Motherhood is a powerful change agent. It impacts on every aspect of our lives – including our careers. It alters our perception of ourselves, our abilities, priorities, wants, and needs. The transformation from woman to mother is filled with complexities and opportunities to see the world through a different lens.
What does safety look like? Security? What is meaningful? Purposeful? What constitutes, “time well-spent?” All of these inquiries result in responses that reflect our role as mothers.
The answers to these questions also form the foundation of our professional journeys. When I asked myself these questions in late 2008, I came to the profound and life-altering conclusion that entrepreneurship was my way forward. My grant-funded job at the national headquarters of the Girl Scouts was ending, and I was ready to take my skills, talents, and education into a new realm.
When I launched the business in early 2009, I was also a few weeks pregnant with our first child. As the business grew alongside my body, I was grateful every day that I could wear what felt comfortable, sit or stand based on how I felt that day, eat whatever and whenever I needed to do so, and easily make my midwife appointments. With all of the uncertainty and fear that accompanies pregnancy, I felt safe knowing that I was completely aligned with - and in charge of - my new consultancy.
Once the baby was born, I was able to work from our (one-bedroom) apartment in NYC and hired a nanny to care for her in the living room while I worked in the bedroom. I felt so lucky to have my work and my baby close at hand, and muddled through that first year of motherhood and entrepreneurship in one huge learning curve.
Over a decade - and now two children - later, I can confidently say that entrepreneurship is critical to my mothering. It provides me with a flexible schedule, the opportunity to only work with people I know, like and trust, creative ways to diversify my income, and a general sense of meaning and purpose as a professional. My children see me and their father (the business incorporates both our careers and my husband and I run it together) working hard for our clients, as we also strive to be the parents they need and deserve. They understand what we do, why we work this way, and how it all affects their lives. The business also supports our expectations about their contributions to our family, and has spurred myriad conversations about topics like financial literacy, gender roles, inequalities in our communities, and what it looks like to lead a purpose-driven life.
I believe that entrepreneurship is the key to women’s political, economic, and social equality. For me, it has also been the foundation of successful motherhood. Truly, a love story.
Dr. Ali Hill is the founder of Sound Advice Women, a consultancy for women entrepreneurs and founders. She is a sociologist, emotional intelligence expert, educator, and mom. She is also an author and keynote speaker, and has worked extensively in the private and public sectors.