January 24th, 2014, posted by Aimee
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Once upon a time, as a former competitive rider, now working mom stressed out with the load of a full-time public relations job, hideous commute and a high-energy preschool-age boy, I decided to add yet another thing to my already overflowing plate … a blog about working motherhood, cheekily named “Womoments.”
For a while at least, this working mom found some relief kvetching about the craziness of my life in the blog, but recently it’s become harder and harder to get motivated to write – and of course I feel guilty about that. Now, rather than feeling guilty about neglecting my son, I am worrying about not writing enough about my guilt. Believe me, the irony is not lost on me.
The good news is that I have something to blame for this terrible neglect, and it comes in the form of a furry, four-legged package. My latest obsession, which is actually one of my oldest obsessions back again in full force, is hunter jumper riding. For the past three months, I have been taking hunter jumper lessons once a week, picking back up a sport I had pursued competitively and intensely throughout my youth and early teen years. It’s just a once a week thing – every Sunday for about two hours of sheer bliss at Heidi Cowley’s stable, Boundary Gate, and on the back of a mare named Crystal – but horse fever has overtaken all my (non-working) hours. When my husband is playing video games or watching surf contests online at night, I’m watching horse jumping videos or Googling sources for field boots. Instead of seeking out mommy blogs, I’m sleuthing out equestrian forums and researching saddles. When I shut my eyes at night, the way I lull myself to sleep is by reliving the perfect course I jumped on the previous Sunday or the feel of my horse’s velvety muzzle. Those Pottery Barn catalogs and Elle Décor magazines I used to covet are collecting dust beneath Dover Saddlery and Riding Magazine, and instead of daydreaming about the next vacation, I’m plotting how to save for my own CWD saddle or even squeezing in another midweek ride somehow.
Okay, I absolutely realize that I’m going a little off the rails here. But the underlying truth of the matter is that nothing gives me as much pure peace and joy in life than being on the back of a sweet horse flying over fences and then patting her neck and feeding carrots in the barn after the ride. Other people do yoga, meditate, run triathlons, climb mountains or write poetry. For me, this is my bliss and my therapy, wrapped in one. I’ve tried many other things, and nothing even comes close to the mix of adrenaline and love I feel for horses and riding.
Ironically, just a few years ago I couldn’t have imagined in a million years that I would ever allow myself to take 2-3 hours purely for my own selfish hobby on a weekend day, away from my son and husband. Working long hours and commuting every morning, I was racked with guilt about not spending every possible minute with the family on my free days. It was inconceivable to me that riding could ever fit into my life, financially or from a time perspective.
But here’s the thing. Things you love have a way of working their way back into your life and you figure out a way to do it. I quit my job, went to freelance work to be able to take my son to school and cook dinner everyone once in a while during the week. That’s enabled me to let go of the guilt of having my mom watch my son for a couple hours on Sundays while I ride. And money-wise, I look at this like therapy – it’s actually about one-third of the cost of going to see a shrink and much more effective – for both my head and my body. After a ride, I’m both a better mother and wife because I am literally filled with joy that overflows into all my relationships.
If I had to share one lesson out of the experience for anyone else it would be this: Listen to your inner voice and the passions you had a child or younger person. What gives you true joy? Instead of saying, “I can’t,” find ways to do. Life is too short to deprive yourself of those simple pleasures, even if you are a mom with a job and a really full life. Go for it and don’t wait to have fun, damn it.
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October 28th, 2013, posted by Aimee
Like most working moms, I will never forget my first business trip after returning to the job after having my son. Already scrapping by on less than four hours of sleep a night, there I was dragging a breast pump through security at dawn praying I could make it through the 90-minute flight without exploding (or worse, leaking). During the long and tedious client brainstorm, I would glance furtively at my phone wondering whether I might get a text from Tav’s grandmother wondering where his blankie, binky or the right bottles were stored. And then stealing away into a creepy closet with a door that did not lock to pump, clinging to a snapshot of my son willing the vaunted “let down” to commence. In short, it was hell.
