On momtrepreneurs and “having it all”

By Tiana Reid, Senior Editor of SocialBusiness.org

“Momtrepreneur” is a term I  loathe. What does it mean exactly? Simply put and obviously enough, it’s a portmanteau that melds mom and entrepreneur. It’s a term I’ve come across through Twitter headlines but never really clicked the link because I didn’t have a personal interest to learn more—for the most part. But as I was doing research for the Social Business ebook that we’re working on, I came across a “momtrepreneur” in the flesh (well, over Skype). When I interviewed her, I asked what she thought of the term and if she thought that it applied to her. She was, after all, a mother and an entrepreneur. But even more than that, however, her social enterprise was specifically child-focused. Is “momtrepreneur” a word that is given to you, imposed on you or chosen by you? Or all of the above? Or perhaps, none of the above?

There are social, economic and cultural implications toward what it means and allows for women who are both mothers and entrepreneurs. It’s more than simply similar to “fashionista,” but rather, it’s akin to, say, “journalista” or “editrix” because it’s career-oriented, meaning that it can diminish the professional aspect that women have been fighting for even before the women’s rights movement.

But others embrace the term and their dual status. They straddle both worlds: motherhood and entrepreneurship. It gives a sense of a community and a sense of belonging. There are meet-up groups and support groups and cocktail hours and business advisors and the like.

For me, a non-mom, it can’t help but make me think of the dreaded “having it all” debate. It began with The Atlantic’s controversial cover story noxiously dubbed “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” by Anne-Marie Slaughter where “all,” I guess, refers to both a successful career and a fulfilling home life—the “women problem” that has emerged since women have been working professionally in North America.

The piece went viral and many responded whether via Facebook and Twitter or through editorials and op-eds. One such opinion came from Veronica Percia, a 27-year-old lawyer, who was quoted in the Washington Post: “It scared me, but men should be scared, too, because work-life balance is a human problem, not just a woman problem.”  And indeed, work-life balance shouldn’t be relegated simply to one gender, even though it commonly is.

In a way, “momtrepreneur” could be considered a form of othering. By making distinct, it threatens to diminish. It’s important, I think, that women entrepreneurs in the social enterprise and social business spaces consider their roles as it plays out within gender, business and social good. Feminism isn’t a hot topic in the social enterprise world (or a lot of worlds actually), but no one is exempt.

And it’s an even larger question on whether “it all” exists. It is, of course, a personal question and one that at twenty-two years old, I’ve considered and, well, don’t believe in. But hey, maybe I’ll end up proving myself wrong and re-imagine what “all” means.

2 thoughts on “On momtrepreneurs and “having it all”

  1. Eww, I hate the term. I’m an entrepreneur and a mom. But do they go hand in hand that I would combined it to one word? No, because I’d still be one without the other. Personally I think an entrepreneurial spirit is something you either have or you don’t. I don’t think it’s for everyone. A momtrepreneur as you described and as many I’ve met, is an entrepreneur because her current job or situation doesn’t fit into the equation. So she decides what’s important to her and makes it work.

    I had my own ideas of what motherhood should or shouldn’t be and how I would do it when I became a mom, but let me tell you, until the day your babe is born, you have no idea how easy or difficult that decision will be. Having it all does exist if you know what you truely want, whats important to YOU, and how to prioritize and communicate it. And having a reasonable expectation of what that means to you and your family. I laugh now when I think back about the things I was so certain of. Makes me think we should just embrace each moment one at a time, and not let our ideas of how things should be distract us from the way they are.

  2. So… now that you have a better understanding – do you still loathe the term ‘momtrepreneur’?

    Just curious…

    If I look back to when I was your age – having it all – for some reason seemed unrealistic (kind of like I didn’t believe in the age old phrase ‘never say never’ on my firms beliefs and which I have no choice now to believe in as I’ve been proven wrong with life experience!), but now being the unexpected mom of a 2.5 year old at the age of 45… ‘having it all’ is not only a necessity but I wouldn’t have it any other way!

    Savor your youth – so your 30’s and 40’s etc., are that much more enriched. In saying this though I see you are already a senior editor… so already gaining wisdom beyond your peers :-)…

    Great article… well done!

    Best regards, Valerie – Momtrepreneur!

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