Shaking my Mommy Money Maker

by Ilinap on September 30, 2010

There was a time I had a job. A paying job with a 401K, life insurance, subsidized corporate cafeteria, expense account, even a pension. I wore suits and heels and had an office with a door on it. I had an assistant who insisted on opening my mail for me and a rotating cadre of minions, who are called “interns” in the corporate world.  At a young age I had reached the pinnacle of Corporate America in which you spend more time going to meetings than doing any actual work.

I left it all to go to graduate school. A professor questioned my decision, asking me, “Why would you leave a career with great promise to go into debt for graduate school?” I wasn’t ballsy around authority then so I just ummed a lot and shuffled my feet while I spit out something about finding my passion. Then I felt like a moron for being a cliche.

It turns out I had made a fine decision, despite the astronomical student loan debt. In the years after graduate school I worked for some ad agencies and started my own marketing consulting firm. I don’t blog about work stuff so some of you might not even know that I own a business. It’s called iFactor. I say the “i” for Intelligence, Insight, and Ideas, but it’s really for Ilina. I never benefitted from nepotism so I invoked narcissism instead. Well, I worked part time in my business for several years. I was so good at balance that I could stand on an exercise ball in heels and juggle a sippy cup, BlackBerry, and glass of wine. Mac Daddy and I had a part time Nanny, whom Bird and Deal thought was their grandma because she loves them like her own, and I worked from home so I could still eat lunch with the boys and get a cuddle fix time to time. Our nanny, Miss E, was with the boys when the napped so I didn’t miss a ton of waking moments. Because she spoiled those boys and loved them, I felt 100% comfortable with them in her care. Miss E was part of our family.

Then the economy tanked. Miss E found full-time work, that we totally supported. She still visits the boys, and they giggle and scamper to her lap when she digs into her purse to pull out the inevitable treat. We never did replace Miss E. Mac Daddy and I decided instead to table my business until both boys were in school. I took projects here and there but didn’t really market myself anymore. I realize I fell off the business world radar. I was, and am, okay with that. Miss E left right around when Bird was starting kindergarten. It really hit me then how fleeting my time with my babies is. Hell, they haven’t even been babies for years. I was happy to stay home and juggle my new reality. I often worked at night, but never on weekends. I cobbled together child care when meetings popped up. I ate three meals a day with Bird and Deal, and we went on countless adventures.

Though staying home was rough, it was rewarding. I was often spent and realized how lucky corporate types are to have sick days. I lumbered through many days in daze. But I never looked back. I never yearned for my corporate life or wanted to don my business mantle. I was, and am, fulfilled.

Now I fill my days differently. I’m still transitioning from having a house full of dirt and noise to the quiet marvel it has become. I’m spending time in my sons’ classrooms and taking Lark out for long walks. I’d be cooking more if I had working refrigeration (Our fridge has been broken for over two weeks, but that’s another blog post for another day.). I am rediscovering my talents and interests.

Blogging is not my job. I mean, I don’t get paid for it or anything. Writing is my passion, and I’m hoping that one day passion and paycheck intersect. Now that Bird and Deal are both in school, I’ve been slowly but surely  trying to revamp my marketing consulting business. My business is need of a makeover, and so am I for that matter. I’m also trying to figure out how to leverage my blog to get paid writing gigs, get my book proposal to be taken seriously, and maybe, just maybe get paid to blog. I took some baby steps moving my blog from Blogger to WordPress, and now my talented pal Shan is working on redesigning my site. I’m hoping the glorious Carol will help me with a media kit so I can get this blog generating oodles of cash for me. Oodles. That’s a mommy term I’m going to have to heave out of my vernacular.

While writing and trying to figure out the world of blog monetization, I am also reviving my marketing consulting business. iFactor has been ignored long enough. I’ve been reaching out to former clients and partners just to wave a howdy-do and let them know my wheels are greased and and ready to roll again. I’m networking more than working but I realize I’m starting from square one, as I did seven years ago when I started my business.

I recently had a conversation with a former colleague, a fellow mother.  She told me that I’m not furthering my marketing career or my blog or writing business because I spend too much time with my kids.

Insert gasp here.

