On Staying Home

An entrepreneur takes on the ultimate hands-on venture

For most of my life, well, at least since my turbulent teen years, I have been well aware of my desire to do things my way. This desire made its way into every imaginable situation: My relationships with family members, my friends, and especially my many bosses who over the years had to listen to my "expert" advice on running their businesses.

Truth be told, looking back, I was right on target in most cases. For some reason, I've always had a head for business. So I guess it isn't a surprise that after so many years in the disgruntled ranks of the employed, I finally found a situation that was ideal. I opened my own business.

I cannot even begin to express how much I loved having a little place of my own. I dove headfirst into every aspect of the business, I was an E-Myth nightmare--hands on all the way.

And my life outside of my business was moving along in the desired directions as well. I was married 11 months after I opened shop, and bought a new (actually, quite OLD) house 4 months after that. Everything I dreamed of had become a reality. Then, one day something really unusual happened.

I ate three bananas.

This may not seem like a strange occurrence, but to me it bordered on insanity. I hadn't eaten three bananas in the past year, and all of a sudden they seemed overwhelmingly appealing. Why would I all of a sudden LOVE bananas?

Could it be...Could I be...?

That night I found out that I was pregnant. Locked inside the bathroom, my husband waiting outside the door, I just stared at those two pink lines. I didn't know how I felt. It was a swill of fear, excitement, stress, and a craving for another banana. And, surprisingly, a touch of embarrassment. For some reason, whenever those "girly" things happened in my life, I always felt embarrassed. Which is probably why I stayed in the bathroom so long.

My husband, on the other hand, was thrilled...momentarily. Then panic set in. He rushed out into the dead of night to hang the storm windows.

This Is a Job for...

I, determined to put old Superwoman to the test, decided that I could run a business (that was an hour's drive from my home), keep house, and raise a child. By my second trimester, a broken Saltine drove me to tears. Something had to give. I had to sell my business.Even harder to admit, I wanted to sell my business. I had fulfilled my dream of running my own business. Now it was time to move on to my next dream. I was going to be a mother. And I needed to be prepared. So I sold my business and set about getting ready for baby.

I thought I was ready, I really did. Read all the books, gave new meaning to nesting, and took Lamaze. And then, on July 23rd, 1995 I was given the greatest gift I'd ever received. We named her Paige.

Paige is three an a half years old now. It hasn't always been easy, but it has always, each and every day, been glorious. And I've been there for it all, all the "firsts," all the boo-boos, all the laughter, all the discoveries. My daughter has taught me so much. No one can prepare you for first-time motherhood. Running a business was a cakewalk compared to the terrible two's.

But I can honestly say that it was the best decision I've ever made in my life.

Transitioning from the business world to full-time mothering, I confronted many things that I never even considered. The loss of long-time friendships to women who wouldn't dream of trading their briefcase for a diaper bag took me totally by surprise. The good ol' girl network that I had established completely crumbled, and I was literally alone. All alone with this totally helpless being, I was feeling equally helpless, and my frequent calls across country to my mother weren't helping. It was then that I threw away all of the how-to books, dried my tears, and once again, decided to do it my way.

Accept the Gift and It All Falls Into Place

Winging my way through these last three years has brought me a tremendous amount of joy. I stopped listening to well-intentioned advice, and just started listening to my daughter. I respond to her needs with love and devotion, not with a developmental checklist. And in doing so, have developed my own, personal criteria for raising a child--just love them as much as you possibly can, hold them as often as you possibly can, be as forgiving as you possibly can, and acknowledge them for the gift that they are, and everything else falls divinely into place.

By releasing myself from societal mindset with regard to parenting "strategies," I was able to embrace the beauty of living day-to-day, moment- to-moment with my child; enjoying instead of judging, discovering instead of worrying. And the freedom I feel allows me to focus on what is truly important, which is to support my child for who she is, and to provide a place of love and comfort for her to grow and blossom.

Doing things my way has once again turned into a blessing. And it gives me a great sense of pride to note that my daughter has the same, instinctual drive to live life as she sees fit. So much better to live by our own definition, and right now her definition is that there is no definition. Everything is game, anything is possible, all of it is wonderful--pure truth from the words and actions of a child. And I have become a student to a teacher whose wisdom inspires and delights me daily--my daughter.

Vivian Rindik-Wiener is a personal coach, and the creator of the Lifedesigning method of coaching. She lives with her daughter Paige, husband Glenn, seven cats and two enormous turtles in Rockland County, New York. To find out more about Lifedesigning, please visit Vivian's website for more information.