“I wish someone had told me” is a series of posts that feed into our inquisitive nature at CN&CO. Outside of our weekly features, we sometimes feature people in our network who have had something interesting or surprising happen or occur to them in their lives – or lessons they learnt. This blog features Abigail Schilperoort. Abi is connected to the CN&CO network through her sister Josie, one of our founding partners, and Carel is also the non-exec chairman of JaSure.
Right, over to Abi.
I must say, I was a bit of a sceptic when women spoke of the hardships of being a working mum. I used to think, “Really, how hard can it be”. I backed myself and honestly thought I would nail it!
Now, I am no expert on the topic. Some may question whether I am even qualified to discuss it yet. Nevertheless, here goes: five days in, I arrived at work today without deodorant, wearing a see-through top with a ladder down my stockings – the result of running out of the house in a huge rush after having:
- Woken up at 5am to try to feed my four-month-old baby, who has decided to bottlefeed rather than breastfeed ever since I went back to work (cue: ‘mother’s guilt’)
- Taken my incredibly hyperactive dogs (Schnapps and Strudel) for a 10km run
- Fed my baby breakfast (he recently started solids, so both of us were covered in rice porridge by the end of it)
- Jumped into a shower and expressed while I blow-dried my hair (very badly)
- Jumped into the car, put on makeup at the robots (also very badly) and was in a meeting by 9am.
So, today I am writing about how I wish someone had told me (or I wish I had listened) about having a baby, starting a business and the importance of your relationships.
My mum, who is desperately ill with Alzheimer’s disease, always made me promise over and over again that I would marry someone who was kind. She said that kindness, above all, is the most important quality in a person. I followed her advice and did just that.
How did I find myself in this exact position: in a start-up with a newborn and two highly, highly energetic dogs?
Well, it all began when I met with a friend from university in April last year who told me about JaSure, a business started by a group of friends with a vision to develop the first on-demand insurance offering in South Africa. I was in love with the idea of transforming the insurance industry not only on a tech, but also on a product level, to benefit the consumer. This was revolutionary and I wanted to join the revolution. I raced home to tell my husband that I had found my future company. It would come at a cost though (a salary cut), because it is a start-up after all. Being the person he is, he, of course, made a plan for me to follow my passion.
Fast forward to August 2018, a year earlier than anticipated, we found out that we were expecting our first child right after we had paid for our second Vizsla, Strudel. Fast forward to the 4th of April 2019 and we welcomed the most beautiful, bright-eyed little boy into our lives. And as the story goes, our lives were quite literally changed forever.
Having a baby has been monumental, in the best kind of way. It has made me take a look at my life and realise the key people who make it all possible, and keep me sane. It has also made me realise the incredible kindness in all my relationships. I really took my mum’s advice to heart.
My sister, my sister-in-law, my best friend and my cousin: ready to answer any possible question I may have at any time of the day or night. My group of mamas who are so incredibly real, gentle and honest about their journeys. My parents-in-law, cooking up a storm, always ready to look after my son, Strudel and Schnapps and unconditionally loving us. My beautiful friends, showering us with gifts and delicious treats and most importantly, an ear to listen. Our incredible domestic worker, guiding me in her own gentle and comic way. My colleagues, who just picked up my workload (we launched while I was on maternity leave). They could not have been more supportive, especially Richard, who had a baby a month before me – my being out of action increased his workload substantially.
Most importantly, our unsung hero, my husband. It’s not easy for dads. They only have a few days off at the birth of their baby. They race off to work early in the morning and race home to grab a cuddle before bedtime. My husband wakes up with me for every feed, even though he can’t do anything. He makes sure the house functions, that I have all the support I need and gets very little recognition for it. He gives consistently and expects very little in return.
So, if someone had told me (or I had listened) about having a baby and starting a start-up – would I do it again?
Absolutely! It has made me realise the beauty of the people around me and just how lucky my son, Strudel, Schnapps and I really are. So I may be smelly and wear see-through tops and laddered stockings, but that is totally okay because I have the best tribe out there.
Besides, I have always been slightly addicted to chaos. It makes life interesting. I go a little crazy when things are perfect.
To download the Jasure app, follow this link and learn more about how on-demand insurance can suit your lifestyle.
Our “I wish someone had told me” blogs are a way to pay it forward and form part of CN&CO’s belief that the world can be a better place – and we all have a responsibility to make it so.