Hope is the daughter of dawn

Awake at 4:30 AM at the end of a four-day heat wave. Sweating, but not from the weather. Running a business during a recession gets you out of bed with the chickens.

I have always moved counter to my time. I started Happy Cog as the dot-com boom went bust. We bought our first home in December 2007, as the U.S. mortgage crisis flared to full incandescence. And as the U.S. falls into economic narcolepsy, Happy Cog New York and Happy Cog Philadelphia are moving to newer, bigger, better, more beautiful, more perfectly located, and more expensive offices.

By daylight I hustle and count my blessings. We retire early, tired and contented. But at the first pale light of dawn, I’m awake and wired and already on the mental treadmill.

This morning as I lay there fretting over design and personnel questions, I heard our daughter cry out. I was at her side a moment later. She was dreaming; dreaming about bath time. Talking in her sleep, she gave voice to her nightmare:

“No, Mama, no hair wash. Let me skip it, Mama.”

I put my hand on her shoulder and told her she could skip the hair wash, and she instantly subsided to calm sleep.

[tags]glamorous, myglamorouslife, recession, work, sleeplessness[/tags]

27 thoughts on “Hope is the daughter of dawn”

  1. I work as a fulltime freelance web designer, based in Ireland. i too am a homeowner and our economy is falling down around our ears. It appears the European Union is abandoning us and most of my generation (early twenties, just finished college) are without work. I too wake up some mornings sweating bullets. I just have to hope for the best and keep working. Regards.

  2. We have a fair bit in common, Jeffrey. My friends simply don’t understand the rigors of running a business while raising a family. They don’t get the issues that keep you up at night. They don’t understand the financial burdens, the deadlines and why you can’t just do what you want–“you work for yourself don’t you? Surely you can take the morning off…”

    Keep at it, and please keep telling us about it. Your stories help give voice to some of my own thoughts.

  3. Hi.

    I also have the strong feeling that I move counter to my time. It’s funny how problems can vary when you do that. Complicated and impossible for others is easy for you… but that works both ways…

    Best regards.

  4. The higher on the org chart you are, the more bosses you have. When you run a business, every client is ultimately your boss. Running a business means you live in an intense, diagnostic mode you can only sustain because the solution to every problem is ultimately yours to seek and find. Children sleep, business problems seem not to. I have no idea how it looks to the uninitiated, but it’s no cakewalk.

    And yet, it’s tremendously rewarding and fun, and I miss it. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t yearn to rejoin the ranks of entrepreneurial America, especially in recession, when great ingenuity comes alive. I spot opportunities as they approach and speed past, wondering – sometimes desperately – if I can’t eek out just enough energy to grab hold of one more before the revelations cease, the acumen of my youth having collapsed under the weight of my age.

    But I don’t dwell long. I too have got hair washes to skip, sea monster-luring potions to help mix, songs to sing backwards while carrying sippy cups of water for the cabal of furiously fading innocence.

  5. Wow, you actually brought tears to my eyes. It’s those little moments that make parenting so beautiful.

  6. That feeling seems so familiar. It is no secret that when America catches a cold, the rest of the world sneezes. Business seems to be going well so far but you never know when tides will turn for the worse. But even in all the chaos and turmoil that seems to surround us these days, we can definitely learn something from kids and how they take life in stride, perhaps because they haven’t learned yet to complicate their lives themselves. We all should allow ourselves to be like children once in a while, for our own sanity’s sake.

  7. Thanks for the reminder not to quit my day job :)

    I have *three* girls to feed, and though the lure of ‘self-employment’ is strong, the security (whether real or imagined) of fulltime employment is hard to push away. Especially when your pay packet feeds five.

    More power to you Mr. Zeldman.

  8. Best thing I’ve read in awhile…very positive.
    Hey, congrats about the office relocations too – this is actually news to me! :)

  9. Although I’ve been home the past three years caring for our two girls, I have a front-row seat watching my husband stress about running his business in a down economy.

    With all the worries for the future we parents carry in our distracted minds, you have captured the peace we get from doing something so right: Bringing comfort to our child.

    Thanks for the beautiful, honest post.

  10. Is it just me, or are we getting pinched particularly hard in New York? I’ve got a relatively well-paying full time job and have had to pick up a bunch of freelance work to make ends over the past few months… I’m getting exhausted.

    But at least the heat wave finally broke! Man what an awful couple of days.

  11. It certainly is those moments with children (my two as well) that really put things in perspective (for me anyhow). I’ve found myself under extreme stress at times and all it takes is my son or daughter to do something as small as utter a few words or just hearing them at sleep that make it all disappear even for a short time.

    You’ve managed to steer clear of the worst and are flourishing, something or someone must be on your side guiding you through. :)

    Great article, Jeffrey. Great article indeed.

  12. I had the good fortune to be involved in co-founding two companies, starting in 1970 and finally retiring in 2006, and in my case “getting up with the chickens” was a discipline required not only during recession but every working day of my career.
    Nice honest post Jeffrey, it’s a wonderful thing that young children are able to bring everything into perspective without even trying.

  13. You write beautifully. I see a novel or maybe short stories for the New Yorker.

    Question: I use a Google blog format that, if I understand correctly, you designed. Any chance you would answer a question for me? The blog (e-reunion) is for my extended family to keep in touch. I find that people overlook the “older posts” button and thus never see the rest of the pages. I see the code for the format, but I don’t know what to change. All I want to do is make the phrase “older posts” much bigger.

  14. Zeldman come to Australia. We have had 17 year of straight economic growth while the world had gone in and out of recessions. Move soon before the Aussie dollar rises above the US dollar.

    Having children is the best experience. Sometimes I sit at my young boys bed helping him though some bad dream.

    The only assets I have are antiques, collectibles, rare vinyl and gold guilt books. I could hire them out to filmmakers or upper class establishments. When you get pass my crappy car in the drive way you can walk into my rented dog house, it looks like a museum inside. It spins people out.

  15. My daughters are twins, 4 months old. I can relate with the early mornings. I too have at least mostly, moved counter to my time. I mean, hey I’m 44 and these are my first kids, I bought my (Hopefully last) house in July of last year and my company is somehow booming in this economy.

    Thanks for “Designing with Web Standards” It has really given me the final push to change my IT career from one of project management to web design and programming. I have much to learn and many more hours of experimentation (not to mention a few dozen more books to read).

  16. I’ve been enjoying The Glamorous Life for some years now and you never cease to amaze me as you have grown into the life you have now.
    You are a true inspiration…
    j~

  17. Thank you for the uplifting moment – I too am starting a new company at 45 with an 18 month old boy and one on the way. My wife is also in the middle of starting her private practice… for those who are good stewards with the funds they do have, starting companies in down times can be tremendously rewarding, especially when the economy cycles back around. :)

  18. Jeffrey,

    You can skip washing your hair…

    Been too long since been here. I have 2 daughters 6.5 and 2 and its the joys of family that hopefully very soon I’ll be my own boss again. On the economy I forget where I saw the article (Fortune maybe) about several well known companies (Method, Cliff, etc…) who started in downturns in times like these.

    So I start full steam ahead.

  19. Mr Rainsford – The EU has been pouring dough into Ireland for years. Time to stop relying on them.

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