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Feb 21 2014

Not to be Cliche, But Raising a Child Really Does “Take a Village”

By at 10:35 am

day-care

This post is part of our Torah commentary series. This Shabbat we read Parashat Vayahkel. To read a summary of the portion and learn more, click here.

I was recently hanging out with a mama friend who’s been staying home with her toddler. She’s starting to look for day care, to her own surprise. As she put it: “Before I had kids, I thought, why even have kids if you’re going to give them to someone else to raise them? And now I’m like, oh yeah–he needs to do his thing and I need to do my thing and then we’re both happy to see each other in the afternoon.”

I didn’t think I expected myself to be a full-time mom. Although my mom stayed home to raise me and my two sisters, we were taught we could do anything boys could do. Which by implication means we could grow up to be a parent and still continue our careers, right? Just like our dad. Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 17 2014

I Got Laid Off During My Maternity Leave

By at 5:03 pm

When you get laid off during your maternity leave

I used to fumble my words when someone asked me what I do for a living. Having a baby and being laid off while on maternity leave will do that to you.

My self worth bailed right along with my sanity. I was set to return to work 12 weeks postpartum as a counselor working with patients and families dealing with a terminal illness. I loved my job. As depressing as the population I worked with sounds, it was one of the most humbling and gratifying jobs I have ever held. Then, about four weeks into my maternity leave, I received notice that the company I worked for was restructuring and I was out.

The true story is that they tried to get me to quit so that I would not be eligible for unemployment. I held my own and finally got a statement from the new COO (who I never met as she started while I was out), conceding to the fact that they were indeed laying me off. I could have been over the moon to be laid off while on maternity leave, approved for unemployment, but instead I found myself deflated and defeated. Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 4 2014

I Don’t Feel Guilty About Going Back to Work

By at 11:13 am

woman and man carrying briefcases

There is almost nothing more beautiful than my baby when she’s sleeping. She raises her hands above her head like she’s celebrating a Patriots touchdown and gets a dreamy look on her tiny, gorgeous face. When she’s awake, she gives me an amazing smile if I beep her nose or stroke her chin.

This time tomorrow, I won’t be sitting midday and nursing her as long as she wants. I won’t be rubbing her little tummy. I’ll be back at work–voluntarily.

I’m the sort of woman who leans in. During my eight-week maternity leave, I dropped in to work with the baby four or five times for one reason or another. On Monday, a co-worker said to me about my impending return to work, “Isn’t it so hard for you to leave her? It was always so hard for me to leave my kids.”

The answer to her question is no, and I won’t feel guilty about it. Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 3 2014

Why Isn’t There a Jewish Blessing for Coffee?

By at 9:16 am

travel mug of coffee steaming

The twin tote bags are massive. My daughters could fit together inside one of them, and we’d still have room to spare. Yet my husband and I fill them each morning with all the necessities for daycare: sheets, blankets, bibs, extra clothes, sippy cups of water and milk. Each girl has a bag for her lunch. I try to send them with home-cooked meals and fresh fruit, but there are days where I cannot scrape together enough energy to slice their grapes into 16ths. Sometimes they make do with pre-packaged.

My 3-year-old invariably throws a tantrum. (Reason why my child is crying: I wouldn’t allow her to wear a Tinkerbell nightgown to school in eight degree weather). We calm her. The baby is sleeping and we have to wake her. I nurse her, change her, and dress her in record time. Her perfect, tiny nose needs a kiss. Coats, hats, gloves, and boots go on. My husband hauls the bags, and we shepherd the girls out the door and into car seats. I drive them to daycare, escort them into their respective classrooms, where their ever-cheerful teachers are waiting. I dole out breakfasts, hugs, kisses, and promises of fun with their friends. I tell them that I’ll be home soon.

Back into my car, I check the time. I have one spare minute before I absolutely have to get moving again. I exhale with relief, and enjoy my 60 free seconds. My loyal green travel mug has been patiently waiting for me all this time. I flip the lid and sip. Coffee. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 2 2014

Talking About Jewish Mama Burlesque with Performer Raven Snook

By at 12:02 pm

Raven.as.Mom copy

Raven Snook is a Jewish mother who acts, writes, edits… and periodically performs topless in an all-moms burlesque revue. She appeared in the original downtown run of Urinetown, portrayed a vampire on the ABC sitcom Talk to Me, guested as a “female female impersonator” on The Maury Povich Show, played a dominatrix-like self-help guru in the short film Slo-Mo, waxed poetic at The Moth and Heeb Storytelling, and was one of three female drag queens featured in the documentary, The Faux Real. And now she talks to Kveller about how that all fits with raising a daughter in NYC.

Alright, first things first: What exactly is burlesque?

Wow, how much time ya got? Back in the day, burlesque was a naughty offshoot of family-friendly vaudeville with bawdy comics and ladies disrobing, though often in a tongue-in-cheek or over-the-top way. But on the neo-burlesque scene, anything goes. Many acts are like sexy performance art without the pretensions but with pasties. Pretty much anything goes, but having a cheeky sense of humor and creative costuming and storytelling skills are much more important than having a perfect body.

You co-created an all-Jewish burlesque show called Kosher ChiXXX. Why the specifically Jewish angle? What is the history of Jews and burlesque, and where do we Jews fit into the scene today?

