For many working mothers, it would be a dream come true to be able to stay at home with their children. In today’s world, more women are waiting until they are a little older to have children so that they can focus on their careers and there is nothing wrong with that. I was always very career oriented and I was never planning on having any children so work was my main focus. But life has a way of surprising us sometimes and I became pregnant. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that I would be a mother and my workaholic ways soon were replaced with thoughts of wanting to be at home to raise my baby.
When I was several months pregnant, I was recruited into Mary Kay believing that this opportunity would be the answer to all of my problems. I was told that if I worked hard, believed in myself, followed the path closely of those above me in the company that I too could be on my way to financial freedom while putting God first, family second and career third. I truly thought that this was a sign from God himself and that He had placed this opportunity before me.
Very pregnant, but very excited, I began my new career as a Mary Kay beauty consultant. I only had two months until my due date so I had to get busy and get my new career off the ground so that I could quit my full-time job. I was exhausted most of the time but I had to keep going if I wanted to be a work-at-home mom. It was the only way. I worked all day at my full-time job, and then I would come home and work all evening, every evening trying to build my Mary Kay business. If I wasn’t working from home on the phone, I was at a Mary Kay meeting or holding skin care appointments. I was on fire! My director and NSD (National Sales Director) preached that it’s short-term sacrifice for long-term gain and I could slow down eventually. I would only have to work at this pace for a short while and I would have a great reward as payment for it all – my dream of being able to stay home and raise my baby.
I couldn’t wait for my three-month maternity leave to begin! All I could think of was being able to be with my baby and build my Mary Kay business! I just knew that I could have it all and I was going to prove to the world and my co-workers that I was a better mom than them because I was putting the needs of my child first and I was going to quit my job. When my maternity leave ended, I tearfully returned to work and vowed that I would be quitting by the end of summer. I continued to work extremely hard for the next 8 months and by the time my son was 10 months old, I gave my resignation. I was going to pursue Mary Kay full-time, become a sales director and earn my car! I was on top of the world!
I was a very faithful beauty consultant and I followed the advice and instruction of my uplines perfectly because after all, they were successful work-at-home moms and businesswomen. How could I go wrong? I had my schedule mapped out for my first full month as a full-time consultant, my goal posters were plastered all over the house, I had tons of leads to call, and I was ready to go.
My emotions were all over the place. One minute I was so excited, and the next minute I was scared to death. I had to make this work or I would have to go back out “there” again to a “J.O.B.”, as it is called in Mary Kay, or Journey of the Broke. I had to prove to all of those “Negative Nellie’s” (another term used in Mary Kay to describe those who don’t support your business) who said I wouldn’t make it that I could do this. I was so full of hope, yet at the same time it was a huge learning experience for me. I had always worked outside of the home from the time I was 18 years old. I had always worked 50 hours a week and more and the few hours I was home, I was always doing something. I was always busy and I never really stopped to find out who I was. In all of my excitement and striving to be a work-at-home mom, I never gave a thought to how I was going to deal with not being out in the world as I once was.
Over the next 10 months, I continued to work on my goals of becoming a sales director and earning my Mary Kay Pontiac Grand Am. Even though I was home, I found that I still had to have childcare so that I could work my business to meet my goals. I never missed a meeting, conference or seminar. After all, those who show up go up and I was going to go up in this business and still be Super Mom. I soon found that I was working almost 40 hours a week. Where was all of this free time that I was going to have to spend with my son? When I would start to express my feelings of guilt to my uplines in Mary Kay, I was quickly reminded that children are resilient and that I was doing this for him. It was because I wanted what was best for him that I needed to continue on. Working this hard and working all of these hours wouldn’t be much longer and I was again reminded of the “short-term sacrifice for long-term gain”.
The months flew by and I made my goals! I had become a sales director and I earned the use of a Mary Kay career car! When my husband, son and I went to pick up my car at the dealership I remember my son sitting behind the steering wheel and I thought, “When did he get this big?” He would be two years old in a couple of months and I became sad. Where did the time go? How did I miss this?
Working for myself was harder than anything I had ever imagined. When I was working for someone else, I was continually reminded by those above me in Mary Kay about all of the things that were wrong with working a J.O.B. I could be laid off at a moment’s notice, no job security and I would have to wait until someone died or retired in order to advance. Now that I was working for myself, I was missing many of the things that I once wanted so badly to get away from. I felt as though I was always working and when you work for yourself, the stress level is so much higher because you have to do whatever it takes to bring in a certain amount of money each week to pay the bills. When I was working for someone else, I knew everyday when I went in exactly how much I was going to make. Although some days I felt as though I deserved to be paid more for all of my hard work, at least I knew that there would be a paycheck at the end of the week. In direct sales, you don’t always have control over your paycheck. One week sales and recruiting might be great and the next week, every appointment can cancel. It was a constant up and down struggle and the stress became too much.
I could never get away from the work. I could never stop thinking about work because my family depended on my making enough to cover what my husband’s checks couldn’t. My phone was always ringing and even though I had set work hours, the calls were always interrupting my family time or personal time. Work was always there haunting me. I took advantage of every spare second trying to make this business work. I was always on my cell phone making calls in the car, writing to do lists while at red lights, preparing for my unit meetings while I should have been reading a book to my son. It didn’t seem to matter how hard I was working. The people in my unit were not and I found out the hard way you can’t make other people work – no matter how much you want them to.
Even when I was home I wasn’t really there. I may have been home more than I was while working full-time but I was still working. The last day of the month was always stressful because production quotas for sales directors and car maintenance were dependant on my reaching a certain wholesale amount from my unit. I spent holidays and even vacation time trying to get my production quotas in. I couldn’t fail. I was taught by my uplines that you don’t give up until the last second, of the last minute, of the last hour of the day. You work until your goals are achieved.
I became a pretty good actor and had everyone in my unit and others in Mary Kay believing that I was handling it all quite well. After all, I was taught to “fake it until I make it” and I could not let the girls in my unit see how hard it really was. They would never want to be a director if I didn’t make it look easy and fun. After a while, I just couldn’t do it anymore. Physically, mentally and financially I was depleted. My health deteriorated along with my dreams and my bank account. I was missing out on my son growing up and it seemed as though the short-term sacrifice was not going to end soon. After 4 ½ years in Mary Kay, I gave it all up to be a real stay-at-home mom. My health has improved now that the stress, pretending, and constant pushing are over.
Once I gave up Mary Kay, I realized that there is nothing wrong with women wanting to work outside of the home. Being a work-at-home mom does not make one a better mom. Regardless of whether you work in or out of the home, it is the quality of the time that is spent with your children that’s important. For me, I have learned a tough lesson and I am a stronger and better mom for it.