Recently my doctor and I had a serious conversation about my stress levels. I told him I’m very stressed because I run a company. “Uh-huh,” he said, and then added with sincere concern, “And also you’re a mom.” He went on to suggest that my stress levels were high because I run a household. Because I’m responsible for my whole family. Because I probably put everyone else first.
It made me cry. Not because he was right — because he was so completely wrong.
About five years ago, when my first daughter was seven months old, a former colleague of mine pinged me on Twitter. She knew I was home alone with a newborn. She knew I had just left the workforce to attempt to be an SAHM. She also knew I’d be bored out of my skull. She told me about the new company she and her business partner were forming and asked if I wanted to be a part of it.
My unshowered, leaky-boobed self couldn’t say yes emphatically enough.
The next weeks, months, and years turned out to be a terrible-wonderful, exciting-awful roller coaster that has everything to do with launching a business. And by all accounts this business is growing successfully: Today, Clever Girls is a multimillion-dollar agency with more than 20 employees; a network of 7,000 women; and a bunch of fancy awards that mostly make the blood, sweat, and tears worth it.
I also have two children, now ages five and three.
Which means I am not generally labeled an entrepreneur. I’m generally labeled a “working mom.”
People hear that I work from home and that I have kids and and something odd happens. I’m immediately perceived differently. It’s as though they start picturing me spending all day balancing my laptop on my toddler's head, banging out a few emails between Yo Gabba Gabba episodes until we all give up and go out for ice cream.
The reality is actually this.