Becoming a parent makes you a superstar. We all know it. I sorta thought that I had skills before I became a parent. But now — holy crap — do I ever have skills.
1/ Singing — This is the most obvious. Before having kids I hadn’t really sung in ages. And now — Carly Rae Jepson — look out. I’m pretty sure that my car-singing-to-ward-off-crying version of Call Me Maybe is practically all-star! More seriously — I had forgotten how much fun it is to sing. It feels great to sing. And with a little practice — I got a lot better. And less embarrassed about it. It’s so much easier to sing in front of people now that I sing all the time at home. And you know what? Singing can almost always get you out of tricky situations at home. I bet that’s why kindergarden teachers sing so much. It works.
2/ Finding things — It’s like I’m the Oracle at Delphi. I know all the answers. Where is your bunny? Under the couch. Where is a soother? Under the bed. Where are your (super small but very cute) soccer cleats? In the pile in the hallway. Where is your green t-shirt? In the enormous pile of unfolded laundry on the floor in the laundry room — where else?
3/ Comedy — I’m funny. And the kids know it. They’re dying for the one-woman stand-up show that is their mother. It takes a lotta energy … but I can make them laugh like no other. Faces, tripping jokes, tickles.
4/ Forward thinking — before you have kids … it’s feasible for one or two things to go wrong in a day. Once you have kids — 10 things can go wrong in 10 minutes. You go to a doctor’s appointment. Kid falls asleep in the car and you have to wake them up. Grouchy child results. But the only time that the doctor can see you is over nap time — so you take what you can get. You don’t bring a snack — they’re hungry and start to get pissy. Then they have a diaper blowout — you forgot to bring a diaper. The doctor’s office has a diaper — but it’s 2 sizes too small. Fine. You’ll make do. Then you find out that the doctor is late. Great. You only brought one toy to play with … and it’s last week’s toy. So it’s no longer interesting. Then your kid finds the stack of reading material on the waiting room table and thinks it’s funny to throw it on the floor. Twelve times in a row. So it’s either let them do that — or prevent them from doing it …. and them having a breakdown in the waiting room (remember — they’re missing nap for this delightful situation). You get to see the doctor. But your kid is tired, hungry and in a too-small diaper. So they scream through the entire visit … and the doctor can’t really evaluate them. So it’s practically irrelevant. Then you go back to your car … and you have a parking ticket. That’s how parenthood sometimes goes.
But now you’re wiser. You never leave the house without:
-A hot wheels car in the bottom of your purse
-Your phone (kids should never play on your phone …. yeah right)
-A change of pants in the car
5/ Making a meal out of 4 grapes, a can of tuna and a pickle — Feeding kids is hard. Really hard. Mostly because you have to do it many times a day. And then they don’t even eat it. So it’s hard AND thankless. But you do get pretty good at McGyvering meals out of nothing. You have to. Kids need food whether you just grocery shopped …. or whether you didn’t manage to grocery shop on the weekend and this week you’re living on bread crumbs and ketchup.
Read some of our other posts:
Well — we soft launched to friends a few days ago and we’re starting to get some downloads. I must say — launching was a lot scarier than I thought. Scarier before I had done it than afterwards — but still scary. I guess it’s like anything else — it’s frightening to put yourself out there and risk looking silly, or it not working, or failing down the road (which is a distinct possibility since most start-ups fail). But it’s also awesome to put yourself out there and have so many friends share your story and download your app.
I guess that:
A/ I have awesome friends :}
B/ It’s a compelling story and there are lots of women and people who feel similarly to me
Like anything that you are afraid of — it feels awesome to be on the other side of it. It’s quite the rush. But it means that it is also time to buckle back down to work. Because this app — this company — this mission — to push the boundaries of Mommy Tech — is an evolving creature. Like every other tech product before this …. it will change — it will get better — it will do more or different things until it finds out where it fits in the world of usability. Check out the early days of some massive tech endeavours here — how far fb, youtube and wikipedia have come! (Interestingly Google looks remarkably similar … I guess that they always knew what they wanted).
