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Or-Tal's Writings

entrepreneur/mother/education revolutionist/high tech addict

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mother

Mom is a Rock

Yea, mom is a rock. Mom can be a rock star too. She’s the coolest, and she’s always there. For the kids, that is, and the hubby, and oh, my god, for the dog too.

But what about mom for mom??

There’s a beautiful poem, written in Hebrew, by one of the most gifted poets I’ve read, Dahlia Ravikovitch. It’s called “Pride”, and here’s my attempt at translating this fantastic poem:

Even rocks break, I am telling you

And not for old age.

Many years they lie on their backs in the heat and the cold,

So many years,

It almost makes an impression of peaceful.

They do not move from their spot and so the cracks are hidden.
Sort of pride.

Many years pass with expectation.

The one destined to break them has not yet arrived.

And then the moss flourishes, the seaweed excite, and the sea emerges and returns.

And it seems like there’s no movement.

Until a small seal will come to brush against the rocks

Will come and will go.

And suddenly the rock is wounded.

I told you, when rocks break it happens by surprise.

Not to mention people.

I think ever since the first time I read it, as a high school student, it has been one of my favorite poems. I always felt like there are so many places to take this poem to, and so much to learn from it. And yet today, at a surprising halt, I discovered that I have learned nothing. And I feel doomed to repeat mistakes and sink deeper into this whirl of endless chase after a real peaceful day. And the only thing masking my cracks, is my pride.

If only there were 34 hours a day…

In less then 30 minutes I will be out the door again, on my way to the violin lesson with my 7.5 year old son. It’s raining outside, and windy, and cold. I would rather stay at home. But to be perfectly honest – the weather is not the reason. The reason is that I have so little time to work.

I feel like running against the wind. Got so many errands and driving assignments there’s barely no time left for continuous undisturbed work. With no other choices I find myself trying to catch up at night, sometimes staying up until 1AM. These are good quiet hours that allow me to read huge amounts of material. But these are slow hours for writing and really not the time for conversations at all.

I have to admit that being a mother AND an entrepreneur is, let’s put it delicately, challenging. I want to be there for my kids, I want to take a part in their lives, I want to play with them, read with them… I also want to live my own life and find time to do some sports, to meet with friends, watch TV. Taking on entrepreneurship is what changes it to super-juggling. Entrepreneurship requires more hours then a day has to offer. I’m in a serious deficit.

Is this why there aren’t so many mother-entrepreneurs?

Yet, I am not ready to give any of it up. To make things even worse – I think I have discovered my calling over the last several months. I feel so passionately about education I just know I have to get involved and start doing things. Well… I actually started to. More news would follow.

Happy Birthday, Shaii!

Been inspired to write something a little more personal today. It’s a special day today. It’s my oldest daughter’s 15th birthday. It’s on this day, 15 years ago, that I became a mom, and my husband became a dad, and together we officially became a family, family with child.

In three weeks we will be marking our 23rd wedding anniversary. A wedding is also a life changing event. But it’s not the same as having your first child. And it takes years to realize just how much a life changing event this is.

Beyond experiencing joy and pride over the little person emerging, an adult responsibility is revealed and takes over. A new grasp of reality is happening. My father’s stories, which he told us when we were kids, so full of humor and wit, about his childhood adventures in war struck Europe and all of his solo travels all done before he was 10 years old, suddenly took a turn. The full responsibility over the lives we have created is still not sinking in even 15 years later.

shaiibaby

Different parents have different perspective of their responsibility towards their generated next generation. I always had a tendency to take things seriously.

And so, over the past 15 years, and a total of 3 kids, I’ve assumed responsibility for their health and manners, well being and education. I’m responsible for the set of tools with which they will set off to meet their adulthood. Until they are capable of it, it is still my responsibility to make sure they learn how to eat balanced meals and behave well and get that promising education.

Shaii, 15 years old today, has 3 years to high school graduation. I think I’ve done pretty well with her. She knows how to learn. She was born curious and will probably always be. This makes her an open and friendly girl, who never gets bored. She will make the most of every environment she’s in.

I still wish, though, that I could do more for her, and for my boys, and for all learners, to make that education work better for all types of learners and for the march forward.

Happy birthday, Shaii.

Camping for success

I am now beginning to write the script for my venture’s demo. I have been writing so many documents, presentations, scripts, plans and specification for the past two months, and yet, it feels like the business isn’t moving. Nothing grand has happened.

Except for the global financial crisis.

This leads me to wonder not only of my venture but also of startup companies all over. Obviously there are going to be fewer investments worldwide. Priorities will change. Bread and butter will always come first. Now I need to start thinking of my venture’s connection with bread and butter.

And yet, among these worries, I got a Facebook message last night from “the co ils“, announcing that Seedcamp is coming to Israel for a mini-seedcamp event, to fish for the most promising technological startups here. Those 5 happy entrepreneurs who win the final European competition get seed investment and very valuable mentoring.

The Seedcamp program is similar to the Ycombinator and to the recently established TechAviv .
They offer a great opportunity for early seed companies who get, not only a small amount of money but also active mentoring. The active ingredient is the problematic one. All three require that the winning entrepreneurs will move for a period of 3 months to another location for that seed stage, in which they are to be guided and connected with relevant sources. Seedcamp require a move to London, UK. Ycombinator offer either the bay area in the winter or Cambridge (US) in the summer and TechAviv talk about NYC.

