An Open Letter to Working Mothers

Perception Is Not Reality

 

Working mothers: we see them, we know them, we are them. We know the struggles and sometimes we jump in to help them, other times we don’t.

And we judge. We always judge.

That one at dance has it all figured out. That other one who is late to the bus stop every day, surely does not. What a hot mess.

Yet life continues to show us that, what we perceive to be true is not the reality that others are living.

As a busy mother of two boys and a business owner, I seem to have this ‘it will get better’ conversation often. My answers change (which means a curse more or less) depending on how well acquainted I am with the other person, but for the most part, it’s a broken record.

Two years ago, I took a tremendous leap of faith. I opened a business center for small business owners. It’s part of this wildly insane vision that hasn’t let me go, ever since I had my kids. And as it I wasn’t crazy enough, I expanded it a few months ago.

As I signed a lease agreement with a woman who came into the office with 3 of her 4 kids in tote, the conversation and attention immediately went to, “Let me know when you plan on bringing yours to the office so I can bring mine too… they can keep each other company.”

Hell. to. the. yes!  I know you know what a relief that is.

I don’t like to make assumptions, but I could see the relief in her eyes. The kind of relief you feel when you know you can get some work done, and your kiddos are going to be out of your hair, if only for just a few hours.

If you’ve ever been to my office or to an ETTWomen meeting, 7 times out of 10, my boys will be there. They have become an integral part of the work I do because it is meant for women like me.

There are a lot of us out there. Some are just waiting for permission to come out in full swing. If you are reading this and didn’t think you had a place to turn to, know that there’s a tribe of women like us waiting for you and your kids with open arms.

Working mothers, whether corporate professionals, MLM reps, or full blown entrepreneurs, all want to feel productive. They want to feel like they are helping bring home some (or all) of the bacon, and more importantly, they work for the benefit of their emotional wellbeing. Mom is simply just not all that we are.

People who work tend to enjoy happier and healthier lives. Our physical and mental health is generally improved through working and we recover from sickness quicker and are at less risk of long term illness and incapacity. Wouldn’t you want that for every mother you know?

The pressure to ‘juggle’ for me increases during the summer. Working mothers have an unmatched ability to be laser focused on getting the job done, regardless of screaming toddlers in the background. I’ve seen it and of course, have done it.

So, Dear Working Mother,

Here are my nuggets of wisdom from doing this mompreneur dance for so long:

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1. Just fucking jump. Those ideas you have, those dreams, find a way to get them started. Your life is happening right now. You will never be too old to start pursuing your passions and in that process, know that you are teaching your children some remarkable life lessons. They will thank you for it later in life.

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2. Tune out the naysayers. There will always be someone who tells you you can’t do what you know in your core you want to and can. Understand that there will always be someone who thinks you’re nuts. Know that the crazy ones, tend to be the happy ones. If you need visuals, I can share with you a laundry list of kickass women taking the world by storm, who happen to be mothers too.

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3. Pick your battles. The more you resist, the harder it will be. If Jr. woke up with a fever today, you can reassess and tweak what your day will look like. The awesome part is that as an entrepreneur, you can totally decide how that will be.

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4. Don’t take yourself out of the equation. Doing things for yourself doesn’t make you selfish. Working or starting a business is actually an act of self love. Your children do not need a martyr, they need a mother. And when you don’t make time to pursue the things that light you up, you become resentful. That resentment manifests in bouts of anger towards your kids, which are really bouts of anger towards yourself. You matter, your dreams matter. Go out and make them happen.

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5. It takes a village. Not just to raise a family but to build a business. Find your tribe of like minded women. ETTWomen is a great place to start. You are not alone in this journey and more and more, women like us are stepping up and out for each other.

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6. Do. Not. I. Repeat. DO. NOT. Be concerned about what other mothers think. Yes it takes a village and as supportive as other mothers can be, there will always be judgmental ones. Don’t even entertain comments like, “Her partner makes dinner? She has a cleaning lady? That must be nice.” Your reality is not her reality. Be concerned with what works best for you and your family and nothing more. As we know, haters gonna hate.

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7. Enroll your children in your vision. I grew up going to my father’s office, making copies, delivering files from one of his colleagues to the next. Seeing him sitting in that big desk at his firm helped me aspire to want the same for myself. My mother always had a side baking gig. She catered, made cakes, and today owns several food trucks and her own restaurant. I watch and listen to my boys when they come into my office. They play boss and ask me to be their client. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love that at such a young age, they already see themselves in the roll of boss. They see it’s possible for them through me, just like I saw it for myself through my parents.

Work-life balance may be your most elusive goal. And you have to remember that every aspect of your life, affects every aspect of your life. With kids in the mix, resilience will become your A-game. Don’t get discouraged. Don’t give up on your dreams.

John Locke said that, “A person recognizes him/herself as the same being throughout his/her life, in different times and places.”

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You are one person, who just happens to manage little people, as well as a business. Embrace the freedom entrepreneurship affords you to step into the important role of mom, when you need to and/or want to.

With loads of compassion and understanding,

V.

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