Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Contradiction of "Family Values" in the US

I don't generally get political but it truly amazes me that in a country where our politician spew forth comments about bringing family values back, the US is towards the bottom of the list of progress when it comes to things like maternity leave and childcare options.

In various European countries, paid maternity leave is the norm and family leave is common. There are also options for subsidized childcare.

Yet here in the US, female employees are lucky if they can take their FMLA leave and many organizations do not pay for maternity leave. And forget the concept of men taking FMLA - I am told by my male counterparts that any man who asks for this is laughed at and this is not considered acceptable.

So while in many countries there are various resources that families can take advantage of, in addition to cultural norms that involve the help of extended family in raising children, we are not so fortunate. I am sure that you can relate - as American families, we are very much on our own. Unless we have relatives who live close by and have the availability to help, we are left to find childcare, babysitters, programs and activities that enable us to be working parents. But wouldn't be amazing if we had some help instead of feeling incredibly alone in this endeavor?

I challenge you all to assemble your resources. Sometimes these come from places that we never think of and sometimes having discussions with other working parents give us new ideas. When "Working Moms Make It Work" launches events, we will do just that. Stay tuned...


Sunday, February 24, 2008

Hungary Hippo colonoscopy

What a beautiful Sunday! I am catching up writing thank you notes for my 1 year olds birthday party (5 weeks ago)...Maya is "playing" Hungary Hippos which means that she's taking the fishing rod from the Go Fish game and putting in the Hippo's back end, than making Henry Hippo eat the round balls (which is how the game is really supposed to be played). I feel bad for her future boyfriends! Torin is next to her on the floor playing with her princess figurines and crushing them with his Little People Worksite. I used to try and act like the nonstop princess play was no big deal....but I have to say, I was slightly relieved to see the figurines get a little roughened up. Torin also LOVES a purse...I need to buy him a "ManBag".

Okay, simultaneous meltdowns occurring.....

Friday, February 22, 2008

Blackberrys and pottys don't mix!

Since I wasn't able to travel to see my family at Christmas this year...my mother-in-law died on Christmas day....I had to postpone the dreaded 8 hour drive with a 1 & 3 year old until February. I was committed to taking a few days with my family and then working 1/2 days the other 3, since I've run out of vacation due to sick kids. I am proud to say that I held true to my goal and I really didn't work for a long weekend. I unfortunately found that it took almost 10 hours to work a 4 hour day, as "Grammy" underestimated how busy little ones can be. She also underestimated how quick a 1 year old can move. "Grammy", who has an important job with the state, had to hang her head and call in to say that her grandson put her blackberry in the toilet. She's also hoping that no one gets ahold of the cute picture of her with Chuck.E.Cheese, the one with a small greasy handprint on her shirt right smack dab on her boob.

I enjoyed a little "me" time at Ann Taylor after "Grammy" paid me off since she couldn't pull her weight in keeping them entertained while I worked. I've learned to take bribes and just say thank you.

Can't say I'm looking forward to the drive home. I hear that there is a Winter Advisory in New England. Hurray...the 8 hours and soon be 12! Maybe I'll miss my schedule bikini wax tomorrow! I can only hope. I'm already gearing up to be mad at my husband because I heard it hurts....

Thursday, February 21, 2008

I didn't hear about that...

These are words that I often find myself uttering these days. Other than listening to news radio on my way to and from work, I have little other time to stay updated on current events. Well, sure - I could spend the half hour of time that I have after the kids go to sleep, I get ready for the next day, attend to paperwork, etc. watching CNN. But this is my only down time.

This topic always hits home when I am meetings with my male counterparts. They regularly chat about the books they are reading and the movies that they have seen recently. And, in my head I'm thinking, "I'm lucky that I'm wearing clean clothes today and that I can keep my calendar straight." Reading and watching movies are activities that I mainly said goodbye to when I became a working parent.

So, I try to listen to books on CD in the car. And, I forgive myself that I am not completely up on the current selection of great business books and all current events. Instead, I subscribe to newsletters so that I can get quick bits of information. I try to check out Google news when I can. And I have stopped trying to pretend that I know everything that everyone is talking about.


