Not Like the Other Moms
“I think you just have to take a deep breath and realize you can’t do everything and do the best that you can. Enjoy the moments both at work and at home — they are fleeting.” –Sash Sunkara
Balancing the challenges of founding a startup and the demands of motherhood is a daily pull that can leave you feeling stretched thin, but is ultimately very rewarding. I am thrilled to share this emotional piece written by my eldest daughter, Neena, about the unique challenges this posed for her from the time I founded RackWare.
Being a founder and a mother is much like living in two different worlds, both requiring your undivided attention. Each of these two worlds are uncompromising and demanding, without regard for the needs of the other. Both worlds demand 100% commitment and continue to reprimand you when you fall short. Caught between these two worlds, you feel that you’re not accomplishing enough in either one. I am the daughter of a founder and CEO, but for most of my life, I could not see this other world. I of course knew that my Mom was running a company, but for about 6 years, I didn’t understand what that really meant. All I knew was that my mom didn’t act like the local neighborhood moms, and that bothered me.
My mother often tells an anecdote about how she started her company; sitting in my playroom, using my white board to illustrate the vision that she would soon pursue. At 11 years old, I could not appreciate the sacrifice she made by leaving the comfort of a large corporation for the uncertainty of a startup. All I knew was that we would be going on fewer vacations to Hawaii. In the beginning my mother did all she could to make sure she was still a driving force in my life. As I entered middle school, she made the effort to drop me off every day. She continually checked my grades as well as my homework, came to every one of my volleyball games, and rushed home after work to listen to the drama of my middle school life. To me she was the same as when she worked at her previous company. Little did I know that she had become very good at hiding the ever increasing demands of her new job.
As the years went on, however, my mom became less available to me. As her company grew, that world required more and more of her time, shrinking the time she spent in mine. I felt a little resentful. Why did she always need to work late? Why didn’t she want to watch my games anymore? Why couldn’t she volunteer like the other moms? She constantly had responsibilities at work that she had to deal with, but she never seemed to have time for my problems. I couldn’t see her sacrifices because I was so focused on what I was losing. I remember the hardest part was when she would come home frustrated and annoyed from a tough day at work. Her temper would be shorter and that only made me angrier. Why did I have to deal with her moods? I never asked her to take this job. I wanted nothing to do with her work. I was nostalgic for the days when we went on family vacations and she was always there to talk about things. I was too consumed by my anger and frustration to notice her growing success. I wasn’t able to understand what her other world demanded of her, and that put a strain on our relationship. This attitude lasted up until my senior year.
This summer I came to intern for my mother’s company, and I have come to see the whole other world where my mother works. As I watched her in her day to day life at RackWare, I began to understand my mom better. From presenting at board meetings, to handling staff, to bringing in revenue, I can better see all that this world demands of her. I see the crisis that causes her to come home stressed and the deal she closes before taking our family out to dinner. I can see the uncompromising demands of her company, and compare them with the demands of motherhood.
Today I am proud of my mom. I understand the sacrifices she made and the success she has gained. I show my friends articles written about her success, and smile proudly as they realize just who my mother is. I watch as the employees of her company see her as a leader and a fighter who tirelessly works for the success of their company. I see the passion she has for her work so I can admire her sacrifices rather than resent them. I have come to admire my mom and I feel lucky to have a mom who is not like the others and a role model who is unique in that other world, too. She is a woman who gained success at work and at home, although not without some challenges along the way.
Neena Dye is currently an intern at RackWare focusing on marketing. This fall she will be attending UC Santa Cruz with hopes of following in her mother footsteps by studying business and economics.