Sunday, February 7, 2010

Are you a Mompreneur?

I sure as hell am not. I am not a Mommyblogger either. I find those two newly minted "words" to be among the most offensive. They are silly, frivolous, disrespectful, derogatory. They are specious.

I am a woman, a wife, a mother, an innovator, an entrepreneur, a business owner, a writer. Not a mompreneur, not a mommyblogger.

Why do those words seem ubiquitous? I see them used, more often than not, by women who fit the definitions themselves. That concerns me much more than if the words were being tossed around by elderly radio pundits. I receive at least monthly spam to join one Mompreneur Network or another:

"Wouldn't it be great to grow your business by networking with other Mommies??" FFS.

Can you imagine this vocabulary being used in any other context? Mommylawyers? Momgineers? Medimommies? Why is that qualifier being added to the title?

The term mompreneur is usually used to refer to a woman who has created a baby-related business, oftentimes in order to "stay home" with her children. Nevermind that there are countless men & women who use flextime, job sharing, etc to spend more time with their children. Their parenting credentials do not get added to their job descriptions. "Have you met Darren, from IT? He's a Daddytech."

It is hard to perfectly describe why I hate those 2 words so much. The negative, icky feeling they give me is hard to name. My mother in law got the ickiness of the words best: "I guess that people want to feel important, so this is a cutesy title, much like designer dogs, like Labradoodles, Puggles, etc."

Any dog person will be able to tell you that you aren't likely to see a labradoodle or a puggle in a show ring anytime soon. Why? They aren't real breeds. They aren't recognised by any authority.


Is that it? Is that where these words come from? An underlying sense of being different, of not fitting in? Of not being a real businessperson, a real writer?

I get that. I have taken countless business calls while I am in my jammie pants, praying that none of my kids needs to have their bum wiped while I am on the phone. It is sometimes very hard to take yourself seriously in that situation!

When you primarily work from a home office, you miss out on the socialising, networking & sense of professionalism that a more traditional place of work can provide. Few people understand how I spend my day. I struggle to come up with a description of what I do that is less that a paragraph or two long. Would a one word descriptor such as mompreneur help resolve that?

It would, if it weren't so freakin specious.

It is an accident of history that for one or two key generations, North American women quit work & stayed home when their babies were born. When you look at statistics of the time, that concept is somewhat culturally constructed. Middle Class women quit their jobs & stayed home. The working classes did not do so to nearly the same extent.

Throughout the rest of western history, women worked, alongside their children. In factories, in fields, in wealthy people's homes, women melded their work & the care of their children together. Because of the above accident of history, most of us (read Gen X & Yers) have no model of what that looks like. Options for working parents are slowly growing, as families demand flexibility, but those are typically in relation to minimising childcare. This is not quite the same thing as creating work that permits you to perform tasks while caring for your children.

What does it look like to work with your children? Without a model to go by, we scramble & learn the hard way. We receive little recognition from those in more traditional professional environments. We need to set ourselves apart, somehow create terms for what we do. Mompreneur. We need to cope with the funny, chaotic stress that is life with small people. We write about it. Mommyblogger.

Those words, though, make us less. They qualify, they minimise, they infantilise. Can you expect others to take you seriously when you don't?
Calling yourself a mompreneur implies that you are not taking yourself seriously. It's like an entrepreneur, but not quite.

When you use a specious word to describe yourself, you imply that you, your product, your business, your industry, are specious. And I don't think you are.

Tell it like is- I am an entrepreneur, I created a business for myself. I restructured it & sold parts of it that were no longer right for me. I am a writer who blogs about parenting issues. I am a mother's advocate who speaks out for the rights of women & children.


  1. I hear you Arie. Sometimes I don't mind the term as I like to network with other mom entrepreneurs, but at the same time I hate to be marketed to. For example when a marketing firm says that they "specialize" in the's like what you said exactly? Is my business somehow different than my competition who isn't a mom?? I feel like these firms are just trying to create a niche that doesn't exist and then make me and my other mom entrepreneurial friends pay to network....I just don't want to only network with other moms.
    I dont think this is coming across as I wanted it to; I am just trying to say that I am an entrepreneur as well as a mom.

  2. Oh Arie, you just wrote the lyrics to the tune that has been playing in my head for quite a while now. Sing it out, sister.

  3. I wholly concur. I'm a writer, and I've got a "Mommy Blog" that pertains specifically to mothering and things associated, but I am not a "mommyblogger" or a "momwriter."

  4. Thank-You Arie,
    This adds to the "do you work?", and the "what do you do when you're not busy with the kids?" thing that I encounter so often.
    How do we tell people that we are at home with and available to our kids, AND we work in a highly professional capacity.
    When I tell people about the work I do, they often think I'm playing.

  5. I was really trying to build a work at home business, holding in my mind the image of women in Central America, etc, who all work and care for their families simultaneously. But I've been finding that I can't do that without compromising my relationship with my high-needs children and I wonder... do these other women not ever have high needs children? If they do, how do they cope knowing that the survival of their family depends upon the work that they do? I have been feeling very torn, conflicted and inadequate lately as a result of this. It seems unnatural to me that I should spend my entire day sitting on the floor playing with my kids when that is not stimulating to me, I feel I should be able to work in an adult way while my children are in my presence and I am largely available to them, but this doesn't seem to be enough and I feel I'm getting swallowed up by my childrens' needs.

  6. I so agree that prefacing our professional endeavors with "mommy" seems to downgrade our work (while I am a mom, I am also an engineer, an MBA, and an entrepreneur). But the other side to these semantics is the lack of serious, professional opportunities other than a traditional full-time job. If there were more part-time, job-share and flexible work opportunities, would less moms feel compelled to invent a new professional path? I think the advent of these terms is a symptom of the bigger problem -- a need to create more career paths that meet the reality of today's workforce.

  7. I disagree, I love the term Mompreneur, its short sweet and tells people exactly what I want them to know about me and my business.

    1) Work at Home
    2) Mom
    3) Entrepreneur
    4) Web savy and Modern

    From a preeminence perspective it is perfect, it defines what I am in one simple word. The alternatie is Work at Home Entrepreneur, or Work at Home Mom (wahm). No thanks.

    Mompreneur and Proud of it!


    Aussie Mompreneur
    Sokule Expert

  8. I think it's the connotations with the term 'mommy' that downgrade the title - 'mommy' is what your kids call you - not your peers, clients or co-workers.

    Charlotte xx

  9. I hear you! At the same time, I love the idea of re/claiming words and infusing them with renewed power. So, I kind of dig using my credentials as "Mama" when I'm out and about. After all, it is mother work, is it not?

  10. Today, more and more mothers are managing their businesses and exploring many opportunities. Learn how you can become a mompreneur as well.