I’m not a fan of the phrase, “Super Woman”, although I’ve been referred by some people as being one of them. I think everyone is super for something! I like the term offered by my boss during my first web design job in 1995. He called me an “Over Achiever”. I was unsure of what an overachiever was, but I had goals and I intended to meet them.
Since 1995, my life has been frightening, filled with risks and sometimes miracles, fate and luck. I went from being an unemployed stay at home mom of young children, to being a divorced, single mom business owner with an entirely new career. I had set some personal, insane rules for myself back then:
1. Do not depend on anyone for anything.
2. Co-parent my kids with their dad; joint custody
3. Do not let the courts anywhere near us. (We mediated and wrote our divorce agreement so it would be fair.)
4 Do not ask for or accept alimony, child custody or any support from ex.
There’s no “super woman” in that list. There was, what most people thought when I started out…”You’re crazy!”
In one year, I started freelancing at night and volunteering for unpaid work in trade for the practice in web design. By 1997, Cre8pc was my fallback side income. In 5 years, I was a User Interface Engineer for Verticalnet and I was able to take over the mortgage of my old house and my ex-husband moved out to live with his fiance. Three years later, I bought my own, larger house. A year after that, I remarried. Now, I pay for college for my daughter and the kids live here 70% of the time, by their choice.
The Cre8pc Website Promotion club in Yahoo! was launched in 1998 and relaunched in 2002 as Cre8asiteforums. That’s the same year I went to being self employed full-time. UsabilityEffect.com and are thriving and I’m working on a new website business that requires me to teach myself Drupal. In 1995, it all started with a 286 PC, WordPerfect, a very loud external modem , dial-up and a can-do attitude. I even had an AOL hosted website!
Are There Risks to Doing It All?
When you read about some women who “Try to do it all”, you’ll hear stories of their exhaustion, poor health, sacrifices, missed family involvement or the results of spreading one’s self too thinly. I had no intention of following that path.
I learned that the only way I could be successful and keep my family number one, was to NOT work for any company outside my home. Every company I worked for wanted nights, weekends and my sick days. The IT industry is largely male oriented, and was far more so in the 1990’s. I was envious of my co-workers who had wives or were single with no kids. As a single mom locked into a custody schedule, I had to do insane things like bring my 8 year old son to work with me, even though his collar bone was broken and he needed X-rays and a cast. I was allowed to run him over the hospital, but needed to be at work that day too. (Fortunately, my male co-workers loved him and kept him entertained!)
I was NEVER paid the same as my male counterparts. Even when it was obvious I knew more than them or was their trainer, I was still paid less because “men have families to support”. So did I. The men I worked with in IT were, and are, the most generous group of men I’ve ever known. They had few women to work with and I was treated as their equal. I had their support. It was Human Resources, who always caused me the most hardships.
Did I suffer? No. I didn’t date for 4 years and LOVED my independence. I developed anexoria for a time and lost a lot of my long hair. I suffered from depression, but that was due to the ending of a marraige. Even a friendly divorce is not without sorrow. I became a perfectionist and any failure on my part was met by me punishing myself.
Did my kids suffer because I had to put them into daycare when they were young? Absolutely not! They thrived. They know what its like to be loved by many people. My son attended a private kindergarten because the public schools here don’t offer full-time school for 5 year olds. He blended right in and was ahead of his peers when he entered public school first grade.
Both kids are sports oriented. Working from my home based office permitted me to get them to practices and attend their games. They have no idea what it’s like to be latch-key kids. Because I work so much, they learned at very early ages how to cook, clean and do their own laundry. Sports and band, all of which are not free, were earned by keeping up their grades and staying out of trouble. My son is a popular school and community athlete and gold medal winner in power lifting. I’m on the Board of Directors for our town’s baseball Little League and member of the school’s football Booster club. I’m the volunteer head webmaster for the Little League.
My daughter is in college and a 4.0 student. She has a job in a clothing store that she loves. I remarried 4 years ago. He brings his son and lots of moral support to my life. He wishes to work with me and quit his job.
I decided to enter the Leading Moms in Business 2009 Competition because these are difficult times for men and women and I’d like to encourage people to go for it. Both moms and dads face the challenges of trying to raise families and earning enough money to keep their house. I’ve always offered a that isn’t going to cause them financial hardship to pay for. I’ve never forgotten how hard it is to start out.
I’m not sure what the criteria is for being one of the top 200 winners of the contest. It may be business profit. It may be fame. It may be inventing something new. I don’t make millions of dollars. That was never my goal.
I made my choices because I loved my kids and didn’t want to miss out on their lives. I’m proof that working mothers can work, raise families and follow their passion.