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Aug 11 2014

The Highs & Lows of Working for Your Family Business

By at 4:46 pm

Fried-Chicken

You might say that family business is my family’s business. My great grandfather owned a five-and-dime store, one of my grandfathers owned a bowling alley, and my other grandfather owned a few grocery stores and fast food stalls. So it’s not very surprising that my father is also an entrepreneur. Though he got a PhD in economics, he soon after moved his family back east and returned to the family business, which at the time was fried chicken–the very best fried chicken.

Some of my earliest childhood memories are from my time behind the counter, greeting customers and later selling fried chicken, biscuits, and western fries. I vividly remember “pulling plugs” (separating the livers from the gizzards before frying), which perhaps had something to do with me becoming a vegetarian in my early teens (and for a long time after). I also learned a lot of life lessons being part of this family business. I interacted with people from a different world than where I lived and went to school (which was probably at least 90 percent Jewish), I learned what hard work really is and how hard some people’s lives really are, and I saw how a family can go through both good and bad times and still stick together.

My family’s business had some highs, but it also had some very low lows. We opened several stores, and we had to close some stores. After closing the stores, my parents took a hiatus from entrepreneurship and worked for others. Read the rest of this entry →

CEO Dad Steps Down To Spend More Time With Kids

By at 3:03 pm
Max-CEO

Max Schireson (Facebook)

 

Why are only female CEOs asked how they balance the responsibility of parenthood with work?

This is the question posed by Max Schireson, 44-year-old CEO of the software company MongoDB, in a personal blog post titled “Why I’m leaving the best job I ever had”:

Earlier this summer, Matt Lauer asked Mary Barra, the CEO of GM, whether she could balance the demands of being a mom and being a CEO. The Atlantic asked similar questions of PepsiCo’s female CEO Indra Nooyi. As a male CEO, I have been asked what kind of car I drive and what type of music I like, but never how I balance the demands of being both a dad and a CEO.

While the press haven’t asked me, it is a question that I often ask myself.

Finding no satisfactory answer, Schireson stepped down. He no longer has to commute from Palo Alto to New York regularly to run the billion dollar company, and is instead transitioning into a normal full-time position as Vice Chairman. Now he has more time to spend with his three kids, ages 14, 12, and 9, “skiing, cooking, playing backgammon, swimming, watching movies or Warriors or Giants games, talking, whatever.” Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 7 2014

Where Are All the Summer Activities for Dual Working Families?

By at 12:04 pm

Swim-lesson

One of the great things about summertime is the abundance of toddler-friendly programs available in my area. From junior swimming lessons to nature tours to farm outings, these programs offer little kids and their parents a chance to get out, have fun, expand their horizons, and maybe even meet new friends.

Unfortunately, my son and I cannot take part in any of these, because they’re only available during the week. Like many families, both my husband and I work full-time, and our ability to take part in such activities is limited to weekends alone. Yet the vast majority, if not all, of these programs are not offered on Saturdays or Sundays, which leaves families like ours out in the cold.

Back in the spring, I tried signing my 2.5-year-old son up for swim lessons. My efforts, however, were only met with frustration when I learned that there were no local weekend swim classes for children my son’s age. (Actually, there was one program–an expensive one–that consisted of two classes per week on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. When I inquired about the possibility of only coming for the Saturday classes, I was told that I’d still need to pay for the full program, which includes the Wednesday classes. In other words, pay full price and only get half the lessons–no, thank you.)  Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 24 2014

That Time I Brought My Baby on My Job Search

By at 11:07 am

job-search-with-baby

Job hunting with a new baby is a stress that no woman should have to experience. But there I was, on the hunt for a new legal gig, in entertainment law no less.

I had networked and sent out hundreds of emails in a flurry of excitement, nausea, and hope that one of them would land me a new job, and if not, at least an informational interview. Being on maternity leave with my older child in day care and my husband working full-time, I didn’t have last minute babysitting arrangement to rely on if an interview should come up. But, when an email landed in my inbox with an offer to convene with someone about my job search, I jumped at the chance to schedule a time to meet. With two weeks notice, I had plenty of time to arrange for someone responsible to mind my child, lose another 10 pounds of unwanted baby weight, and find the perfect outfit without any spit up on it.

The night before the meeting, with my child sensing the impending separation, I got no sleep. Instead, my perfectly sleep trained baby decided to sing and cry all night long, ensuring that the only way to offset the dark blue bags under my eyes was if I wore blue eye shadow on my lids. Of course, my husband slept through this command performance. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 16 2014

Jill Abramson is Not Ashamed of Getting Fired from the New York Times

By at 1:22 pm

Jill-abramson-instagram

There’s a little Jill Abramson in us all.

The first-ever female executive editor of the The New York Times opened up to Cosmopolitan about getting fired from her position and the media brouhaha that followed. Spoiler: Abramson was careful to dance around the reason for her dismissal, but acknowledged that the way women’s management styles are viewed “is an incredibly interesting subject.” Still, she made it clear that being fired is nothing to be ashamed of:

Is it hard to say I was fired? No. I’ve said it about 20 times, and it’s not. I was in fact insistent that that be publicly clear because I was not ashamed of that. And I don’t think young women–it’s hard, I know–they should not feel stigmatized if they are fired. Especially in this economy people are fired right and left for arbitrary reasons, and there are sometimes forces beyond your control.

