Episode 42 - MaryAnne Kochenderfer

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (00:00):
You go and you think, you know, this is how I'm gonna parent, and then you have kids and that gets thrown on us. Like throw it upside out, inside out because the reality isn't not for what you think it's gonna be a big adventure and you just have to approach it. It's a big adventure. Remember that some of the best stories are miserable while you're looking through them. Like, they're great. After you're done!

Young Han (00:29):
Hey guys, I'm young, a full-time dad and a full-time professional with the goal to become the best parent possible. The girl dad show is my journey interviewing fellow working parents, aspiring to both good at work and parenting. I'm gonna do this by gathering and sharing unfiltered perspectives from my guest. So join me as I research parenthood one interview at a time. Maryanne. Thank you so much for joining me today on my show.

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (00:55):
Thank you for having me. I'm excited to be here.

Young Han (00:57):
Yay. let's jump right into it. Why don't you tell the listeners a little bit about yourself and what you do for a living?

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (01:04):
Okay. So I'm a blogger. I have some like other freelance side things I do, but mostly I run a blog called mama smiles.com. That's what I do. I live in California.

Young Han (01:17):
That's awesome. Yeah. And then what are some of the side things that you do?

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (01:22):
A lot of things, sometimes I teach middle school music most recently.

Young Han (01:27):
No way.

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (01:29):

Young Han (01:30):
Did you musician as well, and you're, you're, you're good enough to actually teach. So that means that you're an actual musician, not just like a hobbyist like me.

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (01:38):
Well, I would still call myself a hobbyist, but yes, It's obvious who is better than me, so I'm like, well, don't like do devalue yourself too much there, but yes, no, I love music and I'm really passionate about making sure kids get access to music. So,

Young Han (01:54):
Yeah. That's awesome. And then do you have a specific instrument that you play or are you teaching a specific band or theory or what kind of aspect of music?

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (02:02):
No, I have taught all of, but I'm most comfortable singing, piano and guitar. I'm okay with string instruments. Band is always terrifying to me, but I'll do it if I have to!

Young Han (02:13):
So is it mostly the choir then?

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (02:16):
Choir and I had a fun little ukulele choir group going

Young Han (02:22):
Oh, awesome. Cool. A couple years ago I picked up the ukulele and it was just so fun and amazing. And I, I love that instrument so much. It's so great.

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (02:33):
It's brilliant because it's so playable and it sounds calming and happy and upbeat.

Young Han (02:40):
Yeah. It reminds me of the beach. So it, like, it definitely has that like connotation of it calming and, and, and kind of like relaxed sense of state, state of mind. So I think there's a lot of advantages to that to that instrument in that sense as well. Yeah. But it is very approachable too. I feel like people can pick it up pretty quickly, so it gives them a good, yeah.

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (02:57):
You get the basics, the people who are good at it, I'm like, you know, yeah. You can do some mad technique on that instrument if you know you're doing,

Young Han (03:04):
But so did your love for music also kind of tie in nicely with your love for writing, or I guess the question I'm trying to ask is how'd you start how'd, you start becoming a blogger, what's the origin story for that? How does one become a blogger?

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (03:18):
I am one random person. So I was a music major as an undergrad. And but I knew I wasn't good enough to easily cut it in a pro world. And I also knew that I don't stay up late very well, which also makes it very difficult to cut it in a performance world. And so I went, got a teaching credential as like my backup, figure out what I'm gonna do. Then I went and got a PhD because an opportunity showed up. I'm a big opportunity person, which is kind of making how you do become a blogger. You know, you get this opportunity, finish a PhD, had a child while I was finishing my PhD, which is madness. Don't do that. But I mean, she's awesome. I'm glad I had her, but yeah, maybe don't try and combine them, and after combining them, I was like, I'm gonna step out of academia for a while. Took a break, had a second kid was just kind of fell into blogging at the beginning, as more of a hobby. Like I I'm sitting here with two toddlers and they are awesome, but also where is my brain going? And so it's like a brain outlet combined with actually similar to your show, maybe a desire to raise awareness of what parenting actually is and how much passion and thought, and mindfulness goes into parenting. So I was wanting to showcase that too. Then did not realize when I started it, that it could be a career option. Yeah. So it was really awesome. And it turned into that growing up, I come from a huge family of writers. Like my dad was a career diplomat. And if you know the, what career diplomats basically do is they write a lot. 

