(And why I started a company for my wife.)
I met Nikki online and fell in love with her right away. She was beautiful, sexy, smart, ambitious and funny (something I still won't admit in front of her). Very quickly, she became my best friend, my partner in crime and after a short while, my wife. And a few years later, the mother of my children. First came our twins, Lola and Fynn (4 years old), and a couple years later, Leo (2 years old).
And our lives changed.
Spontaneous shopping splurges became hour-long sessions of online research to make sure we buy the right ___ [Insert name of baby product category here]. Walks and short trips turned into major expeditions with checklists even NASA would be proud of. Yoga pants and comfortable cotton underwear replaced her lingerie collection. And intimacy between us consisted of lying in our bed at night, side by side, staring at the ceiling, exhausted but glad we'd made it through another day while wondering how we'd survive the next. And when we felt particularly kinky, we'd hold hands while lying like that.
Twins will do that to you.
Now, I'm by no means a perfect husband and father. I just try to find many little ways to be a good one and hope that my good deeds outnumber my mistakes. I've been involved with the upbringing of my children from day one. Even though my wife would probably disagree, I've had my fair share of night feedings and explosive diapers. I think I've even been peed and puked on more than she has.
One day, though, as we were at a playground, I witnessed Nikki starting a conversation with another mom who also had two kids the same age as ours. What started as a normal casual conversation quickly turned into an animated exchange interrupted by laughter and giggles. They started to share stories and experiences about the kids, their new lives, their bodies and yes, even their sore nipples. What united them at this moment was this innate understanding of what a mom is going through. After months of constant giving, both emotionally and physically, Nikki suddenly started to light up again and in a sense, became her old self again. The conversation wasn't long, but Nikki left energized and with a little bounce in her step. She was happy. She told me later that as a mom, she feels like she always has to keep it together, or at least pretend she does. Talking to another mom enables her to let go of that feeling and just be herself.
For the supportive husband I am trying to be, witnessing this conversation was a source of joy but also a source of jealousy and frustration. Joy, to see Nikki getting so much out of that conversation, light up and leave energized. A hint of jealousy and a feeling of being left out, because it wasn't me she was having this moment with and frustration because I realized then that I'll never be able to make her feel like that. This was something only a mom can provide to another mom. And as I learned over time this is just how things are, no matter how much I get peed or puked on.
A few weeks later, I did what all dads do; I had a few beers with a friend who is also a dad. And it turned out that he had made the same experience with his wife and shared my feelings. And what do guys do when they had a few beers? They don't ask, "How does it make you feel?" and try to hug it out. Instead, they try to find a solution and fix things. So, after doing a bit of research we learned that the bond Nikki and this mom experienced is a normal part of being a mom. In fact, 9 out of 10 moms told us they "like to connect with other moms who may have had similar experiences" because 8 out of 10 of them believe that "other moms are the people most able to provide emotional support". Here you had it. It wasn't me or my emotional ineptitude; it was just how moms are and what they need. But we also learned that 84% of the moms we had talked to "would have liked to have known more moms with newborns when her first child was born (to be able to share those experiences)".
So, this friend Mark and I decided to build and launch www.WeMothers.com, a community where moms can be themselves (no dudes allowed), find moms like them and in a sense experience these little moments of magic that comes from connecting with another mom, wherever they are. In typical guy fashion, we figured that if we couldn't give this feeling to our wives ourselves, we could at least create an environment which makes it easy for moms to connect and bond with other moms. Problem solved.
After the first few months of adjustment to parenthood, my relationship with Nikki had grown stronger. In addition to being my best friend, my partner in crime, my wife and the mother of my children, we've become teammates in this big game of parenting. And the lingerie has come back too. Thanks for asking. It's often still hiding under yoga or sweat pants, but still, it found its way back.