Moms Mean Business.
by Vicki Larson
I always thought I had a pretty nice relationship with my mom. Oh, sure, she can drive me crazy with her advice, her worrying, the newspaper clippings she mails me almost weekly with sentences or paragraphs underlined in red and decorated with exclamation points.
Still, I call her every week — actually, I call my parents weekly, but if my dad happens to pick up, he immediately says, “I’ll get your mother,” even if I’m in the middle of saying. “Hi, Dad, how are you?” I’m 53 years old, and I still don’t really know how my dad is doing; I’m guessing I never will.
While my mom and I have a relatively nice adult child-parent relationship, it’s nowhere near the one, say Beyonce Knowles has with her mom, Tina; they’ve actually gone into business together with their House of Deréon clothing line, as have fashion icon Betsey Johnson and daughter Lulu and thousands of other mompreneurs across the country.
Forget about father-son businesses; although that’s the model still ingrained in the American psyche. Mother-daughter businesses are the new black. I have no idea how they do it; honestly, most women I know have such complicated relationships with their mothers without having to worry about ordering, restocking and bookkeeping, it’s a miracle they still talk at all.
But it seems sort of romantic to go into business with someone you love and know so well; who better than a mother, father, sibling or husband to work with? Whenever a big-box chain store threatens to move in to our neighborhood, we tend to rally around the tiny mom-and-pop store that we’ve been shopping at for years. We love mom-and-pop- run businesses — they make up more than 80 percent of the nation’s companies. And although we often see them through rose-colored glasses as the cozy diner on Main Street or the quaint B&B somewhere in Maine, many are Fortune 500 corporations.
That’s all well and good, but I wonder — how the heck can an intimate relationship handle all that stress? Because, it is stressful.
I know, because I did it.
Years ago, when I was still under the tie-dyed influence of the 1970s, I dropped out of college, followed my boyfriend out to Colorado and then took on a bunch of grunt jobs to keep us afloat — barely — while he was in college. I don’t recall what he declared as a major, but he sure took a lot of PE classes.
Eventually, I landed a job at a small pizza and ice cream restaurant owned by two 30-something guys. I adored them and their families, they adored me, and before long, they made me manager. I loved being in charge, loved creating new items for the menu, loved our customers. By that time, by boyfriend-turned-new husband — we married on a trail in the Rockies, me in my cowboy boots and feather and beaded dress, he in the overalls I’d embroidered daisies on — had dropped out of college, too, and needed a job.
“Come work with me,” I said. “It will be fun.”
So he did.
It was not fun.