Young Han (05:00):
Wow! No, I didn't know that. That's awesome.

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (05:03):
They go, they do, they talk to people, do research and then they send cables and you know how well your cable is written is really important because you have to be able to communicate what's happening. Cuz it then informs policy decisions.

Young Han (05:16):
Wait, wait, it's called a cable. So is that like a newsletter or like a pitch or what's a cable I've never even,

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (05:25):
I think they used to literally cable it to Washington.

Young Han (05:29):
Oh wow. And so it's still called a cable to this day.

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (05:33):
It was when I was growing up.

Young Han (05:35):
That's awesome. So cool. So you grew up in a writing family that really like I did. Yeah. Loved, loved the words. You parlayed that during your early motherhood and was using that to express yourself and then you were able to turn that into a career.

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (05:54):
Yeah. The irony is I'm a lot less elegant of a writer than a lot of my siblings. And so I never thought of myself that way. And then I've come to realize, you know, maybe sometimes it's good to be more like ordinary and less elegant. Yeah. In terms of reaching people, it can be actually an asset sometimes.

Young Han (06:12):
So, so what do your siblings do?

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (06:15):
Oh gosh, they do everything. I'm one of 10.

Young Han (06:19):
Oh wow. That's amazing.

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (06:22):
You wanna hear all of them? It's kinda interesting. So one manages a, she's a managing director of a professional orchestra. She's a professionalist.

Young Han (06:31):
Oh wow.

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (06:34):
Number two is a brother. He was in the air force, just retired. And is now he's an associate marriage and family therapist. So eventually he'll be an L MFT, but he's, that's his like second career move from the military.

Young Han (06:49):
Wow. what a change of pace. I love that.

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (06:54):
I know. And then I have a sister who worked in the military and hospitality for a while is currently a mostly stay at home mother of seven children. But, she's pretty brilliant. So I'm excited to see what she does over the years.

Young Han (07:10):

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (07:12):
And then there's me. And then I have a brother who works in healthcare industry, but kind of like breaking, I think it's a see remote appointments kind of making that happen and getting healthcare more broadly available at a more affordable rate. Nice. Because how you, but he does then a sister who was in China, working at a, in China, kind of got locked out during COVID and is now teaching at a school in Florida.

Young Han (07:43):
Yay. She's back. That's awesome.

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (07:46):
Brother, who is a statistician and also part-time stay at home dad to his three kids. Oh, that's awesome. And then a sister who is a user UX designer. So user friendliness on the internet. Yeah. Brother, who is a dentist in the military, in England right now. And youngest sister. This is the last one of us, She's working on her master's or PhD, she cut off the defense. If she's gonna go all the way through to PhD or off of masters in psychology.

Young Han (08:21):
So. Wow. That's awesome. And then, so it sounds like the only real community you're right. It is all over the spectrum, but like the only commonality I've seen so far is the three siblings that had a service in that. Like they did military service.

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (08:36):
Yeah. And that's, we don't come from a huge military family, but the one brother went to the air force academy and then sister joined ROTC in college because she just literally enjoyed it when she, you know, she's next to like after me, we couldn't be more different. I'm like, are you kidding? Boot camp to me is terrible, and then the youngest one, he just said he wanted to do it from when he was tiny.

Young Han (09:01):
That's awesome. And then what is, what does everyone think about you being a professional blogger?

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (09:09):
You know, they're finally starting to take it seriously.

Young Han (09:12):
You mean they considered it a, like a joke or something? Or what do you mean? Like they didn't really believe in it?

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (09:20):
Full fairness. It took me a while to take it seriously. Then there was like, I couldn't take it seriously until they took it seriously, but yeah, they're pretty supportive.

Young Han (09:29):
Cool. Yeah. I mean, it's it's gotta be, it's gotta be hard to explain to people. Right. Cause I think there's like so many people that want to do that and do that, but it's like to actually be able to like turn that into a career is like probably not as common, right?

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (09:44):
Yeah. I mean, it takes a lot, as, you know, running a podcast, like yeah. The gap between doing it as a hobby versus making a career is pretty big in terms of just the work involved on the back end. It's a fantastic passion project that you have to put the work in.

Young Han (09:59):
Yeah. And, and, and when was that jump for you? Like how did you like know that you wanted to do this as an outlet to actually like turning this into a business and, and your career?

