Becoming a Realtor
I still remember clearly the day in February of 2004 that I affiliated with my Real Estate firm here in Nashville. As I sat filling out paperwork with all the assurance of a woman graced with a plan, my mentor whom I do believe actually possesses “the force” said to me with an irksome calmness , “you know, there is no easy to make a living” and I curtly retorted “well THIS has got to be a heck of a lot easier than what I have been doing.“
I had just had my second child and the idea of going back to 50 hour work weeks, endless meetings, client events, and office politicing just seemed something I was unwilling to do anymore. Yet I wanted and needed to work and Real Estate seemed a fantastic compromise. As I am sure it was with many of you, I realized there was upfront cost but compared to starting your own business in other industries, this seemed doable. I loved purchasing our first home, had even helped a few of my friends find their homes in our neighborhood and I had been in sales for years so how hard could it be?
Most importantly, I was thinking gone will be the days of tense calls in to my boss because my kid caught some obscure daycare virus like fifths disease and would need sequestering for a week. No more awkward moments of showing up late to an 8am meeting because my two year old hid my keys so we could play hot and cold or kept stripping his clothes off because he didn’t like anything I put on him. Since it is generally frowned upon to deliver a naked kid to daycare as is beating your kid in to submission, I was always on the losing side of these battles. Harried and defeated, I would head to work to face my childless judgmental boss tapping her watch while spouting parenting advice and dropping not so subtle hints my job may be in jeopardy. Good times…
I also figured if I eliminated all the endless corporate meetings and lunch ( I mean who needs an hour to scarf down a hot pocket) and just focus on my work, I could shave at least 2-3 hours off my day. This would be the quality time I so envied stay at home moms for giving their kids and maybe, I thought, mine are so vexing because they need more of me. And the glorious flexibility; if all the schools shut down 3 hours early because of some forecasted apocalyptic weather event, if a kid forgets their lunch, or pee’s in all three of their changes of clothes, no problem – I’ve got this…
Here’s How it Really Went Down
To be completely frank, it’s kind of a blur. At one point I found myself crawling in to crawl space with a baby strapped in a bjorn on my chest and I’ve had to sneak out of open houses to nurse babies while my husband stood watch. My favorite is when invariably I am in the car line picking up kids, an agent or lender calls with some knuckle headed demand which leads to tense discussion while I angrily plead with my eyes at my kids in the back seat to stop screaming at each other. Once I even hid from my kids in the bushes of my front yard to save a deal in the 11th hour hoping the attorneys didn’t hear them fighting over whose fault it was that the toilet was overflowing. I have even comforted a vomiting toddler while telling a first time home buyer they didn’t get the home they wrote an offer on, all three of us in tears.
Many of you may say sanctimoniously that I need to set boundaries or work hours and or perhaps utilize time blocking to better manage my time and conversations. To you I say, BS!!!! The reality of our industry is that there are time sensitive issues that come up at the most inconvenient times and kids will throw you curve balls just for sport. I can create the most efficient, intelligent and balanced calendar that will accommodate all the kids actives, all my client needs, marketing systems, and at one point I even naively tried blocked time for the “unexpected.” Invariably, my schedule will fall to pieces the first 30 minutes of Monday morning when one of the kids leaves a sink running and floods our laundry room or forgets they have Greek day and need me to produce a toga replete with gold sash from thin air as well as the hummus and chips he volunteered me for. Perhaps a sadistic underwriter decides they need written proof from a now deceased homeowner that they relinquish their interest in a home my buyer is trying to purchase an hour from now, while my computer simultaneously crashes, and my neighbor calls to tell me our dog has escaped and is chasing cars in the street. Seriously, I can’t make this stuff up…
It may appear that I am a walking disaster but I am hear to say proudly, I believe in my heart mom’s make the best kind of Realtors. If you are a first time home buyer, we are going work tirelessly to help you make a prudent purchase and get all “mother bear” on anyone who tries to take advantage of you. If you are single, we are going to try to match you up with an amazing single friend we think you would be perfect for. If you are in the throws of a major life change good or bad, we are there with you worrying and hoping for the best and trying to make things as easy for you as possible. If you are a parent and you dash in 20 minutes late to a showing frantic because you couldn’t get your kids out the door, we aren’t going to say a word. In fact we will watch them for you while you walk through the house. Most importantly, we don’t need a document to tell us that it is our fiduciary duty to put your interest above that of our own because that is just who we are and anything else would feel unnatural.
I am now entering year 9 and it has literally taken me this long to figure out that all I really set myself up to do was try to squeeze 45 hours productivity in to 30 and I set the bar even higher for myself as a mother because of the all this “extra” time I thought I was pulling out of thin air. I wouldn’t trade any of it, even the recent lean years. I have learned so many valuable lessons, met some amazing people, and that glorious flexibility has indeed afforded me opportunities to be involved with my kids in ways it never occurred to me I could be.
Year 10 will come with one humble lesson learned and finally embraced though – there is indeed no easy way to make a living just as there is no easy way to be a mother. Happy Mothers Day !