In Defense of the “Mommy Business Trip”
It’s been a frustrating time for working mothers lately. A ton has been happening to bring us to the point where we just want to scream in anger. Apparently, we can do no right.
When Marissa Mayer of Yahoo! announced that she was getting rid of the telecommuting option for her employees, working mothers voiced their disappointment and concern over the precedence this action would have on practices that have essentially enabled many families to better manage and balance work and life. But as mothers pointed out how disastrous a move like this can be, others ridiculed them and accused them of not wanting to have to pay for babysitting or wanting to continue to waste time on the internet on their employers’ dime.
When Sheryl Sandberg, of Facebook, told working women to “lean in” – to work harder, speak louder, push more – women everywhere felt the pressure to deliver even more than many already had been, which would further push them away from other things they valued, like time with their family or themselves. And they were ridiculed and scorned, told to stop the whining and get to work.
And now when women who have taken the steps to venture out on their own, in pursuit of business and entrepreneurial success, come together with other like-minded professionals (women, men, parents, non-parents), to learn, get inspired, grow and, yes, connect, bond and maybe even dance a little, they are ridiculed yet again. Their conferences are compared to grown-up playdates and girly sleepovers. And who did the ridicule come from? Katherine Rosman – a working mother who wrote the piece for The Wall Street Journal.
So, what is a working mother to do? It seems that no matter where we turn, no matter what we do, no matter how we choose to live our lives and pursue our goals, we just can’t seem to get it right.
When the latest assault on working mothers was published in the WSJ, women everywhere, especially women who have in fact attended conferences and enjoyed them, felt attacked and humiliated.
Many of us thought back to that one time we took selfies with our online BFF whom we hadn’t seen in a year, or the time we let off some steam by dancing until our feet hurt at the end of a day full of sessions, or the many drinks and laughs shared with our peers on that one last night of events. We questioned ourselves and wondered if we had contributed to this reputation we had developed as moms who would rather party than work or take care of our kids.
But the truth is, many working women are doing it just right, and in my opinion, the entrepreneurs especially are the most courageous of the group, because they have plunged into the sea of the unknown, equipped with a strong desire to live out a dream and enough optimism to help keep them afloat.
And the sharks will come to nibble away at their aspirations. They come in the form of the Marissa Mayers, who set expectations on their employees that they themselves don’t have to live up to. The Sheryl Sandbergs, who demand that women shut the hell up with their whining already and go for the jugular at work, though they themselves are completely disconnected from the realities and challenges of most working families. They come in the form of articles written by other women (because editors are not stupid, after all), who themselves are clueless about the courage and effort it takes to leave behind the secure paycheck they receive every week.
These working women, these “mommy bloggers,” are no joke. We have given up a lot to pursue our passions. We are continuously working to not only build a professional brand and business, but in many cases, also maintain a healthy marriage and family life. We have gone through some shit and we have helped others going through the same struggles. We spend a lot of our own hard-earned money to go to conferences and further learn and develop skills.
So, go on. Target us as your fillers for those slow news days. Call us crazy, lazy and wild. Ridicule and belittle our achievements and successes.
Truth is, once the dust settles, we will still be here, taking the business world by storm. We will still be going to conferences, making those connections, networking, closing deals and, yes, even getting our groove and drink on in celebration. Why? Because we can. We are our own bosses. We call the shots. We OWN this.
We may not always lean in like you want us to. We may love Instagram…a lot, and yes, we might even be writing opinion pieces for popular online publications in our pajamas at noon – but we are succeeding at it.
So before you tell us we aren’t good enough (or enough to matter), take a good look around you, listen, learn, and try to keep up. And then form your opinions.