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (10:10):
I think it was so we were living in Massachusetts and there, I was pretty happy with it being just an outlet and I have four little kids and we lived out in the countryside. It's like pretty slow, easy pace of life. Yeah. Then we moved back to Silicon valley and so my husband and I met at Stanford as undergrad. So we removed back to Stanford for his job. And I'm back in this like high pay SW that like, do I wanna go back in or do I not? And I guess, you know, I thought about it. It would've been hard, honestly, it wasn't completely undoable, but, and then I tried some other things like the teaching music and they'll probably keep doing that off and on. I tend huge kiddos to the teachers who do it year and year out. I find I can do it burst and then I a few years off and go back in. Yeah. and but I've just found, you know, you just can't beat the flexibility and the ability to explore your passions and to really meet some amazing people. It's worked like we've done my husband's taken in students on study abroad and it's a jobs that can move with that, and there aren't many of those, I, I just feel like you can't beat the flexibility for the interest factor of the job.

Young Han (11:28):
Yeah. That's awesome. And I, I guess I'm like really trying to like parse out more for my selfish knowledge, cuz I would love to do this for a living. This would be amazing to be able to just podcast for a living. But I, I don't, if you like, can hear back to like a specific moment that you realize that this could actually be a possibility of like, you know you know do, do you, you, do you know what I'm kind of alluding to? Do you, do you have a moment like that or is it just a culmination of a bunch of things?

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (11:55):
It was a combination of watching some of my friends make the leap and succeed cuz we, you know, I started blogging at the end of 2008 and a bunch of people started blogging

Young Han (12:04):
That's right. There was a huge entrance of bloggers then. Yeah.

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (12:07):
Yeah. So I was part of that passive influx and a bunch of 'em dropped up, but there was a group of us who've kind of like followed each other's blog trajectories over the past. Yeah. Decade and a half now almost. And I've seen some of them really succeed and you know, had good conversations with them. So that made it feel more doable and then just realizing how good of a, an opportunity it is, but also learning more strategy on how to make it work, yeah. And I'm still working with that. Yeah, because I'll master one piece of strategy. Like I remember around 2012 interest was so easy for bloggers. It was incredible. And then they changed their loans and. . . 

Young Han (12:51):
Wow. So you're like learning like tactics, like will growth hack tactics and like strategies that have to oh wow. That's awesome. I love it. That's really, really cool.

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (13:01):
In the golden days of Pinterest, I could like throw a post out on Pinterest and get tons of people on it immediately, but then everybody else figured it out too. So Gotta love innovation.

Young Han (13:12):
I love it. And it's so funny because like, as I, I go down this journey of building this this video podcast, I, I started to realize that it's not as simple as just creating content. You actually have to know business. You have to actually be thoughtful and strategic and operational and tactical and you have to seek guidance and mentorship and understand the current trends. There's like, it's like so much work it's so oh,

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (13:35):
Of course.

Young Han (13:36):
Yes. Yeah. It's amazing that you you've been able to navigate it and figure it out. I'm really proud of you and jealous of you and not jealous, but I'm very proud of you and excited for you. And I can't wait to learn more from you and, and, and try to see how I can pull some nuggets outta you so I can employ them for myself. But that being said, you said you had your kid when you were going for your PhD and was that your first or your second?

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (14:01):
That was my first child. Yeah.

Young Han (14:03):
And was that in, was that intentional or did you like

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (14:07):
It was so my husband and I got married at 20, which is very young. We were both, we been dating for a few years and his dad had terminal cancer and we're like, you know, we really want, we're like, we're gonna stay together. We want him to be part of this. And got married, had been married for several years at that point. So like five years, I guess. I had cancer when I was not quite two in 1982 and I was like a clinical trial that worked. Wow. And when you're the clinical trial that works, you don't know what the long term like side effects are. And so I'd always been told like, maybe you can have kids, maybe you can't. And so like, I was just like, maybe I'll get lucky, so I got lucky. And then I had that's part of why, like my first three kids are so close at age cuz I'm like, well, who knows how many times I'll get lucky!?

Young Han (15:03):

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (15:05):
So so yeah, it was intense and it was intense to that as like, you know, a clinical trial kid who's going through a pregnancy when they don't really know the impact, but everything was pretty much fine. 

Young Han (15:18):
That's amazing. That was very, that's an amazing story. Well, congratulations even more so now. And so when you were going through your PhD, you were doing that somewhat intentionally, it sounds like. So you were, you knew your eyes wide open. You were doing this with even more complications added to the variables of it in, in addition to the PhD. So did you, did you finish your PhD?

