Tag Archives: working mom

Deja New

Remember that time I left my long-term corporate gig to embark on a new adventure?

I’m done now.

After about a year and a half of self-discovery, trying new things, stretching myself and doing the work that I never would have had the opportunity to experiment with if I had stayed in my position, I’m back in “corporate gig” land. In fact, I’m back working for the same media company I left, albeit for a different division.

And it’s funny; whenever I leave a job (to start a new one), I’m asked if I did so to spend more time with the kids.

Nope.

Life-work “balance” isn’t strictly about time management. It’s also about fulfillment, and joy and productivity, and knowing yourself. I learned a lot about myself the last year and a half. I’m someone who craves more of a structured environment; I’m attracted to bigger organizations with proven best practices. And most of all, I need to see the fruits of my labor. I need to see I had impact, or at least made improvements.

Because that makes me the happiest. And my family is better off with the happier version of me.

Happy means showing all the teeth.

Happy means showing all the teeth.

The job I left was fulfilling in a very important way; I was doing what I wanted to do. I tested myself; and I learned so much. I re-ignited a creative spark that had fizzled out a while ago and made it so hard to stay motivated. And now, I bring that spark to my new job at Sundance TV.

Part of the same company I left in February 2013.

On the same floor I sat for almost seven years.

Seeing old colleagues whom I missed so much this last year and a half.

But reincarnated in a new role, in a new division, at a network that just feels like a good fit.

I have absolutely no regrets about my decision to work at a production company the last year and a half. I had the privilege of working among driven creatives who taught me such an important lesson: why not?

Why not was something I didn’t ask often enough. I learned to fail fast, and get smarter faster. I learned that taking the G train to the Williamsburg office every day made a considerable dent in my enthusiasm, even though I got to interact with the NICEST Dunkin’ Donuts staff in any of the boroughs (they memorized my order after only 2 times!). I learned that I still want to learn; that it’s important to me to have mentors and people who model behavior and business practices to which I aspire. I learned that I am good at things nobody had offered to have me try; that I had to make my own opportunities and trust my gut.

Me with the office mascot, Hall. This can only happen when your production office is a loft above a custom motorcycle shop in BK.

Me with the office mascot, Hall. This can only happen when your production office is a loft above a custom motorcycle shop in BK.

I am not home any more than I have been since my maternity leave 4 years ago. I work full-time. My partner works full-time. It is not easy. We have a babysitter, grandparents and are currently looking for a second babysitter to cover holes in our childcare. We have full day pre-k and after-school. We have piano lessons, dance classes, Brownie meetings and karate. We have started buying pre-sliced apples for the lunches because I just…can’t anymore. We have to wake my daughter up to make a 7:20am bus. We have a lot of half-days that require feats of scheduling gymnastics nobody warned me about. We have more homework than last year. We have new chore charts I keep forgetting to print out. We have to stop the yelling.

And I have a new job that, from a title perspective, is not a step up. In fact, it’s a position I occupied a decade ago. Does that matter? For a minute it did.

I read LEAN IN over a year ago and have mixed feelings about it, but I think there is one thing Sheryl Sandberg got right about having a career, for me at least:

“It’s a jungle gym, not a ladder.”

So I have zig-zagged and I’m back in with the same company, in a whole new way. Boomerang employees are trending, apparently.

 

 

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What This Working Mom is Thankful For

1. My village. It truly does take a village to raise a child. We are lucky to have a support system comprised of grandparents, babysitters, teachers, and other parents to help with our childcare.

2. Good health. I rarely get sick (knock on wood) and my kids don’t suffer from much more than the occasional cold. As any parent, working out of the home or not, knows – a sick kid or parent upsets the whole ecosystem of the daily routine. So I’m thankful that we don’t have to make those frantic adjustments so frequently.

3. Low expectations. I rarely cook. And almost NEVER on a weekday. Scott is usually the one conjuring up meals, making enough on weekends to have leftovers for the week. Our kids know better than to expect the aroma of simmering goodness to greet them when they walk through the door at 6:30 on a weeknight. We give our microwave a good work-out and mix and match frozen veggies. Because while we keep it simple, fast and non-gourmet, I refuse to serve them crap. Except for the occasional fish sticks. And maybe some other stuff from the freezer. But, they eat their rainbows!

4. Friends. I think I still have some. They have remained there for me though I have pretty much retreated into my own little bubble these last few years. My terms have changed; I rarely go out after dark – both because I choose not to and because exhaustion prevents me from doing so. So they agree to meet me for mid-day coffee or a lunch break manicure and I am so grateful for their time and their company.

5. Co-workers. My team rolls with the fact that sometimes I work from home, sometimes I work from our Brooklyn office and that from 5:30 – 8pm, I am wearing my mom hat, to be contacted for work emergencies only. I am more than willing to find pockets of time to work in the evening, after the kids are in bed, or on the weekends, when my husband takes the kids to the playground for daredevil shenanigans which he knows I can’t stomach. So it evens out. I do believe the best collaborative work is done when everyone is on site, able to discuss face to face and SEE others’ faces, which, for me at least, really improves communication. I understand better when I can read the emotion and body language behind the words. Facetime or Skype is ok, but let’s not discount the informative energy in a room full of people trying to bring a project to life. However, life happens. So I’m grateful for my co-workers who share the belief that work and life are not mutually exclusive.

Turkey art by Campbell. Dreidel brought to you by Chanukah which arrived on Thanksgiving eve.

