Jacqueline Yuen | Another Mother Her Way
If I had a pen pal, Jacqueline Yuen would be it. She has a warmth, humility and smarts to her that comes through even over Skype, which typically doesn't set you up for the warmest first meeting. But an hour in, we basically committed to regular phone dates. Maybe I immediately took to her because her path is non-linear from studying nutrition at Cornell to an MBA at UC Berkeley to go on to marketing and brand management at Del Monte Foods. She had her first daughter, Avery, and felt her heart pull her toward motherhood so she embraced it totally and assumed she'd transition back to work in a consulting capacity. In poring over pictures at the end of her days with her daughter as a way to connect with her husband, she conceived of Joy, an interactive photo album that's beautifully designed for your home and built to re-live those little moments from each day that otherwise get buried. By the time she had her second, Jameson, Jacqueline was working full-time on what feels like her third child, Joy. Jacqueline shares her unexpected path to entrepreneurship in motherhood and how she carves out space to still be as present and involved, even if differently than she had planned.
Q HOW DID YOU CHANGE AFTER BECOMING A MOTHER?
I became more appreciative of time. Seasoned parents often say "time flies", "they grow up so fast" and to "cherish every moment because it goes by so quickly". I can't agree more. Before being a mom, I rarely lived in the present and was an avid multi-tasker. Now I practice daily to be present and in the moment because time really does fly by. I love taking photos of my kids; Avery sings and performs any time she has an audience and Jameson has been her dancing sidekick ever since he could wiggle his hips. I rarely delete a photo or video even if it’s not perfect because I know once that moment has past, I only have this photo to remind me of it. Both my husband and I LOVE bonding at the end of our crazy days, swapping phones and thumbing through each other's feeds, laughing out loud and commenting on what goofballs our kids are.
Q WHAT CHOICES DID YOU MAKE TO ACCOMMODATE MOTHERHOOD? WOULD YOU MAKE THEM AGAIN?
When Avery was about a year old, I decided to take a break from my corporate job. It was a huge internal struggle, and I felt really guilty leaving a career path I worked so hard to pursue. But taking a break from the corporate path was more fruitful than anything else I had ever done. Spending that precious year in mommy and me classes with Avery created a space and relationship that sparked so many ideas. The idea for Joy was born during that year- to bring back the family album for modern parents. For parents who want laughing over and flipping through captured moments to become a common ritual in their homes again.
Q DESCRIBE YOURSELF AS A MOTHER IN 3 WORDS. WHAT KIND OF MOTHER WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE?
I’m not an overly affectionate person, nor was my family growing up. But with Avery and Jameson, I hug them and kiss them a million times a day. I literally have no choice, if I see them, I have to hug them.
This probably isn't the right word, but what I’m trying to describe is probably my most defining mommy characteristic (or so my closest family members have told me). All kids have their tough times and breakdowns, Avery and Jameson are no different. In those moments, my whole world melts away and I have this overwhelming desire to teach them and guide them until I feel like they learned from that experience. I love the Whole Brain Child by Siegel and Bryson, the idea that our kids’ brains and emotions can be molded.
The joy I feel around my kids is hard to describe. I constantly remind myself how lucky I am, and how even on the toughest days I want to be a thankful mother for my wonderful family.
Q HOW DO YOU TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF OUTSIDE OF MOTHERHOOD?
I definitely have my indulgences- massages are my weakness. My husband and I make sure we get together with our close friends often. For the kids, it’s almost like extended family, but more importantly, staying connected to our friends from our pre-parent days helps us remember we have our own lives outside of being mommy and daddy. My favorite is spending time with my sister though, with each other we can really chat and unwind.
Q EVERY MOTHER NEEDS HELP TO FIND BALANCE. WHAT DOES YOUR VILLAGE LOOK LIKE?
I feel extremely blessed with quite the village. My husband is an amazing dad and really hands-on. My in-laws regularly give us date nights. My parents live in Hong Kong, but are the most involved long-distance grandparents I know. My team is also really incredible. Startup life is not easy, I'm working more now than I ever have and still figuring out how to ‘turn off’. But, having the flexibility to work from home or at off hours makes balance a little more within reach.
Q WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON IMPROVING ABOUT YOURSELF AS A WOMAN & A MOTHER?
Celebrating small wins and giving myself recognition. It’s something I’ve struggled with most of my life and working on improving. I try to remind myself to feel less guilty or insecure about not being the best mom, wife, sister or friend etc. and that I’m growing as a person just like my kids are!