After Aaliyah was born I went through a real struggle of defining who I was. Most mothers have been there or maybe are still in that phase. Sure, we’re all thrilled to be mothers. It really is the best thing in the world. And hopefully, we still love our husbands though the dynamics of marriage changes drastically after children enter the picture.
But you know what changes even more than the relationship between a husband and wife? It’s the relationship of a woman with herself. It doesn’t matter if you were working before the baby was born or were a stay at home wife. It’s the fact that you change, from body to soul. And I can tell you, that with every child you have, you’ll keep on changing.
For me, a great part of my identity was work. Many of you have heard me say how much I enjoyed my job before Aaliyah was born. In fact, I was about to be assigned to a temporary position in Afghanistan! When I emailed my boss saying I was ready to go, he actually called me back and asked “Ms. Suhail – Are my eyes deceiving me? You want to go to Afghanistan?”. And boy did I – I was totally ready for it.
Until I found out I was pregnant. And then the whole world changed. I changed.
After Aaliyah was born I tried continuing my consulting job from home and I failed. I failed at being a balanced person because I was stretching myself too thin. So I tried a whole number of slightly crazy things before I found out what worked for me and my family. I failed at many before I settled into being a comfortable Social Media and HR Freelance Consultant.
Here are the stories of all my “professional experiments” before and after Aaliyah was born:
At one point in my life, I was baking 5 dozen biscotti a week to create the most perfect biscuit possible. I figured I could sell them to local stores, bakeries, and coffee shops because at the time almost nobody was making them in Karachi. And I did find the most perfect biscotti recipe (which I’ve since lost). But what I didn’t have was the time to launch the business or the marketing skills to do it. I tried doing this with almost no help while having a full time job as an HR Manager. I simply couldn’t do both together at that point in my life.
2. Diaper Cakes
Shortly after Aaliyah was born, I was surrounded by diapers – no surprise there. But this was around the same time that diaper cakes were becoming a crazy trend in the West. So I thought why not in Pakistan?! And in between, naps, diaper changes, and nursing Aaliyah I would be wrapping diapers into rolls and trying to create cakes out of them. They weren’t bad. But my biggest weakness in this little adventure was that I was simply horrible at product photography. And that I never did any research on whether diaper cakes would actually sell in Pakistan. In my head, they’d be the hottest things for baby showers…but they just weren’t.
3. Boutique Hair Bows
I reeled my sister into this one and to this day I have a huge bag of super girly hair bows and headbands. We created really awesome designs with subpar felt because that’s all that was available in Pakistan at the time. There was an exhibition coming up and we didn’t research the group or location properly (you’d think I’d have learned from my diaper cake adventures but alas, I still had one more marketing mistake left in me). The products were good they were actually pretty great, but what we didn’t realize was that most people would not spend Rs 200 on handcrafted hair accessories. If it came from a designer label, they would have – but crafts were still pushing their way to be recognized at this time in Karachi.
4. Aimless Freelancer
I put this as a failure because even though I’m a full-time, successful freelancer now, when I started off I failed at this too. I entered Elance with full confidence in my ability to do anything (even though I had the 3 experiences from above to teach me otherwise) but no real understanding on how cut throat the online freelance community could be. I had some really good projects, some funny ones like when I had a voice over job to teach English to Chinese children and ended up with a severe flu in between, and some totally nightmare clients too. In the end, I went back to working a corporate job for a while because I just wasn’t making enough here.
Honestly, I wouldn’t change these failures for anything. I ended them smarter and stronger. Most importantly I came out of them with full confidence that I could do anything I set my mind to – I just needed to accept my personal weaknesses. At the moment I’ve got so many projects that I want to do, I just need to work on being disciplined in putting the right amount of time into them.
As a very wise man told Hubby: if you’re going to fail, fail quickly and move on.
I sure can succeed in doing that!