Dealing With & Surviving Mom Guilt As An Entrepreneur
After having my daughter, I started blogging about motherhood, not for any other purpose than to be active & if the information I wrote about helped even one other mom like me... well that would just be an added bonus.
I started the blog -- W.T.First Time Mom -- really just as an outlet, but like I said, also to share information.
While going through my pregnancy, it amazed me that there was SO MUCH information out there that I couldn't find, especially when it came to reviews and struggles and resources for certain things.
Now even though that blog is "retired", I still (and always will) talk about being a "mompreneur" and/or how I navigate that lifestyle -- mom meets entrepreneur -- because it is indeed a lifestyle and one that I've happily adopted, although struggle with really maintaining.
Last year, thankfully before my social media hiatus, an Instagram post from interior designer Emily Henderson really resonated with me in a way that most posts don't; it actually struck a very personal cord with me...
I read this and had about a million & five exclamation points firing off in my head because this is something I grapple with EVERYDAY of my life.
At the time, my daughter wasn't even 2 years old, yet knew how to the navigate an iPad & iPhone better than some adults I know. HOW?! From watching us... but more specifically, from watching me.
I work from home and have been doing so for quite some time ever since being laid off in November 2015. Whether it was in design or customer service or my own business, my professional life has existed exclusively on a computer/device for more than a little bit.
Even my schooling -- I took a few certificate courses before diving into my masters -- has been online. Add to that, just being on the phone for whatever, I can't honestly say I'm surprised at her being able to work these devices.
She's with me 24/7 and she's at that age where she learns by watching & imitating.
Every night I beat myself up for not reading to her more or playing with her enough, then I tell myself 'tomorrow will be better', only for tomorrow to be the same... rinse & repeat.
I'm aware of -- or at least I try to be -- what she sees and how she acts.
Now, before the internet crucifies me, where I can, I've cut back on my computer usage, especially during our days together...
I've gotten back into reading hard copy books versus reading iBooks; I'll have my book & she'll go and grab her book, and we just both sit together and read (she still wants to be independent and do what I do versus actually doing it with me, lol).
When I'm working on a concept board for a design or planning content, I've gotten into the habit of printing my PDFs or using my notebook so that I'm not scrolling them on my phone; I'll have a copy for me and one for her to "color" on.
All small but significant changes. Sometimes, it can't be helped if I have to jump onto one of my devices & that's where the mompreneur guilt kicks in (I've even silently whispered 'I'm sorry' to her while she naps).
So where/how do we draw the line? Can a line even be drawn?
Work is important but so is family.
I don't want to sacrifice my ambitions but I also don't want to scar my daughter. When she sees mommy working, is she impressed by my drive or is she resentful of the perceived neglect?
I'm am truly grateful to have a husband that supports what I do & who constantly reassures me that I'm doing great, but if I ever had any doubts before, I am certainly convinced now that men and women are just wired differently because he'll never truly understand why I feel guilty.
If I'm completely honest, my guilt also stems from work also being an outlet for me -- it's the one way I can truly feel like myself and connected to the adult world. Why do I mention this?
I am home 24/7 with a toddler.
I'm not leaving my home to go to work 40 hours a week. I'm in this brand new place with no other adults, besides my husband, to just hang with. This isn't to say when I was in NYC I was a social butterfly -- far from it -- but I had friends who would stop by or I would go on walks around the neighborhood with my daughter. Sometimes, I'd just chit chat with people in my building. Here I don't have any of that so work is what keeps me feeling like a grown up.
I can't count how many times people assume because I'm home, I'm just here "being a mom" as though that only comprises of using Pinterest, cutting the crust off toast, and watching Disney Jr.
There's such a stigma associated with being a working mom, that I don't always correct people when they make that assumption.
*enter the mom guilt*
Should that be all I'm doing?
I tell myself that my daughter is clearly thriving because she has learned these things virtually on her own. But should she know more? Should she be counting backward from 10 or be able to name all her body parts or be potty trained or some other impressive milestone? I don't know.
But to be completely honest, I don't know that I'd even know how to just "be a mom" or just "be a wife" or just be any one thing. Kudos to the women that can though.
Yes, some days, I just binge on "My Little Pony" episodes with my daughter and it feels great; but other days I need to be creative -- blog, film, design, whatever. I refuse to believe it has to be one or the other; instead of "either or", I want it to be "either and" (is that a thing btw?)
So the point here?
It's refreshing to see that an accomplished, well-known designer struggles with the same kind of mom guilt that I'm sure many of us do.
Whether you're a stay at home mom, work from home mom, or some other messy hybrid, I wish more of us were as transparent as she dared to be.
Do I worry about my daughter's development? Absolutely. But do I also worry about growing my business? Absolutely. I know there's more than enough room in my head for all that worry, and even more room in my heart to be passionate about my work and my family.