Category Archives: motherhood

#TBT: On Becoming A Working Mother

When I speak at events or colleges, I often get questions from young women about how I “do it all.” They have concerns, especially, about becoming mothers and continuing their careers. They always ask about work/life balance.

In honor of the weekly social media tradition of “Throwback Thursday” (or #TBT), I thought I would share this very personal piece of my journal writing that I recently found from 2000. It is raw and honest – and you can see that I had a lot of the same fears. Two years later, I became a mother for the first time. I was terrified.

It was May 2002. I was eight months pregnant and had just moved into a new home two days earlier. I was en route to meet the new VP of Marketing at a client’s office, but because my ankles were so damn swollen (for two days – what a stressful thing like moving can do to a pregnant lady!), my then-husband had insisted I call the doctor’s office. They insisted I come in and see them. I did – and told them I was in a rush because I had a meeting to get to. They promptly told me to drive myself to the hospital because I wasn’t having a meeting with anyone but my new baby, who was on his way a month early.

I couldn’t reach my husband. I was driving myself to the hospital. My house was full of moving boxes. There was no pretty nursery set up yet. It wasn’t supposed to work like this.

I was crying, alone and afraid. But heres’ the thing I learned – and continue to be reminded of:

You get through it.

There’s a reason for that saying, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” You can’t plan it all perfectly. But don’t be afraid of the experience. If your career is important to you and motherhood is too, you can do both.

You’ll figure it out.

I did – and I’m now a single, divorced mother of two (although I do now have a loving and supportive partner in my boyfriend, who helps a LOT). I lived through it all, and you will too.

So here it is – my very raw journal entry from the year 2000, based on a writing exercise to take a word (in this case, “hunger”) and write your free-flowing thoughts on it. You can tell what was on my mind – I was navigating adulthood, parenthood, marriage, career.

I hope it helps you. Perhaps it will if you’re scared of becoming a mother, or juggling a career and parenthood, etc. Happy #TBT.

I hunger for a life that is balanced, soulful, meaningful.  I hunger to be remembered, fondly and admiringly, when I am gone.  I hunger to make a mark on the world that is original, creative and meaningful.  I hunger to understand how to do this, where to begin, or if I already have.  I hunger to be unique, interesting and someone who has bettered the world in some way.  I’m not sure why … why this is important to me.  It’s not like I’ll know after I’m gone whether or not anything was better because of me.  Perhaps though, I will make a mark on a person or a child, and allow them to live a more meaningful and poignant life.

I hunger to be a good person who is kind, loving, open and can make people feel special.  It would be great to be one of those people that make someone feel so special when they talk to you.  The kind of person that look at you so intently and pays such close attention when you talk that you feel like such an important person – you feel happy; you feel significant.

I hunger to find and discover what my heart truly wants.  The problem is I keep looking for one answer and I have a feeling there are many, numerous answers.  I want to have a career but am torn between the one I have and am successful at, or the one that I used to desire so much in my heart, that would bring me personal satisfaction in a more creative aspect.  They both bring personal satisfaction but in different ways.  One is financial and ego, the other is creative and quiet.

I also hunger to be a mother some day but am scared of it.  Scared of giving up my life’s dreams and the goals I have not yet accomplished.  Is this what being a mother means?  Does it have to do that?  It has to be selfless, right? So how can you be a mother and still pursue your lofty life goals as well?  I hunger to be a wonderful mother, as I’m sure most women do, but what if I screw up?  What if my child thinks I’m a dork, or stupid or irritating?  How must that feel?  On the other hand, it must feel so wonderful to have a child look at you as though you are the most important person in the world, the defining light in their life.  I want to be a mother but can it, will it, how does it, fit in with the other things I want as well?  Is this selfish of me?  I don’t’ want to become a mother and end up at home with the children all day, not seeing any adults that keep me stimulated in other ways with conversation and companionship, and have my husband off in the world meeting new people, experiencing new things, seeing new parts of the world.

I don’t want to be left behind.

