Sam Walravens – TORN: True Stories of Kids, Career & the Conflict of Motherhood

Literally torn between being home for her family and working 80 hours a week, Sam hit a wall and created a venture around her feelings.  “After a horrific two-hour commute home along a backed-up freeway, I found myself in the kitchen, screaming at my husband to make his own dinner while throwing a box of breakfast cereal on the table in front of our two year old son,” remembers Sam Walravens.

With a Master in English and Women’s Studies, Sam moved to San Francisco to be with her fiancé and found herself working for PC Magazine as a journalist.  “It was an exciting time to cover these amazing start-ups of Silicon Valley like Amazon and E Bay.”  From there she took a position with a software company that was on track to go public.  Sam soon realized that with her huge job commitment and her husband traveling a lot of the time, the nanny was basically raising her son.  She was expected to practically live at the office.

With a second child on the way, Sam was torn.  “This is crazy.  I’m a horrible mother and a terrible employee at the same time.”  Her boss realized her heart wasn’t fully committed so Sam first went part-time which eventually led to not working at all.  This left Sam feeling alone and alienated, “It was expected of my generation of mothers, that being a mom was not enough, I felt I should be working.”

Six years later, and then with four children, Sam started this conversation with friends, asking the question, how do you feel about being torn?  Not surprisingly, moms were so ready to talk about it and share their stories.  And the stories were what intrigued Sam. “Everyone felt horrible and guilty about their choices.”  She went one step further and posted a request for submissions responding to this dilemma on her Alma-mata, Princeton’s message board.  Not surprisingly, submissions came in from all over the country and from all walks of life.

The commonalities found in the trials of weighing work and motherhood were compelling and Sam was amazed at how remarkable and motivating the stories were. “With close to 100 submissions, each struggle touched me in a different way – some were sad, some were funny, all were real.”  She knew she had the makings of a book and she felt she had to get it published.

Acting as the editor, Sam compiled the stories, and found a publisher(after creating a detailed proposal and 50 rejections).  Never giving up on her goal to let women know there is no right or wrong way to be a mother, Sam now promotes the book through speeches around the country.  What’s next –  fathers wrote in, asking, “where is the book with father’s stories?” Perhaps, that’s Sam’s next project, but for now she is very proud to create a forum for mothers everywhere who are torn.

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VentureMom Tip

Create a venture around a commonality that longs for an answer or a forum. 

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