It’s Thursday, so I’m Crafting my Life! For 2011, I have ditched the themes and link-ups. Instead, I am just going to write what I’m thinking about this week. And if you would like to chime in and contribute a guest post about your own journey, please drop me a line – I’d love to have you!
I am a WAHM, or work at home mom. I do some freelance work, I write stuff (mostly unpaid), and I run the Crafting my Life online course. Two mornings a week I have some help from the ever-fabulous Wonder Nanny, but most of the time it’s just me and my kids, making our way through the day. I work around the little ones as best I can, and stay up far later than I should pretty much every night.
This is the life I’ve chosen, at least for right now, and I’m not complaining about it. But recently I had a conversation that led me to ask some questions about the labels I give myself. I spoke with Jason, who is an entrepreneur (he founded Coco & Tini) and the father of a 3 1/2 year old, for an upcoming episode of the Strocel.com podcast. As I was preparing for the interview, it occurred to me that I’ve spoken to a lot of mompreneurs, but he was the first dadpreneur. And it also occurred to me that we don’t even use the word “dadpreneur”, pretty much at all. There are entrepreneurs who are dads, of course, but we don’t necessarily connect the two roles.
Just like we don’t say dadpreneur, we also don’t really say WAHD. To prove my point, I did a quick Google search for WAHM and WAHD. WAHM got about 1,650,000 hits about work-at-home mothers. WAHD got about 255,000 hits, including someone with the middle name “Wahd”. And as the icing on the cake, Google asked me if I really meant to search for “WAHED”.
What does it mean, that moms who work from home or run their own businesses are called WAHMs or mompreneurs, whereas dads are called freelancers or entrepreneurs? It’s a good question. I suspect there are a few reasons. Many work-at-home moms, myself included, are in businesses that directly target other mothers. Our motherhood is a part of our business identity. Also, we often assume that fathers aren’t taking on the lion’s share of the childcare obligations. If a dad’s running a business, then the kids must be with their mother, or else in daycare. Whereas if a mom is running a business, we wonder how she cares for her kids while she works.
Double standards, much?
I think society still feels pretty strongly that a woman’s identity is forever wrapped up in being a mother once she has kids. And I also see that mothers seem to talk much more freely about their identities as parents, generally speaking. I was searching for a local dad blogger to be part of a panel I’m proposing for a blog conference, and it was hard to find someone. I found lots of dads who blog, but they blog about business or technology or sports. Yet there are dozens and dozens of local mom bloggers I could name off the top of my head. Mothers are much more public about mothering than fathers seem to be about fathering.
Could it be that fathers have a point?
As I debate over whether I want the WAHM or mompreneur label, I consider the message it sends. I don’t like the term “mommy blogger”, for instance, because it’s just way too cutesy. And the word “mompreneur” carries a lot of the same stigma. If you want an earful on why marketing yourself as a WAHM can be negative, check out this video rant by Scott Stratten. He says that if your business targets other moms, then playing up your status as a mother may be to your advantage. But if your business is unrelated to the fact you have kids, mentioning it may cause people to take you less seriously.
I don’t always agree with Mr. Unmarketing, but I can see where he’s coming from. Why does a mom with a business need to be viewed differently than anyone else with a business? And why do we need to slap the word “mom” or “mommy” in front of nearly anything that a mother does?
This week was the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. It’s a day to recognize the role and plight of women in society. There’s no denying that women have come a long way in the past century. But as I consider the ways that businesses run by mothers and fathers are viewed and labeled, I think that we still have some work left ahead of us.
Do you agree? Do you think it’s unreasonable that mothers with businesses are labeled “mompreneurs”, and fathers don’t receive the same treatment? Or do you wear the “mompreneur” label with pride? I’d love to hear your thoughts!