The Things They Say

Yesterday was the first day of school for my sons. At the end of the day I interrogated them like all good Moms do, including questions about girls.

“So, are there any cute girls in your class?” I asked my new third grader.

“Nope. There are no cute girls in the whole school.” he replied.

“Really?” I say. “Why, they won’t allow cute girls in?”

“That’s right,” he replies. “So Mom, you can’t ever come to school.”

Oh, this kid is good.

Mother’s Day: Having a Mom, Being a Mom

Happy Mother’s Day! I didn’t want to write something political or overly dramatic, too feminist or sappy. But I did want to lament on the best things I’ve learned about having a Mom and being a Mom.

Thank you to my Mom, Robin, for the many great lessons she’s taught me in 41 years of life. I’m still learning – because she’s still learning! Some lessons were taught on purpose and some – maybe the most poignant – were inadvertently taught through her own life experiences. Sometimes you don’t learn these types of things until you’re older and you look back with a more understanding viewpoint. It’s why this is one of my favorite quotes:

“When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.” (Attributed by Reader’s Digest, Sept. 1937)

Some of the greatest things my Mother has taught me include:

Always try new things (Like last summer when she, at the age of 65 and after double hip surgeries, got up on my standup paddle board!)

Food is good (I’m so grateful I had a beautiful mother who, by the grace of her own interests, taught me the opposite of what all those beauty magazines and ads shove down girls’ throats)

– Sometimes you just have to put yourself first, even when it’s uncomfortable. And it’s OK. (This is one of those inadvertent lessons…)

Don’t judge others, just accept them. We are all on our own paths.

 

Thanks Mom!

On the flip side, and it bears repeating, being a mother has also taught me a lot. And I know I have many more lessons coming. But some of the best things my sons have taught me are:

Patience beyond what I previously understood to be patience

Humor (Lighten up, Mom!)

Live in the moment (I know, I’ve said it before but it is so true – the moment passes and you can’t get it back)

Teamwork (Yes, okay, I knew this one – but the past year, as we adjusted to a new family dynamic, we’ve become quite a team)

– Sometimes, you’ve just got to eat a donut.

Thanks to my Mom and my boys for making Mother’s Day special for me. I hope if you’re a mother, that today reminds you of how blessed you are to have that life experience. It is an ongoing lesson in itself, if you’re willing to recognize it as such.

10 Things my 10-Year-Old has Taught Me in 10 Years

Today my first born turns 10. The big 1-0, double digits, serious stuff. And while he’s feeling pretty darn proud and excited, I am too – among feelings of disbelief that a decade has already passed.

I remember clearly the feelings of excitement, anxiety, happiness and fear that came with finding out we were having a baby. A baby! I wasn’t sure I was ready – but it’s one of those life experiences, at least for me, that you just have to dive into – I’d never be ready if I kept thinking about it too much. I was never one of those parents that just knew they wanted to have children. I just figured if it was meant to happen it would, and if not, it wouldn’t. (Easy to say when it happens easily – I have a lot of friends who struggled for years to have children and I have all the respect in the world for the heartache those years brought to them.)

It did happen, and I’m so grateful. Not just for this amazing human that’s in my life every day, but in the things he’s taught me and blessed my life with. They say we’re teaching our children every day, which is true – but they also teach us every day – for those who are willing to listen to the lessons. Profound lessons in little packages. Here are 10 interesting lessons my 10-year-old has taught me in the last 10 years. Happy Birthday, Richie. I love you.

