endless rewards and virtuous experiences as well. Even with its many challenges, you just may find that being an entrepreneur allows you to have the best of both worlds.

 

Eva Shortt lives in Guelph, Ontario with her husband and her two year old son. She moved to Guelph from the West Coast three years ago. Eva is the owner of Modern Mommy Events, a programming company that plans events for parents to help them recharge. For more information and to check out upcoming events for moms and dads, check out www.modernmommyevents.com or follow on Facebook: facebook.com/modernmommyevents or Twitter: @modernmommy519