“Too much time with my kids.” Is this possible? As my friend Mary pointed out, my predicament is better than the other way around, no? Life is full of sacrifices. I realize tabling my career would have an impact on more than my paycheck. I don’t have regrets. Had a plowed through growing my business and missing out on the pebbles, not milestones, that mark my sons’ lives, I sure would have had regrets. As far as time is concerned, I am confident that I had the luxury of quantity and quality. Bird and Deal are in school now, spending more hours of their day with someone other than me. Maybe I could have been making oodles of money by now. Maybe iFactor would be a household name. Maybe advertisers would sumo wrestle to buy space on my blog.

I have a lifetime ahead of me to forge my path. My boys are growing up quickly and will roost in a different nest soon enough. Work and ad revenue and writing gigs will always be there. Mac Daddy and I celebrate the choices we made. It is indeed a luxury to have one parent stay home. We don’t take it for granted. It’s just a shame that a fellow mother would so harshly judge my family’s choices. Did she stop to consider that her goals are not mine? Does she pass such commentary on men, fathers?

Apparently the Mommy Wars are still raging in boardrooms and playrooms alike.

I’m not one for violence so I’m bowing out.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Susan Wenner Jackson September 30, 2010 at 2:54 PM

I didn’t know that whole story, Ilina. Wow! I think it’s really cool that you are doing things “your way” and not bowing to external pressures. I always think when people offer “well-meaning” advice like that, they are just projecting their own insecurities on you. And fortunately, you are smart enough not to take any crap!

XOXOXOXO You ROCK!

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DC Urban Dad September 30, 2010 at 3:26 PM

Why all the hate out there? Too many people throwing stones in glass houses.

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Donna September 30, 2010 at 3:31 PM

Some day, the business world will not look down on parents who successfully balance family and work. It sounds to me like you’re doing great (but what do I know? I am so not a businessperson. Just someone trying to master the balancing act, too.)

As Susan said, you do indeed rock.

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Lisa Sullivan September 30, 2010 at 3:40 PM

I bestow the title of “Domestic Blogging Engineer” to you, Miss Ilina. You go on with your bad self & keep rocking the world!

*insert loud applause here*

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Anton Zuiker September 30, 2010 at 3:45 PM

You are an inspiration. Kudos to you (and cuddles from your kids).

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Debbie September 30, 2010 at 3:50 PM

Now, if you had never made that fateful decision to leave AMEX for IMC, we never would have met. And that would have been a tragedy (yes, yes. Along with everything else you beautifully outline in your post, of course.).

With each sacrifice comes new experiences, good and bad. My favorite quote of all time is “We should come home only from far, from adventures and perils and discoveries every day, with new experience and character.” – Henry David Thoreau

Miss you love!

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Andrea (Lil-Kid-Things) October 1, 2010 at 4:16 PM

I am so proud of you Ilina! I agree that staying home is a luxury and one that I try to enjoy as much as possible! Time passes all too quickly. I am sure that on my death bed I will NOT be saying “I wish I would have worked more”…

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Cat October 1, 2010 at 7:30 PM

I truly find it amazing that today women still bash others for choosing what the other women knows will make her happy. Notice choose! I am glad you only gasped LOL.

Hey, if I could find a new career at 50 and an actual freelance gig I know you can, you rock girl!!,!

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Carol October 2, 2010 at 10:07 AM

Of course I’ll help you with your media kit and with anything else you need my help in! You are a gem, destined for great things my friend, beyond the confines of your kitchen walls. xoxoxox

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Mary@Everyday Baby Steps October 2, 2010 at 4:12 PM

Yes, the mommy wars are still alive and well. But I’m so impressed that you didn’t allow her ideals to cause you to reconsider your own. Stay the path and keep doing you, darlin. I especially love what you say about having a lifetime ahead of you. That’s what I always remind myself when I think things aren’t happening fast enough for me.

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Susan Payton October 2, 2010 at 5:57 PM

Comment party! All the friends are here.

Everything happens for a reason, and at the right time. You weren’t meant to run full throttle on iFactor until now because you were meant to provide a loving and present environment for your kids up until now. Not that that stops because you pay more attention to your business.

It’s nice to be a mom. It’s also nice to use your brain, and get paid by people who think you’re a hell of a lot smarter than you feel!

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