  1. Love is the best gift you can give. No amount of Legos, video games or cool trips can top just sitting on the couch together every night.
  2. When there’s a screen on, creativity is off. I’m not a crazy, no-videos-no-TV Mom by any stretch, but I have learned that when our brains are auto-stimulated by someone else’s story all of the time, we don’t spend much time creating our own. Turning off the TV, iPods, video consoles is a big part of keeping kids creative and thinking.
  3. But there are lessons in everything, even the TV. No, not the Lifetime movie kind of lesson, but interest in how things work – like how movies are made, which leads to using tech to create our own, which leads to a lot of laughs.
  4. Speaking of laughs, do it more often. Parenting has taught me to lighten up and try to find the humor in any situation.
  5. Sometimes, cleaning up [or work] can wait. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, “Yep, in a minute, right after I [fill in the blank]” only to have missed a moment that I can’t get back.
  6. Don’t just hear, listenIf your son or daughter wants to show you a new trick, dance move or creation – pay attention. How many times have you “uh-huh”‘d them to death while not really listening? I know I want my sons to talk to me openly – as openly as possible – when they get into their teen years, and that setting the stage now means showing them I’m truly listening to what they want to tell me.
  7. Kids deserve the opportunity to express an opinion. Too often we don’t let children say their piece. We’re the parent, we’re the ones who set the rules, they just need to quiet down and listen. Not true. Giving children a voice to express not only how they’re feeling, but how they view the world, is crucial to staying connected with them and helping them to turn into confident young men and women who will lead, not just follow.
  8. Movie nights are made for popcorn. You might have thought it was the other way around. Nope.
  9. Rising early really is nice. I’m a night owl, he’s a morning lark. Which means I used to be a night owl.
  10. A quiet moment can speak volumes. When is the last time you took a walk with your child and just talked? No entertainment, no phones, no iPods. Just you, your child, and the conversation that you’ll be amazed at as it develops. Try it – but don’t forget to listen.

Mother’s Day – With or Without the Kids?

Everywhere you look there are reminders that tomorrow is Mother’s Day: TV ads, Facebook and Twitter promotions, blog posts, restaurant flyers and more. (Did you know that it’s one of the busiest days all year for phone calls?)

So what do Moms really want? If you’re a mother of young children, are you one that wants to spend the day *with* your children or *without*? If we’re being honest, I think most young Moms would like a day of pampering away from the kids – and without having to feel guilty about it. Older mothers with adult children would probably love to spend the day with their kids if they could.

// My ideal day would be to sleep in, have a nice breakfast with my husband and kids, get sent off to a full day at the spa and then have a big dinner party at a great restaurant with all my closest mom friends and moms in my extended family – and their spouses and kids. I’m a sucker for a huge party – no cooking (not that I ever do that, thanks to Rich), no dishes, ‘lots of fun. Ideally the husbands would entertain us with some funny skit with the kids that keeps us laughing all night. And, when we get home, someone else puts the kids to bed and does all the prep for school the next day.

What kind of Mom are you – is Mother’s Day a day to be with or without the kids?

Been busy, just not here

I haven’t written here lately because work has been taking off like wild fire, I’ve been traveling a lot and I’ve been writing on other blogs, including a new one: This Mommy Gig with two other women I met online at Twitter. We’re adding other women, too, and giving “working mom” perspectives from around the country. I am taking my mommy rants over there, as a) being responsible to someone else makes me do a better job and b) it’s more fun with a team.

You can also read me here:
Training4Dublin – my Marathon Training blog with my husband as we train for the Dublin Marathon in October 2008

Women For Hire’s Be Gutsy Blog – run by ABC’s contributing Workplace Editor, Tory Johnson (I’m “Balanced Woman”)

PerkettPR’s PerkettPRsuasion – my own company’s blog on PR, social media, technology, client, industry and agency news

Or connect with me here:

Facebook

Twitter

Linkedin

I’ll be back here if the mood strikes me and it’s a topic that doesn’t fit into one of these other blogs.

Thanks for reading and I hope to see you on the other sites, too.

The Mommy Pain

I risk sounding incredibly um, crazy, here – but I’m hoping I’m not the only mother out there that feels like this. Perhaps it’s top of mind because it gets exacerbated when my husband’s out of town… but the Mommy Pain is something that is always in the back of my mind.

Not the pain of pregnancy or labor; screaming kids or boo boos. The Mommy Pain is a never-ending, vague yet prominent cycle of “what if” scenarios that play themselves over and over in my mind just about every day. These are nagging thoughts about what could happen someday to my children that will hurt them – and are not always (or even usually) likely scenarios. It could be as simple as the everyone-experiences-it first heart break, to a probably-in-sports-someday broken limb, to more extreme thoughts such as how will I get both children out if there’s a fire or what if someone drives by and grabs them from the yard or the panic that they have some serious disease every time they catch a little cold.

