Having young children can push women into self-employment to reconcile the demands of motherhood with their professional ambitions. However, if self-employment offers very few opportunities for decent pay and access to wage employment depends on education, then, motherhood may no longer matter to women’s self-employment. In this paper, we formalize this idea theoretically and test it empirically using data from Nigeria. We use an identification strategy that corrects selection bias and the endogeneity of fertility jointly. We find no evidence of a causal effect of motherhood on women’s self-employment. This result is robust to several alternative specifications. However, we also find that motherhood increases the probability of self-employment for single women but not for married women. These findings suggest that the social setting governs the importance of motherhood for women’s self-employment.