It’s May, and this month we’re talking all things motherhood. You may not be a mother, but you have a mother, and you probably know a mother (or two). Motherhood is joyful, difficult, and changes everything in your life. I interviewed Cassidy Lamb, Senior Engineering Manager at nCino, stand up comedian, and new mom. Cassidy and her family recently relocated to Wilmington from Austin, TX. As a woman in leadership at a tech company, she knows what it feels like to be one of the only women in the room. I can’t wait to share Cassidy’s experience with you. And, as you read this, keep in mind Cassidy’s caveat: parenting is both universal and unique.
How has your life changed since becoming a mom?
I’ve heard women talk about becoming a mother as an event that ushers in a new chapter of life. For me, it feels more like I’m the same character in a completely different book. I’m still me, but my priorities and actions, even my body, have completely changed.
When I told my brother I was expecting, he shared this wisdom: “Parenting is the most difficult thing you can do, while having the best time of your life.” Watching my daughter grow and develop her personality, and seeing the world through her eyes, has been the most wonderful and exhausting experience of my life. There’s also been an exponential increase in the number of arguments I’ve had about pants because, it turns out, toddlers hate wearing clothes.
What advice would you give to a new, working mom?
Going back to work requires an enormous amount of physical, mental, and emotional resources. It’s such a cliche thing to say, but it really does get better.
The first six months I was back at work was one of my toughest experiences as a parent. The physical demands of caring for a young infant (nursing, pumping, night feeding, teething, etc.), adjusting to a new relationship dynamic with my husband, learning to trust “strangers” to care for my new baby, and the need to catch up on 12 weeks of missed work at a stressful job all combined into a very intense return to work.
It’s essential to find a support system that works for you—your partner, your family, your friends, and other parents can all pitch in with advice or help. Your support network doesn’t need to look like anyone else’s, there’s no right answer here, but it is vital to have people to call for help. When I returned to work I was still living in Austin, near my parents, and they came to our house every Thursday and made dinner. It’s such a small act of kindness, but on my worst days I clung to the thought that Thursday was never more than six days away. Find those little things to look forward to, and keep your eyes on the prize.
My other piece of advice is to establish a daily household routine for each day, including who is responsible for each task. Everyone in the house will be operating on very little rest, so taking time to build muscle memory around a routine will give you one less thing to figure out each day. That’s 365 fewer things on your to-do list each year! Early in my journey back to work, we decided that my husband would be responsible for feeding our daughter and packing the diaper bag in the mornings so I could have some time to get ready and mentally prepare for the day; in the evenings I would take over and make dinner and handle any preparations (this is code for pumping and prepping bottles) for the next day. Each night we'd alternate who was in charge of the bedtime routine so we could pursue our hobbies and interests (or go to bed early). While some aspects of our routine have evolved to meet our needs, this part of our routine never changed!
How do you handle trying to complete two to-do lists: work and home?
Stopping to think about how many things I’m juggling on my to-do list is paralyzing, so I focus on the most important items and completing the task in front of me. I also try not to think of career and family as a prioritize/sacrifice binary. Instead, I try to frame each decision with the intention of positive future outcomes. It’s a kind of frantic mindfulness I’ve learned to love and have found comfort in. My daughter went through a phase where she wanted to watch Finding Dory every day, and the best advice I can give on balancing comes straight from this classic film: “Just keep swimming.”
Do you have any Mother's Day traditions?
I am someone who enjoys staying busy—a demanding job, awesome marriage, wonderful daughter, and a hobby in stand up comedy keep me busy. So, on Mother’s Day, I am adamant that my husband and daughter let me chill. They let me sleep late, bring me coffee, make breakfast, give me time for a face mask and bubble bath, and hand me the remote control so I can have some alone time to watch whatever I want (I am obsessed with teen soap operas like Riverdale and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina). By the time 2:00pm rolls around I’m pretty bored, so we usually spend the rest of the day having fun and enjoying each other’s company.
Motherhood is nothing, if not hilarious. Can you share a funny motherhood moment?
It’s so hard to pick one thing to share because my daughter cracks me up every day. I’m incredibly proud that she has an amazing sense of humor and spot-on comedic timing. She’s definitely the “class clown” in her preschool class, and because my husband is a musician, she’s become very comfortable with singing and enjoying music in front of a crowd.
All of these unique aspects to her personality came together in one moment during her preschool's holiday concert in December. She walked on stage with her classmates and shouted/sang “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer” word for word; she even peppered in some free-spirited choreography during the instrumental breaks. My husband and I have never laughed so hard, and we’re still trying to figure out who she inherited her dance moves from.
Life has shown me that we all have wisdom to share, especially outside of traditional categories. Any final thoughts?
Many experiences as a parent are universal. This can be an important perspective to remember when you feel like your child is the only one who hates putting on pants, every morning, (this is seriously a daily event in my house). The flip side of this is every family has unique experiences, needs, and values; this means we should all parent in a way that fulfills those unique needs. There’s no right answer on how to be a parent.