As Mother’s Day nears, I wanted to reflect back on the assumptions I had and the sting of the Motherhood Penalty which turned out to be the best thing that happened to me.
The Sting of the Motherhood Penalty
I didn’t believe it at first, that the bias against mothers really existed in this day and age, even though I myself judged other women who had become mothers and had chose to balance motherhood and climbing the corporate ladder differently. I didn’t even realized there was a name for this bias, the Motherhood Penalty, until it actually happened to me.
I had always been ambitious and felt that when motherhood came, I would maintain my corporate ambition and never choose my kids over my career. That’s probably the most naive thing I’ve ever believed. I was gung-ho about going back to work after my first child (we get a year of maternity leave in Canada), but by the time my second maternity-leave was over (I had my kids 18 months apart), I had felt the bitter-sting of the Motherhood Penalty.
During my second maternity-leave I was interviewed but passed up for a promotion that went to my maternity leave cover. I couldn’t blame my company, I had been gone for almost two years simultaneously, and at first I didn’t really chalk it up to that but as I thought about it, I realized that the Motherhood Penalty is alive and well in the 21st Century.
I began to learn that other friends had experienced something similar, friends who had been let go during maternity leave and other who did not get the same opportunities as men when they returned to work. Others simply chose to accept that their careers would take a backseat while they chose to focus on motherhood. Countless women and friends have experienced this but the one thing that incensed me most was that so many talented women were just accepting of this or felt helpless in reaction.
The Gift of the Motherhood Penalty
My own turning point was getting that rejection for the promotion. It was in this moment that I realized I could no longer rely on someone else to tell me what I was worth or what I should do. It was also in this moment that I realized I had so much more potential to explore and that this avenue was no longer the path in which to explore that.
The gift of the Motherhood Penalty is that it led me to dive in and commit more fully to the dream of entrepreneurship. I had been dabbling but this was the push I needed to realize I needed to pursue my full potential outside of a corporate structure. I began to explore a whole suite of personal development, business development, marketing and other skills that a new entrepreneur needs. And I was hooked!
Being an entrepreneur and being responsible for your own potential and your own success is addicting and so incredibly rewarding. It isn’t easy, I was juggling a family and was still working a corporate 9-5 but the relationships I’ve built, the success I’ve had by being more fully in charge of my own path are exhilarating and totally worth it!
Here’s how you too can take the sting out of the Motherhood Penalty and step into your full potential as an entrepreneur.
Stepping into Your Full Potential
Let Go of Ego
The first thing to do is to let go of ego, let go of all the trappings of what you feel like you should do. There’s no better time than the beginning of motherhood when your identity shifts in big ways to embrace the role you now have with caring for a little one. Let go of the ideas of what you should be doing to advance your career along to think bigger about the other ways you can be using your natural skills, talents and interests to help people.
Cultivate an Unshakeable Mindset
Entrepreneurship requires a lot of personal development to shift your mindset from the employee to entrepreneur. You need to develop grit, resilience, having a mindset of abundance and doing the work you can control. Stepping into your full potential means removing the limiting beliefs you have of yourself and your possibilities and cultivating an unshakeable mindset.
Choose Your Sweet Spot
Your natural talents, skills and interests are worth something that no corporate entity can fully consider. When starting your entrepreneurship journey consider all the things you could be good at or enjoy and choose an opportunity that intersects with what the world needs and what change you want to make. For example, it may just be using the creative skills you enjoy and helping someone with their interior design. Chances are there is always someone out there that could use your help and your natural skills, talents are interests are the perfect mix. The biggest mistake I see many people making at this point is discounting or dismissing the idea of what they have to offer because they don’t know how it’ll be a business, or they get stuck in trying to decide. At the end of the day, just choose something, you can pivot and discover along the way and alwasy remember the mindset work if you really want to see all the possibilities of your potential.
Surround Yourself with Support
Whether it be close friends, family, a mentor, coach, an online entrepreneurship community or other community, surrounding yourself with the support of people is so important. Entrepreneurship can be a lonely journey and it requires determination and commitment. Your community can remind you of why you are doing it and provide you support through challenging times.
If I were to start over now, the one thing I would’ve done first is hire a business coach right from the start so that my journey did not have to be so circuitous. If you’re ready to take that sting out of the Motherhood Penalty and step into your full potential then I encourage you to get committed and start expanding your mindset!