I started my own business because the world of full time working mama with three children burnt me to a crisp, writes Amy Taylor Kabbaz, best selling author and host of the Happy Mama Movement podcast.
I’d always had a clear vision of what I wanted to do with my life – writer, journalist, story-teller, change maker. I used to hide in the library at lunchtime in high school, more obsessed with reading stories of female freedom fighters and women starting major corporations than the latest antics of my friends on the playground. I thought success would come from hard work – I’d seen that on the pages of the women’s biographies I consumed – and so I was determined to do the same.
We are the generation of women told we can do anything, and so like most of us, I nodded and agreed and set out to do everything. Including motherhood, on top of it all.
I know now that it’s called the Maternal Wall – the wall many working mothers run into as they try and build their career alongside their families.
But when I hit my own wall, pregnant with my third child and producing the leading radio program in Sydney in the middle of a federal election, I didn’t know that’s what happened.
I thought my body just couldn’t cope.
Seven years later, I now realise that the wall I ran into was not of my own making. It came from a system that has been built in which women are expected to work as if they don’t have children and have children as if they don’t work.
This is the flawed system we have inherited, and what I see so many mamas struggle with now.
Over the past 5 years, I have heard thousands of women share their feelings of failure. But it’s not a failure by us, as women – it’s a failure to acknowledge that Maternal Wall. This is what we need to talk about and change.
After hitting my own wall, and suddenly being forced to step away from the career I believed I would have forever, I started on a new path – of entrepreneurship.
I, like millions of other working mamas wanting to avoid that wall, started my own business, and over the past 5 years, have supported more than 4000 other mamas through my online programs and coaching. I’ve published two books about motherhood, and committed myself to understanding and now changing the way women feel about and view motherhood.
But here’s the thing about this juggling of motherhood and your dreams –
Sometimes, you can end up creating your own wall.
Running your own business from home while the kids are at school, finishing up just in time to be smiling at the school gates each day, is a dream so many of us now hold. And it’s a noble one. I hope that on International Women’s Day the conversation around working mothers and the Maternal Wall can centre on a new way of doing things that does allow us to be both the mother we long to be and the successful woman we hoped to be.
My only worry is – without redefining success for women as a whole, we end up just moving the wall. We are just as busy, just as stressed, staying up just as late to try and fit it all in.
It’s taken me a number of years to undo that belief system around hard work and fighting my way to success. Those freedom fighting biographies certainly left an imprint.
But I know now that to be successful in my business, I need to also be successful in all areas of my life:
I need to honour this time in my life as a mother as well as a businesswoman by holding strong boundaries, saying no way more than I am used to, holding firm to my vision, and letting a lot of that perfectionism I used to carry as a badge go.
This is how we build true success as working mothers.
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