Motherhood can be a lonely place. For that reason, I created this blog series where I interview women in Portland, OR who are willing to share their experiences and, in return, make other women feel a little less lonely in this journey.
This week I’m interviewing Phoebe who is a business owner, wonderful human and a mom to two kids. She talks to us about her motherhood experience. You can visit her website here.
Tell us about yourself
I was born in Chicago, moved to Oklahoma when I was a year old and then Brooklyn, NY when I was 15. I lived in New York: Brooklyn, Queens and then Long Island for most of the last 20 years except for a couple years in my very early 20’s when I lived in the Netherlands and Sri Lanka. My husband Nick and I have 2 children: Benny (almost 3) and Enzo (16 months). We moved to Portland last May. My background is in the arts, construction, and interior design. I went to college for painting and sculpture. I wanted to build furniture so I became a carpenter’s apprentice, working commercial construction. I knew I wanted to do something more creative so after 3 years I left to pursue interior design and ended up working as a kitchen designer for about 7 years. Having kids really changed my life (doesn’t it always :)) and in 2019 my husband opened his own screen printing business and in 2020 I set out to be a freelance interior designer. 2 months in Covid hit and allowed us to really take stock of what we wanted. We wanted an easier life than New York promised. We didn’t want to both have our own businesses. I felt quite burned out on the highly polished world of NY interior design and wanted to do something different for a while. Moving here allowed us to start fresh and I’m basically in charge of building our community (or business) while my husband does all the printing and embroidery. I have learned over the years that I love working with people on creative projects and I’m running with that when it comes to Indelible Ink LLC. I see it as an opportunity to spread my own wings and learn how to build a successful business in the arts. I have been obsessed with entrepreneurship for some time and see this as an opportunity to hone that side of my skills. I love meeting people and building community, and the authenticity and creativity I have found thus far in Portland is really exciting to me. In 2021 I am seeking consistency and simplicity. I want to streamline my life as much as possible! What a cool project, I love your idea!
What are some of your interests outside of work?
I love to cook and bake, which is put to use in my home daily. Running and Yoga; I especially always make time for yoga in my life, and run sporadically, the goal being to become avid. I am a little addicted to podcasts and books about how to optimize my mind and self for entrepreneurial success if that makes sense: I would say mindset mastery is a definite interest.
How do you feel motherhood has changed you and the way people see you?
Motherhood has caused me to “level up” or expand dramatically. I do not have time or space for old hang ups, procrastinations and excuses. It is the greatest challenge of my life by far, a constant game of pivoting and learning and adjusting. It is overwhelming and all-encompassing. Since having children I am continually amazed that I or any mothers manage to do anything else. The love is amazing and powerful and washes over me like waves throughout the day. I almost wish I had done it sooner, I feel more connected to the world and others than ever because my capacity for love is so much larger. The highs are higher the lows lower, my world is expanded and thus so am I. I don’t know if it has changed the way people see me… literally, yes, I am so much less vain. I try to worry much less about what others think of me. I hope that people see how dedicated I am to doing my best.
Do you feel supported as a working mother? What would make things more manageable?
Supported. Ha. Diplomatically I should say yes. I am blessed with a spouse who loves me and our children and is willing and able to take a very active role. I can’t imagine not having him to share the responsibility… and yet, inevitably, I still feel the enormous weight of being the Mother and feel that it is something only understood by other Mothers. I can only speak to the reality of being in a hetero-normal marriage; and it is that even with a helpful husband, the mother is still expected to be IN CHARGE. Its definitely a daily practice to stay positive in this department.
Tell me about your relationships with other women in your life. Do you think women support each other enough? How can we create more community?
I have a few super close friends on the east coast and we keep in touch ok. My sister lives here and we are very close for which I am grateful. I am seeking more true connection. One of the things I left behind was a small community of fellow mama’s. I do miss that. I believe that given the opportunity, most women really support each other. I would love to create more community, especially rooted in reality as opposed to social media. Covid makes everything hard. Maybe a group of creative-business-owner mama’s? That would be a dream come true. If you want help brainstorming or coming up with a community like that, count me in. I need it <3
Do you have a any parenting hacks or advice to share with other working parents?
I really love the concept of conscious parenting espoused by Shefali Tsabary. My takeaway is that every conflict with your kids is an opportunity for you to investigate your own behavior and see how you may be bringing expectations or preconceived notions to the table that make the situation worse. Basically it’s all about attitude and mindset. Try to parent from a place of love. Have compassion for yourself and recognize that everyone — including yourself and your child– are doing the best they can. No one has all the answers and its always a challenge.
What would you like your children to know about your motherhood journey?
That I love them and I am doing the best I can. I hope and pray that once they are grown we can have a good relationship
Anything else you would like to add?
I have certainly lost myself in motherhood. I get a sense that other women experience this too: we talked about it. I never really found myself before having kids though, so if I am going to be lost anyway, the overwhelm of motherhood seems like a wholesome and rewarding place. If I had been fully self actualized before having children I believe I might feel differently; the sacrifice can be dizzying I think. For much of my own life I have struggled to feel fulfilled and have attached my time to external purposes that kept me in a constant state of busyness; keeping my true inner self dormant. I didn’t learn to be honest with myself until after I became a mother and my crippling anxiety demanded it. I didn’t allow myself my truest feelings or expressions before having children. I was always seeking the approval of others. Being a mother shook me from that dysfunctional self-denial. Having sons especially I want to be a strong woman so that they have respect for that. I want to be my truest self so that I can be joyful for them. I don’t want them to carry my resentment; I never want them to feel that they held me back in any way. Our lives are a series of tiny choices. They add up quickly, without us noticing. I made it pretty far just coasting. But I am awake now, taking notice. Being a mother has given me that. There is a lot of struggle parenting brings, both external and internal, and I relate to other mothers in that. I also relate to parents who describe how having children made them better people. I am better because of my children. I am doing my best, each day, to make decisions based on my love for them and, for the first time, my love for myself.