“Sir, I need you to take a seat.”
No parent is ever prepared to hear those words on the day after a baby is born. This was definitely the case for me and my husband as we waited in the hospital room for news about our baby who was in NICU. Her words to my husband sucked the air out of my lungs and my limbs burned hot with adrenalin. That moment hung in the air, with dreaded anticipation. “What was coming next?” “What would she tell us about our baby?” The news was our son most likely was born with a rare endocrine disorder, but they would need to send him to All Children’s Hospital for testing and consultation.
The worst moment of my life is when the ambulance drivers wheeled that baby away from me down the long, white hall of Morton Plant Hospital. I cried hysterically in my wheelchair.
Our two weeks at the All Children’s NICU are blurry, faint memories now. I remember the kindness of the Ronald McDonald House, our homey respite away from home. I remember the specialist telling us our son could live a normal life with proper treatment. I remember that news traveled to our out-of-town friends and family and they enlisted the support of their churches for prayer.
What a moment it is when you realize strangers will pray for your baby at a time when you feel helpless.
I remember the NICU nurse who gently encouraged us night after night. That same nurse braided a bracelet for me with beads that read, “Jackson’s Mom” and left it for me on the day we were discharged to go home. I remember the strong support I got from my husband as I cried endless tears over the question, “Why this child?”
These moments are important to my story, because they changed the course of my life. This beautiful child entered my structured life and unstructured me. A career woman raised in the 80’s, I never doubted that I could bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan. My six weeks of planned maternity leave are proof of that. It never occurred to me that I wouldn’t want to put my baby in daycare. “Isn’t that what working women did?”
If God was into posting on my Facebook page, he would have posted, “LOL.”
Instead, I heard a voice speak to me one day as I was asking friends for nanny recommendations. “You are begging other women to care for your baby. What are you doing?” That was a really good question and I am still answering it.
“What am I doing?” For starters, it forced me to change my paradigm and that wasn’t easy. I never ever considered myself a stay-at-home mom. But that changed when I brought home a stay-at-home baby.
Many lessons were learned including some important ones about conditions and realities for working mothers, especially for moms of newborns or ones who have children with medical needs. My advocate’s heart began searching for solutions and ways we need to stand up for moms and their kids.
I walked down the path with other mothers who fight like tigers to make sure their children get needed medical and support services. My mind became re-oriented to a world of working that has no time card but no paid sick leave. In early 2010, I filed paperwork to start my own business. It was a real leap of faith, but there came a point when I realized I was being pushed to do something more, to find my authentic self in my new role as a mother.
The business is called Light Shine Media Group, and as the name suggests, is a company that produces meaningful media products and events, taking care to shine a light on all that is good. GoodLiving magazine was the first product, a high gloss magazine that intentionally weaves informational articles with inspiring stories, local good news, tips and healthy recipes. All of it is done to inspire and celebrate healthy bodies, healthy relationships, healthy homes, healthy finances and a healthy community. Each magazine is a labor of love and my son is my biggest promoter. At the spunky age of 5, he was working an Earth Day event with me. Without any coaching, he approached strangers and handed them a magazine saying, “Here is good living because you don’t want bad living.” It was a precious (and comical) moment and I realized right then that this experience will alter his life in ways that I will never really know.
Since joining the ranks of self employed moms, I’ve met countless other women who found creative ways to be more accessible to their families while earning income. Bucking the system and blazing their own trails, these moms are resilient, creative, hard working, innovative and courageous. The hours can be long, but they do it for the flexibility and for the power to make their own decisions when it comes to balancing work and family. They offer hope and leadership to mothers everywhere who want a different way of life for themselves and their families. We feature stories of mompreneurs in GoodLiving magazine whenever we have the opportunity. In fact, we have four more great stories in our Winter 2013 issue.
This chapter in my life is by far the most rewarding. Because I followed my heart and made the first step to change my direction, I have had moments I would never have had otherwise. Like picking my child up everyday at kindergarten and walking hand in hand down the sidewalk, his backpack bobbing up and down while he chattered about his day. The Florida sun is shining on us from the bright blue sky. I take a snapshot of this in my mind and thank God for the opportunity to be his mother and to have this moment. That snapshot is my story.
Every issue of GoodLiving magazine includes an essay called, “My Story.” This particular essay was written by Publisher/Editor, Pamela Settle, and is the story of how motherhood changed her life.