I grew up in a single-parent household. My mother was 1 of 6 women in a class of 400 studying to be engineers. For most of my childhood, she held 2 full-time jobs, while climbing the corporate ladder, paying the bills, and raising two ambitious, hard-working kids.
She made me promise I wouldn’t have children until I was financially secure. The rule was I had to have bought my first car with my own money before I got married.
So it’s not exactly a surprise that I waited as long as I did to have a kid. It always felt like it wasn’t the right time and I had so much to do. When I finally went for it it was in the middle of a pandemic, while growing a young business - Cosmic Centaurs.
Being a mother and an entrepreneur at the same time is HARD and I’ve been reflecting on what I learned over the past year of trying to navigate life, raise a family, grow a business, and maintain my sanity all at the same time.
I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s good to falter publicly, because I KNOW every other parent and caregiver and business owner out there is going through the same thing, and I hope being more open about it makes us all feel less alone.
1. Sleep is overrated
Business and family place high demands on my time, so sleep often takes a backseat. Being tired is my new baseline and there’s no point complaining about it. A good cup of coffee (or 2) can do wonders, but I am also not above taking a nap halfway through the day. Sometimes I also just let my team know my brain is going to be foggy that day.
2. Moms are hella efficient
I pumped in cars, fed my daughter while on a call, reviewed documents on my phone in the dark with Gaby sleeping next to me, but most importantly I learned that spending 45 minutes choosing the right icon for a slide is not a good use of my time, so I learned to compromise on my perfectionism. I also learned that the less time I have, the more work I can get done.
3. You can’t compromise on your values
Now that I have a daughter I think very deeply about the behaviors I am role modeling for her. Am I being a good citizen? Have I been kind to someone today? And I have become that much more serious about living up to our organizational values too.
4. It’s ok to ask for help
When you spend your whole life trying to be a superwoman and staying on top of everything, it can be quite the challenge to ask for help. Motherhood humbles you that way. I get help, lots of it, and the biggest contributor to the success of Cosmic Centaurs is my daughter’s nanny, Maria. We just couldn’t exist without her caregiving.
5. Time off is sacred
I don’t get lots of time with Gaby during the week. There are days where the only time she sees me is when I am putting her to bed. I feel shitty about that. Hello mommy guilt! That means I am very motivated to be 100% focused on her on weekends, no matter what emails are waiting in my inbox or which proposal needs to be sent out.
6. 82% grace is enough
Since becoming a mom I have started practicing 82% grace. While in the past I would aim for perfection I now accept what is arguably a very high error rate of 18% and give myself grace when that happens. This applies to all aspects of my life, to work, to parenting, to friendships.
7. Think long-term
Raising kids is a long-term commitment. It teaches you planning, focus, tolerance for mistakes, and commitment to the vision. It made me rethink how I create value in the world, what my legacy will be, and how to make Cosmic Centaurs more and more sustainable.
8. Put on your own oxygen mask first
I took a flight with my daughter recently and the stewardess reminded me that in the case of a cabin pressure problem, I should put on my own mask first. She said: “I know it’s not the motherly thing to do but that’s the recommendation!” I disagreed. I think being healthy (mentally, physically, socially, emotionally) is my duty toward my child and my team. Letting myself burnout is the one sure way to fail them both.
9. Flexible work is a non-negotiable
I recently had to care for my child for a week without any help, and in a place where I had to commute to an “office”. By the end of the week I was in shambles and I kept thinking about the parents who don’t have the luxury to choose when and where they work.
While the pandemic helped normalize flexible work, the “great return” is threatening an essential benefit for all primary caregivers. I for one am so glad I built a company with high levels of accountability and flexibility for all.
10. Change is the only true constant
Just when you think that you’ve got everything figured out and that you established a good routine for yourself, your work and your kid something will come up and throw you into a whole new reality! Whether it’s a new big project, a colleague going on leave, starting solids, or (the neverending) teething, the only thing you can count on is that everything is constantly changing so I’ve gotten very comfortable with being thrown off course.
As I write this, my daughter is approaching ten months, Cosmic Centaurs is turning 3 years old and they will grow up together. Despite my inherent desire to try to perfect and master both roles, I accepted that there’s just no such thing as perfection. Instead, I’m focusing on progress. No doubt, I’ll make mistakes as a mother and as a leader, and I will learn from those experiences. Each day I’ll embrace both identities, working a little harder to raise both my daughter and my company to thrive.