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (15:40):
I did. I got pretty out the process as I said, but I am, I'm proud of myself for finishing. Yeah. I, it was amazing, you know, the contrast. So I had it almost written before she was born handed in the basic final draft when she was three months old. Wow. And I remember, and then there's like a gap between you in the UK there's can be a pretty big gap cuz my, they fly in your examiner. And so we had to wait for my examiner to fly in from Australia on his schedule. And so there was like this big gap of months between when I handed in and when I finally defended and then graduated and I remember, you know, riding with her all three months was challenging, but then doing the corrections with her at eight months was like, unbelievably hard. Cause at that point she's like typing on the computer. Like mom, what are you doing? I, I kinda took those months off, which was wonderful to like play with her and stuff, but I didn't even have many corrections. It was like one page worth of corrections and it took me so many more hours.

Young Han (16:45):
Oh my gosh, take it. I can't even imagine. And, and so, so then that's where you lent, went into starting to have an outlet when you're trying to figure out what you wanted to do with your degree and you have a kid now and you're like, okay, so you started writing about being a mom.

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (17:01):
Yeah. Yeah. And so it was, I mean it was mostly an outlet. I was, you know, I was, I would get people would be like, why are you taking time? Cause I was at that point, I was just taking time to be a mom. Like that was all I was doing, and sometimes I get a lot of criticism for, I think, you know, it's a tough choice to make it's there's ups and downs to doing it for the kids and the parent, like there's wins and losses on both ends.

Young Han (17:25):
You mean the blogging or the, the PhD?

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (17:27):
No, just taking time out to just be a mom, like being a stay at home mom offers wins and losses to the parent and the child, and one of the things that really pushed me to start writing was like, I wanted to explain, like if you look at those early posts, they aren't saying, this is why I stay home, but it was more like showing this is what life as a parent, who's staying home with, their kids can look like, and it can be exciting and fulfilling and challenging and rewarding, like any other past time. So I was trying to raise some awareness about, I feel like that's a missing, like I'm really, I'm a, I think I would consider myself a pretty big feminist, but I feel like I'm missing piece of feminism and of equality in general needs. At some point we need to appreciate caregiving, whether it be stay-at-home parents or the nannies people hire or the childcare center workers. And I feel like we undervalue those right now. And I guess I was feeling undervalued as a stay-at-home parent and wanted to raise awareness of what that actually looks like. So that hopefully there'd be a little more respect.

Young Han (18:37):
I love this story. Thank you for sharing that, that really means a lot to me personally. I mean my wife and I we made the decision as well to have her stay at home as soon as we had a kid. And it was not necessarily a difficult decision for us between our partnership. It was actually pretty logical and objective and you know, we did the math and, you know, financially, logically, operationally, everything was like, we're like, yeah, this is a no brainer. We didn't expect the social aspect of it. You know, we're like there was this kind of weird time, a thing where we would tell people, yeah, the most common response was like, you know, you could work. Right. Or like, you know, you don't have to stay home. Right. And it's like, and, and just the, the, the wording and the, the positioning of that statement came out to us like, oh yeah, yeah, of course we know it's a choice, like you make it sound like it's a bad thing, you know? And and it was really interesting actually to go through that. Especially, I mean, I don't know, I've only lived in the bay area, so I don't really know any better, but it was, it was a really weird experience, especially because almost all of our peers had both parents working and they would just hire care caregivers. In our mind, it was like we did the math and we're like the amount of money that we're gonna make after we pay the caregivers is not worth us just raising our own kid. And so I would much rather just us tighten our belts a little bit and, and have one of us do it. And my wife agreed and, you know, and it's been a blessing and we love it and we don't regret it, and, you know, we just always lived, we just lowered our standard of living to accommodate to accommodate that. And it's one of the other reasons why we moved to Texas even, right. Is to like even further that ability to do that one single income and have one parent, you know, fully dedicated to caregiving. And I think it's, it's fine. Right. Obviously you find people that are also like very accepting of it and, and appreciative of it. But I will say it was a really weird experience going through that and then having those like kind of jolts of social social awkwardness of like, oh wait yeah, this is our decision and it's not normal. 

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (20:54):
Well and in, Silicon valley in particular, I think it's really difficult. It's really fascinating to me, you know, I'll go to some event and sometimes people just quit talking to you, cause like blogging is almost in that same category.