The Jewish Daily Forward recently did a whole article on the phenomenon of Jewish burlesque–the accompanying NC-17 video created quite a tizzy in the comments section, too. When Minnie Tonka and I originally founded that show in 2004, themed burlesque shows were just starting to take off. She worked for the 14th Street Y at the time and was asked to come up with Jewish-themed performances as part of the Howl! Festival. We were brainstorming and we thought, why not Jewish burlesque? Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 20 2013

Torah MOMentary: How Some Sexy Vibes Saved the Jewish People

By at 10:09 am

bottle of wine in an orchard

This post is part of our Torah commentary series. This Shabbat we read Parashat Sh’mot. To read a summary of the portion and learn more, click here.

In the first portion in the book of Exodus, Sh’mot, there’s a new Pharaoh in charge who hates the Israelites and decides to destroy them.

Mothers are all over this story. There’s Moses’ mother, who sends him off in a basket of reeds to save him, and ends up being hired as his wet nurse. There’s Pharaoh’s daughter, who rescues baby Moses from the water and becomes his adoptive mom.

But I want to talk about the non-celebrity moms. The regular, unnamed mothers who make the whole story possible. What we can learn from them, and from Pharaoh himself.

According to a famous midrash, actually, the Israelites only survived because of the women. In this version of the story, Pharaoh’s first plan of attack is to make the men work so hard that they are too exhausted to go home and sleep with their wives. No sex, no babies, no more Israelites! Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 5 2013

“But I’m a Mom” is No Excuse

By at 10:19 am

shutterstock_114858409

It was a Wednesday afternoon when I received an email from a fellow comedian friend asking me if I wanted to do a seven-minute guest spot at The Comedy Store on Sunset the next night.

I was reading the email moments after my daughter threw most of her lunch onto the floor, and as I went under her highchair to clean it, tossed the rest onto my back… so my first reaction was laughter followed by an instinct to hit “delete.” The show was at 10:30 p.m., my bedtime. I read and reread the email. Did I really want to stay up that late? Could I? It’s been so long since I’ve had a show, do I remember how to tell a joke? Would I be comfortable? What jokes would I even tell?

It would have been very easy to have just said no and continue through my typical evening routine of putting my daughter to bed, cleaning a wide variety of baby-related items, getting her food ready for the next day, looking at the fridge and figuring out how to create a dinner for my husband and myself from yogurt, eggs, and pickled ginger, and doing our best to clear some shows from the DVR. And while I do truly enjoy our time binge watching “Mad Men” on Netflix or catching the latest episode of “The Big Bang Theory,” I’m sure you can surmise that I didn’t decide to write an article about how I kept to my routine, but instead, decided (with the appreciated encouragement from my husband) that it was time for me to have a little madness. My routine could use a big bang of its own. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 2 2013

Parenthood Recap: Why We Should All Admire Kristina Braverman

By at 12:07 pm

shutterstock_102611876

Do you watch Parenthood? I don’t mean this in some sort of existential, depersonalized way. I mean, do you watch the NBC hour-long drama called Parenthood, loosely based on the instrumental film from 1989, the one that starred Steve Martin and Dianne Wiest and tore your heart out? If not, oh friends, you should. Parenthood had its season premiere last Thursday and it’s not too late to catch up. I am here to help.

The fictional Bravermans are a huge family clan living in Berkeley. Details of all of the characters (and the awesome actors who play them) can be found by clicking here. Basically, this is a show about their quotidian (attractive, well-dressed) lives. If you like realist fiction, you’ll like this show. If you like to afford yourself a good, based-on-nothing-other-than-you’re-a-sentient-human cry fest once a week, you’ll like this show. If, at heart, you’re a sap who grew up in a family where people said “I love you” a whole lot, you’ll like this show. If you like ogling beautiful craftsman style bungalow homes perfectly decorated but appropriately lived in, you’ll like this show. And perhaps most importantly, if, like me, you find yourself appreciating something earnest more and more these days, and you think that letting people know you feel things and you are not an automaton who runs on organic coffee and snark, then, well, you’ll like this show.

I could dissect Thursday night’s premiere episode with you, but who has time for that? We have another episode coming up tomorrow and also, my kids need to be fed. Instead, I am going to focus on one character. Today, it’s Kristina Braverman (played with soul by Monica Potter). Kristina is a mother of three and married to fictional Adam (who will always be Nate from Six Feet Under). She has incredible skin and very shiny hair, but she’s flawed and I love her. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 14 2013

What the Opt-Out Generation Really Wants

By at 10:59 am

working mother with babyI am a non-practicing lawyer, a freelance journalist, an aspiring novelist (where does the time go, anyway? Let me look in my 10-month-old’s mouth to see if she ate it like she eats everything else) and mother of four, soon to be five. I work from home when I can, in scraps of time salvaged between carpools and Mommy and Me classes and library time and cooking. I suppose that in the macro scheme of things, I have “opted out.”

I am not on a partnership track. I do the proverbial hustle for new assignments as often as I can and that in and of itself is full-time work. There are no lockstep promotions or bonuses in being a work from home mother. There is also no guarantee that at any point, you will be able to work outside the home again, in an environment where a 2-year-old doesn’t carefully water your computer keyboard with a sippy cup or where you don’t have to pry open the 10-month-old’s mouth to retrieve your letter “l” key (seriously, she eats EVERYTHING). Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 12 2013

Saying Goodbye to Our Beloved Day Care Provider

By at 9:53 am

day care in blocksWhen my daughter was 12 weeks old, I dropped her off at her new home daycare.

It was not the calmest of days. My grandfather’s shiva was concluding, my husband and I had flown back from our impromptu trip to Canada on the first flight of the morning, he was returning to work at the end of his paternity leave, and I was returning to work (late) after President’s day vacation. My entire family had some horrible flu-like bug we think we picked up at the hospice and my blissful 12-week-old was the only one not hurling. Read the rest of this entry →

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