By Monica Favela George
As motherhood and work seem to be a hot topic, I wanted to offer my own comparison nugget. Entrepreneurial pursuits seem to be kinder to mothers than the traditional corporate setting because of the inherent flexibility. I work as many hours as a person who is full-time employed for a company; but as I set my own hours, the grind is gentler on me (and my daughter, Gigi) than my friends who do the full time work/mommy shuffle. We’re all exhausted, but at least I’m exhausted while getting to see my child more so than said friends. (I also only have one at the moment, which no doubt factors into the amount of time I’m able to spend with her.)
I know or have met recently at least five other momtrepreneurs, most with 2 or more kids, and they share a similar feeling: they are pursuing a career and experiencing professional validation while still getting enough time with their children. I can’t say that my full-time corporate-mom amigas have the same feeling. There are just not enough hours in the day for all of us; but I have the advantage of taking stinkerpants to the playground on some afternoons and catching up on work after-hours.
Gigi is also seeing first hand a woman working hard for the money. She helps carry shoe boxes when we make FedEx drops, accompanies me to the bank and sees me conduct international wire transfers (oh cursed dollar!), checks in with vendors with me to see how the merch is moving, and a whole host of other business errands. I am giving her a working mommy model that will shape her view of a world in which women do business and are decision makers.
I also don’t have to deal with management that discriminates or resentment from coworkers for child-related work absence. The flip side is the risks of entrepreneurship: wearing 12 hats, no benefits, little sleep and lots of worries. But for non-risk-averse women with children who are looking for an alternative to the classic corporate mommy grind, I would encourage a good hard look at running your own business.
American corporate culture is not going to become mother- or family-friendly anytime soon. (It’s like expecting the Government to encourage the automotive industry to create electric cars; it’s not going to happen; private industry and consumer demand are going to make it happen.) Institutional change is glacial; making things happen your own way is a speedier avenue towards very real and personal change.
So ladies, you don’t have to have a career first, then kids; you don’t have to have kids first, then a career; you don’t have to have a career and little time for your kids; you don’t have to not have kids to have a career; there is another way. (And of course, you don’t have to have kids!) I would encourage more working moms to explore this as an alternative. EVER ONWARD, ladies, onward!