We’ve compiled the best snippets from the Cosmo piece for you, but definitely read the full interview here. Read the rest of this entry →

May 21 2014

I’m Looking Forward to Finally Leaning Out

By at 11:02 am

leaning-out-uhaul

Eight years ago, I left my job as an elementary school teacher in Boston to move to Philadelphia where my boyfriend lived. I could barely get the words out of my mouth when people asked me why I was moving, sure that someone was going to come around the corner and revoke my feminist card if I admitted that I was moving, without a job lined up, for my boyfriend who I’d known for less than a year.

I did it anyway, I survived, and it got easier the more times I told people. While driving the U-Haul from Boston to Philly, I was offered a job in Philly in Jewish communal service, which I accepted, and I began my new life in a new city. I even used my anecdote about moving under unknown circumstances to counsel many young professionals through some scary life decisions. Fast forward a bit, and my boyfriend and I got married, had one kid, then had another kid, and it stopped seeming so crazy that I had left Boston “for a guy.”

This month, I have once again made the decision to leave my job because it’s the right thing for my life rather than the right thing for my career. As anyone who’s worked in Jewish communal service knows, this sector isn’t known for its work/life balance or generous compensation. Instead, we do it because we care, and what we give up in free time or money, we gain in nachas by giving back to our people. Unfortunately, nachas can’t put the kids to bed at night while I’m out creating positive Jewish experiences for my childless peers. Read the rest of this entry →

May 15 2014

The Firing of Jill Abramson is a Scary Wake-Up Call For All Working Women

By at 1:18 pm

NYT

Somewhere buried in my archive of VHS tapes is a video yearbook of my graduation class from college. I have never seen it, but have promised myself that I will watch it next year, at my (gulp) 20th reunion. In it somewhere is a video interview with me at a black-tie formal, sitting on my then-boyfriend’s lap, holding a glass of champagne. “Where are you going to be in 20 years?” the videographer asked me. “Happy and editor of the New York Times,” I confidently replied.

Well, at least I’m happy. And it sure looks like being executive editor of the New York Times is no good way to get to “happy”–if you’re a woman. Jill Abramson, the paper’s first woman executive editor, was unceremoniously and suddenly fired from the paper this week–and it’s entirely unclear why.

In The New Republic, Rebecca Traister’s piece titled, “I Sort Of Hope We Find Out That Jill Abramson Was Robbing the Cash Register,” exemplifies what most women, particularly women journalists, are thinking right now: hopefully there was another explanation for her firing, other than the fact that Abramson reportedly had the audacity to demand equal pay with what her male predecessors received. Equal wages for women, ironically enough, is a cause célèbre of the Times editorial board. Read the rest of this entry →

May 14 2014

Your Old Mom Is No Longer Available–Try This One

By at 2:50 pm

toilet

Sweet face. Naughty smile. Huge brown sparkling eyes that stared straight into mine. We’re not usually at eye-level. He’s only 5.

“Will you, Mom? Get me the sunscreen? Now? Will you get it for me now?”

We were having this conversation eye-to-eye because I was sitting on the toilet. I’d been in the bathroom 30 quiet seconds before he barreled in with all his bursting, small-boy energy. It was only 8:30 a.m.–he still had oodles of it. And he needed the sunscreen, right now, immediately, now, now, now. Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 30 2014

If Becoming a Mom Means Losing My Old Identity, I’m OK With That

By at 3:42 pm

woman-driving

I am Iliana’s mom. That is my identity, according to all of her friends.

Am I OK with that? Hell, yeah!

I have heard many times that you lose your identity after having a child, as no one calls you by your given name. You are just “someone’s mom.” But I don’t understand the issue with that. I know who I am and I am not worried that I will lose that knowledge just because a bunch of 4-year-olds call me something else. If anything, it makes me blush. Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 24 2014

The Day My Toddler Saw Me Cry Like a Baby

By at 12:02 pm

crying-baby

It was one of those days where I would’ve been better off staying in bed under the covers. Work had been stressful. My bus home was delayed. A close friend’s actions had left me feeling hurt. And just as I was gearing up to put my toddler to bed, my husband called with the news that our car, which he was supposed to be taking for a simple oil change, would need several thousand dollars worth of repairs.

Clearly, nothing particularly tragic went down. But I was tired. I was already aggravated and upset. And yes, okay, there were also some let’s call them “prominent female hormones” at play. So when I got the call from my husband, it was that classic piece of straw that broke the worn-out mother’s back. And so I did something that I hadn’t really anticipated but also somehow couldn’t prevent: I broke down crying in front of my toddler.

Now just to be clear, I’m talking about the type of crying where you sink to the ground, your body shakes back and forth, you start making all sorts of strange guttural noises, and you generally can’t catch your breath for several minutes in a row. It’s the kind of crying you really can’t hide, and it’s the type that most adults would probably either avoid altogether or reserve for the confines of their respective bedrooms or showers. In other words, I cried like a baby. A big baby. And worse yet, I did it in front of my baby.  Read the rest of this entry →

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