Man In A Mom's World

Like many men, I've spent a good part of my life trying to better understand women. However, unlike most, I turned that pursuit into a career. I founded Lucid in 1998 to help companies who create products and services for mothers and children to more deeply connect with their intended customers. The vision was, and continues to be, that companies could do a better job of selling products if they put more effort into building customer relationships and adding value.

Along they way, I've had the pleasure of talking with a lot of moms about their challenges, joys, and dreams, and I also became a parent. Today, blogs, RSS, Twitter, FriendFeed and other tools make for keeping up with motherhood all the more interesting and in real time.

Of course, there's only so far my insight can take me. After all, I'm a man, a dad. I will never know what it is to be pregnant, give birth, or experience motherhood. I've always treated this as a factor that hopefully gives me more objectivity. But, ultimately, it is a handicap. It doesn't mean I can't be effective in my profession, just that I might need to take a different approach and work harder.

Several years ago, it occurred to me, instead of treating my maleness as a handicap, maybe it's an opportunity. And that's when an idea struck.

The best way for anyone to understand someone else's perspective is to walk in her shoes. So, I donned a pregnancy suit. I approached the pregnancy project humbly and passionately. It wasn't a publicity stunt or a way to trivialize motherhood.

I wore it every day in private and slept in it at night for an entire month. It opened my eyes to how heavy that amount of weight can feel when added to one's belly. Every time I put it on, the weight surprised me anew. Fortunately, it was not debilitating, but merely slowed me down.

Sleeping, on the other hand, was a draining experience. Getting out of bed was a struggle. My once usual 6:15 a.m. workouts became a thing of the past. In fact, I struggled to rise at 7:15 a.m. This was the result of becoming uncomfortable during the night and waking just to roll over, as well as trips to the bathroom thanks to the water I would drink before bed. A restless night meant a draggy day. In general, I felt lethargic -- a feeling I was already familiar with as a parent of two young kids. Let's just say I know how lack of sleep can have a ripple effect on other areas of your life. I revisited that experience.

I learned a lot -- perhaps more from the new conversations, blog comments, and emails with other moms than from actually wearing the suit. They shared stories, challenges, and the joys of their individual experiences. And individual is the key word here. Just as there are all types of people in this world, and all types of moms, there seem to be all kinds of different pregnancy experiences.

It all boiled down to a single principle: Assuming to know what a woman is experiencing and how she is feeling about her pregnancy is a mistake. Everyone has a different pregnancy experience -- even guys. :-)

Tags: men, moms
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3 comments about "Man In A Mom's World ".
  1. Kat Gordon from Maternal Instinct , February 24, 2010 at 6:58 p.m.

    Kevin, I love the image of you struggling to get out of bed wearing your sympathy belly. I agree with your conclusion that you can't know what a woman is feeling about her pregnancy because everyone has a different pregnancy experience. In fact, that statement extends to all of parenting. Just as no two kids are alike, no two "motherhoods" are alike. The best we can do as marketers is listen, listen, listen and hope to lend support in the right way at the right moment.

  2. Tiffany Jonas from Aio Design, LLC , February 28, 2010 at 5:17 p.m.

    Wow, Kevin... I am *very* impressed you thought to walk in a woman's shoes, much less wear a pregnancy belly for an entire month! Were there more men like you.
    (And were there a way for men to somehow pose as women in other facets of life---I suspect that would be eye-opening as well.) Count me a fan!

  3. Elmer Rich iii from Rich & Co. , March 9, 2010 at 1:02 p.m.

    Are their significant gender differences? Of course. We study brain differences and information processing and communication.

    Is each individual set of experiences, and brain it turns out, different? Of course. However, if we can't find similarities and general (always imperfect and changing) models and ways to communicate we end up with a series of hyper-personal anecdotal stories. Compelling, perhaps, but may irrelevant to all but THAT person.

    I can also argue against my point but would rather hear from others. Ideas?