Turkey art by Campbell. Dreidel brought to you by Chanukah which arrived on Thanksgiving eve.

6. The tradition of watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in my pjs while drinking coffee. With two kids, I only get about 3 consecutive minutes of viewing at a time, but watching it makes me feel like me. It’s something I’ve always done. Never wanted to go to the parade, just wanted to watch it on TV. Wondering if it’s just a native New Yorker thing (my husband, who hails from Buffalo, always throws out going to the parade to which I reply: “Sure, have fun.”

7. Love. Ok, that’s an easy one. But let me contextualize this; my children know how much their family loves them. I know they know. And I think that means we’re doing an ok job raising them.

Charlotte: "I'm thankful for my family because they keep me safe."

Charlotte: “I’m thankful for my family because they keep me safe.”

8. The obvious stuff like a roof over our heads, food (frozen or otherwise) on the table and access to good education and clean water. It’s worth pointing those things out, and paying our gratitude forward to those who lack the comforts we are privileged to have. It’s become habit now for my six-year-old to bring me clothes she no longer wants to wear or has outgrown, telling me it’s time to pass them on to people who can use them. And she must have collected eight pounds of coins for her school’s Penny Harvest. My son’s school galvanized a collection of clothes and canned goods for the Philippines Philippines as well as asking for pajama donations for Hour Children. It was important to involve Campbell in that process. I believe if I can afford to do something – either with time or money – I want my kids to know we have an obligation, as members of the human race, to do it. Plus, you never know when you might find yourself needing to be on the receiving end.

9. Netflix. No really, it’s major for us.

10. My readers. I love to know people show up when I post. Thank you all for visiting me here, sharing your thoughts and supporting my efforts as a working mama blogger.

Eat, drink and share the love. Happy Thanksgiving!

How does Thanksgiving put YOUR life in perspective?

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Working Vacation

So when I say I’m on “vacation,” it is to say that we unplugged all our major appliances in our apartment in Queens while we stay with my parents in their Poconos house for the week. And thankfully, they have WiFi.

I’m still working. Scott’s still working. In fact, sometimes, sitting down in front of a computer to focus on something that isn’t alive, screaming for juice, is kind of nice. I don’t really hate Mondays for that reason.

It’s a little hard to truly be on vacation in the business I’m in. We’re in production on a show now. I have a crew in the field, shooting long days the entire week (including Independence Day) while I’m playing in the water and brushing sand off cantaloupe slices (crunchy, but still good!). 

I know the value of completely unplugging. And during the day, I really do. I check email once or twice, return a call and send myself reminders since I leave my stickie notes support system at the office. Blame the smartphone, but we should blame ourselves. We are making the conscious choice to be on call. But I make it clear to my colleagues that I am not in the office. I am with my family this week. And while I am not off the grid, I am not LOOKING for work. If need be, work could find me.

I know I’m lucky that I can make this arrangement for the next few days. I was able to schedule meetings until my return. Maybe something crazy urgent will pop up and I’ll need to address it. But I’m not anticipating that. I owe it to my family, and to myself, to be as present as possible during this vacation. It’s what I need in my arsenal of summer memories. I’ll be very old one day. And a memory like this could never be found on a stickie note:

That's my son, giving me a summer to remember.

That’s my son, giving me a summer to remember.

How do you treat your vacation?

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Working Mom Weaning Guilt

I’ve been breastfeeding for 48 months so far, with a 6 month break between kids, and it’s been mostly great.  Part of the reason I’m into extended breastfeeding is that I work full-time and spend 9+ hours each weekday separated from my kids.  I pumped until they each turned one, at which point they were able to drink non-human milk during the time I was not with them.  With Charlotte, I continued nursing her mornings and evenings until I was into my second trimester with Campbell.  At that point, it seemed to be a good idea to wean her for 2 reasons: it was getting increasingly uncomfortable for me, and I wanted there to be a good chunk of time between the end of her nursing and the beginning of her sibling doing so to try to offset any associated jealousy.  She did fine with stopping, mostly because she LOVED cow’s milk in her bottle.  Weaning her off the bottle was a battle, but that is for another post.

Now that Campbell is closing in on his second birthday, I’m starting to think about closing up the milk bar.  There is NOTHING better than snuggling with him in the morning or at bedtime.  But if you were to ask my advice on what nursing position has worked best as he has grown into toddlerhood, my answer is…defense.

Unlike Charlotte, he never took to a bottle (even with expressed milk), so I don’t deny him a nursing session if he requests one.  And he requests one often when I’m around.  If I stayed home during the week with him, I would not be giving in every three hours like I presently do on evenings and the weekends. Even though the working mom guilt is tugging firmly at my bra straps, I’m seeing the signs it may be time to wean my 22-month-old:

1. He multi-tasks; nursing and rehearsing his acrobatic skills.

2. His legs are long enough to reach behind me to my kidneys, which he kicks repeatedly.

3. Every couple of minutes he pops off for some idle chitchat: “Shoes?  Wow.  Hello!”

4. He wants to bring snacks.  But he doesn’t share.

5. Sixteen teeth and a determined jaw.

6. He thinks if I’m sitting down it means I’m available for nursing.  Even if I’m on the toilet.

7. He loves to run his fingers through my hair, and pull.

8. His word for my boobs?  “Mine.”

I know that the time to stop will be when nursing is no longer working well for BOTH of us (and I have to remember that I count in this equation too).  But I think I need him to be my baby just a little while longer.

How have YOU struggled with weaning? 

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