Mimi Chan | Another Mother, Her Way
I first met Mimi Chan while we were galavanting in Rome well before marriage and babies and while she was building her first company. In the years following, we saw each other when we would intersect in New York or in the Bay and time with her, no matter which life stage we were in, was energetic and interesting because she's one of the rare breed who chit chats about ideas, not people. She was the first woman who explained to me that she was taking time for her pregnancy and her daughter, Liv's, early years, like she would if it were the biggest venture of her life. Mimi's time at home didn't slow her constantly innovating mind so unsurprisingly she started noodling on her new business, LittleFund - an intuitive, sweet savings platform for families. For parents of really little ones, it lets you ask family and friends for contributions toward the experiences your baby loves and as your kids get older, it's a platform to help them learn to plan and save too. LittleFund launched this month so take a peek and in the meantime, read Mimi's thoughtful take on her pause for motherhood.
Q HOW DID YOU CHANGE AFTER BECOMING A MOTHER?
I check my clock more often, looking forward to nap time or bedtime! Don’t get me wrong, I’m loving the time I get with my daughter but mama needs to breathe or go to the restroom without fear that the few minutes I’m away she may get herself into trouble. Aside from that, I waste less time because free time is an extreme luxury. I never realized how much I miss free time. Now, I am conscious of every minute I spend so that I effectively use my time in a way that allows me to get things done faster so that I can give my time to the other list of priorities I have between family, work, and friends!
Q WHAT CHOICES DID YOU MAKE TO ACCOMMODATE MOTHERHOOD? WOULD YOU MAKE THEM AGAIN?
I had a gap period after we moved from NYC to San Francisco and I was blessed to take some time off to decide what was next for me after the move. Once I found out that I was pregnant, I made the decision that I would not return to work (or seek a career opportunity) until after the birth of our first child. I wanted to focus on the experience of carrying our first child, welcoming her into the world and then spending time at home to learn how to be the best mom I could be. I have always felt that motherhood would be my most important job in life and I had looked forward to it for so long. I was still tinkering with ideas of my own but didn’t have anything solid. At the time I felt hesitation in my decision, wondering if I was going to miss out on my own career before motherhood took over, but looking back, it was the best decision ever. It allowed me to be present with my daughter and even inspired me to build Littlefund.
Q DESCRIBE YOURSELF AS A MOTHER IN 3 WORDS. WHAT KIND OF MOTHER WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE?
Crazy, Sexy, Cool
That’s one of my favorite TLC albums! I’m going to use it. I think of myself first as a woman and then mother is another attribute of my womanhood that I happen to also possess.
“Crazy” for the mother that isn’t afraid to try new things with her child, learn with her child, and form lifelong memories with her child. I want to be DFW (well, almost whatever) with my child.
“Sexy” for the mother that doesn’t believe she has to trade in her heels or indulgences in the things that make her feel sexy even after baby arrives. I think it’s empowering to give yourself that attention.
“Cool” for the mother that sets meaningful boundaries with her children and is respected for it by her children. I want to encourage exploration, independence and curiosity. Then, when they f*ck up, which I’ll encourage it’s okay to make those mistakes, I want to be there to tell them “I told you so!” (ha I’d rather it be me than anyone else!) to provide them with support and guidance to learn from their mistakes. The last thing I want is my kids to feel that I’m not an understanding mom.
Q HOW DO YOU TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF OUTSIDE OF MOTHERHOOD?
TBH, lately it’s been tough balancing me time in between motherhood and startuphood! I try to squeeze in little things each week like laughing a lot. One 60 minute episode of Catastrophe will do it for me. Or my husband and I like to do happy hour at least once a week to change the setting on our evening catch ups (though this one usually involves our daughter too since it’s after work hours.)
Q EVERY MOTHER NEEDS HELP TO FIND BALANCE. WHAT DOES YOUR VILLAGE LOOK LIKE?
It’s very common now to find other families like ours that don’t have nearby family and friends. Our village changes from time to time (we’ve had some unfortunate and unforeseen situations) but overall, it consists of a beloved nanny care provider to Liv or a neighborhood drop-in daycare provider for emergencies. I also have a few mommy friends that offer to help us with getting Liv to activities and meet ups on weekdays because they know our nanny isn’t familiar with the neighborhood.
What has been a big help is my mother, even though she’s way out in Texas. She’s made it possible to visit every couple of months to help us out when we need her most since our schedules are a bit out of whack with work travel.
Q WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON IMPROVING ABOUT YOURSELF AS A WOMAN & A MOTHER?
Patience and presence. In a household of 2 early stage startups (both my husband and I being founders and CEO’s of our tech startups) things can get intense and exhausting! I limit my distractions while I’m at work to be more effective as the only way to stay sane. I’ve found the unplugging of social media to be extremely refreshing.
And at home, when I walk through the front door, I remind myself to switch into mommy mode and put my phone away or else I’ll be answering emails. I’m guilty of sucking at this but I’m getting better. One rule my husband and I don’t budge on is “weekends are for Liv”… well, while she’s awake.
Featured Photo by The Gathering Season