A Mentor

Posted by on Dec 13, 2013 in Diary of a Startup | 0 comments

So finally, I knew I wanted to start LearningLawyer.com, even though I wasn’t exactly sure at this point what form the business was going to take. One small (huge) complication was that I had no idea where to turn to start a business. I’d been reading books about business since I was 23 years old. They always seemed big on ideas and short on details.

When I was on maternity leave with my third baby, I was at the library and saw a sign for a meeting coming up to give free advice for how to start a business. It was put on by something called SCORE. I had no idea what this was, but it turns out that it’s sponsored by the Small Business Administration (their website is

http://www.score.org/).

So, with me on maternity leave I had a little more time to be able to go to the SCORE initial meeting, but because I was on maternity leave it also made it difficult to go. My third baby absolutely refused to take a bottle, ever, and also almost always cried if anyone held her other than me. Spare me the parenting advice, I’ve had three kids and the other two weren’t anything like this. She just is who she is. This made leaving her really difficult. That solution for us was that our whole family went to the library the next Saturday and my husband took the kids around the library while I attended the class. There were probably 30 people at the class. Yeah, I was the only one there who also had three kids and a husband wandering around the library. At that time I had a newborn, a 2 year old, and a 5 year old who was just about to start kindergarten.

After the initial class, there were more meetings to sign up for, but they cost money. It was very reasonable, about $150 or so, I think, but with me on maternity leave I was not anxious to spend any extra money. Thankfully, Wal Mart was sponsoring a program where they’d pay for you to go if you were a Veteran or spouse of a Veteran. My husband is a Veteran! So, Wal Mart paid my way. Thanks, Wal Mart. There are a lot of Wal Mart haters out there but I was pretty happy about this nice thing for veterans.

The rest of the classes were from 6-8:30 at night, located at another building about 30-60 minutes from my house, depending on traffic. Not easy when you have a young breastfeeding baby who will not eat anything else or take a bottle. To top it off, they started right when I returned to work from maternity leave. I was still taking my little baby to work with me at the office, wearing her in beautiful Didymos baby slings (if you know someone with a small baby please clue them in to German style woven wraps…they rock). The great thing about small babies is that they sleep a lot, and they really like to sleep in baby slings. This meant that I could get a ton of work done, and I never had to stop working to pump like I had in the past with my other babies. I am, in general, a focused and productive person, and once I am working on something there is not much that can stop me, so this worked very well for me.

So, even though I was able to take my baby to work with me, between going back to work and being basically unable to leave my baby, I didn’t know how I was going to make it all come together. I couldn’t really take the baby with me to the class – even though she was an easy baby as long as I was holding her, she would be a distraction for other people in the class. I was really worried about looking professional, too. I knew it would be hard, but I felt like this was something that I had to do, and my family was supportive. After all, I hadn’t found anything useful about business in books and I didn’t have anywhere else to turn for advice.

I had piles and piles of work to deal with when I came back from maternity leave, and I was transitioning from full time to part time, so the days were long. I came home from work, got dinner together for the kids and husband, fed the baby before I left the house and went to the first class. Traffic was awful and I ended up being barely on time. My mom watched the kids so my husband wouldn’t have the baby all by himself. He always worries when she cries, even though he knows babies cry.

She cried, of course. I have never seen another tiny baby be so attached to Mom. I arrived home to a very unhappy baby who was ready to nurse and fall asleep for the night. My older kids were “off” from the disruption in routine. It was past their bedtime. Overall, the first class was rough on my kids, and consequently rough on me.

Some people couldn’t understand why a once a week class could be so rough. But, it’s not like the class was the only thing I was doing. I was at work all day…with the baby. Basically attached to me. In my office. While I dealt with mountains of work, some of which were crises.

The class itself was good and came with good materials, although realistically I could have gotten through it all in 20 minutes or less. I was determined to get through the classes. Sometimes in life, there are mountains on the path. If you want to keep going you have to climb them.  Or go around. Or tunnel through.

The next week, the baby was sick with a fever that day. I went to the class 20 minutes early, asked the questions that I could, and then left because I felt like I couldn’t stay there with her, but I also couldn’t leave her when she was sick. I guess this was a week I took a gondola up the mountain, even though it didn’t feel like an easy ride. I knew that no one would take me seriously with a baby along, but seriously, if someone is determined enough to go that they take the baby along when there is no option to leave her…to me that is an indicator of determination.

The week after that, I went and left at the half time so I would not be gone too far into bedtime for the kids. That worked out better for my family, and the baby was not so desperate to nurse by the time I got home. I didn’t feel like I was missing much because I could get through everything in less than half the time the class was taking. I wished I could have stayed and talked to everyone but the pressing needs of my family made it hard. It was all I could think about.

The week after that, the last week, I didn’t go. I was so exhausted from working all day that I just couldn’t go. I had had to leave the baby for the first time with my mom during the day instead of bringing her to work because one of my clients had an adjudication on his case. This meant we had to go for an interview with immigration and there was no way I could bring the baby. My work was at least 45 minutes away from my house, so it wasn’t realistic to only drop the baby off with my mom during the interview itself. I already felt bad leaving my baby with her being so incredibly attached to me and so upset when I left. When I thought about the class that night, I felt like a horrible mother if I were to leave her all day and all night when she was so needy. By this time, with a lot of coaxing from me, she had at least decided that she would take a bit in a sippy cup, so her crying was not constant. I had to pump breastmilk to make this all happen, which is a time consuming process itself.

The Solution
Developing a Solution

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