Ok, you’ll love this profile. Today we have an interview with mom of two, Monica Molenaar. She’s the co-founder of a sesame seed shop over in Manhattan called Seed & Mill.
. . . We know. That was our reaction, too. A whole shop dedicated to sesame seeds? How? Why?? But we’ve got three words for you: tahini. soft. serve. If dairy’s not your thing, don’t worry. Seed & Mill, located in NYC’s Chelsea Market, sells lots of other artisanal sesame-goods like za’atar, tahini, and halva. Cue the stomach growl.
We met up with Monica (who has a Stanford MBA, btw) outside of Seed & Mill during a bustling day at the market. As we chatted in the airy open space, she opened up about how weekends change as your children get older (spoiler alert: they get busier), why she found herself staring at baby bottles, and how her sons, Tobey, 14, and Noah, 12, still (maybe frighteningly) have the same personalities they had as babies.
We Forget the Challenges
During our chat, Monica made it apparent that the transition to motherhood didn’t happen the way she thought it would. Between the woes of breastfeeding and the panic of baby-constipation, it turns out there’s a lot to learn! Especially for those courageous moms who don’t have friends in the same life stage and are looking to research for guidance.
“For things like birth,” Monica laughed, “if you really were told all the details you might not want to go through with it.” But she confesses that right around the time her baby was changing from cranky crawler to wild toddler, a funny thing started to happen.
“We all give birth and then immediately forget the challenges we had—the swollen feet, sore breasts, extreme nausea. We think only about the cute toes! The gummy smiles! How good it feels when your baby looks at you and laughs.“ She pauses and leans in to confess, “It’s like we put on rose-colored glasses, all that pain is forgotten in the glow of happiness, and so we go back and have another one! It’s probably for the best.”
Other Women’s Bottles
Before Monica had her first baby at age 30, she thought breastfeeding went one of two ways: either you chose to do it or you didn’t. So when breastfeeding didn’t work out for her personally, she found it hard to accept. As the first of her group of girlfriends to give birth, Monica didn’t have the community of support (and wisdom) that she now understands to be crucial. At the time she felt alone.
These feelings of failure are experienced by even the most successful, badass women. “Literally, I would go out and look into other people’s bottles. If it was breast milk it made me feel so terrible,” she explains. “There were moments when I was the only one with formula in the bottle. One of the biggest things to understand is that life happens. You can’t plan it all. Your job is to roll with it.””
Now that she is over a decade removed from those days of fretting Monica can look back and see that, in the long run, her babies thrived, and that’s what matters. “My 14 year old has no idea how long he nursed!” she says. A gentle reminder that the standards we hold ourselves to are so often the consequences of us being too hard on ourselves.
Weekends Are Not For Relaxing
If you are currently a parent to a newborn or toddler, you know that there’s nothing relaxing about weekends. But does it get better once their teenagers?
“My new normal is that weekends are not for relaxing,” Monica shared. “It doesn’t change, it just gets more and more…busy,” she laughs. “It’s all about your kids. Owning my own business has been great. My partners are also moms, so we are all able to flex and move with each other.”
Monica wouldn’t change her busy weekends or the need for flexibility, but she does think new parents should know: the new normal of busy weekends is here to stay. “Let’s just say this,” she laughs, “On Monday I look forward to going back to work.”
Said like a true entrepreneur. And it’s a sentiment many moms can relate to. Sometimes going back to work is the only time we get a break. “It’s great and fun and exhilarating and boring and trying and excruciating all at the same time…” says Monica, “but I love it.”