Contrast that scene with my business trip last week, six years later. Comfy bed linens, TV remote to myself all night, room service and only the slightest tinge of guilt at missing my son’s bedtime routine. It’s true what my friends with older kids always told me: It does get easier. And at some point, the occasional business trip can even be a fun diversion from the everyday doldrums of working motherhood.
A few things are inevitable though, so be prepared.
o “All the TV I can watch and nobody else hogging the remote” is likely to mean old reruns of “Law and Order” or cable news shows. For some reason, none of the hotels seem to carry Bravo, Food Network, or HGTV. I mean, why bother?
o Your child will either not be interested at all in talking to you and will not tell you he or she misses you, breaking your heart in a million pieces. Or he or she will lay on the guilt thick, asking why you had to go away and why you can’t stay home with him or her, also breaking your heart in a million pieces. Either way, it’s gonna hurt.
o There’s never a damn thing worth wasting the calories on in that minibar – even if your client or company is paying the outrageous tab. And it’s no fun breaking into a mini flute of Veuve by yourself.
o You will still sleep like crap – despite the 1000-thread count linens, custom down pillows, black-out shades and the lack of both a snoring spouse and an insomniac child. It’s just that way.
o There’s never time to shop nor the room in your suitcase to purchase a truly thoughtful gift for your kids on the trip, but you will feel an insane amount of guilt about not bringing something, anything back. So, you’ll resort to troweling the airport gift shops for the least cheesy (albeit criminally overpriced) toy you can cram into your carryon before boarding.
o You’ll come home late after a long day of traveling, and the house will look like a hurricane hit, the refrigerator will be empty and you’ll find out the kids went to school without a snack/their coats/homework, etc.
Oh well, it’s nice to be needed, right?
Maybe, these are just my truths … I’d be curious to hear what other Womos out there have to say. Anyone?
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September 27th, 2013, posted by Aimee
Well, it’s official. I have finally mustered up the courage to surrender the security of a lucrative paycheck and – let’s face it – my entire identity for the past decade as a hard-charging, long-suffering PR agency executive to pursue a more balanced life as a freelance consultant. What the heck is balance, anyway? Here are a few things it means to me in the immediate sense:
• The ability to see my son wake up every morning, push his bangs away from his forehead for a kiss and squeeze him while he’s still little enough to allow me that privilege
• Taking a run or a hike at lunch time – sometimes even with a friend – even if I have to get up and start making pitch calls at 5 am to do so
• Having the time to prepare a healthy dinner at least a few times a week
• Not worrying about accounting for every single 15-minute increment of time during my day or whether I’m working harder than all the others in my same role at the company
• Shoving that hideous roller bag that I lugged back and forth on BART into my office everyday far into the corner of the closet
• Never having to attend another management meeting filled with hand-wringing over junior staff morale or gossip in “cube land”
• The ability to pursue work with clients I like and brands I believe in regardless of budget limitations
And I could go on. But overall, the overlying theme here is freedom. Freedom to be a more involved mom. Freedom to take charge of my physical fitness and health. And freedom to pursue the kind of work I really enjoy best.
Am I terrified a little bit? Definitely. The reality of pursuing business as a solo practitioner and trying to make financial ends meet is still just around the corner. But I’m looking forward to the challenge too. It’s a new chapter and I’m ready for it.
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June 19th, 2013, posted by Aimee
“Laid-back” is pretty much the last thing anyone who knows me at all would ever use to describe my personality. “Intense,” “stress-case,” “high strung,” even “energetic” and passionate” are the more frequently used adjectives by friends, family, coworkers – hell, anyone who knows me for more than five minutes typically.
However, “laid back” is probably the kindest way to describe my approach to much of the day to day parenting grind. And of course, this lack of worrying now has me worried. Is there something wrong with me that I worry so little when it comes to my little dude?
