Even as our world becomes increasingly more open-minded, there's still a ton of taboo surrounding sex and intimacy—especially when it comes to certain groups. Namely: Moms.
For whatever weird reason, society believes that when women have children, their sexual desire and identities vanish into thin air. We're supposed to be too overcome with the joys of motherhood to enjoy anything else (insert eye roll). So when mothers reveal even the slightest hint of their sensuality, people freak the freak out.
This culture of shaming and silence is exactly what stay-at-home mom Maureen Pollack was up against when she decided to invent The WaterSlyde aquatic stimulator, a revolutionary water diverter that attaches to your faucet to deliver a truly hypnotic flow of H2O in all the right places. The road to developing the device—which Pollack originally thought up as a teen when she accidentally discovered how pleasurable water could be—wasn't easy. But with a lot of determination and grit, she overcame the fear of stigma and created something truly special.
Making sex toys isn't exactly what people expect from a mom, and Pollack wasn't even your stereotypical mom. She was also an intimacy coach who taught women how to embrace their sexuality and take control of their pleasure. Still, she spent most of her free time volunteering as the school's PTA vice president—something her mother-in-law reprimanded her for one evening.
"My mother-in-law was dying of MSA Parkinson's, and she and I were incredibly close," Pollack said. "She had a moment where she stopped me, put her hands on my leg, and said, 'That's really sweet that you volunteer, but doesn't that tell you that you have time on your hands? You could be making some money for yourself and for your family instead of the school.'
"It kind of shocked me because she was a teacher, and I was expecting her to say, 'I'm so proud of you for putting on that big event and raising $25K for the school.' But no. She actually encouraged me to do something different. So that was the first seed that was planted."
Following that conversation with her mother-in-law, Pollack competed in her first-ever Jiu-Jitsu competition and—despite being just a white belt with two stripes—won the gold medal. That feeling of empowerment was crucial for the third and final part of Pollack's self-described "trifecta." The next day, she got a call from her OB-GYN to whom she had shared her water diverter idea.
They wanted to invest.
As with all moments where opportunity comes knocking, once the excitement subsided, fear crept in. Pollack started to worry about what people would think of her and her work in an industry that everyone enjoys but loves to demonize.
"I'm a modern Orthodox Jewish mom in the suburbs of Connecticut," she said, recalling those early days of self-doubt. "I was scared of the unjustifiable way I've seen society treat sex workers, porn stars, and other people in the adult category. The hypocrisy of how people would watch porn and then hate porn stars. How people would go to strip clubs and then trash strippers. It always bothered me, but I didn't want to put my family in that category."
So she did what any Orthodox Jewish mom in the suburbs of Connecticut would do when faced with a difficult decision. First, she got the green light to file for a provisional patent. Then she called her rabbi.
While you might think a rabbi would have some reservations about sex toy inventions, to Pollack's surprise, he was pretty cool with it. "He said it would be wonderful and help women's sexual health," she said, adding that he did advise her to keep the packaging and promotional materials on the modest side. He then told her: "People will always judge you, but you're going to be spreading light."
This sage advice was almost what Pollack needed to move forward and bring her idea to life. There was just one more important conversation to have. "I could have permission from the world," she said. "But there's only one person who mattered after myself. And that's my husband."
Pollack's husband, like her mother-in-law and rabbi before him, was totally supportive of her venture. When she asked him one night if he was worried about the reception she would receive, he said: "If you don't do this, you're going to think about it for the rest of your life."
Armed with a provisional patent and the support of her loved ones, Pollack launched the WaterSlyde in 2014 and hasn't looked back since. Her advice to other women thinking about taking the entrepreneurial plunge? Don't let fear hold you back.
"It really, truly does not matter what anyone else says about you because any negativity is what they're telling themselves about why they're not doing something," she says. " It only matters how you feel. Give yourself a chance."
About The Author
Emily Blackwood is a freelance journalist committed to answering the plaguing question of what makes us truly happy. Turns out, it's a lot. Her work has been published in SELF, HuffPost, and YourTango. You can learn more here.
Medical Disclaimer: The information provided here is intended for educational and informative purposes only and is not intended to serve as medical or professional advice. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other health-care professional.