I’m sorry, but I’m not a mumpreneur.
I have never liked the word. Like I don’t love mummy blogger, SHE-E-O, Girl Boss etc.… Personally, I don’t find these terms empowering. I know many brilliant women who do and that’s great for them — we are all different!
The way I see it, we don’t have dadpreneurs, Man Boss’s, HE-E-O’s. Of course I 1000% believe we need to see more females entrepreneurs, CEO’s and boss’s. But why should women define themselves by gender?
I’ve entertained the idea of writing this post for a little while now, but inevitably come to the same conclusion less than two seconds later. No thanks.
I’m not entirely sure why. But I do have my suspicions.
I think it’s largely because I don’t want to be defined by being a mother. Yes, I am a mother. To an awesome little guy. But I am many other things too. So that means I shy away from writing about being a mother in case it clouds how people view me — or to be honest, how I want them to view me.
The other day in the office we were joking around about what our greatest achievements were. I can’t remember the context but when it came to my turn I said that I felt incredibly proud to have built Flaunter and the incredible team of people that now make up the Flaunter universe. Laughingly, someone said GASP SHOCK — “not your child?!” To which I responded, no. My son isn’t an achievement [although getting him safely to adulthood and helping him becoming a good human being might be!].
And this is where the conflict starts.
When I learned I was pregnant I was absolutely terrified. Not for many of the usual reasons one gets terrified at the prospect of raising a human — but because I was worried about how it would affect my ability to raise capital. To be exact, I didn’t have concerns about my physical or mental ability. I was worried that people wouldn’t invest in me because I was pregnant, a mother.
I was worried that my first baby — Flaunter — and the thing I’d invested an incredible amount of energy, time, passion + the kitchen sink into, would suffer. Because all of a sudden people would think of me as less capable. Honestly, this is one of the most powerful memories I have of being pregnant.
I’m sure there’s a lot to unpack there but long story short, fortunately that wasn’t the outcome for me. Thank you Alan Jones for taking that phone call years ago and giving me the sage advice that I should just explain that I was building two startups at once ;)
And that’s exactly what I’ve done.
I ran into a very old acquaintance recently, someone who works in a similar industry. She was 8 months pregnant. I hadn’t seen her since having my son so I was really surprised when she said to me that when she thought about continuing work while having a baby she looked to how I’d done it so successfully.
So it now feels like a convergence of things that how prompted me to think more deeply about things.
Is it shitty that for me there is such a conflict between building a successful business [I won’t go with empire just yet] and being a mother? Yes. So — maybe I could make it less shitty for someone else? Information is power and shared experiences are like scaffolding, they help strengthen the unit.
And so what has been the outcome for me? What’s the daily reality from where I stand?
- The Hours.
I work long hours — at the office every day and at then some more at home. I do some work almost every weekend. Not all weekend though — I’ve gotten much better at hiding my phone and laptop from myself. I don’t take sick days and I have to force myself to feel comfortable with holidays. I try to be really “present” when I’m at home but often I suck at it.
2. The Help.
My husband is an exceptional co-parent. He does all the cooking and grocery shopping in our house. When Henri was born and I started working again 3 weeks later, he took a day a week off for many months. We split the drop off and pick up duties 50/50 and if Henri is sick, Mikey is usually the one who stays home with him.
Henri was so young when I went back to work that daycare wasn’t an option — but neither was a nanny. I didn’t earn a wage for quite some time so our budget was tight.
I relied 100% on family to help. My mum and my mother in law were, and continue to be, superstars. I quite literally could not have done it without their time and support.
The best thing I did early on was to separate work time and Henri time. I failed miserably when I attempted ‘work from home’ — distracted by work and Henri all at once and managing neither of them well. I had shorter days to begin with but leaving Henri at home made it far easier to concentrate at home and vice versa. Again — made possible only with the support of family.
I breastfeed for 7 months and I can tell you that I’ve pumped in many a cafe and office bathroom — it was never glamourous and everyday I’d say “just one more day of this!”.
3. The Guilt.
I’d heard and read a lot about this but have never felt this way myself. I don’t feel guilty that I work and I think Henri has been lucky to have spent so much time with other family members while growing up. If anything, sometimes I feel like I’m the one missing out on occasion — but that’s been my choice so I try not to dwell on those feelings.
I have a big group of friends and we are very close. Having said that, I no longer see them as regularly as I’d like. I get most of my updates for shared Whatsapp groups or Facebook. A lot of my friends have similar aged kids and took longer periods of maternity leave. They’d have lunches and catch up during the week — I could never make those dates. I worried at first that friendships would suffer when I wasn’t as available as in the past but they all understand. We make it work.
5. Green smoothies, massages, exercise and me time.
Well…. All of that is entirely fictional. I don’t eat as well as I’d like and often miss meals during the day. Massages — no time. I barely get my hair cut for that matter. Exercise is a constant battle. I know this is something I should fit in, but I don’t. I have prioritised work and family. This is actually something I want to change asap. Me time — so rare. If I have some time I’ll read, but it’s usually a work-related book on how to use my time better, or grow my business faster ;) I could probably do with a little more yin to my yang…
And there it is.
I love my work. I love my business. I love the team I work with and the community I work within.I also love my family, friends, holidays, exercise. Do I feel “balanced”? To be honest, I have no idea what that concept really means. Is it important to feel “balanced”?
Yes — it’s bloody hard. But so are many things.
An edited version of this post was first published online at Harper’s Bazaar Australia.