I’m not talking about health concerns, of course. Like any other mom, if Tav wakes up with a fever or bonks heads with a playmate on the trampoline, I’m calling doctors and administering first aid like no tomorrow. But when it comes to issues related to more everyday kid stuff – i.e., playground disputes, best friend fallouts, etc. – or even school dilemmas like which teacher he’ll be assigned and whether his reading level is above or below average, I simply don’t lose much sleep.
The other day, a good friend spent the better part of an hour explaining a “mean girl” problem her daughters were experiencing at school and wondering how to prevent her daughters from becoming tainted with the bullying reputation and stigma of this cruel little girl. I was having trouble following the logic or honestly caring too much and wondered if this was because I happen to have a little boy – maybe little boys don’t ever deal with this kind of drama? Or maybe I never cared to notice this in Tav’s interactions with friends. Or maybe I just don’t care enough to look into it?
The whole incident made me think about other times I felt like something in my “mommy genes” might be missing. There was the first day of kindergarten for Tav, when dozens of people asked me if I had teared up sending my little guy off to school. “You’ll need lots of Kleenex,” warned more than one mom. But I never understood the fuss. Sure, I was super excited for him to start school and all the “big boy adventures” of elementary school, but was it really earth-shatteringly emotional? Not for me.
Other times during the year, I have overhead other moms fretting about whether their child’s reading level was up to par or about how their teacher may not have stretched them enough in terms of certain academic goals. It just didn’t occur to me to do much more with that information than to let it wash right over me. If the teacher told me Tav was doing fine, I took their word for it. If he liked his teacher, had lots of friends and seemed happy, was I supposed to be digging deeper to find something wrong? According to some moms, it seems so. What the heck is wrong with me that I am not worrying like everyone else?
Somehow, as improbable as it may seem, I have an innate sense of confidence and calm when it comes to mothering Tavish that doesn’t apply to any other area of my life. I can only chalk it up to a fantastic, happy little boy who makes me feel everyday like anything is possible and that life is exceedingly good. Or maybe I’m just lazy.
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June 17th, 2013, posted by Aimee
Sometimes my life unfolds in a frighteningly clichéd manner. This was one of many thoughts running through my mind as I waited in the darkened room, feet in stirrups and heart pounding, for the ultrasound technician to show up two weeks ago today. After all, if I hadn’t canceled my annual exam to attend that lunch with a USA Today reporter and my client a month ago, wouldn’t my doctor have found the huge “abdominal mass” when it was closer to a grapefruit than a watermelon, as the technician later described it to me? What if I had just taken those ten extra minutes between meetings and client calls to push an earlier appointment? Would I still be in this terrifying and mortifying experience now, looking four months pregnant and scheduling a visit to the women’s oncology specialist? Isn’t this literally the oldest story in the book – the workaholic mom who never misses a beat when it comes to her kid’s health, but neglects her own body?
Yep, so I am guilty as charged – the ultimate Womo horror story cliché. Here’s the lowdown. About three weeks ago, on a Friday afternoon about ten minutes before some friends were due to arrive at our house for a BBQ, I reached down across my belly and allowed myself to notice the hard bulge across my abdomen Nate had been pointing out to me for months. At night, once in a while he had mentioned that I had something “hard in there” … but, thinking I was simply bloated or getting embarrassingly fat, I kept blowing him off, attributing the bloat to a full bladder or part of my disgusting umbilical hernia. I had noticed that my once flat belly now protruded a bit and that I didn’t seem to be able to lose a pound, despite following a strict low-carb diet for months (the same one my husband followed to shed 20 pounds, by the way). However, I was used to being disappointed by my body these days, and who had time for those worries when work was such a whirlwind. And besides, I reasoned, I would just ask my doctor when I saw her for that annual physical in May.
Wouldn’t you know it? The doctor’s appointment conflicted with the lunch I finally – after a year of begging and scheming – had gotten my USA Today reporter friend to take with my biggest client. Annual Pap could wait, bloated belly be damned. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get back on the docket until July – oh well.