Young Han (21:12):
Yeah. Well, it's also probably more so cuz you just took the trifecta then, right. Cuz you, you had the blog, you're blogging about it and you're also, so you're like, you're like a double whamy in that sense. That's amazing.

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (21:27):
And there's less, you know, Massachusetts had more families making that choice. It was more normal. Yeah. and the cost of living is lower, so it's more feasible. And so the other thing is, so in Massachusetts I had a bigger social network of people who are making the same choice where here the social network is as you would. No, I imagine practically non-existent like it's there, but

Young Han (21:50):
No it's not. Yeah.

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (21:51):
You really have to seek it out.

Young Han (21:52):
Really, It is. Yeah. It's it was it's yeah. And it's also, I mean, partly due to the fact that like it's just so expensive, right. And so you need that dual income that makes a lot of options go away because of that. But I love that you were already thinking about this as you made that decision. And I think it's such a valuable one and I'm not saying one way or the other, I don't think it's bad or good. And I think that it's finding the way you do it. Like I have family members that are, that you know, that, you know, that think the opposite and did the opposite thing. But I also think it just, it's just a decision that we shouldn't necessarily negate either. I think it's like, right. Like to your point, we just need to normalize it. We just need to appreciate the fact that it's not like a lesser thing. It's actually in my, in my opinion, it's equal, if not more important than contributing to the economy because you're contributing another human being to the world and the economy.

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (22:45):
Exactly. Yeah. And you know, those are the people who are volunteering at your child school because they're the ones who have the flexibility to go do that. Yeah. It's not even only your own children who benefit. They're often the ones who are driving all the carpool bats, you know? Yeah. And they're happy to do it.

Young Han (23:00):
Yeah. It's awesome. Yeah. It's awesome to hear you say that because you're, you're like a studied academic, right. You went to, you went to Stanford and got a PhD. I mean, so it's not like we're just like talking, you know, from a place of like lack of options, right. We're talking about you making this conscious decision with a lot of options. And so it's a very, very valuable statement and I'm so appreciative that you just shared that story with me. For, for the listeners that are listening, but also me personally, because I needed to hear it.

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (23:30):
Well, for you, it's just so rare to hear people with. Yeah. I, I, I do think it's like one of the big steps we still need to make towards genuine gender equality is to start recognizing that these traditionally female girls, they certainly don't have to be, like I said, I have a brother who's a stay at home dad. It's but they're really valuable and they're important and they contribute to greater society and not even just the nuclear family.

Young Han (23:56):
That's awesome. So that kind of leads me into a couple of these questions that I love to ask folks about business and, and parenting. But yours is interesting because your business is about parenting. So, how do you qualify success in your business? Like what does success look like for you as you start to build your you know, your blogging business up?

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (24:21):
I think the ability to earn enough for whatever your goals are, while doing something where you feel like you're having ideally some kind of impact in doing something that's meaningful to you personally. I think if you can get those three and believe me, I'm like changing between them a lot. That's like the ultimate goal for me and business success. I know often we think about, you know, growth, it, you know, unlimited growth, especially in the us, we kind of chase growth, growth, growth, growth, growth. And I feel like there's monetary growth is important, but sometimes we miss the like, you know, it's more horizontal growth because like you're Devi delving into things, deeper building better relationships or you know, one of the things I always juggle is like, how much do I throw into this blog? And how much do I throw into parenting? Especially as someone running a parenting blog, like I can spend more time on the blog and my parenting can suffer. And so it's a really difficult balance that I'm always having to like check myself on. I feel

Young Han (25:25):
Like, oh my gosh, that's so meta. That's so true. Yeah. It's actually a really, really interesting cuz you, you don't, you don't, do you do a podcast as well? Or is it just strictly the Bo the blog?

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (25:36):
No, I, I don't have the, I don't feel like I have the bandwidth. I think it would be fun.

Young Han (25:40):
I just gonna say, like I had no idea how much time and energy the podcast would take. And it's so funny because there's all these moments where I'm like, wait, should I be spending more time with my kid? Especially because I run a parenting podcast. It's like it's a really weird problem that I didn't foresee, which I should have, you know, but it's really great to hear you talk about that because it makes me feel a little bit less lonely on this journey.

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (26:07):
And then it's really hard.

