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Ugh. My heart sank. Maybe she couldn’t find a sitter. Maybe she wasn’t married. Maybe she had to breastfeed every hour. Maybe she just didn’t WANT to leave her baby. She wasn’t any less smart or in any way unprofessional just because she had her sweet, new baby with her. At the time, I wasn’t a mother but I knew I wasn’t far from it. I couldn’t put myself in her shoes just yet, but I did my best to try and understand what it must be like to be a parent and an entrepreneur.
Now with kids of my own, I can.
Not only do I know what it’s like to be a parent and an entrepreneur, but I understand what it’s like to field questions, looks, judgements, and guilt from others because I work and have babies. It makes my blood boil when female entrepreneurs hear this from friends, family or complete strangers. As if a woman’s brain or ability just stop existing the moment she gives birth. Mothers aren’t devoid of ambition or lose the desire to create and serve just because they had children. Each woman has a calling of her own that she must honor – whether it’s staying home, working, running a business, or some hybrid of the three.
As if running a business weren’t hard enough, we have to field the guilt trips that our male counterparts don’t.
“There were several occasions where comments were made by people at my daughter’s preschool that implied that I should somehow have more time/flexibility because I run my own business, such as, ‘Well, MOST moms who work from home will be there (at an event at my daughter’s preschool).’ My husband never reported hearing anyone suggest that he take off of work or make special arrangements to attend these same activities.” – Kate Swoboda, founder of Your Courageous Life
Then there’s the guilt we impose on ourselves.
Merel Kriegsman, Business Mentor & Copy Expert says, “My experience is that I’m so conditioned, people don’t even to say nasty things to me, I’ll do that myself. As a female entrepreneur who is the sole provider (my husband does work in my company and runs the house), I’ve heard myself say things like, ‘I’m not a mom kinda mom’, and feeling a deep sadness almost instantly after making that statement. And having a deep feeling of falling short. I had to work vigilantly on reframing that belief (that BTW comes from being so different from my mom, who stayed at home throughout our childhood). Now I feel way more confident in who I AM as a mom, owning that it’s different from so many other moms. I’m showing my girls that ANYTHING is possible (by running a 7-figure business). I think unattainable standards are a favorite way for women to take themselves out of the game. And the ‘Perfect Mom’ myth is just another one.”
I believe being a mother makes us even better equipped to handle entrepreneurship. And I am proud of the women – like the two mentioned above – who acknowledge the judgement coming their way but don’t apologize for being true to their ambition and to the legacy they want to leave behind. That’s also important for our children to see. So if you see a mom who is holding a conference call while pushing a stroller around the mall, or a mom who lets her child count your change at her farmer’s market booth, or a mom who straps her baby to her chest to give a speech – give her a hi-five and tell her she’s an amazing mom for running a business.
July 9, 2019 at 11:58AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs