I Have Twins … And Only One Of Them’s A Baby

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I Have Twins … And Only One Of Them’s A Baby

My husband and I sit perched on bar stools, shaking hands with the two men across from us. We’ve just closed one of our largest clients to date, and are about to take on a massive project. The energy in the room is one of excitement, new beginnings, a feeling of something great, budding to life.

Off-camera, my 3-month old is asleep in her car seat at our feet. She wakes up just as we wrap up the hour-long meeting — we stick around long enough for the compliments on the cute baby, shake hands once again, and disappear — to plan, strategize and feed said baby.

This is my life — day in and day out is a balancing act between family and work, between helping my clients succeed and helping my daughter develop new skills. This is not an easy life, and sometimes, it’s overwhelming. But this is who I am.

When my mother told me that bringing a baby to a meeting is unprofessional, I countered with a joke, saying it’s becoming part of my personal brand.

Growing my business, nurturing my child, taking care of my family — at the same time — that to me is the definition of being professional. Of course, I feel the pressure to stay home and commit fully to my maternity leave, which I am very fortunate to have in the first place. Sometimes I stumble when people ask what I do for my daughter’s brain development, have I tried this or that approach, am I attending mommy-baby barre classes.

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Being a business owner and being a mother, in my experience, is like having twins. I am fully committed to both. And I think I have the right to be.

When one sleeps, the other has my full attention and vice versa. Both represent my legacy, my imprint on the world. Both need care, love, discipline, and good habits. The double standard of mom-shaming working moms and guilt-tripping stay-at-home moms is tiring and stale. Why can’t we have both? Why can’t we accept that imperfections are inevitable, in parenting and in business, and instead of focusing on being a super-parent, or a super-entrepreneur, just be really good (but not perfect) at both?

I would be lying if I said there aren’t days when I feel like I am too tired to think, let alone work. There are sleepless nights and stressful days, busy days, forgotten tasks, missed tasks, missed meals, missed baby activities, and swimming lessons.

But that’s life — the entire yarn ball of mistakes, victories, humbling moments, moments of triumph and elation.

Most times I walk into meetings with my daughter in my arms with a sense of calm confidence. But there are always moments of doubt at the initially raised eyebrows, pangs of embarrassment when she lets out a cry or two.

I am not writing this to validate my approach to balancing work and parenthood. I am simply illustrating that I bring my daughter to business meetings, and that’s okay; the world keeps spinning. I am writing this to tell other moms who may be struggling to find the right pace, the comfort of a routine that works for them, that you are not alone, and that there is no right and wrong way to balance what’s on your plate.

I am also writing this to illustrate that my worth in what I do is not diminished because I am a first-time mom. I am not any less capable, driven, or professional now that I have a baby. You would think that’s stating the obvious until you face the kind of comments and criticisms that come as part of the package.

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My unpopular opinion — happy parent, happy baby. Building my business makes me happy. Or rather, it gives me a sense of purpose, which in turn gives me meaning and that fulfills me. As new moms, we are bombarded with information, tacit judgment and backhanded comments that can make it feel like we are failing everything — my baby, motherhood, career.

But instead, rising to the challenge makes us warriors, on a crusade so simple, it should be laughable — the crusade to do things our way, the way that feels right, that remains true to who we are and what we value.

Whatever you choose to dedicate your attention to should be according to what makes sense in your life at this time, not according to what someone else thinks you should be doing.

The same thing applies to dads — taking care of your children, while your wife takes care of business, does not emasculate you. It elevates you. It makes you more of a partner, someone your wife can rely on, freely and entirely. My upbringing contrasts enormously with my life philosophy when it comes to gender roles, and it is a source of conflict for me.

In my childhood home, men never cooked and women never fixed cars. The constructs we are exposed to early in life shape our worldview in a fundamental way and can lead to unresolved anxiety, guilt, and even shame — a burden we can do without.

It is so important to cultivate self-awareness, to check your bias (which can be obvious or subconscious), and maintain open and honest channels of communication with key support people in your life. Get away from concepts or lines of thought that do not serve you. Put yourself first — not in a narcissistic way, but rather from the angle of self-care and self-affirmation. Stand up for yourself, because no one else will.

So whether you are a working mom or a stay-at-home parent — do what feels right to get you to where you need to be to lead a fulfilling and meaningful life. Nothing you do will ever please the trolls and the naysayers — the more you pander to their inclinations, the more you become removed from who you are. Have the bravery to do what’s right for you, and know that you are not alone in this battle.

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Inna Pye-Richardson is a mom and founder of Promohack, a Canadian digital marketing agency focused on helping clients grow their online presence and setting them up for long-term business success. 

This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.