Why I Don’t Feel Guilty for Being a Working Mom

IMG_0251I recall the exact moment I decided that something had to change.

I’d taken on a part-time position with a local museum which I’d taken specifically for the hours when my husband would be home with our three kids. And while I actually enjoyed the work, I also missed out on a lot – my daughter’s last year of competing at nationals for climbing as well as weekend camping trips, family suppers, and just hanging out in the back yard with the kids on a warm Saturday night.

But the moment that pushed me over the edge was when I arrived home at 3 AM on a Saturday night. I tried to open our garage door but met resistance. Pushing a little more firmly, I realized I was actually scooting my youngest son across the tile of our foyer. At some point after being tucked into bed, our youngest woke up. He did the only thing a little boy missing his mother knew to do – wait at the very spot he knew I’d return. And so he waited on the cold tile until he finally fell asleep.

I picked my son up and carried him back to his bad, pulling up the covers up and kissing his forehead. I sat at the edge of his bed for a few moments, tears welling up as his little hand gripped tightly around my finger. And in that moment I knew that no job was worth doing this to my son.

Within the month I’d resigned my position and metamorphosed from stay-at-home mom to founder of a tech company. Not that being an entrepreneur eradicated Mommy Guilt. It didn’t. But it did mean I decided what I was going to feel guilty about, because I was the one choosing the trade-offs of what I’d miss to give time to something else.

There are times now that I am definitely judged as being that mom – the one who ends up parenting her kid via cell phone while boarding a plane, who is rarely available to volunteer for anything during or after school, and the one who has more than once sent her kid off to school with a still-damp uniform after forgetting it was needed for a game after school. I’m the mom who celebrates my kid’s somewhat crappy-looking science fair entry while happily ignoring the silent condemnation of his classmates’ parents who see my hands-off approach as unsupportive. Truth is I have no desire to see if my participation in his project will earn him an A. It’s his learning experience, and if I’m judged as the mom who doesn’t help her kid with his projects, I’m ok with that. I’ve made peace with being that mom.

But I’m finished with feeling guilty. Or, at least, I’m finished letting anyone else decide what should make me feel guilty. If I blow off one of my kids or ignore them when they really need me, and I do it because I am far too immersed in my own thoughts to be present and listen, I should feel guilty about that. It is a poor choice that leaves me as inaccessible as if I wasn’t there. If I don’t parent by making my children accountable for immoral, inconsiderate, unkind, or dishonest behavior, if I don’t provide comfort and perspective when my children are wounded by life, or if I’m not accessible for the average, ordinary conversations that are actually the courage-building moments when one of my children might share one of those big issues that they’re carrying deep inside – if I am not available to be that parent, I should feel guilty.

But I’m finished feeling guilty for being gone on travel and not available at a moment’s notice to help one of my children get out of a momentary problem. Yes, I’m unavailable. But, no, it’s not the end of the world. And more often than not, it simply results in the learning moment where my kid discovers they have the inner resilience and resources to manage the issue for themselves.

I’m finished feeling guilty for not being there every morning to cook breakfast. Guess what? Cooking skills are empowering. When my teenage kid discovers he can forage in the pantry and make something to eat without setting the toaster on fire – that isn’t neglect – that’s fostering independence.

And I’m finished feeling guilty for not being invincible. There are days I’m barely treading water because of the overwhelming amount of responsibility that I have on my plate, and allowing my children to witness my own moments of weakness, vulnerability, and fear – that is a gift I am giving them. When they witness the same raw emotions coming from me which often hold the same power to derail their own pursuit of goals and dreams – and when they see me get beyond those momentary emotions to move forward – I am sharing with them the honesty of the journey, the reality of the pain and emotional toll that is taken from each of us if we are to grow to meet the challenges along the journey. I refuse to feel guilty for sharing that with my children.

IMG_3102The truth is that I absolutely love what I do now. I love our company, our vision, the problems we are helping others solve because of what we’ve built. I love the dynamics, talent and energy of our team. And I love the opportunities that have arisen along the journey – the chance to build rewarding friendships, the opportunity to launch an organization with a dear friend which is focused on empowering other women, and the privilege of being inspired by others who are pursuing their own dreams. I also love being a mother, even if the mother I am today isn’t what I imagined. I’ve made peace with the messiness of it all, because it is the mess of it all, the ebb and flow of blending all of these roles together into one reality which has helped me finally feel at peace with who I am.

