How Motherhood Shaped My Career For The Better
Becoming a mother has been the greatest catalyst for change in my life. When I shared the news of my first pregnancy in 2014, I felt like the world’s perspective and perception of me changed immediately. I started looking for peers and mentors who had made motherhood and corporate America work, and I couldn’t find enough mothers in senior positions. Anywhere. In my own search for a way forward, I knew that the future of work could - and should - look different for women. And not just for myself, but for my peers, colleagues, and my daughters’ generation. This led me to build The Riveter, and this conviction continues to be at the center of what we do.
Last month, I attended the Mom 2.0 Summit in Austin, where I connected with incredible women from all walks of motherhood. For our Mother’s Day issue of The Riveter newsletter, I’ve asked some of these amazing women to share their thoughts about how motherhood has shaped their careers and how they approach work.
Mom 2.020 will be held in Los Angeles. Tickets are on sale now - I would love to see you there.
Becoming a More Intentional Mother
by Camille Styles
“... in my own life, the path to change has meant putting a higher priority on love and connection and memory-making than on my schedule.”
A weird thing happens when I think back to the first year of my son Henry’s life. Although it was only four years ago, I can barely remember it. I’ve shared this with a few of my closest friends who assure me that it’s a totally normal response to those hormonal, sleep-deprived days. “The new mama brain fog!” they say. And as much as I’d like to believe them, I know in my gut that it's not really the full story.
One glance back at my calendar from those early postpartum months reveals lots of baby-related activities (mommy-baby yoga, doctors appointments), plus preschool and play dates and music class for my daughter, Phoebe, who was just three at the time. But there’s also the crammed-full calendar of my growing business, with staff meetings and work trips and new business pitches—in other words, I was trying to do it all in every sphere of life without missing a beat, and the result was a life that was so busy that, looking back, it feels like one 365-day blur.
Although it breaks my heart to admit it, I love the fact that when we come face-to-face with our shortcomings, we have an opportunity to do something about them. Those moments I missed, that year I can’t do over—I’ve realized they’re things I never want to repeat, and the desire not to miss out on these precious moments of my kids’ lives in pursuit of busyness has become my greatest inspiration to live a more intentional life.
One of my favorite books, The Danish Way of Parenting, reminds us that “Parenting, like love, is a verb. It takes effort and work to yield positive returns. There is an incredible amount of self-awareness involved in being a good parent. It requires us to look at what we do when we are tired and stressed and stretched to our limits.”
Since stress and fatigue are not going away any time soon (especially in our time-strapped society), in my own life, the path to change has meant putting a higher priority on love and connection and memory-making than on my schedule. It means delaying “one more email” in favor of getting down on the floor and building a train with Henry. Realizing that responding to an Instagram comment could wait, because Phoebe is in her pajamas and ready for bedtime cuddles now. No matter how busy things are, I can choose to grab onto life’s most important treasures and let go of my grasp on distractions or others’ demands on my time. But it’s up to me to show up and make the choice, every single day.
Camille Styles is a best-selling author, content creator, mom of two, and founder of CamilleStyles.com—a digital platform for everyone who aspires to a life well-lived. She provides engaging storytelling and imagery to inspire the pursuit of your passions on the path to creating your best self.
Being a Working Mom is Hard Enough. I Want To Make It a Little Easier.
by Christine Michel Carter
“How can women climb the corporate ladder... if they can't find the time to network or develop professional skills?”
For the first time in two decades, a strong economy is drawing more women into the workforce. However, the gender pay gap, sponsorship, networking, and work-life balance remain hurdles for today’s working woman. Back in 2015, I got fed up with those hurdles. I kept seeing mothers not making time to develop themselves professionally due to household responsibilities. Conversely, they also often felt guilty about leaving their children to pursue work in order to create a better future for... their children!
To fill this void, I created Mompreneur and Me events. I’d researched working mothers for Forbes, and knew these women went to work earlier, were more likely to have nonstandard work hours, typically worked more hours and were more productive in the workplace than the average employee without children. In their homes, they placed a high value on good parenting and were more likely than other generations to say being a parent was extremely important to their identity.
I didn’t realize in four years I’d have the first national mommy and me professional networking event. I just wanted to make life a little easier for working moms. I wanted to give them one hour where they and their children exercise together, then for the second hour, provide them with trained childcare professionals while they work on activities to develop themselves professionally, from advocating for themselves to resume writing. I knew working on professional development activities were critical for these women. Impeccable networking and communication skills would help them get noticed by prospective employers, and communicating new innovative ideas in a clear and confident way could set these moms apart from their peers without children.
These were passionate, dedicated women—not slackers by any stretch of the imagination—and I wanted to get them in a room to network, learn from one another, and advance their careers. For me personally, motherhood didn’t hurt my career—it helped it. And I wanted these women to know that the skills they acquired as mothers were undoubtedly transferable, and that there is power in defining yourself by your role as a mom.
Christine Michel Carter is a writer, speaker, and consultant and mother of two. She works with advertising agencies, research firms, and companies to ensure they’re at the forefront of the minds of Black female and millennial mom consumers. Christine is also the creator of Mompreneur and Me, a company that produces nationally recognized inclusive parent and child-friendly networking events.
Motherhood Makes Us Great at What We Do
by Jill Krause
“I count myself as a lucky woman who found the career she loves because of motherhood.”
When I decided I was ready to get pregnant with my first baby, it was very much a conscious and planned decision. I had just willingly left a fantastic job in PR and fundraising because it wasn't what I wanted to do with my life. Before that, I had been on a set career path, and the natural next step was to apply for a managerial position. But I couldn’t shake this vision in my head of where I wanted to be in 10 years—and being a manager with this organization didn’t align.
What’s funny is I absolutely never imagined being a blogger and a book author navigating the Wild West of creating online content, either. All I knew at that time was that I needed to stop the train, get off, and look at the map again. Maybe I was on the wrong track.
And so I took that time, that pause, to take on motherhood. I viewed getting pregnant as an item on my to-do list. I needed to check it off, I was ready to say it was complete. If you’re laughing at that, please know I look back and laugh, too.
I count myself as a lucky woman who found the career she loves because of motherhood. I sometimes feel guilty aligning with “working mothers” in comparison to the badass women I know who are lawyers, business owners, account executives, teachers, and medical professionals, and who are constantly fighting to make a way for women in the offline world.
My career path was paved by and for women with children. Not that we all haven’t made sacrifices, that we don’t feel guilty for time away from our kids, that we don’t fight to be taken seriously and not called “mommies” by CEOs, but I’m fortunate that we have been able to take a piece of the internet and make our own rules—and our own money.
The cool part of this story is that the paths of women who work both online and off are merging more and more each day. I learn from them and the ways they advocate for change in the workplace, and I apply that same confidence and those expectations to the work I do online. Motherhood is not something we should apologize for. It’s not an inconvenience, and it may very well be the thing that makes us great at what we do—online or off.
Jill Krause is an author, photographer, videographer, digital content creator, and mom of four. After over 10 years of running her popular blog Baby Rabies, she has transitioned her focus to her new lifestyle site JillKrause.com.