Yet, that Friday afternoon I couldn’t deny something was wrong … and then suddenly I panicked. Unfortunately, it was too late to go anywhere but an ER, so I waited. When Monday rolled around, I called in sick for the first time in ten years, and got into the only doctor who would see me. Literally five minutes into the visit, after a quick caress of my belly and a peek in “there,” she pronounced, “yep, you have something really big in there” and ordered me to get X-rays that afternoon. By 5 p.m. the same day, I learned there was about a football-sized tumor growing on my left ovary and wrapped around my uterus. Within 48 hours, I had been scheduled to undergo surgery – a three-hour operation in which the determination would be made by doctor while I was under anesthesia whether the excised tumor was all that needed removal or whether a complete hysterectomy was in order. Oh, and also whether or not I was looking at a cancer diagnosis.
Fast forward a week and here I am – drugged up, couch-bound and cancer-free. The tumor (no one is bothering to refer to it as a “cyst” anymore) was benign I learned upon opening my eyes from surgery to a surge of relief. No hysterectomy had been needed, though my appendix had come out along with the “mass,” an ovary and a tube. And for now at least, a crisis has been averted.
I know with every bone in my body that I need to view this event as a sign that it’s finally time to slow down to listen to my body and take the damn pedal off the gas. I know it won’t kill me to stay off work email and indulge in binges of crappy TV, chick lit and cuddle time with my little dude for a few weeks. In fact, it may even save my life.
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June 6th, 2013, posted by Aimee
“Pinterest stress afflicts nearly half of moms, survey says.” Wow. Leave it to the TODAY Show’s “TODAY Moms” blog to cover the really hard-hitting issues. In a recently released study of 7,000 mothers across the U.S. (yes, you read that right – three zeros), a whopping 42 percent admitted to feeling anxious when flipping through the photo-filled social network and seeing the elaborate crafts and homemade dishes and desserts from other moms.
Good god, people. Get a life. That was my first reaction when seeing those headlines. I mean, come on – Pinterest stress? These simply could not possibly be working moms they surveyed. Sure, we all love a little mindless scrolling through pretty pictures online every once in a while. However, none of my Womo cohorts have a spare minute to fret over the lack of perfectly decorated cupcakes or mason jar gerber daisy arrangements in their lives.
I mean, let’s face it: most of us long ago surrendered to the world of “BIY” (buy it yourself). I recall one Halloween when a good friend, when asked if she made her child’s costume, quipped without an ounce of guilt, “I made it, yeah, and by that I mean, I made the money to pay someone else to make it.”
However, when I read on in the article and began to think about it a little more, I had to admit that Facebook is a bit of a different matter. Lately more and more I hesitate a few minutes before clicking on that bookmark or checking the notifications on my phone. Why does everyone else always seem to be on fantastic vacations in Europe or skiing with the kids in Tahoe? How come all my friends’ kids seem to say and do the sweetest, smartest things? Why does everyone else seem to have a constantly revolving stream of flattering and fun profile pics, when I struggle to find one decent shot every two years to post? And how does everyone seem to have such clever comments to make about things in the news before I have even heard about them?
And Twitter? Don’t even get me started. In my business, Twitter followings and “engagement” (i.e., how active you are and how often your tweets get “retweeted”) are the ultimate currency. Going on Twitter is an angst-ridden exercise for me the majority of the time as I eye the stagnant number of followers on my profile and struggle to find something original or clever to compose in 140 characters or less.
Damn, so I really am a cliché after all. Social media, once such a source of pleasure, is now starting to become a bit of a drag. If only there were a few other places to get my daily fix of celebrity gossip headlines, ex-boyfriend family photos and “Mad Men” recaps, I’d be in business. Until then, guess I’ll just take another Ativan and dig in.
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May 15th, 2013, posted by Aimee
Balmy nights, strawberries in season, strappy sandals, salt-rimmed margaritas and poolside playdates … what’s not to like about summer? Well, if you’re a working mom, there’s one worrisome wrinkle in what is otherwise the most glorious time of year – school’s out and you’re left scrambling to find both childcare and somewhat intellectually stimulating or at least physically challenging activities for your kids.
As if it weren’t stressful enough simply supervised activities to occupy those precious daytime hours formerly filled by teachers and recess, there’s also anxiety around the dreaded “summer slide,” i.e., all the brain cells junior is going to lose while vegging out in front of a TV or on the trampoline between June and August. According to the National Summer Learning Association, students who do not participate in enrichment and learning activities during the break can lose roughly 22 percent of the knowledge and skills they gained during the previous school year. Damn. Talk about pressure.
Thus begins the mad dash to line up and map out as many week by week camps, tutoring and team sports as you can afford to fill up those 8-10 weeks before the new school year begins. The choices seem endless and overwhelming … science camp? Basketball camp? How about Lacrosse? What about swim team? What’s the deadline for soccer? What about that children’s theater? How about art or music lessons? And, oh yeah, where or who will pick them up since most of these camps let out by noon or 3 p.m. without any option of aftercare. Figuring out the puzzle and stitching together a roadmap of activities without spending thousands of dollars is enough to blow any Womo’s mind.
University of Phoenix College of Education Assistant Dean Dr. Ashley Norris recently reached out to offer me some advice on how even a busy working mom can squeeze in some learning during the summer months in between the camps and sporting activities. Here are some of her tips:
• Look for learning opportunities in your own backyard. Open the morning newspaper and choose an adventure for the day. See what is happening in your community and find learning opportunities in your own backyard, e.g.:
o Visit the farmer’s market to learn about vegetables. Take pictures and continue your research online or at the library. Then have your child create a presentation about what he/she learned.
o Attend concerts in the park or other community music events. Inspire children to research and explore different types of music or the history of a specific instrument.
• Turn everyday activities into learning opportunities. Children need to engage in writing, reading, and math with a purpose – they need to understand the real world applications of their studies. Kids can assist parents with making grocery lists, counting money, determining restaurant tips and measuring for recipes or calculating sale prices.
• Embrace technology and create interactive projects and activities.
o Involve children in digital storytelling, using computer-based tools (video, photos, and text). For instance, your children can use family photos and videos to tell a story about summer activities.
o The perfect summer project for a child of any age is to research something that is of interest to them. For instance, a child can get creative taking photos, then research the topic online and build an interactive presentation. The added benefit is this can become a brag book for mom or dad or grandma.
o Involve children in local geo-caching (high-tech treasure hunting) activities.
What about you? Do you worry about summer “slide,” and what are your tips for preventing that while balancing everything else as a working mom? Tell me what you think.
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May 3rd, 2013, posted by Aimee
There is no doubt that motherhood in general is a universal sisterhood. Once you become a parent, you realize the shocking fact that a huge majority of the people in your daily life and walking past on the street have shared the terror, awe, pain and joy of bringing a new human being in this world … and enduring the same endless sleepless nights and frustrating days as you.
However, much we moms all like to celebrate the joint sisterhood of motherhood’s trials, tribulations and triumphs, I have to admit that from my son’s earliest days, it became apparent that other “boy moms” and I shared much more in common. Who knows whether some of the earliest patterns we discussed in those new mommy groups were actual differences or those we attributed to the male sex (e.g., “he’s a typical boy – nurses for 30 minutes straight, not a snacker like the girls,” etc.). The key thing is that we all began to draw the lines and paint the picture of our experience as different from those of the “girl moms.”
Now that my son is six, the differences really are hard to dismiss, as are my own experiences as distinct from my friends with female offspring. And as an extremely “girly girl” myself, it cracks me up that I have thoroughly embraced my role as a “boy mom” in all of its absurdities. Are you a boy mom? Here’s how to tell:
10 Ways to Tell You are Definitely a “Boy Mom”
o At a party with friends, it’s natural to lose sight of your child for long stretches of time while he’s running around outside … while your friend’s girls are still clinging to her legs.
oTiny Lego pieces have found their way into every corner of your home and into the heating vents, bathtub, and even the cat’s litter box once or twice.
o You’ve actually started researching “bearded dragons” and “reptile pets” online for a possible addition to the family home.
o You can hardly imagine the day when your child is going to have an opinion about what he wears to school (let alone dresses himself).
o No sand toys needed for a day at the beach – hands work just fine for finding those ubiquitous sand crabs.
o Crafts? What are crafts? Your child never sits still long enough to draw a stick figure, let alone complete a painting or collage.
o “Run ‘em until they drop” is your motto on weekends and after school, and rainy days are your worst nightmare.
o You find yourself sitting in pee on a fairly regular basis.
o Hearing moms (of little girls) brag about their children potty training before three years old makes you want to gnash your teeth.
o You’ve watched the movie, “Cars,” so many times, it’s hard to imagine Owen Wilson as anything other than a smiling NASCAR character.
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April 22nd, 2013, posted by Aimee
Monday morning, 10:15 a.m. This is the time and day of the week when you would typically find me tapping furiously through emails, juggling media calls and rushing from one team meeting and client call to another. Certainly the last place in the world you would ever expect to find this this hard-charging, Type A workaholic working mom on this day at this hour whiling away her time in a coffee shop down the street from her office.
Well, to be honest, I was actually sobbing uncontrollably to my husband on the phone as I recalled a difficult conversation I had just had with someone at work. As I gulped for air and rubbed the last of my tears away, struggling to regain composure before going back to the office, I knew I was probably overreacting, but truthfully it had been a tough couple of weeks on the job and I felt close to throwing in the towel. Nobody seemed to appreciate me, I didn’t seem to be going anywhere with my career and I felt like a failure.
Isn’t just one of life’s wonderful ironies, though, that just when you’re about to give up, you encounter someone whose experience and wonderful spirit puts your whole situation in perspective?
That’s exactly what happened later in the week when I had the privilege of meeting a fantastic and inspiring woman named Gretchen Witt, the founder of Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. Gretchen – who had been invited to speak at a professional development event for junior staffers – told the personal story of how she came to start Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, whose mission is to inspire individuals and organizations to raise funds for pediatric cancer research. According to Gretchen, the story began when her first son at age 2 ½ was diagnosed out of the blue with a form of cancer and she learned that pediatric cancer is actually the #1 disease killer of children. At the same time she also learned that pediatric cancer, which kills one of the five children who receive the diagnosis, gets less than three percent of the National Cancer Institute’s research budget.
“How could this be? Why have I never heard about this? Why aren’t people talking about it,” she recalled. “And then I realized, it’s because everyone is terrified to talk about it. It’s sad and hard to think about children and cancer.”
Gretchen – who by the way still works full-time as the director of PR for OXO kitchen products – came up with the idea of what she saw as an easy and approachable way to raise funds and awareness about this situation: the world’s largest bake sale. Enlisting the help of friends in the culinary world and many volunteers, she spearheaded a bake sale of 96,000 cookies that raised more than $400,000 for pediatric cancer research. From there, the idea bloomed to create an organization to continue this mission and inspire others to hold their own sales and donate in other ways to the cause. Today the organization has raised nearly $5 million to fund the development of new, more effective and less toxic treatments for pediatric cancers.
Sadly, Gretchen’s son, Liam, passed away in 2011 at six years old. I can’t imagine in my worst nightmares surviving that tragedy; my mind won’t even go there. And yet she is now working even harder to grow the organization so that other children might be saved from the same fate by new and better treatments in the future. Oh, and by the way, did I mention she still also has her “day job” managing PR for a huge, national consumer products company?
