Having succumbed to paying too much for the movie channels on cable, I recently watched "I Don't Know How She Does It" with Sarah Jessica Parker. This movie is annoying and insulting on so many levels I frankly don't know where to begin. Suffice it to say, it is another fantasy 'chick flick' that did nothing to improve the reputation or lot of the average working mom let alone career -professional.
The internet has been a-buzz about working moms. Huge discussion erupted when Marissa Mayer went to her new position at Yahoo so early after giving birth. More discussion ensued when she cancelled Yahoo's work from home policy. Sheryl Sandberg's novel "Lean In" stirred the pot even more. Working women -- career or necessity -- are feeling a tad under scrutiny lately and it goes far beyond glass ceilings and pay inequality.
As part of her attempts to win the womens' vote for this election, Christy Clark and her various women and mom-focused ministers have been inviting moms and working women to small round table discussions to raise awareness about what the Liberal government can do to help mothers and working mothers in particular. I have attended a couple of these events and was grateful to share my feelings on what it takes to survive in B.C. as a family. The biggest issue that was brought up over and over was childcare. Due to love of career or by pure financial necessity, more women are working AND raising families and AFFORDABLE childcare has to be part of this juggling act. However what was emphasized also was FLEXIBLE childcare. Why? Because working mothers are not settling back into traditional 9-to -5 positions or even the few remaining shift work employment available out there. What are working mothers doing now? We are creating our OWN work.
For myself and many others, blogging has been the jumping off platform for creating income that is slowly (for myself anyway) creating more than pocket money on the side. The people I have met through blogging have helped me create new ways to form my own business that works around my family. Many other women have gone much further than I and are in the middle of amazing digital media empires and or fantastic writing careers. For all though, it is a juggling act, with much angst, guilt and sacrifice that films like "I Don't Know How She Does It" minimize and insult for a few cheap laughs.
The trivialization of our struggles continues on when we are faced with silly articles like the one that recently came out of the Wall Street Journal and has caused a firestorm of responses online from many women bloggers. This article focused on the popularity of mom and women blogger focused conferences. What it focused on was how cute these conferences are and how much fun the mommies are having being sponsored by big brands to be away from their children. What it didn't focus on was WHY these conferences are so popular - with brands and the women involved.
Mom blogging isn't just a big deal because the brands now have some amazing cheap new avenues to market their products through. That IS part of it, it is big business indeed, hence why the brands court 'influential' bloggers very seriously. Being a review blogger, particularly in the USA, can mean a very nice steady income stream for some women. But not for all.
As I have noted already, blogging for many, like myself has been the medium in which I could start to figure out (finally) what I could do as a grown up, not only for my own fulfillment but to help support our family of five. Surviving on a single income in Vancouver these days is no picnic. Our decision has led to much sacrifice. Don't get me wrong, we are happy with the choice. Our children came first and we have been happy about that, but in all honesty, it does feel more difficult than it really should be.
I have attended a couple of these 'big' mom focused blogging conferences (Blissdom Canada and BlogHer) and yes, they were amazing. I also am a member of a few entrepreneurial organizations in town and both have helped me believe that I don't have to resort to traditional work or home roles and that I can and indeed HAVE to shape my own world when it comes to income and career.
And that is what is NOT being discussed or being ignored by papers like WSJ and the many others who know they will get massive amount of hits on their story if they piss off the mom bloggers enough. Women are OWNING digital media. We may not be all over the tech pages with hip start-ups. We aren't on any big lists on 'who to watch out for' online and in the biz magazines. We may not be opening offices with tents and foosball tables, because we are doing all of our work from HOME. On our own or with partners who are also mothers and bloggers.
We are creating careers out of nothing. We are seeing where our talents are needed and then TELLING people they need those talents. We use our networks and big conferences to then share our talents and build our businesses. We work when our kids are napping or in school. We are on Skype with clients and partners while playing peekaboo with our babies and toddlers at the same time. We are all quietly getting on with it and yes when we get together at big conferences we might indeed just get a little silly, let our hair down and CELEBRATE all that we are trying to do on our own. Is THAT what irks those that write such disparaging articles about moms and mom bloggers? Is the old school world so threatened by what is really a symptom of the new economy? Perhaps.
I would ponder on it more, but I have children to feed and clients to take care of.