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Climbing the hill is hard, but it’s all worth it during the thrilling ride down

I feel like I drank in more sunshine today than I have in months, and I didn’t even realize how thirsty I have been for the pure joy of seeing people out and about enjoying warmth both in the air and among each other.

I started my day packing up sleds to bring to an event I organized for local MomSub members to meet each other. I had checked a sled hill yesterday to be sure there was enough snow and was pleasantly surprised to discover plenty of white powder still stuck to the hillside. But as the clouds kept parting and the sun kept shining today, I wondered how long the white stuff would last. When I pulled up to Rotary Hill, I was relieved to see parents and kids at the top with their sleds. I excitedly sent a text to my members letting them know that the sledding conditions were ripe for fun.

I scaled the back of the hill with my four sleds in tow and suddenly saw the patches of grass peeking through the layer of white as I got to the top. That’s okay, I thought, because I could see kids having a great time sledding down the sides of the hill where there were no bare patches.

As the sun warmed my face, the shrieks of kids speeding down the hill on plastic projectiles warmed my heart. And as different moms shared glimpses into their lives, it fueled the fire that continues to grow for my mission to bring more calm to moms’ lives through encouragement and shared resources like trading childcare.

One mom had three children under 5 years old, with two still in diapers. She used to ride the train to work, but now she works at home because of COVID. At first she thought it would be wonderful to have the extra time with her infant, but after two months of trying to squeeze in work while her 3-year-old and 4-year-old were in preschool and her baby napped or played, she reached her breaking point. Wouldn’t you? I would! So she reached out to her parents, and luckily grandma came through like a superhero. But not everyone has that option, and that’s why I created MomSub.

Another mom told me about her 8-year-old son, who had been visiting his grandparents in Florida and shared on the plane ride home how much he wanted to go sledding before the snow melted. She was elated when she saw our event but not sure if she could bring her son because she worked on Saturdays. She tried to get her boss to agree to let her go in late. That didn’t work. I suggested his sitter bring him, but his sitter was sick and her son had to go to work with her. That’s exactly the reason I created MomSub. Once this mom gets to know and trust other members of the group, she can drop off her son at our events and find reliable and super affordable childcare any time her sitter isn’t available.

That’s why I’m working hard to grow our group and committed to coordinating events every week for our members and their kids to interact and learn more about each other.

After an hour of watching kids sliding down the hill, I put the sleds away and decided to stroll along the Riverwalk to meet other moms who might be interested in our group. As I passed out cards spelling out our mission and website, I couldn’t believe how fast I went through my big stack. I was filled with the hope of possibility as moms thanked me for inviting them into this community of moms helping moms.

Though I had run out of cards to pass out, I hadn’t run out of enthusiasm for the promise of this glorious day. Reaching above 50 degrees, it was the warmest day of the year so far. As COVID cases continue to fall, it was the most pedestrian activity I’ve seen in months. So I wandered the crowded streets of downtown Naperville soaking in every laugh and smiling face. The renewal of spring is on the horizon, and I can’t wait to see the season and my MomSub endeavor blossom.

So many women support the idea of joining a community of moms helping moms, and I’m eager for this group to grow and provide valuable resources. I also am learning incredible patience because I recognize it takes time for moms to get to know other members enough to trust them with their precious children. That’s why I’m creating a MomSub app that will verify every member’s identity and run background checks. This is even more than and SitterCity do for the providers listed on their site. (Their users can pay for a background check through these sites as an extra service, but the sitters and nannies don’t have to pass a background check to be listed.)

So many moms inherently realize how much their lives could improve through the burgeoning sharing economy. My belief in this future is a continuation of my recent good timing that turned around years of bad timing much of my life, when I never anticipated trends until it was too late: I got involved in broadcast journalism just before the entire media landscape evolved and became so competitive and low-paying that the struggle to make a living was a constant source of stress. I got involved in real estate investing just before the crash that precipitated the Great Recession that caused years of financial hardship for my family. I adopted the helicopter mom mantra that may have inadvertently planted seeds that ripened on the cusp of the teen anxiety crisis.

But luck can change when preparation meets opportunity. I bought a small lawn sign business six years ago that exploded in 2020, turning into a boon for customers desperate to celebrate special occasions during a pandemic when parties were nearly impossible. And now I feel MomSub will fit in perfectly as it debuts on the edge of the third industrial revolution.

I believe we are at the dawn of the sharing economy that will change our future in so many positive ways, and I am excited for MomSub to be a part of it. I could feel it in the air today, as the sunshine and friendliness filled me with so much energy I had to jump on my bike and go for a ride when I got home, carefully meandering through the piles of snow still blocking some paths. As I passed more people, I realized I’m not the only one who discovered today how thirsty we have been for camaraderie and warmth after a lonely and cold Chicago winter. If hope springs eternal, then spring is carrying us to the wonder of tomorrow.

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