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 18, 2019
Entrepreneurs like artists work to bring an idea into the world. From inception to execution this is never an easy task. As mothers returning to the work force after raising a family, or after years of underemployment that allowed flexibility to care for children, our mission is the same.
Next September, I will be an empty nester. The road is wide open for me to create a new life for myself. I will be without the constraints of cooking, cleaning and maintaining a home for my daughter. The idea that I could pack up and travel the world is an exhilarating one. I am still coming to terms with what this much freedom will look like and I can’t yet see my future. It is just slightly off in the distance, like a mirage, or an image out of focus.
Like many of my peers this is the first time the target has been out of focus since the birth of my children. From the moment each child was born there were goals and milestones. Getting my last child into college is in essence the final target. She is now the person responsible for doing the work to earn her degree. I am, as they say, simply a consultant.
Both adult children will be away at school next year and I will be here, or somewhere, drinking my French roast and planning my own life. A life that has taken a back seat to my family for two decades.
What will that look like? I don’t know.
The last time I was in Rome I traveled to Florence where I found myself at the foot of Michelangelo’s David. I’ve been to the Academia Galleria before, and every time, I think it will be my last. Each time I see something new, this last time, I saw it purely as a metaphor and thought to myself how can I get my own David out of a block of stone?
The sculpture is breathtaking in its size, stunning in its accuracy and detail, and perfectly proportioned. I looked at him for so long I expected him to breath. He did not, however, although I certainly felt it possible. From the veins in his arms to the tips of his toes he appears incredibly real.
When I came home, I read more about the David. The statue had been commissioned, then abandoned for forty years before it was picked up again and completed by Michelangelo.
This is not unlike the twenty years I spent devoted to my family after leaving a career in technology.
It took Michelangelo two years of painstaking labor to bring his vision to light, and pull David from the marble slab.
The question I asked myself now is how did Michelangelo do that? And how can I do that for my own life?
As entrepreneurs we all do this. We make something out of nothing, we bring forth an idea, and give it form.
A friend of mine offered this; a sculptor sees a picture in his mind of the end result, and then removes everything around it.
As a working mother I’ve had to do just that. I’ve had to focus on key objectives, manage my time wisely, and remove from my life all distractions. I’ve done this knowing I will soon be on my own and need to build a strong foundation for my future.
I’ve worked hard to develop my skills and educate myself in order to be prepared for my next chapter. I know with time and attention to detail my own David will begin to emerge.