It just seemed so important to tell Gretchen’s story and learn from it that there are people out there going through things much more difficult than me who are also turning these personal crises into much great good … even helping to save lives. I’m humbled and inspired. I want to help. The good news for this Womo is, too, that Cookies for Kids’ Cancer even offers gift boxes and other ways to donate … without subjecting anyone to my lousy baking skills. Check it out and please spread the word.
Thank you again, Gretchen Witt, for putting it all into perspective for me. PR can do great things, and there are still great people in PR using our storytelling powers to make change.
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April 4th, 2013, posted by Aimee
“Lean In,” as I opined in a recent Op-Ed for PR trade, The Holmes Report, was a fantastic and inspiring book, even for this admittedly conflicted and slightly burned out Womo. For the past couple weeks since reading the book and writing the piece, I find myself strangely obsessed with Sheryl Sandberg, sopping up every article and TV interview with the author/Facebook exec that I can find. I love this woman, want to be her best friend, think she’s a long lost sister/soulmate, etc., etc. And so naturally I found myself watching her interview with Oprah Winfrey the other night, lapping up every word out of her mouth until one small thing hit a nerve.
“I leave every night at 5:30 … so I can be home by 6 to have dinner with my kids,” she explained to Oprah. The “I leave every night at 5:30” part I had already read in the book and heard excerpted a million times of course and basically shrugged my shoulders. My office closes as t 5:30, and I scoot out the door at that time, too, knowing full well, that like Sheryl my imaginary BFF, I also am back online working at 8 p.m. once my little dude hits the hay. Most nights I put in a good 2-3 hours before turning out the lights myself.
But what caught me this time was the “to be home with my family for dinner by 6 p.m.” part. Hmm. I leave at 5:30 p.m. and am lucky to be home by 7 p.m. most nights … and I live in one of the closer in suburbs of the City.
I am NOT in the minority here. The vast majority of working parents in any of the major metropolitan areas of the country, e.g., New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco Bay Area, Chicago – do not have anywhere close to a measly 20-30 minute door-to-door commute these days. The issue mostly is financial – living “close in” to the major urban centers typically means huge housing costs (a typical 2-BR condo in one of San Francisco’s popular family neighborhoods runs upwards of $1 million) as well as – often – private school tuition. The rest of us relocate to the closest suburb with highly rated public schools and settle for a commute. Living in the City is pretty much left to the super affluent/highest paid echelons or the young and childless.
This damn commute becomes the the bane of existence for most of the working moms I know, myself included. I realize dads face the same issues … but read my last post. Men lack the guilt factor that we suffer over these kinds of things. But for us moms, after years on end of missing morning drop-offs and teacher conferences and family dinners while waiting for trains or sitting in traffic, most of us literally hit the wall. Either telecommuting becomes an option at least a couple days a week – or consulting/freelance work begins to hold a whole new appeal.
I’m honestly interested in what Sheryl Sandberg, aka, my hero, would say about this commuting conundrum. In my opinion, it’s the lack of flexibility with hours and workplace location that is a critical factor holding women back that doesn’t have an easy answer we can all solve on our own just by pushing through biases and not giving up. She talks in the book about Marissa Mayer and the amount of unfair criticism her former Google colleague received when, upon taking the job as CEO Yahoo!, she declared she’d forgo a traditional maternity leave when she gave birth to her first son. According to Sandberg, we should support other women’s choices even if they are not our own.
However, I would be interested to see what Sandberg thinks about the more recent decree by Mayer that Yahoo! would be eliminating its telecommuting policy. Much as I believe in Sandberg’s general idea that women should support other women, I can’t get behind Mayer on this one. Telecommuting is literally the only thing that can keep many talented working moms in the workforce rather than hitting the road as a freelance consultant.
I don’t know all the answers here – and I do not believe in any kind of government-mandated flexibility for employers. But I do know that the brain drain of working moms from corporate America (and startup land, too) is not going to end until we open up to the idea of alternative hours and telecommuting – or other to be determined creative solutions – to enable all of us to have that same nightly family dinner routine that Sandberg herself enjoys.
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