Gender bias forced me to quit Quiksilver’s board

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Lisa Abeyta:

Liz Dolan, Fox International Channel’s CMO, speaks out about why she resigned from her position as the only woman serving on Quicksilver’s board: “The directors also told me I was kept out of the discussions because they thought I would “be too conflicted.” I tried to explain to each of these directors that some directors are not more equal than others. I was elected to the board because I am an accomplished global marketer, which is what Quiksilver needed, not because I was the CEO’s friend. I wish they had seen me as an accomplished professional, as their peer.”

Originally posted on Fortune:

Editor’s note: Usually, corporate board of directors’ conflicts are kept behind closed doors. But recently, Fox International Channels CMO Liz Dolan resigned as the sole female member of the board of Quiksilver, the action sports and apparel company. As the Wall Street Journal reported, Dolan, a former CMO of Nike[fortune-stock symbol=”NKE”] and the OWN channel had quit in protest, saying the Board deliberately left her out of the discussions that led to the firing of the CEO Andy Mooney and hiring of his successor, Pierre Agnes. Here Dolan, who also is a cofounder of the popular podcast Satellite Sisters, explains in detail her decision to quit. Quiksilver’s spokesperson declined comment.

Until last week, I was a member of the Board of Directors of Quiksilver. I know that few women are on corporate boards of publicly-traded companies. I was proud to be one of them. I’d served on this…

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Civic Tech: Refining the Vision to Focus on Problems that Really Matter

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After spending two days absorbing a wide array of perspectives and ideas presented at the Personal Democracy Forum (PDF) hosted by Civic Hall in New York City, I am more convinced that ever that it is vital for companies like mine which are focused on civic tech to continually push the boundaries of the status quo and find ways to use emerging technologies to disrupt the way we interact with our cities and each other to solve problems that really matter. Sometimes we get so immersed in our own particular flavor of tech and perspective that we fail to notice what else is happening in this rapidly expanding industry, so I was grateful for the opportunity to learn about other innovations and experiences which might provide better insight for our own team.

From the stage at PDF, we learned from Jess Kutch, Cofounder and Co-Director of CoWorker.org, how one individual’s decision to speak up about her employer’s dress code policy led not only to an international movement supporting her efforts but to a groundswell of others who followed in her path in calling out violations and unfair policies of other corporations across globe. Andrés Monroy-Hernández, a researcher at Microsoft Research, how one young South American woman who initially created an account on Twitter so that she could follow pop culture celebrities like Justin Bieber has grown into one of the most influential voices on social media reporting in real time the atrocities and violence of drug cartels. And Emily Jacobi, the Founder and Executive Director of Digital Democracy, demonstrated what happens when we “build with” and not for those in need by sharing how a small community of individuals in Guyana built their own drone to help build visual documentation and mapping as they work to protect their way of life.

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Those are just three of the inspiring stories told about individuals using technology to effect change and drive social change forward. For those of us immersed in civic tech, we can become so focused on the “tech” of civic tech that we lose sight of the civic part of our mission – to innovate technologies which empower others to change for the better their own lives, communities, cities and countries.

I am returning from this year’s PDF with a more focused vision of our own mission to empower others to envision and deploy mobile apps which solve real problems and improve the experience of people in their community. And having heard some of the inspiring work of others has left me even more excited about some of the projects we’re currently bringing to the public that have the potential through the integration of mobile apps, beacons and wearables to not only positively impact the lives of others but disrupt more expensive, prohibitive models used today. We will soon deliver several civic Apple Watch apps supporting civic apps in education, transit, and other civic agencies. But one project we are currently working on has the potential to disrupt how civic agencies address ADA support, not only within mobile but in general.