Anyway — the point is that Datenight will change (and so will our subsequent products) until we hit on something great … or until we run outta time or money — whichever comes first. So stick with us, make sure your app updates are enabled, and let us know what you think (you can comment here — or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org) … because you are super important here.
If you have downloaded the app … and you can see how it might be better …. and you took the time to tell me…. I am super grateful. I need you to tell us where to go and what to do. Users are important.
Later this week I’ll talk a little about what people have suggested and where we are going next. Also — if you want to follow along with the story … follow us on twitter and facebook … or you can add yourself to our mailing list below.
Sincerely and with thanks,
In October of last year – I got fired. I had just entered the “official” workforce for the first time after defending my Computational Biology Ph.D. thesis at the University of Toronto (six months pregnant with my second son). During my mat leave — I began to realize that I had some valuable technical skills. In fact — my ability to parse, organize and present data actually made me a “Data Scientist” — one of the fastest growing technical positions in this age of Big Data. I even managed to wrangle myself a job at a growing start-up run by four thirty-something guys. It was awesome. My skills readily applied to their needs, I fell in love with their data and I got up to speed pretty quickly. In just a few short weeks I was designing dashboards and making slides to be presented to the top brass of their biggest customers.
Then I had a head-on collision with the CEO. We didn’t see eye-to-eye on the degree of micromanagement needed from him and the complexities of their dataset – among other things. When you’ve been playing with data for a while — you realize that it’s not uncommon for people to completely underestimate the size of their data. Large datasets are complex – but deceivingly so. It seems like a simple problem until you immerse yourself in it. And so — instead of trusting me (someone with actual data crunching credentials) to ramp up his practically non-existent data department – he fired me.
Being fired was kind of a big blow. I like to do things well. And getting fired didn’t exactly reflect that. Plus it was my first “real-life” job after finishing school — and I failed at it. But — I was a little excited too — because I knew that I could have been really good at it. Also — I was pissed. Screw you for firing me for what amounted to — and was actually stated — a personality conflict. Finally — I was a little bit pumped. Because that start-up had really shed some light on the start-up world … and I was in love with it. I’ve always wanted to build an empire. And here was my chance. It would make a great back story, I figured.
The whole incident really underlined some subtle workplace gender biases — it really is still a boys club in the start-up world. Even Paul Graham a famous tech entrepreneur, Venture Capital investor and one of the founders of the Y Combinator Accelerator says this on his website:
“For example, I would be reluctant to start a startup with a woman who had small children, or was likely to have them soon.“
Which is unfortunate because he also says this:
“So who should start a startup? Someone who is a good hacker, between about 23 and 38”
Which pretty much rules 80% of women out of the start-up game.
Anyway — back to my story. One of the really awesome people at this start-up that I worked at had said something interesting to me when we were having a conversation about the tiny number (read two — including me!) of women in their tech department. He said that they had tried to hire women — but that they just weren’t that good. Hmmmm. Disappointing. Fine. But then he said — “and all of the good technical women that I know, run their own companies”. Ding Ding Ding. Bells and whistles started jangling like crazy inside my brain when he said that.
So here I am. After I got fired — I decided to start my own tech company. Women – mothers – are huge users of tech. But we’re barely in the tech world — and we’re certainly not leading it. You know what that means? It means that the products that are designed for us, aren’t designed by us. Which means that they often miss the mark — because the designers don’t actually know what the users want. Like groceries — I can’t find an app that actually does what I want. But I can find twenty that want me to cook 25-ingredient meals. I am here to change that. Think of it as the start of a Mommy Tech Revolution. That’s the plan. Sounds reasonable — right? :}
I am a big fan of Sheryl Sandberg and the whole Lean In phenomenon. I’ve learned a lot of great things, including:
-Make your partner a full partner at home — split the household work more evenly
-Men still run the world, and the feminist revolution has stalled short of our goal
-How tricky it is to walk the line between being driven and being a bitch in the workplace
-Women have to be brave and take our seats at the table. Sit at the table and make your voice heard.
