THIS IS NORMAL

08-04-2019

Nicole Centeno

CEO & Founder of Splendid Spoon. Mom of two. 

Take us back to your first Mother’s Day – to your first year of motherhood. Tell us about what that first year was like – some of the hardest, most surprising moments you encountered, some of the “wait…is this normal!?” moments that you wish someone warned you about.

My first Mother’s Day was just a week after my son Grover was born (his birthday is May 3). At that point, I was still riding the shock and awe of giving birth and having a newborn. I hadn’t gotten the hang of breastfeeding yet and was absolutely determined to figure it out, which meant I was an emotional wreck. I refused to feed him from a bottle or give him formula and I was suffering through horribly painful feedings. He hadn’t latched properly the first week and my nipples were a bloody mess. Literally. I remember when he spit up and it was red with the blood he had been taking in along with my milk. I definitely wondered if this was normal, if I was crazy, and if I would survive!

What was it like starting a business and a family at the same time? How did you manage to find the balance and how did you deal with the associated ‘mom guilt’ that comes with working parenthood?

I still work through the mom guilt. I think it’s part of how we are wired as humans; to feel something when we are away from the little ones who depend on us for their survival. But the truth is that I have also built a really powerful village of support so that I can trust the other grown-ups in my kids’ lives. My parents have always had a strong presence during times when I need to travel for work, and my ex husband is a true parenting partner – we share 50/50 custody. I also carved out a lot of time to make sure they had a chance at attending a public school I really admired, even though it’s in a different district than where I live in NYC. I invest a lot of up front time in my village so that I can trust the people who are with my boys when I can’t be.

 

I also believe in boundaries for work and parenting. So if the guilt creeps in at work, I remind myself that this is my time to give my all to the team. I get the same guilt about work when I’m with my kids too — Splendid Spoon really is another baby to me! But when I’m with Grover and Caleb, that’s their time and I make them my priority. I also think flexibility is so important for a mom entrepreneur— you have unknowns happening on both sides, so the more you can roll with the punches, the better. The boys come with me to the office and my team spends time at my home for potluck dinners, which the boys love. Village, boundaries, flexibility.

What’s a few words of advice you have for today’s parents who are just starting on this wild journey. If you could go back in time to your first year as a parent, what do you wish someone said to you?

I wish someone had told me to take time lining up a caretaker while I was still pregnant, and to also line up other potential lifelines like a lactation consultant. When you are sleep-deprived, learning to care for a newborn, and stressed about your business, it is really difficult to also vet sitters, doctors, and other important resources. Get those lifelines in order before you start your next wild ride, whether it’s a big business project or having another baby.

Similarly, but more fun – tell us an epic parenting hack/tip that you’d love to pass along as a secret weapon!

This is really simple but it works really well for kids living in such a commercial world. When my kids get on my case and start asking for toys, candy, you-name-it, we tell them that we will put it on the wishlist. Then, around holidays and birthdays, we revisit the wishlist together to pick our top 3-5 items we want to do off of the list.

What’s your “new normal” today as a parent? And what are some of the continued “oh…guess this is normal” moments you encounter?

Because I co-parent, we rely really heavily on routines and communication to make sure the kids know where they are going, who is picking them up, and where they are spending weekend time. So partnering with my ex (and now also involving my super supportive boyfriend) is my normal. Another part of my new normal is involving my kids in more grown-up activities because I don’t like calling a sitter when I have them at my place. For example, they’ll stay up to hang out with me and my friends for dinner parties. It means my kids are really comfortable with grown-ups and will ask them to have pillow fights in my bed, for example. Sometimes I wonder if that’s normal, but mostly I just think it’s part of the unique story of our lives. We all have our own version of normal!

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