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This is the kind of parent I want to be

I don't follow a script or a plan. I don't fall squarely into any subheader in the dozens of parenting books I've read. To be perfectly honest, I'm kind of winging it here.

This is the kind of parent I want to be

Someone asked me a thought-provoking question recently:

"Are you the kind of parent you thought you'd be?"

It's a great question, but up until that point, I never really thought much about the kind of parent I would be. Until I held my little girl in my arms for the first time, I thought much more about having a baby, not so much about being a mother.

I don't follow a script or a plan. I don't fall squarely into any subheader in the dozens of parenting books I've read. To be perfectly honest, I'm kind of winging it here.

That one question thrust me into weeks of soul-searching and digging deep in the archives of my own childhood, which is probably not such a bad thing when we're all doing our best to raise good humans. I finally found my answer to that question: I'm the kind of parent who chases rainbows. (Or, at least, I'm the parent who aspires to chase rainbows.)

It's just a little something I picked up from my own parents without even realizing it. When I was about 6 years old, on one of our Sunday drives, we saw it—THE perfect rainbow. It had bright colors and distinct lines, a clear beginning and a clear end, one that didn't fade into nothingness before it hit the ground. The illusive pot of gold was within reach!

Squealing in our station wagon, my sister and I barked directions at my parents.

"Step on the gas! Someone is going to get to it first!"

"Turn right here!"

"Drive through that field!"

While they stuck to paved roads, they didn't obey all the traffic laws. We talked about the first thing we'd each buy, debated whether or not we could keep the leprechaun as a pet, and wondered if we'd need to call in reinforcements to lift the pot into the back of the car (and what kind of cut those reinforcements should get).

My parents seemed every bit as excited as we were.

Years later I told that story to my college roommate. She got quiet, then looked at me like I was from Mars. "That's amazing," she said. "My parents would never have done that."

That broke my heart. It never occurred to me that was something a parent would not do. You change diapers, you mash up fruits and veggies, and if your child sees the end of a rainbow, you go there.

When I had my own kids, I could understand where my roommate's mother was coming from. Sometimes we're in a hurry. Sometimes we're exhausted. Sometimes we just don't feel like staring at the eggs in the grocery store until they hatch.

That's why I'm so grateful someone posed that question… "Are you the kind of parent you thought you'd be?"

Of course, I have those days where Daniel Tiger has to step in so I can shower. My older daughter has eaten popsicles for breakfast and dropped the S-word more than once. We're all going to have these "I am not my best self right now" moments of parenthood, and that's okay.

I just also want to celebrate the magic as we jump in the puddles and let them put lipstick on all by their 'big' selves. Let's soak up the magic of childhood when it's staring us right in the face, rather than adding it to our Amazon cart or searching for it in any number of enrichment activities. That's when we realize we are the kind of parent we thought we'd be… if we had even given it a second thought years ago.

So when that ordinary moment becomes extraordinary, I intend not to miss it. If the day comes that my girls see a rainbow—especially one as promising as the one that descended on New Caney, Texas, circa 1989—we will go where it leads us.

Oh, and we did get to the end of that rainbow. There wasn't a pot of gold, but there was a Bennigans, and when you're 6 years old, that's almost as good.

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In This Article

    Ara Katz/Seed

    We spoke to Ara Katz, co-founder and co-CEO of Seed, who shared her journey to (and through) motherhood—and gave us the lowdown on how probiotics can benefit mamas and children alike.

    Chances are, you're aware that probiotics can help us digest the food we eat, keep inflammation at bay, synthesize essential vitamins and more. But here's the thing: When it comes to probiotics, there's a lot of misinformation… and because of that, it's hard to know what's actually a probiotic and which is the right one for you.

    That's why we chatted with Ara Katz, who is a mama to son Pax and the co-founder of Seed, a company disrupting the probiotics industry. The entrepreneur told us about her motherhood journey, what led her to start her company and what she wants other parents to know about probiotics.

    Q. What was life like for you before you became a mama?

    I was bi-coastal after co-founding a mobile tech company in New York City with a partner in LA. My life was, for as long as I can remember, consumed by creating and work. I was fairly nomadic, loved to travel, spent many hours reading and practicing yoga, being with friends [and] waking up at the crack of dawn. [I] was fairly sure I would never marry or have children. And then something shifted.

    Q. What were some pivotal moments that defined your journey to motherhood?

    Ha, that makes it sound like motherhood is a destination when at this very moment, more than ever, it evolves daily. I lost my mom when I was 17 and spent most of my life believing I didn't want to be a mother. I had a lot of wiring about its limitations and constraints—I'm sure relics of grief and the fear of loss.

    My journey started with a physiological wanting to be pregnant and have a baby. There was a kind of visceral sense that my body wanted to know what that was like and a strange curiosity that, at least for that period of time, usurped my ambivalence about motherhood.

