Stephanie Arnold | Another Mother Her Way

Stephanie Arnold’s email signature is intro enough for her post today. Recipients will read at the bottom of any note, “Mom to Jack Wes & Harper, first, Director of Business Development during naptime, second”.

It’s a clear statement that for her, motherhood came first after a career at an engineering firm. It unlocked, as motherhood does, an entrepreneurial path building a product with her husband, to keep independent toddlers safe alongside their siblings in the stroller. Their product Tag Along Kids has since sold to Skip*Hop, but Stephanie has a honest memory of her experience helpful for anyone building something creative alongside their role as mother.

I love her compassion as a mother and reminder that we’re all learning as we go - even 12+ years later. Enjoy!

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HOW DID YOU CHANGE AFTER BECOMING A MOTHER?

After giving birth to my first baby, I felt a surge in my self confidence that I had never experienced before. My desire to nurture was strong, so I truly felt like I was finally at a place in life that felt natural for me and I was inherently good at. I know motherhood doesn’t come easy for everyone, but at that time in my life of changing diapers and nursing around the clock - there was no other place I wanted to be. Lack of sleep and all.

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WHAT CHOICES DID YOU MAKE TO ACCOMMODATE MOTHERHOOD?  WOULD YOU MAKE THEM AGAIN?

I chose to leave the firm where I had been working for seven years before I got pregnant. I worked up until a week before my due date knowing full well I would not return. I would make that same choice again without a doubt. Motherhood has presented other opportunities over the years, creatively and professionally, and I am so grateful for that.

At around the time I had a 2-year-old and a newborn, my husband and I started a business - the catalyst being a job transfer that we passed up. I was definitely ill prepared for the balancing act that ensued. I had many moments of feeling like I wasn’t succeeding at being a mother or being an entrepreneur, but I would still do it all over again.

DESCRIBE YOURSELF AS A MOTHER IN 3 WORDS.  WHAT KIND OF MOTHER WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE?

Caring, nostalgic, multitasker.

I would love to be more patient in my day-to-day with my children. I have a tendency to look back longingly on days that have gone by and wished I appreciated them more, though I am quick to remind myself to also appreciate the now - an ongoing push and pull. My hope is to forever be the safe and loving place a Mother is meant to fill. Whether in my arms, listening intently to a story about their day, or just being there.

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HOW DO YOU TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF OUTSIDE OF MOTHERHOOD?

A challenge for sure.

For many years, I practiced yoga before kids and after. The last year with the relaunch of our business it is harder to officially carve time out for that. I still at the very least try to get into nature daily,  whether it is just walking the dog or meeting a friend for a hike or stroll on the beach.

Over the years, I have learned I have strong desire to be creative, which feels therapeutic to me, so running my own business or just rearranging the living room furniture satisfies that and makes me a happier mom.

EVERY MOTHER NEEDS HELP TO FIND BALANCE. WHAT DOES YOUR VILLAGE LOOK LIKE? 

I couldn’t agree more about having a ‘village’ bringing balance in motherhood. This is something I learned early on by being fortunate enough to take part in support groups offered at the birthing center where I delivered my first baby. I made lifelong friendships and attribute the belonging I felt as a new mom directly to those groups.

My ‘village’ recently had to be modified when we moved across the country. This was very, very hard, as I had developed strong connections in those years of having babies and toddlers and felt surrounded by those relationships. Thankfully social media and smart phones makes it easy to maintain them but always a little heartache by the physical distance.

Creating my new village where we now live is ongoing. Having older children makes it a bit more difficult, as we are all running in different directions these days. No more easy mornings of children playing at our feet while we drink coffee or late afternoons playdates while watching kids run in the backyard.

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WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON IMPROVING ABOUT YOURSELF AS A WOMAN & A MOTHER?

I have always seen myself as a work in progress. As much as my confidence as a women has grown over the years, the anxieties and questioning of myself as a mother continues.

My oldest is about to turn 12 and these years feel so foreign from a parenting stand point. In some ways, the stakes are higher, which is scary. So I think in these transitional times I have to be easy on myself.

It all feels very similar to those first days of becoming a mother - a reminder that we are all learning as we go.