I was the primary breadwinner in my family for years. As a lawyer, this meant long hours and rushed bedtimes as I kept an eye on my phone to make sure I wasn’t missing an important email. I realized one day that I hadn’t been the one to give my babies a bath for months. And while I jokingly say that I only count my kids’ milestones once I see them, it’s a punch in the gut to receive a text with a picture of one of them doing something new in front of someone who isn’t me.
When you’re the primary breadwinner, there are sacrifices. There is nothing like parenthood to make you aware of the passage of time and of the missed moments that you don’t get back.
But, there are also rewards. When my now 3-year-old daughter plays pretend, she’s always a lawyer. I’m proud to have shown my kids that women can do whatever they set their minds to and that we can all do hard things. And I’m proud that when we tell our kids the company’s origin story, they’ll know that both their dad and I played vital roles.
I’m proud that the long hours I worked and the money I made means that our family is where we are today. You see, during my time at the law firm, I was supporting our family financially, but I was also supporting and working with my husband as he pursued his dream to start a company. That dream became our dream. And I recently joined that company, Colugo, full time as its Chief Parent Officer and General Counsel.
To be honest, when my husband initially got his idea, I saw it as a business school project with an end date. The plan had been for me to pivot in my career when he graduated from business school, but things don’t always happen as planned—a lesson I learned too well through the many rounds of Clomid and then IVF it took to get our twins, and then our third baby.
I still clearly remember the moment my husband told me, in the stolen moments between the twins’ bedtime and me logging back into work, that he wanted to decline his offer from a big consulting firm and dedicate himself full-time to building a new business for our generation of parents.
This was a really hard conversation. We were lucky to be in a position where one of us could pursue a dream, but I felt cheated. I didn’t want to continue to be the sole stable source of income for our family, getting up at 5 a.m. in order to fit in extra work, running home for bedtime, and working during naps on weekends.
I had already spent too many mornings waiting to cry until I closed my front door as I left my daughter pleading, “Mama hold you!” so I could make an early meeting.
But I also didn’t want to stand in the way of his dream. Together, we decided that he would go all-in on his business idea, and I would stay at the law firm for the foreseeable future. Partnerships are always a give-and-take, and sometimes the reality is that one partner has to give more than the other.
When he went all-in, something shifted in me—I went all-in, too. Not only did we both share the goal of wanting to ensure the health and happiness of our children, we now shared the goal of a successful launch. We talked about business development and strategy every morning and evening after the kids were asleep. In between drafting legal arguments, I reviewed business plans and reacted to product ideas. His eagerness to involve me and to accept my feedback made me a true part of the process.
Launching a business may have been his full-time job while I worked at the law firm, but what many don’t know is that it has been a family business from the start.
As our baby twins grew into toddlers, they benefited from the fact that my husband and I were continually working on being better partners, both as parents and in business. And, the business benefited from the fact that after you’ve potty trained twins, anything feels possible.
The nature of the company meant that our twins got to be our very first product testers, which is a moment I’ll always cherish. They were the motivating force behind it all. We wanted to create a company that would make them proud.
Launch day marked another shift in me. It validated my decision to support his dream. Suddenly what had been an abstract idea became a reality, and seeing the company’s products out in the world or popping up on my Instagram feed made me proud of him and his team, and proud of my role in making Ted’s idea, and now our shared dream, a reality.
I don’t know where I’d be now if my husband had headed to a consulting firm instead of launching a business. I’d surely have felt more ownership over my path sooner, and maybe I would have avoided some lows and lost moments. But I feel certain that I would have also missed out on some of the best moments too. Just yesterday, my 3-year-old son told me, “Mama, you make me happy when skies are grey.” The missed moments are the hardest on us as parents. I choose to focus on the great memories we have and on the memories to come.
I am incredibly lucky to be where I am today, stepping into my own dream job. My husband may be considered a solo founder, but I’m proud to know that his company wouldn’t be here without me. Things have turned out better than I could have ever planned.