Young Han (26:08):
Yeah, it just is. And it's so sounds like you're still on the journey. It sounds like you're constantly battling it. Oh yeah. Cool. Awesome. Good. That also makes me feel good. And then when you think about parenting, what do you, how do you think about success as a parent? And what does that look like for you?

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (26:23):
I think the heart of successful parenting is connection because it's crazy, you know, you go and you think, you know, this is how I'm gonna parent and then you have kids and that gets thrown at it, like thrown upside out, inside out. Yeah. Because the reality is never what you think. I mean, even me coming in with six younger siblings, you'd think I'd have a better idea than a lot of people. But even with all of that, like still get, it's not what you expect or, you know, new things come up and then you get something working and it's working really well and you're like, sweet I've arrived. Like, and then something happens. So like throws all of that out with totally. And so I, you know, I try to be really open minded. I feel like my kids have done an amazing job of showcasing my personal weaknesses, and but the connection that's where it's at, because it's how you survive the really tough times. It's how you survive the sleep deprivation to the, you know, I have a 16 year old of, you know, teenagers plus COVID was brutal on the teenagers as parents. I just felt like I was failing and we're coming out and things are getting easier. And like, I'm like, okay, I'm not horrible. What, but you're, you're gonna fail. That's just how parenting works. And you know, here in Silicon valley, we talk about how great failure is, but we don't usually actually really talk about what failure is like, and it's, it's really painful when you're in the, the muck of it, you know?

Young Han (28:02):
Totally. Yeah. I completely agree. That's amazing. And I love that you're, you're being so vulnerable and sharing these conversations and actually talking about it because I think that no one would expect that from a parent blogger. Right. Like especially someone that writes about it. So that's really great. I love it. I have to ask, what do your kids think about you being a a blogger?

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (28:26):
So I think when they're pretty, they're good with that. I've, you know, if you go and visit my blog, you'll see there's less and less content about them as they get older. Because when they're small, that's just really straightforward. Cool. And there's a really good reason for that. Cuz like little kids, they're all kind of similar. So it doesn't feel as vulnerable to throw a little kid all there and talk about what they're doing, cuz like most of the other little kids are going through the same things, and, and they get older and their struggles become more personal. And so I'll probably eventually write about it, but like once they're through it with that, I'll kind of throw it out there while we're in the luck of it. And that's because I don't know what the end is partly too. And I don't actually know what's working yet. Like I know what I think is working, but if I look back, will it still looks like what it was working? I'm not sure. Yeah.

Young Han (29:15):
Do you need the retrospect? Do you need the ability to retrospect?

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (29:18):
Yeah, I feel like I'm gonna have, like, there's gonna be a lag in what I write and you know, protects them from like their peers Googling them or whatever and it's but they mostly like it. I actually, my two younger daughters would like to be on there more than they currently are and I probably should like, let them go do that. I just got so the habit protecting the teenagers and I'm like, wait, non teenagers still like it. 

Young Han (29:45):
Wait, explain. They want to be, they wanna be written about, they want their stories to be spotlighted.

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (29:50):
They like being written about at this point in their lifestyle.

Young Han (29:52):
Yeah. Wow. That's amazing.

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (29:55):
And I was, I will say that's one of the things I think I did right. Was I was always really careful what I put on there. Thinking, you know, looking down the road will this embarrass them and I've really tried not to write anything that could do that. I think it helped that, you know, my husband's an AI expert, so I was fully aware of things like image recognition and search engine power. And you know, you, there are people who will say I should protect them. The more that I did you have to make. But what I did do is I've consistently tried to protect their ability to be who they are without people pulling up pieces of their pasts. That might be hurtful and they're awesome kids. So that might easier

Young Han (30:40):
That's that does make it easier, but it is like a, it is like a really weird world that we live in and that's gotta be really fun to have an AI expert in the house as well too, because I'm sure he would, he would be like cringing and, and just be, just be in absolute horror when he hears how much I share about my kids, cause I'm like, I'm like a massive overshare, you know?

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (31:06):
It's funny because he used to be like, you know, he'd always be like cautious, cautious, cautious, and then like he got an Instagram profile and I'm like, he's addicted, Noah

Young Han (31:16):
Yeah. It's so addicting. I know it's the worst. Very good. But let me jump into some of the rapid fire questions. I wanna ask every guest. So there's some standard to the, the show. Let me jump right into it. I I'm gonna throw a couple fun ones cuz just cuz of the conversations we've had, but I'll, I'll definitely try to make sure I get the main ones that I ask as well, too. What advice do you have for other parents and soon to be parents?