Not that I’m an over-reactive mother; I’m not. I don’t call the doctor every time they get a little fever (unless it doesn’t go down or they get worse) or panic whenever they cry (although I do get that crazy-hear-beating-lump-in-the-throat feeling). There are two things are probably at play: I’m a Type A “brain never stops” personality anyway, and I happen to obsesses about tragedies. (For example, I remember the names and details about crime victims I never knew but read or heard about.)

I’ve heard motherhood can make you smarter, and I’m pretty sure there’s all-kinds-of-ways it makes you crazy. But is my Mommy Pain natural? Am I extra crazy or do other mothers experience these daily “what if” scenarios as they go about an otherwise-normal-life!?

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Hope for my Son After All

My five-year-old started kindergarten this year. He’s a good kid – very polite, thoughtful, caring and sensitive. But he’s also loud, stubborn and intelligent – and craves a good deal of attention (I have no idea where he got those attributes….).

He’s had a hard time adjusting to the rules. He tends to interrupt, can’t keep his hands to himself and is not one to hold back his opinions even when the teacher is talking. He’s had a few outbursts – controlling his emotions is also something he’s trying to learn. We are working closely with his teacher to try and help him through positive parenting and reinforcement. But it hasn’t been easy. I am not an overly-emotional woman but it’s hard to hold back tears when the teacher is telling me that she’s had to place him at his own work table because otherwise he gets into trouble.

And then this week The New York Times indicated – as my husband often does – that I shouldn’t worry so much. With his article, “Bad Behavior Does Not Doom Pupils, Studies Say,” Benedict Carey indicated that two new studies highlight that children entering school with behavior problems are not doomed to fall behind in the upper grades – as many educators and psychologists had historically indicated.

Not that I thought my boy would fail but I was starting to worry about his future label as class clown, and what that might mean for his dedication to learning.

One study concluded that kindergartners who are identified as troubled do as well academically as their peers in elementary school. In fact, Sharon Landesman Ramey, director of the Georgetown University Center on Health and Education, was quoted as saying “I think these may become landmark findings, forcing us to ask whether these acting-out kinds of problems are secondary to the inappropriate maturity expectations that some educators place on young children as soon as they enter classrooms.”

Based on a lot of men that I know, maturity (or lack thereof) has no bearing on intelligence and success!

Lessons from my Sons

 

The image “https://i1.wp.com/images30.fotki.com/v470/photos/9/939539/5560790/IMG_2134-vi.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. I’m a fairly Type-A person – always on the go, pretty intense and not one to sit down for long, if at all. It’s also quite possible that I possess a few obsessive- compulsive behaviors – if you count noticing any time a picture frame is moved as obsessive….

Many elements in my life have likely contributed to my constantly-racing heart and go-go-go mentality – a German-work ethic, a childhood full of yellow legal pad “to do lists” from my father, a Catholic upbringing…the list goes on. In some senses, my intensity has served me well – at work, for example, where clients appreciate my tireless work ethic and constantly spinning mind. In my personal life it has been called into question from time-to-time, such as when my husband is hoping I can just focus on him during a conversation – and not tidy the counter, open the mail or keep my fingers on the keyboard while he talks.

Like anyone, I was nervous to have children. I like everything in its place and I wondered how in the world I would possibly balance my career and motherhood. But I’ve found over the years that not only am I doing an acceptable job at juggling, but my sons (ages 5 and 2) are helping me to relax a bit – ironically, when I’m busier than ever – as they continue to teach me every day some very important lessons:

• Messes can be cleaned

• Relaxing is not a bad thing – especially on the hammock with a sippy cup

• Trains are cool – bugs are too

• Love with all your might

• I should have appreciated my parents more

• Some loud music, crazy dancing and beating a drum set does wonders for stress relief

• I can fish!

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