But I think that she’s missing a big one. Instead of navigating our way up the corporate ladder, sidestepping land mines, trying not to be “bossy”, sugar coating what we’re saying and trying not to appear too successful or smart for fear of not being liked – maybe there is another option. Instead of trying hard to get the corporate world to let us sit in decision making positions at the board room table, maybe we should — make our own damn table. And sit wherever we freakin’ want.
That is the plan. So, just after Mother’s Day – May 2014, I am launching our inaugural product. It’s called Datenight. It’s a purely hedonistic app for mothers. It doesn’t help you make a better grocery list to help you feed other people. It doesn’t help you schedule all the things that you do for your kids. It doesn’t imply that you need to be skinnier. It doesn’t help you make more lists of things to get for your family. It helps you get what you actually want. A night out without the kids.
- Has a Roster of Experienced, Local Babysitters — Many of them College and University Students
- Help You Schedule Interviews with Great Candidates
- Lets you Request Babysitting in a Few Clicks
I would be thrilled and honoured if you would download it, try it out, and let me know what you think.
We’re just getting going — and any feedback you have about how we can improve things — we want to hear.
It’s in the App Store here:
It’s in the Play Store here:
Please feel free to check out the rest of our site — and our blog.
You can email me here
Women in the spotlight do a lot to promote women’s issues, particularly pushing the line between career and motherhood. There is no doubt that society in general, and attitudes towards motherhood specifically, are highly influenced by the actions and opinions of women that we see in the press. If you’re choosing to put yourself out there and go on record about child-rearing, motherhood, career and family … you’re opening yourself up to both praise and criticism. And I would hope that famous mothers would go on record in a one-of-the-sisterhood manner. Conceding that motherhood can be tough. And that the balancing act is tricky. Even more so if you cannot afford the paid help that many in the press can.
This is a series of posts about famous women and what they say about motherhood.
Compared to our first article about Gisele — Michelle Obama is a breath of fresh air. She’s honest and humble and she admits to being uncertain:
“Like any mother, I am just hoping that I don’t mess them up,”
I find Michelle Obama particularly likeable because she is a realist who doesn’t dance around the truth. She has held her husband accountable for the time that his career has taken him away from his family and talked about it publicly. She doesn’t seem to hold back in interviews and she seems to wear at least one of the pant legs in the relationship. In fact — she has even alluded to the idea that she is a single parent (which many have jumped down her throat for) — since her partner is so often away from the family.
“But we didn’t always live in the White House. And for many years before coming to Washington, I was a working mother, doing my best to juggle the demands of my job with the needs of my family, with a husband who has crazy ideas. “
She isn’t into the little-girl-helpless-princess mentality:
“As a mom, I know it is my responsibility, and no one else’s, to raise my kids. But we have to ask ourselves, what does it mean when so many parents are finding their best efforts undermined by an avalanche of advertisements aimed at our kids.”
She expects her kids to pull their weight:
“I want the kids to be treated like children, not little princesses. I told everyone that they should make their beds, they should clean their plates, they should act respectfully—and that if anyone on the staff sees differently, they should come to me,”
“Some staff members joke that they wish they could send their own children to Mrs. Obama’s boot camp for training.”
Michelle graduated from Princeton and then Harvard Law school, worked as an Associate at a law firm, an Assistant to the Mayor of Chicago, Associate Dean of Student Services at the University of Chicago and ended her tenure in Chicago as Vice President for Community and External Affairs for the University of Chicago Hospitals. At her last job she took baby Sasha to the interview (she couldn’t find a babysitter) and she was making $273k a year … twice what her husband was making as a senator at the time. So she’s no push over. She’s a mover and a shaker in her own right. She just happens to be overshadowed a little by her husband’s position. As such … she’s really into achievement and being a strong role model for her kids:
“I am an example of what is possible when girls from the very beginning of their lives are loved and nurtured by people around them. I was surrounded by extraordinary women in my life who taught me about quiet strength and dignity.”