All three seed investment bodies assume that a startup entrepreneur can do it. Detach from everything, family, home, friends, office, and move for a period of 3 months and all in the name of the business’ success.

If I am not willing to ditch my kids and husband for 3 months, does that mean that I am not a devoted enough entrepreneur? Or does it mean that I am both a mother and an entrepreneur?

I think it means I’ll have to work harder by myself and it will probably take longer.

What will I be?

Last night my 6 year old son, Yonatan, made a dramatic announcement. “I decided I will not be a chef”, he said completely seriously, as seriously as he made the original announcement about a year ago. “But I am worried,” he added, “I don’t know what will I be when I grow up”.

I was amused, of course, and ran through some memories. My 11 year old was asked when he was 4 “what do you want to be when you grow up?”, and he seriously said “A tiger”. About 3-4 years later he announced “I will be an inventor”, and when I asked him what kind of inventions he is planning he said “I don’t know, I will be a Leonardo Da-Vinci”.

My 14 year old daughter announced, when she was 5, that she will be an assistant to the nursery teacher. The assistant was very flattered but told her “You can be anything you want to be”. The child’s vision gradually changed, following her interest in science, until she said, a few years back, “I think I might be a physicist”. No obligation.

I remember that until I was 14 I was sure I will be a teacher, following my mother’s footsteps. My first grade teacher, and some teachers after her, were certain I will become a writer. I became a journalist when I was 16, and remained with this career for 15 years.

But who would have guesses I will become what I am today? It’s not a single thing. I am many things, and I enjoy it. No single title. If asked today what will I be when I grow up, I’d say I don’t know. And I am much closer to grown up then my kids…

So many people I have been meeting for the past decade are such: people who are many things, or people who are …something… that didn’t exist, let alone have a clear title, when we were kids.

So what will Yonatan be when he grows up? Who knows ?!? Just be open to all options, I say.

The sequence: getting back to work

Getting back from a vacation when you are an independent consultant is something else. You pick up at your pace. Men have a different pace than women. In the women’s paces you need to count some family paces too. Meaning, a woman business owner is responsible for getting her whole family back on track. The man will simply kiss good bye and get into his office, for as much over time as needed to get to his full speed.

Getting back in August is even trickier. It seems like half the world is on vacation. Companies, institutions, government entities – are all out of the office. This is perhaps a better time to return, because you can really build it up slowly. But it is the worst time to be back if you want to pick up at exactly the same speed you left. Frustration seeps in your mind each time another phone call remains unanswered.

But honestly, this quiet zone forced on you is not a bad thing. It is the best time to review your business plans, your communications schemes, do the web site update, schedule events, go over the long long list of to do items.

One of the more important things to accept is that your real getting back from a vacation will happen when the rest of the world returns. That usually happens in September. So take a deep breath and be happy for the relaxed pace of getting back to work. You will have the rest of the year to be stressed.

Third time first grader

About a month ago I took my youngest son, five years and a half, to register him to school. Come September this little child, with his wide round eyes and soft, long, golden curls, will enter the school gates for the first time as a student.

The boy, very happy and confident about it, is looking forward to it. As for his mother, that’s me, well… that’s a totally different story.
I am trying to recreate the first grade experience I went through with my two eldest children. Both seem to have survived the first grades pretty well. But nothing helps. This one is my eternal baby.

Last year this smart kid said he didn’t want to “move up to the older group” of the nursery school. “Why should I?”, he asked me, “They are facing too many demands and assignments. I prefer to stay with the younger children and play most of the time”. I was the happiest proudest mom when I heard that. “If he isn’t ready for school”, I said to his nursery teacher, “I will be more than glad to let him play for another year. That’s a passing opportunity”. Of course the nursery teacher was surprised. She then said OK, but knew better. Shortly after the beginning of this year it was clear that Yonatan is ready for school.
That doesn’t mean that his mother is ready for him going to school. I cannot imagine him spending 5 hours a day in a classroom without games and toys. It’s hard to think of him going out to play in that horrible, dry, concrete yard. It is impossible to picture him with a school bag on his back, let alone a full school bag. It seems to me that walking him to school and back won’t be enough. Does thinking it make me that nagging, over protective, ridiculed mother?

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In: dependant woman

If you are a woman, around 40, and god forbid you have a husband and kids – you can kiss the job hunt goodbye.

This is of course somewhat generalized. There are exceptions. However, I have found that out about 5 years ago, and I wasn’t even 38.

After several years of juggling between freelance and employee positions, I have arrived to a decision. I will become the boss of me. An independent woman.

It is amazing to discover the difference between a freelance, pen for hire, and a consultant, an independent outsource. It has been a year since I made that change and began calling it “a business”.

And as businesses often go, the beginning can be tedious, hopeful at times and discouraging at other times. I think I probably made every possible mistake in the book and I go on making more mistakes every day.
The first mistake was the illusion that I am going to become an independent woman:

Sorry girls. Independent women, married, with kids, do not exist in reality. Not even the virtual reality. We are always dependent on something, or people are dependent on us, which, of course, doesn’t let us become really, well… independent.

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