    Then I had a miscarriage—a beautiful inflection point in my story. I resigned from my company, chose a coast, committed to be more committed to my (then) boyfriend, now husband, and tried again. I got pregnant shortly after that and found pregnancy to be a profound journey within, a reshaping of my life and the tiniest glimpse of how motherhood would unfold.

    In the 55 months since giving birth (and I like to use months because I have learned in the moments that I am most frustrated as a mom that he has only been on this planet for less than 14 fiscal quarters), I have realized and surrendered to a definition of motherhood that is a process. One of cultivating, creating, recreating, shapeshifting, learning, feeling, healing, hurting and experiencing the most potent form of presence I have ever experienced—and an aching, expansive love I didn't know possible—not just for my son, but for all living things.

    Q. How did motherhood change your approach to your career?

    Becoming a mother is certainly a persistent lens on all of my choices, but it was really my miscarriage that recalibrated my path. My pregnancy rekindled my love of biology and health and led me to my co-founder and the microbiome. My breastfeeding experience incepted our first product focus, and the newfound accountability for a human inspired our brand.

    Q. What inspired you to co-found Seed?

    I met my co-founder, Raja, during my pregnancy with Pax. [I] was immediately awestruck by his ability to both deeply understand science and to methodically break down a product, dietary question or piece of advice in a way that's educational (you actually learn something about your body), actionable (you understand what to do with the information) and foundational (you can build on that knowledge in the future to continue to make better choices).

    As we spent more time, our combined passion for microbes, their potential impact on both human health and the environment, and how to set up a child for a healthy life became increasingly clear. And through birth, seeding (the process by which we get our foundational microbes and the inspiration for the name of our company) Pax and my struggles with breastfeeding, my entrepreneurial spirit was lit to build something with Raja. His deep experience in translating science to product, and mine in consumer, community-building and translating through storytelling, culminated in a shared vision to set a new standard in health through bacteria.

    Q. Probiotics have been trending in recent years, but they're nothing new—can you talk a bit about the importance of probiotics?

    Interest in gut health and probiotics increases month by month. However, despite the quickly growing number of "probiotic" supplements, foods and beverages out there, there's still a lot of consumer confusion—particularly around what they are, how they work and why we should take them. Probiotics have been studied extensively across various life stages, body sites and for many benefits. Digestion is an obvious and immediate one (and the primary reason most people currently take probiotics). But other strains have also been studied for skin health, heart health and gut health (including gut immune function and gut barrier integrity). But this doesn't mean that any and all probiotics can do these things—this is the importance of 'strain specificity.' In other words, ensuring that the specific strains in your probiotic have been studied for the benefit you desire is critical.

    Seed Daily Synbiotic

    Seed

    Seed's Daily Synbiotic is a 24-strain probiotic + prebiotic formulated for whole-body benefits, including gut, skin and heart health.


    Q. How do probiotics play a role in your life?

    I mean, I take them, I develop them and I work with some of the leading scientists from around the world advancing the field—so they play a big role. As for my personal health, I take our Daily Synbiotic daily and my son also takes specific strains for gastrointestinal health and gut immune function. Beyond that, it's the re-orientation around my microbiome that guides many of my choices: how important fiber is, specific compounds like polyphenols found in berries, green tea and other foods, avoiding the use of NSAIDS like ibuprofen and antibiotics when not needed, exercise, sleep and time in nature [are] all aspects of our daily life that impact our microbiome and our health.

    Q. What are some misconceptions about probiotics that you would like to set straight?

    There's one main myth on from which all the other stem: that probiotics aren't considered a serious science. On the contrary, it's a field of inquiry that demands incredible rigor and extensive research. And when anything and everything from chocolate to ice cream to fermented food and kombucha to mattresses can call itself "probiotic" due to underregulation in the category, that grossly undermines the science and their potential.

    The term 'probiotic' has a globally-accepted scientific definition that was actually co-authored by our Chief Scientist, Dr. Gregor Reid ,for the United Nations/World Health Organization.

    At Seed, we work to reclaim the term for science, through the development of next-generation probiotics that include clinically validated strains and undergo the most rigorous safety, purity and efficacy testing procedures. Because why would you invite billions of unknown microbes into your body without asking "what's in here, is it the correct dosage that was studied, and has that strain in that amount been studied in human clinical trials to do something beneficial for my body"?

    Q. Can you tell us a little bit about what product you plan to launch next?

    We are developing a pipeline of consumer probiotics to target specific ecosystems of the body and life stages, including a synbiotic for children. Our next product will reflect a unique breakthrough in the field of pediatric probiotics, which we are excited to announce soon.

    This article was sponsored by Seed. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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