All mothers are innovators. It’s part of the job description. The trick is learning to see ourselves that way. My personal “a-ha” came when I realized that, despite my lack of an engineering degree, I’m definitely an engineer.
I was crippled by insecurity when I came on-board at GoldieBlox. Amazing, talented, brilliant people from all over the world were reaching out to support us on our journey to inspire girls to embrace their true potential. I was surrounded by greatness, and I found myself stifling my voice. See, I didn’t graduate from Stanford or Harvard. I’ve never written a best-selling book. My code-writing days ended after I dabbled in BASIC in 3rd grade. I felt like an imposter in this world.
It took me almost a year to recognize that my natural inclination toward invention gave me all the street cred I need, and that my practical experience as a mother made me even more powerful. Granted, rigging my blow-dryer up above the diaper changing table isn’t quite the same as a tour of duty at the D School, but the white noise and warm air sure kept my newborn from screaming. Talk about user-centric design! I realized that these “mom-hacks” are life’s original engineering courses, no diploma offered or required.
Civil Engineering? I build a mean pillow fort. Mechanical Engineering? You should see the makeshift kid barrier I construct in the hallway on Christmas Eve. I installed a toilet by myself when I was 39 weeks pregnant. I had to; I broke the old one the day before when I was putting in new floor tiles.
So many women, moms in particular, don’t give ourselves due credit. We downplay our efforts, chalking them up to necessity; another day in the life of a mother, just doing what needs to be done. I think this undermines the real ingenuity and innovation that comes with being a parent. And I’d like for us to change the way we talk about it. Let’s encourage each other to recognize that we are so much more than the title we have at work, more than our appointed positions at the PTA. We are more than just another cog in the well oiled family machine that, quite often, we build ourselves.
I’ve learned not to limit myself by the confines of my professional experience. I’ve broadened my scope to include all of my strengths, the things that enrich the lives of the people I love, add color to my days, and magic to my work.
Ask me what I do for a living, and I’ll tell you about my awesome gig at GoldieBlox. Ask me simply what I do, and I’m likely to tell you I’m a writer, though I’ve never been published. I’m a photographer, though I’ve never been featured in a gallery. I’m a teacher, a psychologist, and a plumber. I’m a mother, and I’m an innovator.
I am all of these things, and I know I’m not alone.