Michelle certainly seems to have figured out a way to make the motherhood thing work for her. She knows what she needs — and she isn’t afraid to plan for it … but she also knows how to ask for help (as she once said in a speech):
“We have amazing resources and support systems here at the White House that I could have never imagined. Number one of them is having Grandmother living upstairs. We all need one of those.”
Michelle just seems like someone who is going to get exactly what she wants out of life … while making sure that everyone else is looked after too:
“When I get up and work out, I’m working out just as much for my girls as I am for me, because I want them to see a mother who loves them dearly, who invests in them, but who also invests in herself. It’s just as much about letting them know as young women that it is okay to put yourself a little higher on your priority list.”
Maybe I shouldn’t have reviewed Michelle Obama on Motherhood as the second entry in the series …. when I have so many others left to review! She’s an amazing person. She is an amazing role model for kids – for young girls …. and for mothers everywhere. I really can’t fault much here. I am interested to see where she takes her career next. Barack has had his turn at being the main career-person in the family. Will she taken another turn at work? Or will she decide that her time is better spent changing the world in other ways?
Check out my previous post about Gisele here: What have you done for Motherhood lately: Gisele
The first child …..
……. wears clothes that are bordering on a little small … because you haven’t bought the next size yet
The second child…..
……. is always wearing clothes that are a little too big .. because the older one just stopped wearing them and you haven’t bothered to pack them away yet
The first child ….
……. grows up in an environment entirely tailored to their developmental stage
The second child…..
……. grows up with a wide variety of age inappropriate toys
The first child ….
……. is constantly being shown how to do things
The second child…..
…….gets to figure out how to do things in peace
The first child ….
……. got to crack eggs with us all the time
The second child…..
……. lives in a house where the parents try to hide when they are cracking eggs
Parenthood has changed my husband and myself in a lot of ways (surprise, surprise). Although it is rewarding, it can definitely be tough. We have learned that it is not a sprint — which is clearly the mindset we had at the beginning. Expecting perfection and burning yourself out in the first year …. is going to lead to trouble when you realize that there are another 18+ years of this …. perhaps some of them with additional children! Parenthood is a long distance race, we have since learned.
And in our first years in this race — I think that what I’ve been most impressed about in our parenting (pat pat pat on the back) …. is our ability to dig deep. I think it’s been the greatest lesson that we have learned about ourselves …. just how many miles deeper we could dig than we initially thought.
We thought that we were tired when our first wasn’t a great sleeper at 6 weeks …. we survived without consecutive sleep for months and months longer than that. (who am I kidding — it’s years, really. it’s still happening!)
We thought that we were at the end of our rope 3 weeks ago when our kids had been home sick for 2 weeks. Then our house got pink eye. And then we got sick. And then after the first day back we got another fever of some kind that kept us out of the game for another week.
Parenthood has this amazing way of throwing extra problems at you when you’re pretty sure that you’re already on the brink.
Like when you’ve been kinda sick for 4 days and you have to go to the grocery store to pick up something – anything! – for dinner. But it’s almost dinner time – so the kids are tired and whiny (bad planning!). Then you forget the stuffed animal in the car, so you have to go back. Then you drop the soother on the floor in the parking garage on the way into the store. You discover a dirty leaking diaper – and you don’t have an extra (it was supposed to be a 10 minute trip!). They’re out of the yoghurt drinks that you promised the kids. Then you get to the cash register and you’ve forgotten your wallet. And on the ride home you can’t get Raffi to play.
Only in parenting land can 9 things go wrong in a row in such a short period of time. I can’t ever remember a time in my life when such cascades of minor bad luck have occurred so often.
But somehow you survive. You either surrender to the moment. Or you laugh it off. Or you motor your kids out of there and get pizza. Or you call your sister and complain for a while. But somehow you dig deep enough to make it out of there alive. It’s impressive, what you can handle as a parent. Very impressive.
How things have changed
Recover from the Mommy Effect. Meet Local a Babysitter. Many just finished writing University exams and are looking for summer babysitting opportunities.
Or get on the WaitList for a Meet a Babysitter Event in your area: