Women make the world go round
This is so true, but not that obvious from a child’s eye view. Dads work and mommies have coffee with their friends, were words I never -ever- expected to hear coming out of one of my children’s mouths, but they did, at age 4 little after my twin boys started going to reception.
I realised that my children had never seen me work, or said goodbye to me as I headed out for work. They had no idea I had a university degree (I am environmental engineer) that I chose because I wanted to make a difference and because I have deep passion for conservation. Sure, they knew I loved nature, and that I was always going on about taking care of our planet, but they assumed that’s just what mommies say.
They were never aware of the fact that I had an amazing job when I got pregnant with them, which allowed me to delve into the most beautiful surroundings on my breaks; in a place that holds long lost secrets to the farthest away places you could imagine.
You see, I used to work at the Herbarium at Kew Botanical Gardens, my favourite place to visit since I came to live in the UK. The herbarium itself is museum worthy.. It has a wonderfully peculiar smell, a mix of old paper and leather, mixed with moss and steel. I was happy trawling through corridors and corridors of filing cabinets, hiding dried leaves and flowers from all over the world. I had access to books that were kept locked in glass cases because they were so old and valuable, you had to wear gloves to touch them. I fell off my chair one day when I found a book that detailed the location of samples gathered during d’Orbigny’s expedition to South America in the early 1800’s. In this notebook he logged the botanical samples he was taking and describing the biomes of where they were found, with a location description. These were written before Bolivia even had a name, yet he managed to describe the location so accurately that I could recognise where he had been, and those were places where I grew up, mountains that I could locate and valleys where we used to wonder about in my childhood. The samples he took where archived in the herbarium and are available to researchers today. I felt like I was discovering the world, life was perfect and I was happy.
I have never told my boys this in such a passionate way, because they are super clever, and they would immediately ask me why I ever left such a fantastic place. The answer is not that plain, but the fact is that once I knew I was expecting twins I understood that I was going to be needed at home for a while.
The while became 14 years and in those years I never stood still. I learned how to make jewellery, I invested to set up a store on my local high-street and gave it my all to see if we could become a sustainable lifestyle little hub. In all these years I never even contemplated going back to work in a ‘normal’ way and that is because I am a woman and a mom. And as proud as I am of what I have build, because I absolutely am - I couldn’t be any prouder! I am also a bit sad and a bit angry.
I am sharing this with you today because I am feeling so many emotions, today of all days.
I have been asked to share my story and the story of my business recently, what inspired me to set it up, and if I think I have faced challenges that are specific to female founders. Can you see how I struggle to give short answers to all of the above?
Ps: I would love to know if some of this resonates with you, I am certain that I’m not the first nor will be the last to have changed the course I had set for myself because of the blessings that come with becoming a family. Do you feel like you had many choices when you made those decisions? I think this is a super interesting subject to address as a community.