When Jay Hart, the Director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Rio Rancho, New Mexico, reached out to our team, it was at the suggestion of a colleague who had heard of some of the innovative work we were doing with cities. Hart was facing a cost-prohibitive roadblock on a unique project in his city. We are all quite aware of the prohibitive processes – some with good reason – that must be addressed for any civic project. But imagine the additional challenges you might face when tasked with developing a public park built to include everyone – but specifically designed to provide an interactive, supportive, inclusive experience for individuals with disabilities. It’s not just the layers of red tape, laws and mandates that have to be navigated which create difficulties, but developing such a park requires extensive funding beyond the ordinary civic project in order to meet the long list of accommodations needed. Carving out necessary funds from today’s limited civic budgets is already difficult, but finding sponsors and contributors to build a park with the necessary ADA-enhanced equipment is almost impossible.

But the core team who have worked for several years alongside Hart, including a nonprofit formed specifically to raise funds to defray costs, have managed to pull off the impossible. Agencies, foundations and individuals within the state and nationally have contributed funds, expertise, and equipment to help make their vision a reality – and while the need to raise additional funds to support the park is ongoing, the current funding couldn’t cover the significant cost of needed braille signs (an incredible $50K each) to support the visually impaired within the park.

imageWhen Hart reached out to our team, it was with the hope that we might have an affordable solution. After gaining a better understanding of the needs within the park, our design team proposed an unconventional solution providing the needed ADA support at a fraction of the cost.

By deploying all-weather beacons throughout the park and integrating the beacons with a unique smart phone app as well as an Apple Watch app, our mobile platform will make it possible for the park to deliver interactive, auditory and haptic alerts and instructions to park visitors. Beyond cost savings, this innovation in tech will also change the way individuals with visual impairments interact with their environment. Instead of standing and reading braille on an immobile sign, a moving person will be able to receive a warning when entering a high activity area of the park as well as instructions for navigating the area safely. Other in-app features include infographics and videos for properly using the park’s specialized equipment, in-app reservations for parties, schedules for special events, and general park information. Most exciting of all, once developed, our platform will make it possible to easily duplicate this fully developed solution for similar needs elsewhere.

While there is still a significant need to push forward initiatives to provide reliable internet and cellular access to citizens everywhere, a new report indicates that 2014 saw 4.9 Billion smart phone subscribers, and it is projected that globally, 90% of those 5 years of age and older will own a smart phone by 2020. It is reasonable to expect that wearables will follow a similar path of adoption. So, while some may see the new Apple Watch as a bit frivolous, I don’t agree at all. When compared to the prohibitive costs of many current solutions for ADA requirements and enhancements, the adoption of smart phones and wearables as civic tech greatly reduces current costs while improving independence and individualized access to civic services. Civic tech is just getting started, and it’s exciting to imagine where we might be by the time next year’s Personal Democracy Forum rolls around.

Andre Moore: How an Injured Veteran is Using Kickstarter to Fuel a Dream

It’s not often you get the chance to help someone make their dream happen – and make sure it’s possible for New Mexico to get some of the best ribs ever made. But with the launch today of Andre’s Ribs Kickstarter, you can help a disabled vet fulfill his passion. If you’d like to know more about Andre, his bio is below this video. But even if you can only donate $5, it all helps. And if you can share this with your friends, please do. Let’s support this injured military veteran and make Andre’s Ribs a reality. Let’s help Andre and Watch New Mexico Rise

View Andre’s Ribs Kickstarter

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Andre Moore knows a lot about picking up the pieces of shattered dreams and putting them back together to find a new purpose in life. A disabled Army medic, Moore is a former high school football player who grew up in a two-bedroom house in Deastville, Alabama, with his grandmother, mother, and as one of the oldest of seven siblings. As the oldest brother, Moore learned early on how to cook for his family and discovered a love for baking after learning the secrets of southern baking under the guidance of his grandmother and mother. “One year when my mom was sick, she couldn’t make the red velvet cakes she made every year for her co-workers. So I made them for her. When they all raved and said they were the best cakes she’d ever made, she told them it was me that had made them. I made them every year after that.”

“It wasn’t long after that that I learned I was good at cooking meat,” he recalls. “I was in high school and needed another elective, so I took Home Economics. There was this beef cook off, and I came in second place with this roast beef recipe I got out of a Betty Crocker cookbook.”