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (31:46):
Especially soon to be, just expect the unexpected and it's gonna be a big adventure and you just have to approach it as a big adventure. Remember that some of the best stories are miserable while you're looking through. Like, they're great after you're done. But, but yeah, embrace the adventure and I really feel like connection is super important and sure that fed into my desire to like be mostly home with my kids. But I have seen working parents come make that happen and I see them make it happen. So it's all about where your focus is and what your goals are.

Young Han (32:26):
It's awesome, yeah, it's a really, really good answer because yeah. Connection. If you think about it in that aspect of the quality of that connection, it doesn't matter if you stay at home or you work, it's really, you know, it's really pervasive in that sense that it can kind of ride through any, any medium. That's awesome. And

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (32:42):
Kids are smart. Like you have to pay attention. Like they call me, they're like sometimes I'll say something's cool and they're like, mom, did you just say cool?

Young Han (32:53):
You're ruin it. Exactly. That's funny.

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (32:58):
No they're like when you pay attention, 'em when you remember details, when you follow through on stuff they told you about like that's where the goal is. I feel like, yeah.

Young Han (33:07):
That's awesome. So if you can go back and tell yourself one thing before having kids, what would it be?

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (33:14):
Breathe. I mean, going back to like kind of it feeling like amazing to actually get, to have a kid since that was kind of an unknown for me. But I think this happens to other parents too. Like I remember having that newborn and it's just crazy that that kid is breathing, like just you worry, like, are they going to keep breathing? And, and of course you're going to of worry, but the worrying isn't making them breathe. So like just to the extent that you can just take deep breath, let yourself, you know, sit and admire the toes and, and catch those little still moments. Like I think there's a really good evolutionary reason. Children are so beautiful when they're asleep. Cause you can have the worst day and then you finally get them to fall asleep, which small children, you know?

Young Han (34:02):
Yeah, no, I know.

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (34:03):
Then you go and go and they . . . 

Young Han (34:05):
Just I'm in that I'm in that stage right now. I know exactly what you're talking about. Yeah. It's amazing. Yeah. Yeah. Those little terrors, you know, and then you're like the rollercoaster right of the day, you know, just like all their emotions and, and stuff is up and down, up and down. And then when you finally get them to sleep, it's just like everything's worth it and everything's good in the world. Yeah. I love that. What is the most surprising thing that you learned about yourself after you became a parent?

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (34:32):
That's really good. My fears, weren't always what I thought they were, if that makes sense. So, so I'm a pretty cautious person and by nature, but then like there might be something where I would, if it were about me, I wouldn't ever speak up. But then if it's about my kid, then of course I'm gonna speak up. So there's that kind of fears. And then I guess I've just learned to be really cautious of like aware of my own fears because I've learned to, like I can work through are things that I've been afraid to do my whole life if suddenly my child's wellbeing is involved. So that's like the fear isn't as big as that I thought it was, I guess. And then the other thing is like when I make poor parenting choices, I feel like they're almost always based on my fears, like fears about my child growing up to do something terrible or fears that, oh wow, I'm a terrible para. It's like the fear is bad. So like just, I have to let go of the fear. That's terrifying. Just like the fear is like this funny, tight rope that's actually making you fall, but you think it's holding you up somehow.

Young Han (35:41):
Oh wow.

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (35:42):
You gotta like that

Young Han (35:42):
That's really, really interesting. Cuz it kind of goes back to the whole mindset of like the self-fulfilling prophecy, right? Like if you keep, if you keep worrying about it, then that thing that you worry about's gonna happen. Oh that's really, really insightful. And this is kind of a curve ball, but like so you're kind of unique cuz you have a fun story here, but if there was other parents that wanted to like start blogging or podcasting or you know, kind of join the conversation, you know, and they're trying to figure out if they wanna make that jump or not. What would you say to them?

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (36:12):
I think you should go for it. I mean, it takes a lot of time to set up and it takes a while to get a it to where it's working, but I really love the diversity of voices we get in the blogging podcasting world. I think we need. And I love the fact that anybody can suddenly go and with enough perseverance and focus, some passion can go and start being heard. And I think we just need more and more voices out there. So I would say d it.

