April 8, 2018
The internet is littered with ways to spoil moms on Mother’s Day. Between chocolate, flowers and homemade spaghetti necklaces, there’s no shortage of ideas. One thing that often gets overlooked, however, is how we speak to moms.
Specifically, moms who run their own businesses, freelance, or work from home. The prevailing misconception is that these women are “playing” at business, not committed enough to being a mother, or simply “not serious.”
To paraphrase an old adage, “Dad may work from sun to sun, but a mother’s work is never done,” these days it’s mom who is also working and running her own business from sun to sun.
So on this Mother’s Day, be sure to avoid saying these condescending things to moms who run their own businesses.
1. “How do you find the time?”
Mother Hustle founder, Emily Cretella says comments like this make it sound like you’re playing business instead of running one.
“As if I’m fitting in running a business in between baking brownies and play dates,” she says. “I find the time because I’m an entrepreneur. I’m serious about building a business that fulfills me and that supports my family. I find the time just like my husband finds the time to go to work every day.”
2. “It must be so nice to be able to be home with the kids whenever they need you.”
These kinds of comments assume mom is watching TV and getting mani/pedis, just waiting for a moment when she’ll be needed by her children. She’s a business owner, not a daycare center.
“I can’t just be home whenever my kids need me,” says Rachel Jordan, owner of 929 Marketing. Working from home doesn’t mean “not working.”
“Every time a kid gets sick, I am a stress ball because I will now have to be home all day with them, and either working super early in the a.m. and super late at night, or pushing client deadlines,” she says. “I’m not on a salary. I can’t just take a day off. When I don’t work, I don’t get paid.”
3. “Oh yeah, I’m an entrepreneur too! What MLM do you sell?”
Adrienne Barnes, the founder of Adrienne Nakohl Copywriting, says thanks to questions like this she’s “stopped using the word entrepreneur altogether.”
People ask her, “What company are you with? What product do you sell?” No one assumes she’s running her own company. Instead, they assume she’s peddling someone else’s products.
4. “When are you going to get a real job?”
After one staunch executive discovered she was pregnant, a well-meaning family member suggested, “Maybe it’s time you start looking for a real job.”
The implication that her business wasn’t “real” was like taking a knife to the heart. The irony was, at the time, she was making more money as a business owner than she was in her previous “real job.”
The executive tried to be sympathetic and understand that this person was simply projecting their own version of “what it means to be secure” onto her. To them, going into an office and having “benefits and a salary” was a safer route. But on the days when running your own business is hard (which is most days) comments like these are anything but helpful.
“My business is a business, not a ‘mom’ business.” – Emily Cretella
So, how do we talk about motherhood and business on Mother’s Day?
“For me, it’s not offensive at all to link motherhood and my drive to become an entrepreneur. What I don’t like is the society-wide assumption that a parent has to sublimate his or her role as a parent in order to be taken seriously as a professional,” says Maggie Frank-Hsu of Blogs to Riches.
“I think we deserve to stand up and talk about the ways that business affects our motherhood and motherhood affects our business,” says Frank-Hsu.
This Mother’s Day, we suggest celebrate mom by ending the comments said to mompreneurs about how they parent and how they run their business.