I recently published a book for nursing mamas and mamas-to-be. It’s called The Places You’ll Feed! and it offers a lighthearted and refreshingly honest look at the highs and lows of feeding a new baby. My husband and I are in the midst of launching a company called DynaMama that will deliver delightful care-packages full of fun, witty items designed to delight pregnant women and new moms. The Places You’ll Feed! is DynaMama’s first official product launch.
We decided to self-published the book, and got incredibly lucky in that it arrived from the printing press in July, almost exactly a month before World Breastfeeding Awareness Week. When I reached out to friends and editors to see if they’d be interested in featuring the book as part of their Breastfeeding Awareness coverage, almost everyone said yes. And once the Huffington Post, BabyCenter and Babble covered it, it started to sell like wildfire. Suddenly I was waking up to emails from reporters who wanted to write about my story and share it with the world.
I like to think of my mom style as hands-on and full of heart. Because of work, I don't get to spend as much time with my kids as I would like to, but when I am with them, I try to be 110% present. Whether we’re reading (and making up) stories, singing, drawing, taking walks, building forts, or having tea parties on their bedroom floor, it’s pretty full-on. There’s lots of imaginary play and dance-a-thons in our house. We know how to have a good time.
We have two kiddos. Olivia, who turned 3 in June, and Milo, who’s almost 19 months. They are both pretty darn adorable in their very different ways. Olivia is hilarious, dramatic, insanely talkative, and not afraid to speak her mind (to say the least). Milo is obsessed with music: singing, dancing (he’s got some mean breakdancing moves) and banging away at every instrument that crosses his path. He’s a total love-bug who doesn’t say much yet, but wears a giant smile on his face about 99% of the time.
For me, the hardest parts are the constant balancing act between work and family, and the fact that there’s no official start or end to your “business” day.
On the flip side, I love the flexibility that being a #startupmom offers. I love being able to dial my workload up or down, depending on what’s going on with the kids and our life in general. I love teaching our kids that you can work hard and still have fun, and that no matter what your dreams are, you shouldn’t be afraid to follow them.
I have always found joy and inspiration in creating products that address previously unmet human needs – often needs that people didn’t even realize they had. I wrote The Places You’ll Feed! because I felt that someone needed to get out there and give moms-to-be an honest (but entertaining, and not too-serious or scary) look at the harder parts of feeding a new baby. I had a really hard time breastfeeding both of my children, and when I was going through it, I desperately wished that someone would have given me a head’s up so that I could have laughed my way through some of the pain. “Someone needs to talk about this stuff!” I kept telling my friends. And just like that, The Places You’ll Feed! was born.
That’s almost an impossible question to answer these days! Between running two businesses with my husband, Nate (DynaMama and our wine label, Belden Barns), trade shows and wine pourings, freelance innovation and branding projects, shuttling back and forth between San Francisco and Sonoma, preschool drop-off and pick-up, one-on-one time with each kid, meeting up with friend and clients, it’s hard to wrap my head around the concept of “typical.” Lately, what every day seems to have in common is trying to balance work hours and munchkin hours, and still find half an hour somewhere to get some exercise. We have dinner as a family almost every night, which I love, and we always try to talk about what we’re grateful for during our meal.
Even though we have a nice home-office and a Monday-Thursday nanny, between seeing, hearing and feeling guilty about not BEING with the kids, I find getting work done at home pretty challenging. My local Starbucks has become my unofficial office. The entire staff now knows my name and (a little bit about) my businesses. I have my special “desk” area, my work soundtrack (their music, for whatever reason seems to increase my productivity), and more caffeine than I know what to do with.
Even though I didn’t have an office job to give me a 3-month maternity leave, Nate and I made a joint decision that our company’s office policy for maternity leave should be 3-6 months “off,” depending on when it felt (emotionally) right for me to go back to work. While I took 3 months off with each kid before taking on any new freelance projects, I actually wrote The Places You’ll Feed! about two months into Olivia’s life.
Follow your gut. Instincts mean a lot in parenting, especially when you know your child better than anyone else in the world does.
After a crazy (not to mention exhausting and incredibly successful) week of East Coast shows for our wine business, our family spent a week in Martha’s Vineyard. One night, after a picnic dinner on the beach, we decided to walk down a pier to look at the boats and watch the sun set. The weather was perfect, Milo was in the Ergo, and Olivia, who was walking in between me and Nate holding our hands, stopped and looked up at us. “I love my family so much!”
“We love you so much too,” I told her.
“I KNOW mom! And I think we have the best family in the whole world!”
A group of friends in their early-twenties who were walking towards us started clapping. “Nice job, mom and dad!” one of the guys laughed. “How did you teach her that one?”
But I hadn’t taught her a thing. She was simply speaking from her heart, and the whole family felt it.
Cut yourself some slack! No matter how many idyllic images you see in the media or on your own personal Facebook feeds - both motherhood and entrepreneurship can be really, really hard - especially in the early days. While bringing a new baby or business into the world can be one of the fastest roads to deep satisfaction, unbridled laughter and pure, heart-splintering joy, I think it’s also important to acknowledge that it can be exhausting and downright challenging too.
This is a really hard question! My mind darts from Sonoma, California, where we make our wine, to Tanzania, AFRICA, where Nate and I volunteered before the kids were born, to Chilmark, Martha’s Vineyard, where my family rented a house every summer growing up. I think at the end of the day, Martha’s Vineyard wins.
All The Light We Cannot See, a brilliant and beautiful book that I honestly could not put down.
Believers in magic