We're off to United Fresh in Chicago! It was quite a week, one that at times left me wondering if all the loose ends would get tied up in time for us to take off fully prepared for the week ahead.
The 'we're' on this trip is Marc and I. Marc is my son, freshly graduated from high school. Despite the briskness of the last 5 days, he seems ready to experience all that attending a produce convention may bring his way.
Probably like many moms who watch their kids go through their commencement exercises, I couldn't help but think back over the years it took to get Marc to this point. What is really amazing to me today is that sixteen of those years happened while I have owned a truck brokerage.
It has not been an easy road, pardon the pun. I know myself, I know that I prefer paths that won't severely test my resolve. I am not so sure that if I had known the challenges of building a company while raising four kids that I would have chosen this route.
But I did, and while life has become crazy at times, it has been worth almost all of the drama. Not many parents get to make this choice, but for those who do, I have three reasons why one should consider this option.
First, time flies, and even if it isn't all fun, most of it is wonderful. When I first got this company, my oldest was on the verge of starting kindergarten and my youngest was three years away from being born. Organizing the lives of four children (all homeschooled through our county charter school) while at the same time organizing the pick ups and drops for trucks going back and forth across the country was insane at times. But...I was present to witness most of the milestones in their lives! I hear so often from disappointed parents about how much they have missed of their kids' childhoods. I understand sometimes there is no choice. But do look carefully at options to make sure you aren't losing an opportunity to more fully participate in your child's path to adulthood.
Second, struggling with managing the nitty gritty details that are part of raising kids on a daily basis somehow translated into a greater connection with people. It didn't matter if it was a buyer trying to make sure his cantaloupes arrived in time for an ad, a driver with a breakdown, a shipping clerk trying to get trucks loaded. This business is full of potential problems. My experiences handling all sorts of things with my kids helped me understand the effects of parenting on a person who is trying to also solve a problem at work. It can be hard for people to make good decisions and be effective workers when home is troubled. While being empathetic in these situations didn't make the transportation problem go away, it did remove the child distraction from the equation and help us move more quickly towards a resolution.
Last, working in front of my kids has given me endless opportunities to teach them many things. And yes, sometimes it was teaching them what NOT to do or say. Being a good truck broker in the produce industry has tapped my skills from both my teaching and legal backgrounds. Being a good parent has taught me that winning the war is a bigger victory than winning the battle. I have had to say I am sorry and I was wrong many times, to both my kids and people who have been part of my business. But as I observe my children interacting with the world outside of our family, as my dad would say, 'The juice is worth the squeeze.' They have seen that they can learn from their mistakes.
Good luck, and try to bring your kids to work. It's worth the effort.
What is one of your best work/child raising experiences?