For a child who grew up where food was scarce, creating dishes that bring pleasure to his friends is about more than the joy of good-tasting food. “If you eat with people, you got time with somebody that’s more wholehearted than just meeting someone. To give someone food that is quality, that other people can enjoy, too – that’s important.”

It doesn’t take long into a conversation with Moore to realize that behind his slow smile and quiet demeanor lies an inquisitive, intelligent mind, but it wasn’t his intelligence that he thought would be his ticket out of the low income community where he grew up.

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Memorial Day Trivia (to help you impress your friends)

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Just in case you need one or two tidbits of history to throw around at your Memorial Day cookout, here are a few things your friends might not know about this American holiday that just might impress them.

We’ve been officially celebrating Memorial Day in some form or fashion since 1868.

What else happened in 1868. Funny you should ask — I have a few things that just might be the type of trivia you’d like to share while you’re lounging in your lawn chairs. It just so happens that 1968 is the very same year we elected Ulysses S. Grant as our 18th President — oh, and it’s the same year we impeached Andrew Johnson, our 17th President, although he managed to escape conviction by a single vote after his three-day trial. (For historical perspective, in case any of your friends challenge you on this, President Obama is our 44th President.)

1968 is also the same year that William “Buffalo Bill” Cody was hired by the United States Army to serve as a scout and bison hunter. So while you’re out grilling your hot dogs, picture that first Memorial Day where our U.S. Army still fed themselves by hunting bison.

Unlike many national holidays, Memorial Day wasn’t established by the President of the United States, and it wasn’t called Memorial Day.

It was originally called Decoration Day and was established when Commander in Chief John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic issued General Order Number 11 designating May 30 as a memorial day “for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land.” And, yes, that’s a crazy-long quote that you’re never going to remember when you tell your friends, but just throw out words like ‘strewing flowers on graves’ and ‘during the rebellion’. You’ll sound eloquent.

It might be impressive to say that Mississippi was the only southern state willing to celebrate the first Memorial Day (the rest of the souther states were still pretty mad about the way things turned out with the Civil War and all). And you might sound really knowledgable if you can tell everyone that even today many states in the South still hold their own day to remember the fallen Confederate soldiers.

And if someone gets all feisty with you and starts challenging you on your facts, boggle their mind with this fact: it would still take over half a century after that first Memorial Day for New Mexico to even become a state and almost a full century for Alaska to join the U.S.

Memorial Day may look like fun, but it isn’t fun at all for a lot of people.

Ok. So this is where the facts get juicy, and you’re going to have everyone hanging on your every word.

Did you know the folks at the National Safety Council predict that 382 people will die this year during the 3-day weekend, and almost 41,000 people will get injured — all because of car accidents. Oh, and those really fun ATV’s aren’t any better. In 2012 alone, there were 14 deaths and 2750 ER visits thanks to people having too much fun on their all terrain vehicles. And if that’s not enough of a bummer to take the fun out your holiday expectations, almost 200 people visit the ER each day of Memorial Daythanks to the under-21 crowd thinking they need to get in on all that holiday drinking. And while there aren’t a lot of compiled statistics on exactly how many people get sick thanks to food poisoning, bug bites, allergic reactions, and injuries, the uptick in ER visits show more from these categories than usual.

Makes you kind of want to just stay home, hunker down, and wait it all out, doesn’t it? Fair warning — it may have this effect on your guests, too. You may have a lot of work ahead of you just convincing them it’s safe to go home.

There is actually a law passed by Congress in 2000 that requires every last one of us in the U.S. to pause at exactly 3 PM local time on Memorial Day to observe a National Moment of Remembrance.

Think about that. There is a law that mandates volley ball games pause mid-serve, dogs stop barking and children stop running around at the park, and burgers stop cooking on the grill (although that’s usually just because you forgot to fill up the grill’s propane tank). Well, at least that is what is supposed to happen. There is a law, after all. And now, thanks to this, you have plenty of interesting trivia to share with your buddies right after you all share that moment of silence at exactly 3 PM.

You’re welcome.