Okay, I admit it, I sometimes use my mom as a definition of the general American population when discussing things like developing an app. I might say “my mom wouldn’t know what you’re talking about.” or “My mom would stop using it before she got that far.” She’s not a rocket scientist (that’s my husband), she’s not a doctor (although I think she belonged to Future Nurses of America Club in High School), she calls me when she can’t figure out how her flashlight on her phone got turned on, and she has no idea what API, MVP, or CSS means. But she is capable of finding an app to make her life better, googling something she doesn’t understand, fixing a broken garbage disposal, and diagnosing strep throat over the phone. So, when I use my mom as an example, I mean a fairly competent person who isn’t necessarily interested in learning the code or reason behind something for future advancement.
I’m a mom, and I know what API, MVP, CSS, HTML, SAS, GSD, DTFO (Draw the F&*& Owl) mean. I do want to know the reason behind it, I understand it more often than not. More importantly, I probably want to take that information and do something else cool with it.
So why do we keep getting stereotyped into the dumb, useless, and non-society-contributing role? Sure, there are dumb moms, and ignorant fathers, stupid teenagers, and mostly-out-of-it siblings, but can’t those be exceptions to the rule? Can’t we just expect that people are smart, engaged, and interested until they prove otherwise?
I saw this on Mashable.com today:
Yes, it’s pretty funny. And yes, I know people like this. But giving birth to a child does not actually cause this “actor-switching” disease and an inability to understand theater.
And then there are things like this:
Please stop making moms the butt of jokes. We are doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs, researchers, clerks, caregivers, teachers, and so much more. Like Dads, we’re juggling those things and the responsibility of bringing up children to be valuable members of society. Oh, and we all have a mom, some of us have step moms, adoptive moms, mother-in-laws, and god mothers. You don’t immediately have a child and become dumb and irrelevant.
I’m almost done with the rant, but perhaps I should stop to mention why I’m feeling so strongly about this issue, and how it ties into the Startup scene.
Let’s start with the fact that I am the only mother attending the Startup Institute. (There are 4 dads there, too!) And I started to wonder why I felt like herding sheep, picking up wrappers, straightening chairs, asking people to be quiet when a speaker was trying to get our attention, and then I realized, I’m bringing my “mom-game” with me to class. This isn’t good or bad, it’s just something I realized. There is a nurturing aspect I bring to the table. I’ve spent 15 years nurturing children so far, and 23 years nurturing a relationship with my husband. These are things I can’t stop doing. I do need to be okay with everyone doing their own thing, and not solving problems for them. I frankly need to do this with my 15-year-old, too. Habits can be good and bad. Some you keep, and some you need to leave behind. Some you just check at the door.
In thinking about my position as the only mother, I started to feel inadequate. I didn’t want to talk about my children in class, because no one else was. When in all actuality, they weren’t talking about their kids because they aren’t parents! Duh. For a while I also thought people might think I’m less capable of taking on big challenges because I have this crazy responsibility called motherhood, holding me back.
But then I realized that I was making my own drama. Stereotypes might say I wear high-waisted jeans, ugly glasses, and can’t find the control panel, but in reality I’ve got a fairly powerful CV, a happy marriage, two independent and sometimes challenging teenage daughters. I own a power drill and a high-end sewing machine. I can carve a turkey and carve a stamp. I can read a book, and I’ve written 6. I am an artist, and I’ve launched artists’ careers. I can be M.O.M. and I can be C.E.O.
So, when you’re out there telling jokes, could you maybe think twice before you use “mom” in the punchline?
I am a mom. Hear me roar.