Hidden beneath the covers in the dark of night, I often troll social media sites seeking comic relief. There is something cathartic about seeing images of giggling babies and dancing grandmas traipsing across the screen. Temporarily I’m transported to a different setting, leaving the tension of the day behind.
During my last virtual adventure, scrolling through Facebook, I came upon a post seeking parents willing to participate in a community forum via personal web site. I remembered the blog I had abandoned long ago. Would I be able to track down my forgotten words of wisdom? If the adage is true, nothing is lost on the Internet.
Finding the blog was exciting, like discovering an old diary in the attic. Hastily, four years had passed, seemingly in the blink of an eye. I wistfully reviewed the historical entries. Yesteryear had proven how dramatically my world has transformed.
My Title Is Parent originated as a means to promote my foray into entrepreneurship. After years of research and development over countless sleepless nights, I had finally launched a visual schedule business.
It was 2011 and like much of America, I was enthralled with the final season of The Oprah Winfrey Show. Episodes were filled with success stories and philosophical guests espousing William Arthur Ward’s sentiments, “If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. If you can dream it, you can become it.” The shows were inspiring and discussed topics about vision boards, hopes, and dreams.
Visual Schedules was guaranteed to be an overnight success. I was prepared for the financial windfall. I envisioned summers at our new lake house and school breaks lounging by the fire in a mountainside villa. Surely, the universe would give credit for the effort and passion that were dedicated to the venture. Differently-abled families would benefit from the colorful, customized, magnetic agendas. My son had.
Feverishly, I tried to find prospective clients through social media, community events, and press releases. I quickly learned that promoting a business takes as much time and capital as developing one.
Most of the development phase was done in the wee hours of the morning, dressed in pajamas from my home office, while my children were peacefully slumbering. Marketing in a nightgown is much more difficult. It requires persistent networking and personal appearances. It was exhausting and funding set aside for advertising quickly evaporated.
It quickly became apparent that being a momtrepreneur took more than vision and dreams. Overseeing a corporation while concurrently juggling the demands of three young sons and a job was daunting.
Orders trickled in, from as far away as Australia. But customization and worldwide shipping rates gobbled up the modest profit per order. Earnings sustained the business, but didn’t begin to dent the invoices and financial burdens of the initial investment. More disconcerting than the business’ fiscal constraints was the time taken away from my children. Visual Schedules was intended to replace my career, not become a second one. The hope was that it would enhance our lives, allow me to work from home, and spend more time with my children, not less.
After a valiant three year effort, I made the difficult decision to dissolve Visual Schedules. My plea to Shark Tank went unanswered and a promotional opportunity arose at my place of employment.
Failure? Some may think so. I no longer envision a lake house in my immediate future. But I developed and founded an international corporation, serving as president and chief executive officer. More importantly, my visual schedules helped make the lives of numerous families affected by autism spectrum disorders a little easier. I don’t consider that defeat.
Now my life is transported back to the future. Back to 9 to 5. Back to My Title Is Parent. My sons are now eleven, nine, and seven-years-old. Much has changed, although my devotion to my children has not. In hindsight, it’s glaring how different career, motherhood, and autism look in this advanced purview.
What experiences does life have in store for us? How will I feel when I look back at our familial history in 2019? Join me on our journey and we’ll find out together.