I have been procrastinating writing this for a couple weeks now. That’s a long time to avoid doing something for me, given that I feel an anxious itch every time I know there’s something I’m supposed to do and am consciously avoiding. I am of the “get-it-done-ASAP-and-cross-it-off-the-list” ilk; the crossing out motion gives me an inordinate amount of satisfaction. Perhaps I’m avoiding this because I feel like the theme is cliché. Or perhaps because I know that these truths of mine are not admirable or cheer-worthy. But I don’t think these are my truths alone.
Hi everyone, I’m Marlo. I’m a mompreneur.
While spellcheck doesn’t recognize ‘mompreneur’ as a word from the English language, I am confident that 99 percent of people reading this will have seen the word before or can infer its meaning: I am a mother who is also an entrepreneur.
I started a cookie company called Marlo’s Bakeshop in 2012. At the time the idea of marriage, kids and more profound fiscal responsibility seemed far enough off that foregoing a well-paying job in tech for a no-paying job in cookies seemed like a romantic and exciting idea. The syntax of this neologism interests me though because it implies that I am a mom first and an entrepreneur second. It’s not entrepremom, after all.
However, I have very vivid memories from the first few hazy months of my daughter’s life in which I felt keenly aware (and guilty) of self-identifying as an entrepreneur first and a mother, second– or even third, fourth or fifth after wife, daughter, sister. The social media I read and the articles fellow moms sent me confirmed that I should now wholly embrace my primary role in life as mother and parent. There was inherent tension in this concept for me because my first baby was four years old and still very, very needy of my time, attention and emotional energy.
Despite the mompreneur label, I don’t work 20 hours per day or refuse to take time off as some entrepreneurs do. I am a big believer in work/life balance and know that my work will sustain me and be sustainable if I approach running my own business with a modicum of sanity; I believe I am a better, healthier businesswoman for it. That said, when Lucca was first born and I didn’t have three months–or even two weeks– of maternity leave to bask in, I remember feeling this compulsion to try to multi-task and still maintain some semblance of a 10-hour workday as much as possible. I would insatiably check and respond to emails while nursing, then feel awful that I wasn’t cherishing the moment with my newborn, that I wasn’t content enough just staring at her face for 40 minutes. I think I wanted more to confirm to myself that, hey, I am still an entrepreneur despite this new title, identity and mom body (the latter of which wouldn’t let me forget for a second that I had just bore a child: itchy armpits, a post-natal rash and, of course, chapped nipples).
I also grappled with the envy I had for the women around me who enjoyed not three, but often six months of fully-paid maternity leave (this is Silicon Valley, after all). I was living the American dream of owning my own business, being my own boss and making my own schedule, but that didn’t bring me any solace when I moped about not being able to attend a mommy and me class, go to music time at the library or even meet other new moms to start building out my ‘mom tribe.’ Then I would feel guilty about acting petulant. The cycle went on and on.
I wish I could say that, months later, I have fully reconciled these feelings of guilt and envy, but they’ve only slightly waned. I am trying to be better about savoring my limited moments with Lu and not stealing glances at my phone every time it pings, but sometimes it’s a struggle. Looking back on photos of her and seeing how quickly she is changing helps force me to enjoy the present when my mind wanders to balance sheets and purchase orders.
I think my multiple identities elbowing each other out for the top podium now fosters a healthy level of self-competition: my business strives to win so that one day, I’ll have more time to spend with Lu, while my maternal side is becoming a sharper sparring partner with each additional bedtime, booboo and meltdown. Or maybe we should just make the word entrepremom a thing.
Author: Marlo Giudice
Author Bio: Marlo Giudice landed in San Francisco by way of New York City and years of working in relationship management at digital marketing and Ad Tech companies. Once relocated, she quickly realized that her passion actually lay in baking and enrolled in a professional pastry education program. Giudice formally launched Marlo’s Bakeshop in 2012 with her Russian grandmother’s secret cookie recipe as the debut product. Today, Giudice has expanded that recipe and Marlo’s now sells five flavors of the contemporary twist on traditional biscotti across 10 SKUs. Marlo’s Bakeshop is committed to baking with the highest quality, premium ingredients and to sourcing them locally whenever possible. Giudice believes that wholesome indulgences made with clean ingredients are part of a balanced approach to eating & enjoying everything in moderation.
Link to social media or website: Twitter @marlosbakeshop | Instagram @marlosbakeshop | https://www.marlosbakeshop.com