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The Barefoot family live an easy, relaxed life together playing, pottering and doing whatever feels right at the time!

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Babies, business and analogies

I’m tired and ranty. This is similar to being grumpy only ranty is what I become when there is no one to be grumpy with! One might argue that there isn’t anyone here to be ranty at either but you can’t be grumpy with a blog post but you can be ranty. Think of it as a short disclaimer!  
Having your own business is like having your own children. Turns out all those people who I’ve heard say it before and have directed this seemingly unproductive advice at me are correct. I always assumed it was something to do with the analogy of nurturing it and watching it grow, loving it and wanting to protect it and so on blah blah but it is so much deeper and truer than that. I never imagined I would be overly sentimental about our businesses, they were the portkey to our future, but I would be one of those professional and realistic business owners who is honest and practical in my outlook.  Just as if you described parenting as a simple sentence of events it would not do it justice it is not enough to describe having your own businesses like that either.
I was out with a friend who I then only knew in a professional context. We were having a working lunch with my husband and my then six month old son. The waiter was wonderful, funny and friendly. He clearly adored babies and asked if he could play with our son (who was not interested in eating the feast laid out before us)...naturally we were all too happy for him to entertain him! We ate our meal together and enjoyed watching our son being shown off to the entire restaurant, he played his part beautifully and loved every second of having an adoring audience. When he brought him back to us he excitedly exclaimed how wonderful babies were and how much he misses his children at that age. We both smiled gratefully in agreement assuming this was in some way a compliment on how lovely our boy was. I was completely taken aback with the tone of absolute seriousness that my friend rebuked ‘you forget that they are incredibly hard work’. We all smiled waiting for the softness to follow but there was none. She meant it completely.
I have often reflected on this moment. It was a tiny fast rollercoaster in my mind for the minutes that followed. The initial natural motherly reaction of ‘are you implying my son is hard work?’ passed and then went on to the next swooping bend with the slightly less instinctive ‘but I am grateful for every moment of it’ phrase but ended the ride at ‘do you know what your bloody right. No one ever says that to me and no one ever really appreciates what hard work it really is’. I instantly respected her more than ever after that moment. It was honest and real and in no way as harsh as it initially felt, it was simply true. This business associate also turned out to be the woman we went on to buy a business from. Her baby. It was a pinnacle moment in my life, not just the purchase of the business and everything that has followed but this moment of recognition and respect of motherhood. I should have realised then that we were not just buying a business. We were adopting a new member of the family. Someone with its own needs that needs attention, love and time and that will require these all the time. Just as motherhood has helped me grow so did the business.  
I am intensely grateful for all of my ‘children’  though on this grumpy tired day when no amount of writing in a gratitude journal will take away the exhaustion at the relentless list of things to do and washing and tidying and cooking and birthdays to remember and calls to make and and and.... I am just allowing myself a little space to say you know what, it is great but it is bloody hard work.