Christine Michel Carter is on a mission to help brands better communicate with the millennial moms that consume their products and services. She’s a bestselling author, owns a state and federally certified business, a trademarked national event and has been a guest contributor to global digital publications including Forbes, TIME and The New York Times. By the way, she’s also a divorced mom of two and has a day job.
Christine Michel Carter shares the data backed truths about working mom consumers with the HR and diversity teams of brands to help clarify misconceptions about this population. A single mom, Carter realized that the lack of childcare often prevented career-minded mothers from attending professional development events. She created the Mompreneur and Me event in 2015. This national professional development networking event allows moms (and dads) to spend time with their children while connecting with like-minded professionals.
On the heels of her latest book, Mom AF, Christine sat down with Her Agenda to talk about how she started in the industry, her personal mantra and what brands need to know about millennial moms.
Her Agenda: For people looking at your life and all that you’ve accomplished, what motto or words of affirmation get you through even on your worst days?
Christine Michel Carter: Tomorrow’s a new day, life is a marathon and not a sprint. Speaking of a marathon, I’ve been writing since I was 5 years old and went to literacy camps as a child. I have been writing about millennials about for 12 years. When people see me today -being profiled in the New York Times and as a two-time author- you have to understand that it didn’t happen overnight. I started by blogging for the HuffPost. My article for HuffPost received backlash and I was called a racist. However, it took one person to like my writing and wanted to profile me. People don’t see that part. It’s a marathon.
I’ve felt inferior. I remember traveling to New York for work. I was in casual clothes and everyone else were in suits. I felt like an imposter. At that time, I was a Black woman that attributed accomplishments to luck versus ability.
Her Agenda: Speaking of marathons, some moms are doing it all: working, going to school, raising children alone and trying to maintain their own mental health. In one of your speaking topics, you talk about burnout, imposter syndrome and summit syndrome. As a divorced mother of two and entrepreneur, what has your experience been with these issues?
Christine Michel Carter: I’ve felt inferior. I remember traveling to New York for work. I was in casual clothes and everyone else were in suits. I felt like an imposter. At that time, I was a Black woman that attributed accomplishments to luck versus ability. Those type of thoughts can then become summit syndrome… trying to prove your worth. You can try to get as many degrees, board memberships and accolades as you can but the underlying problem is that are you chasing those things because you are attaching your self-worth to accomplishing goals. If you aren’t confident with yourself in the present, accomplishing goals won’t change the way you view yourself. I learned to work on what it means to love myself. I asked myself, ”Why are you helping others and hurting yourself?” Therapy helped me find answers to this question.
Her Agenda: Speaking of therapy, how has it helped you personally and professionally?
Christine Michel Carter: Therapy re-laid the foundation of me. I began practicing self-care. I learned what loving myself looks like. Honestly, this is the first full year where I’ve gotten a strong footing on being a single mom. I’ve transformed. I’ve finally been able to execute the things the therapist told me to do. I’ve written two books. My business is certified. I am kicking ass and taking names. Before therapy, I would not have been able to do that.
I’ve written two books. My business is certified. I am kicking ass and taking names. Before therapy, I would not have been able to do that.
As a parent, I thought it was important to put my children in therapy as well. My daughter loves the idea of someone sitting down and listening to her. I wanted to expose my kids to therapy because it wasn’t introduced to me. Growing up, my mother didn’t bash therapy but it was not something that we did. For my kids, their therapy sessions are reinforced in school. As an example, the guidance counselor at the school provides new tools for conflict management. My relationship with my children is so different than mine with my mom. I love that we communicate so freely.
We need to build communities and tribes. We are a mess, together. Work/Life balance does not exist. You are always ebbing and flowing and that’s okay.
Her Agenda: What stories are you telling about and on behalf of millennial moms?
Christine Michel Carter: We feel like we need to have it all—the career, the house, the car, the perfect life—and that’s just not true. I always tell people that the only way you can have it all is to go to the store and buy “ALL” detergent. I share with brands that we need to see more honest parenting. We need to portray parenting realistically. The last thing a mom struggling either financially or emotionally needs to compare herself to are staged images showing what parenting should look like. We shouldn’t try to create images to become idolized Mommy-Gods. We need to build communities and tribes. We are a mess, together. Work/Life balance does not exist. You are always ebbing and flowing and that’s okay. Proctor & Gamble does a great job of showing realistic examples of parenting. It’s important for brands to understand that motherhood is going to look different for different mothers. That’s the message that I’m sharing.
Her Agenda: Your most recent book “Mom AF,” is described as a sister circle in a book. Talk about how this book came about and what you want readers to walk away with.
Christine Michel Carter: Mom AF has been 3 years in the making. I decided to write the book because I was frustrated that some of my messages were getting diluted. Initially, I decided to self-publish. When I decided to write the book, I knew that I wanted the editor to be a Black mother too. At the last minute, I happened to connect with a Black female publisher. Between editing and receiving feedback and input, I had so many Black women’s hands on this book. I knew it would be successful, it was too blessed to NOT be successful. Even with that, I was surprised at the immediate positive feedback and how well the book has been received.
Women are reaching out saying they read the book in one sitting, that it was funny and it was reflective of their lives. I am overwhelmed. I just wanted to tell the story of other mothers. We have the tendency to not truthfully communicate what’s happening in our lives. I hope readers feel a sense of community and know that they aren’t alone in this journey that we call motherhood.
[Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.]