The Cardamom Story

People often ask me why I co-founded Cardamom. My answer, in short, is because my friendships are paramount, they hold me up and make me a stronger woman and a better mom. Everything I do for my kids—and so much of what I do as a woman—I do with a little help from friends.

“Good friends are hard to find, harder to leave, and impossible to forget.” – G. Randolf

People often ask me why I co-founded Cardamom. My answer, in short, is because my friendships are paramount, they hold me up and make me a stronger woman and a better mom. Everything I do for my kids—and so much of what I do as a woman—I do with a little help from friends.

During my pregnancy, my best friend was out on maternity leave. We’d meet at any number of midtown Manhattan’s concrete parks—me waddling to a bench during a work break, her with a newborn cozy in a sling—and we’d eat frozen yogurt while I picked her brain about everything pregnancy and post-natal. We’d talk about family, work, and marriage—we’d cover our whole worlds in just 45 short minutes.

After my daughter was born and I began the hard work of parenting, I missed that easy connection. I often felt lonely. True, my dearest pre-motherhood friends now also had children—and they are invaluable and irreplaceable—but accessibility became an issue. I sought a more local friend or two, someone whose proximity allowed for spontaneous meet-ups and casual hang outs; someone who was on my schedule, on my wavelength, understood the joys and challenges I was facing as a new mom, a working mom, a woman—and who didn’t mind having a glass of wine with lunch.

I didn’t find it for years. And I missed socializing in the way that came so naturally to me before motherhood.

I tried. I exchanged numbers with some moms at the playground, and had many nice conversations at mommy-and-me classes (when I had the rare opportunity to go), went to mom networking events. I even set up a few dates here and there—though it seemed they were always postponed, and then cancelled…and life as working mom with a baby went on.

When I was pregnant with my second child, I found myself at what would have been yet another forgettable trial class when another woman approached me. Her younger daughter was in the class with mine, while her older daughter sat by her side. With that special air of experience and friendliness she said, “Hi, my younger daughter has no friends…I’d love to find her some. Can we do a playdate?!”

And so we did. I went over to her house a few times, and the kids played while I asked those questions so familiar to city moms: How do you manage two on the subway? How long will they share a room? Any recommendations for a nanny? And turned out that I really liked her, too.

She had a tremendous impact on me, not because we became best friends, but because she had the kindness and courage that I couldn’t always muster at the time.  Even though I am used to putting myself out there—I’ve been a public school teacher, an education lawyer and policy advocate and a litigator—making “mom friends” didn’t come as easily as I thought it should have.

When my daughter started preschool, I discovered the amazing group of women who would become my second network. Having kids helped us find each other, but they’re not what keeps us together.  These are some of my favorite people:  We travel together, we share childcare, and we have nights out and weekend family play dates. We even refer each other clients and support each other’s careers and businesses. They are my village.

Work, as it does, always complicated things. I had trouble finding the right nanny, my kids would cry every morning as I walked out the door.  Life was a mess, and work was hard. But I made myself a promise: No matter how tough it was, I would honor a regular “Girls’ Night” with my closest friends, old and new – who also happen to be moms. It would be my opportunity to unwind and rediscover myself. Even when our moratorium on “kid talk” didn’t work, I always left their company feeling refreshed and, well, like me.

Motherhood is exciting and lonely at the same time. The entire experience is a game-changer, and it’s very easy to feel like you’re losing—losing the game, losing yourself. Don’t get me wrong—I always wanted to be a mom, no question. And I love it and the peace it brings me. But like me, and maybe like you, it is a daily struggle not to lose myself completely in the enormous and beautiful task of motherhood.

My friends keep me grounded. They make sure that even though motherhood is so important to me, isn’t all that defines me. They see me, fully. As I said before, they make me a better person, and a better mom.

As I said, everything I do for my kids I do with a little help from friends.  And I created Cardamom so that you can do it, too.

Love, Sonal

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