Young Han (36:40):
Yeah. That's awesome. That's really, really good. I also agree with you on that. I think that we could always use more point of views just because I think that there's no, the more I do this, the more I realize there's really no right way of parenting. And I think just hearing more perspectives and understanding that it's not like cookie cutter and it's okay to have to figure things out out and that there's all these different types of parents is really, really important cuz that by defacto I think will help people feel more comfortable about being a parent and more, much more open to learning and talking about it. So I, I, I completely agree with you on that one. I do wanna know, is there, is there like a, a book or a podcast or a blog that like to read or is there a favorite one that you have? That's kind of like your staple?

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (37:29):
Let's see. There's a really fun sewing one

Young Han (37:33):
Sewing, sewing blog. It's a blog on sewing. Wow. That's interesting.

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (37:40):
But, but actually part what I love about she's a brilliant writer. It's it's ICAP bag.com. Yeah. And I followed her for forever and she makes these really cute, like kids toys patterns. And then she makes amazing things out of cardboard and is a former physics teacher now stay at home mom. And if I remember right, I've read her for forever. This is why I know this. But her dad was an art teacher and her mom was in sciences to us I think. And so she's got this huge art background, but she also like did some sort of counseling professionally in schools I think. And she writes like this beautiful, beautiful series about grief when her father passed away and she wrote this incredible series about grieving her father. And, and so yes, like I like, I, I, so as like a de-stress creativity thing and so I admire her from the sewing side of it, but she's a fantastic writer. She builds, this is what I mean about needing all these different voices. Like it's a sewing blog. You can go in there and you can learn about grief and processing in grief in a way that you don't find necessarily in like the main books of grief,

Young Han (39:00):
For example. Exactly. No, that's what I was gonna ask. Was that like, is there some sort of like philosophical overtones to it, but it sounds like there is, it's not just about like the tactical aspects of sewing, but it's actually interwoven with her story.

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (39:12):
Yeah. She got, yeah. And she talks about raising, she has three daughters and she's raising these daughters and you know, talks about that stuff too. And it's not really about the sewing. That's not why I come back. That's what I've realized with blogs. You know, the ones you keep coming back to there's something beyond just the surface content. It's, you know, the person underneath which who keeps you coming.

Young Han (39:35):
Oh wow. That's actually really insightful and tactical. I gotta start figuring out what that thing is for me. That's awesome. <Laugh>

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (39:43):
Oh, I, yeah. I'm sure I've practiced for myself honestly, but, but she's got, I feel like she's really got it, but I don't think she's a big tactical. It's just she's

Young Han (39:52):
Yeah. She's being her authentic self and it's just coming through. That's amazing. Yeah. I think you kind of answered it, but I'm gonna ask anyways, just cuz I think that if there's another answer or another thing that you do, it would be great to hear, but when you're not being a awesome parenting blogger and an awesome mom what do you do for your downtime? What do you do for fun? And I know now I now know you, so yeah. Is there anything else that you'd like to add to that?

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (40:20):
I think so. Yeah. I actually, during, so I started teaching middle school and I wanted to teach some songwriting so that I took a songwriting class cuz like I never done nice and I kind of got into it. So like I write songs and so maybe I to phrase and like record some of 'em, but it's been a really good least last couple years. 

Young Han (40:44):
What kinda music?

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (40:45):
It's really probably folk genre. It it's pretty, I feel like I lean cheesy and I always have to like reign myself in, I mean my blog, if you visit my blog, it, it leans that direction too.

Young Han (40:59):
I can't wait to hear the music. I can't wait to hear it. Yes. And going back to what you said earlier, you gotta like cast the fears out and just like go for it. Right. Just do it. Yeah. Just push it out there. Who knows next time we talk, you may actually be a music artist and a blogger. That would be amazing. Yeah. I mean you've already, you've already proven that it, you, you can do this and make a living out of it. So why, you know, like if anybody can do it, it's gonna be you. So that's awesome. Well thank you so much for taking the time Maryanne to talk to me on, on my show and, and just and being so vulnerable and, and sharing so many of your wonderful stories. I really, really appreciate the conversation.

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (41:38):
Yeah. Thank you. You're so easy to talk to.

Young Han (41:40):
Oh, thank you for saying that. I'll talk to you soon. Okay.

MaryAnne Kochenderfer (41:44):
All right. Thank you.

Young Han (41:45):
Thank you. Thanks for tuning into another episode of The Girl Dad Show. We really hope you enjoyed that interview. And as always, please take a moment to review rate and subscribe. We'll see you next time.

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