A week with the dreaded lurgy got Kate Christie thinking of the parallels between life as small business owner and the demands of being a single parent.
I have been sick this week.
Not annoying runny nose sick, but incredibly sore throat, painful ears, thumping headache, paralysing lethargy, need to stay in bed type sick. It started on Sunday. I could actually feel the sickness creeping up from my freezing cold feet, into my lower back, up to my shoulders and into my head as I stood in the wind watching my daughter play lacrosse. The cold was literally ‘in my bones’ and it was all downhill from there.
By Monday morning I was feeling truely miserable as I rose at 7am to drive my kids to the station to catch the train to school. I fed the dogs, momentarily considered cleaning the mess in the kitchen, then gave that up as a bad job and went back to bed. I can beat this with sleep, I reasoned.
By Monday afternoon as I shivered under the doona with the electric blanket on full ball I knew I was in trouble.
Monday night was hideous – I don’t want to go there.
On Tuesday I had no option. I had a meeting in Sydney which I could not reschedule. I rugged up and drove to the airport sucking a throat lozenge. The walk across the tarmac in 0 degrees, rain and high wind was a genuine low point. How is it that some travellers still think it is OK not to check in ridiculously humungous luggage and that it is reasonable to haul these bags up the stairs to the plane, holding up the queue, making the rest of us wait on the stairs, IN THE RAIN?
Another lozenge. Another Panadol. Another Neurofen. Each swallow is like a red hot poker stabbing me in the throat.
Meeting done – pretty much in an adrenaline fuelled, fever induced frenzy. Who would know? Not me – I was on another planet at this stage. I’m not even sure what I said, but everyone appeared to be happy. All good.
Back to the airport where I rang my doctor to see if I could get an appointment straight from the plane. No. Of course not.
Tuesday night worse than Monday night.
Wednesday morning, up at the crack of dawn to drive the kids to the station – that’s OK guys, I was awake in agony anyway.
Have you ever been so sick that as you wait for your name to be called by the doctor, you ‘google’ your symptoms to work out EXACTLY what you need to say to absolutely guarantee that she gives you antibiotics without (i) you having to beg for them, and (ii) getting the whole ‘it could be a virus, so let’s just see how it plays out over the next few days…’ speech?
At the back end of the week my brain was sufficiently capable of focussing on things other than my self woe and it occurred to me how very similar being a solepreneur is to being a single parent.
Basically, the buck stops with you baby. In fact, if you stop, so do the bucks. You are it. Even if you get sick, you still need to perform.
But that’s OK, because there is a whole world of awesomeness about being a solepreneur and a single parent to outweigh this minor inconvenience. And being both, I think I am qualified to make 3 important observations:
- You are the boss: as a solepreneur and as soleparento, you get to make all the rules. You get to decide the what, where, how, when and why of EVERYTHING. How good is that? No consultation, no negotiation, no arguments, no friction, no give and take. Embrace this freedom – you work your butt off as a single parent and as a small business owner and this is one of the benefits.
- You get all of the rewards: yes it is hard work being a single parent and yes it is hard work running your business on your own, but you are making good money; you are a powerful role model to your kids; your kids love you and think you are amazing; your friends and family admire you; your customers love what you do for them; and I think you are pretty bloody great too.
- You are changing lives for the better: as a single parent you have the sole, or majority hand, in shaping some pretty incredible little (or big) human beings, and you are doing a great job at it. You are ensuring your kids are good, kind, thoughtful, helpful, articulate, resilient, resourceful, independent, respectful and loving beings. This is your legacy. And unless you are in the business of peddling tobacco, drugs, or other illicit or unhealthy options, it’s safe to assume that you are also in business to change your customers’ lives for the better. Go you!
So, take another antibiotic, keep the pain killers handy, put on your big girl or boy pants and keep being awesome.