Stop Telling Working Moms You “Don’t Know How We Do It”—Tell Us You’re Glad We’re Doing It”

Published on on September 16, 2015

I’m lucky. I’m the daughter of a mom who showed me and my sisters that she could kickass in her career while raising our family. Growing up there was never a doubt if I wanted to work and have kids that I could have both. I also worked at companies that had women at the top who would leave at 5pm because they needed to pick up their kids. All of this grew my confidence and commitment that I could thrive in both professional and family universes. In fact, I found that since becoming a mom, my career started to grow much quicker than before I had my first son. There’s something that happens when you become a mom. Before it I was a hard worker. After joining the ranks of motherhood I was a smart worker. Subtle, but very different.

Currently I’m the Vice President for one of the top and fastest-growing marketing firms where I oversee two of our larger account portfolios. I am also the founder of a startup called MUMZY which is a crowdfunding site for moms (like Kickstarter for moms), working on it every waking hour, minute, second I can outside the hours of 9-5. I am also the mom to Teddy (five years old) and Archie (three) and raising my wild, curious, kind boys to be civilized members of society (and by "civilized" I would be happy if they stopped peeing in the bushes!).

Is it easy? Hell no (especially curbing the boys from peeing in bushes...don't get me started!).

Is it worth it? For me? Absolutely.

I get so much out of all these roles I have that it makes it possible for me to keep the plates spinning and achieving success along the way.

Which brings me to one of my greatest pet peeves (especially when it comes from other women and moms). I was at a conference not long ago and in a session about female leadership and female founders. The woman leading the talk was sharing relevant statistics and anecdotes about challenges being a female leader within the workforce. She then brought up how families are a big barrier for women reaching leadership roles. Which is a valid and poignant topic. But then, she said: “I can’t even imagine how moms do it. I call my employees my kids and can’t fathom doing what I’m doing if I were also raising a family.”

I gasped. Audibly.

In a room full of women, talking about how to support and raise each other to keep doing great things, I couldn’t believe my ears that the *speaker* was basically reinforcing the notion that if you’re a mom you can’t do it. Being the mild-mannered woman I am, I instantly raised my hand and told her that we need to change the conversation.

Instead of saying: “How do you do it?” we need to start saying: “I’m so GLAD you’re doing it.” Or "keep up the good, hard work you're doing." At the end of the day, we as moms are always making sacrifices, struggling to keep the balls in the air, but if we work hard at it and make a commitment to seeing it through, there are no people better equipped to do amazing things than moms. It’s why I founded MUMZY, to help moms bring their brilliant ideas to life and support fellow moms. This isn't meant to point fingers or scold people who say "I don't know how you do it." My mom, who is my mentor and inspiration, says it to me. And I point out that she also did it. And so do many, many others.

When the conversation turns into this you>me direction, we deflect the accomplishments we should be very proud of. The response of "I don't know how you do it" is very different than the response of "you're doing a great job". It's important that we start to shift our thinking and how we talk about the great things that moms, working or stay-at-home can do.

The next time someone says: “I don’t know how you do it” remind them that they can do it too.

About Catherine Merritt:

Catherine Merritt wears many hats. She’s the mom of two boys, a never-ending idea-comer-upper, wife to Ian, vice president at Olson Engage and founder & CEO of MUMZY, the first and only crowdfunding site specifically for moms.

Having spent over a decade working in marketing, and almost five years as a mom herself, Catherine brings both personal and professional expertise in helping solve problems for moms. In creating MUMZY, Catherine believes she is solving one of the biggest problems for moms. By creating a rich, engaged, resourceful site and community to help all moms turn their brilliant ideas into realities, she is confident MUMZY will prove what she already knows: moms with great ideas and the support of other moms is not something to take lightly.