At first, I was happy to call myself a mumpreneur. After all, it is a combination of 'mum' and 'entrepreneur' and I'd be proud to call myself either. It meant I was stepping off the career treadmill and doing my own thing.
Then I discovered that other mums in business didn't like the word. When they think of a mumpreneur, many people have an image of a woman running a little hobby business to keep her busy while she's a stay-at-home-mum.
The reality for most mums in business is very different. Ask around and you hear stories of mums looking after children all day and then working into the small hours to keep their businesses going. Of having little alternative but to work for themselves because they can't afford childcare. Of refusing to miss out on their children's early years, yet still wanting (and often needing) to earn a living.
In her post What sort of mumpreneur are you? Antonia Chitty asks 'Do you see ‘mumpreneur’ as something that helps mums who own businesses, or something that is holding us back?'. Probably a bit of both, I think.
But what interests me is how come we have a label that is meant to bring us together, yet divides us.
In my pre-baby days I never had to prove I was equal to the men I worked with. True, some women are still grappling with a glass ceiling and fighting to get equal pay, but generally most women are now seen as being as competent and motivated as men.
That's until you have children. Bam, you're back in the land that time forgot. A land of stereotypes and assumptions. A world where the only way to prove your brain hasn't turned to mush is to work full-time and put your baby in a nursery five days a week. Which of course makes you a bad mother. The alternative is to risk becoming a nobody by being a stay-at-home-mum or to apply for a badly-paid part time job.
All stereotypes (except for the badly-paid part time job, sadly). Is this what has contaminated the word 'mumpreneur'?
There are no easy answers. Sometimes I feel like I'm the latest generation in an experiment that started over a century ago, where we still have a long way to go before we learn how to be truly equal.
I'd love to see people respecting the working choices made by mothers. (And the choice to not work.) To support and encourage, rather than to divide and judge.To ditch the stereotypes. And for the challenges of being a working parent to be shared equally between women and men.
Then maybe we'd all be proud to call ourselves mumpreneurs?
What do you think? Leave me a comment below.