I couldn’t help but feel personally attacked by Eve Vawter‘s piece on entrepreneur women and the empathy they don’t deserve when they dare find balancing their businesses and family difficult. I find myself in a very similar situation to Natalie Massenet, the founder of Net-a-Porter. Like Massenet, I have a new baby, a new business and a successful husband. Unlike Massenet, I also have a demanding 3-year-old. Also unlike Massenet, I don’t get to talk about this extremely difficult time in my life in retrospect.
My baby is 11 weeks old and my business is only a few months old. I don’t know how it turns out yet so I particularly relate to Massenet’s comments about the early days of her child and career.
My business is a lot of work right now and newsflash but few people start businesses out of an “utter necessity.” A business is a huge, scary risk. My partner (who has three kids including a baby) and I employ over a dozen people. We have a ton of responsibility to them and to our families.
I had a good career as a writer. I could have continued in the safe and comfortable. But I had an idea and this drive to do something else that is never questioned in men yet needs to be explained in women.
I don’t feel” traumatized” by my kids like Massenet — not exactly anyway, and I’m not looking for pity. I’m sure Massenet wasn’t either. What I am looking for is the nod of “wow, this is hard” camaraderie shared among mothers. I’m looking for an acknowledgement that no matter how comfortable my life may be, raising children is incredibly difficult. Kids and a business may yet kill me.
I get that many people have it worse than I do. My husband and I are both immigrants. I came here from the Soviet Union when I was a kid.
We were seriously poor. A staple of my childhood was overhearing scary hushed conversations about money. We lived in a rough neighborhood. McDonald’s was a luxury. I understand today there are women, same as me with a newborn and a toddler, working multiple jobs without the flexibility that my business affords me.
But that doesn’t make my sleepless nights and anxiety-filled days any less difficult. It doesn’t mean that I’m not working my ass off to be a good mom and to get my business off the ground.
I keep hearing that my means should make childrearing easier. Maybe.
I just can’t figure out which part of raising my kids I should farm out. It is the nursing? The bedtime story? My daughter likes hearing a really complicated one I made up involving dueling princesses and a stolen piano. I’m not sure I can pay enough to have someone remember it and tell it to her in the exact same way every single night. The doctor appointments? My daughter has had two screaming-all-night ear infections during the 11 weeks her brother has been alive. Do I pay someone to come into her room and hold her as she wails?
I know I have it good. My mom is a huge help to me. I have a cleaning lady once a week. When I can’t deal with cooking we order in. I understand these are luxuries and I am grateful. But nothing about my life is easy.
This is a reader submission.