For Working Mothers

HackerMoms takes the Hallmark out of motherhood.


Courtesy of Shannon Nicholls

The image of a mom with a paintbrush in one hand and a sippy cup in the other isn’t usually what comes to mind when you hear the word “hacker,” but it’s exactly what Sho Sho Smith envisioned when she founded Mothership HackerMoms. Complete with a drill press, sewing machine, an industrial printer, an array of art and building supplies, and onsite child care, HackerMoms is a space on Adeline Street in Berkeley that caters to the crafty, do-it-yourself mom whose appetite for creation is as insatiable after motherhood as it was before. Smith, 41, defines hacking, in contrast to the more common image of prodigious cyber-geeks, as: “Changing or modifying something to suit your own needs.”

To suit mothers’ needs, HackerMoms offers onsite child care for kids ages 5 months to 6 years—children move freely between the workspace and an adjacent playroom—and a range of educational workshops for adults and kids, like Homeschooling 101, Wills and Estate Planning, Beat Boxing for Toddlers, and Hula Hoop Making. Membership is $60 a month with the option of child care, which typically costs $5 an hour. Members have their own keys for whenever inspiration strikes.

HackerMoms was born out of Smith’s boredom with traditional mothers’ groups. A writer, Smith started seeking out like-minded moms who shared her love of all things creative and with them founded HackerMoms. “The commonality between HackerMoms isn’t age, race, or gender. It’s more of an attitude,” says Smith. HackerMoms rejects the notion that a mother should be a self-sacrificing martyr who always puts herself last, believing that children and families are best served when all facets of a woman’s identity are nurtured and fulfilled. HackerMoms enables mothers to hone their creative skills, and even learn new ones. Sheila Metcalf Tobin, a HackerMom, added laser cutting to her repertoire of furniture-making skills. Another member, Aya de Leon, started a blog and is now working on a novel. 

But personal growth is just one part of the
HackerMoms mission. Members also seek to model behavior for their children in the hopes of encouraging intellectual and artistic experimentation. To that end, HackerMoms recently introduced HackerSprouts, an educational program designed for kids ages 2 to 6 aimed at cultivating the next generation of hackers using curriculum that emphasizes science, technology, engineering, arts,
and math.

HackerMoms is an eclectic group of women with an alternative vision of motherhood that stresses the mother’s growth as much as the child’s. Says Smith, “It’s time to take the Hallmark out of motherhood.”        

3288 Adeline St., Berkeley,

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