Ed: Sydney Chaney Thomas is a Moraga-based writer and businesswoman with three books to her name, all currently available on Amazon. She is also co-founder of a sustainable sailing apparel company called Ocean SF, and operates a nonprofit that works to reduce plastic waste called the The Trident Project.
Sydney teaches entrepreneurial marketing at UC Berkeley in their International Diploma Program and, in addition to this column, she writes a popular lifestyle blog, which can be found at sydneychaneythomas.com.
Transition, Work & Motherhood
May 13, 2018
When my kids were small, it was in fashion to parent in a way that brought out the brilliance in each child while honoring their unique talents. Mothers, on the other hand, stepped into the shadows and were in the supporting cast. At least in my circle of friends.
For me, growing up the opposite was true. As a girl, I hid my brilliance, my light, my authenticity, or whatever you wish to call it and my mother was the one in the spotlight. We couldn’t have been less alike.
She didn’t sit in her room reading Chekhov or Dostoyevsky for fun. She was boisterous and charismatic. She could tell jokes, and didn’t want to be a lobbyist and change the world.
As a kid, I felt it was important to fit in and not draw too much attention to myself. There was a definite “we” in my family, a party line, and a host of secrets to go along with it.
When I graduated from college, my mother told me that she was surprised that I had graduated. When I asked her why, she said she didn’t think I was smart enough. I can’t blame her, as I skipped most of my high school classes to hide out painting in the art department, or to read novels in the library.
My mother encouraged me to get an M.R.S. degree and was astonished when I abruptly broke up with my long term college boyfriend a few months shy of college graduation.
I married late, and when I had children, I quit my lucrative career, and hid my intellect again. Looking back, I can’t believe I did this. The only thing I can attribute it to is that I fell in madly in love with my family.
Now that I am on my own again, I love staying up all night reading philosophy, or learning anything new. I love working and starting companies and nonprofits that can change the world.
My children are so much like me that this truly is the new normal. I encourage each of them to shine as brightly as they can and I get to shine too.
There are no secrets in our family and each individual is honored and respected. My children tell everyone our funny family stories, and they take countless photos of me, eating, or sleeping, or driving, and post them on Snapchat.
I don’t care.
I am as much as I possibly can be, my truest, brightest, and most authentic self.