Friday, February 15, 2008

Groundhog Day

I have had an incredibly stressful week - lots of meetings, presentations, etc. And, at the same time, have lots going on at home and school with projects, Valentine's Day. So, this morning when Zack said, "Mom, you missed Groundhog Day," I have to admit that I felt guilty.

Sounds ridiculous that I would care so much? Well, maybe. But last year, we watched the news in amazement as Phil left his underground home. So when Zack reminded me that I had missed it this year, I did feel bad that I had not remembered this fun little tradition that we had both shared.

As a working mother, I try to forgive myself for the things I cannot do. I'm not a superwoman and I'm certainly not the perfect Mom or the perfect employee. I am forever trying to balance that scale, recognizing that it constantly tips back and forth. Sometimes I am a better mother, attending school functions, working on projects, attending to hurt feelings. And other times, I am a better employee, working late, going the extra mile. So, as I contemplate the groundhog situation, I will try to recognize this, as hard as it may be. There's always Flag Day...


Sunday, February 10, 2008

Seriously! When do they sleep!

Hi! It's Holyn, Renay's blurried eyed, frenzied, completely disorganized, never on time friend. My past life doesn't know me that way...does type A ring a bell for any of you folks? Yeah, well at this point I don't have time to be any time and frankly, I'm too tired to care. I try to wear something white every day to symoblize my surrender.
I used to be charming, whitty, and dare I say hysterical. The only ones finding me funny these days are the voices in my head and my friends that are medicated. Hysterical has taken on a completely different meaning as well.
I would love to go on and on, but I was up with my Prince Charming from 1am to 5am because he's stubborn as hell and he takes "crying it out" to a whole new level. Big sis got up at 6:30am and dad was out of town for a guys weekend. Don't worry, I called Dad at 3:30am sobbing. No, he didn't answer...beer puts him in a coma.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Staying organized

As I am finishing up a presentation at 10:30PM and wishing that I was sleeping, it also dawns on me that my son has a movie night at his school tomorrow. I have been dying to take him and was planning to call a friend to see if she and her son wanted to join us.

So now that it is the night before, I'm exhausted, have not called my friend and just realized that I have a business call that may interfere with my ability to take him to see the movie. This is very typical for me...I like to think I am organized but then find that all-important flyer the night before and also forget about a meeting. I'm scrambling and don't want to let him down.

I am committed to trying to get there on time, even if it means that I will have to race home and sit on a cold floor of the gym watching a children's movie. But I will be there with Zack and will make it all worthwhile.

That being said, I am always seeking ways to get more organized. Mind you, I have a planner, a Blackberry and every other possible gadget known to man but somehow, I still have issues with organization. If anyone has any tips or advice to offer on what system works for them, I would greatly appreciate it. Maybe I need to dump them all and just put sticky notes all over my house and office...

Sleep is calling...

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Hope for Sleep...

I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a friend of mine today - her son had tubes put in his ears this morning. While it's a simple procedure, it's still never easy to watch your child go under anesthesia.

I am told that the procedure went well and now I will cross my fingers that my friend and her family will start getting some sleep at night. It's one thing to miss a few hours of sleep here and there but quite another to try to be a good parent and a productive employee when you're working on 3 hours of sleep per night.

Shall we start suggesting the creation of "napping rooms" to our employers? I would never wake up!

Here's wishing you all a good night's sleep!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Welcome to Working Moms Make It Work!

Welcome to our new blog! My name is Renay and I have been a working Mom for about 5 years now. As working Moms, we all know the deal, right? Sleepless nights, followed by long days and hectic schedules. We love our families but many of us also love to work. After all, as professional women, many of us worked for many years and accomplished a great deal during that time.

Then, we met significant others, got married, went through that original honeymoon phase of traveling, going out for romantic dinners, the whole deal. And THEN, we got pregnant, knew that our lives would change but didn't really know what we were in for as working parents. Gone are the trips to Europe, the romantic dinners replaced by breastfeeding, diapers, daycare, illness and this interesting thing that we like to call "work-life balance."

I like to think that I have learned much during the past 5 years. I have been through all of the emotions - the guilt, the need to be productive and further my skills, the yearning to spend more time with my kids, the list goes on. But, of all the things I have learned, the most important emotion that I have gained is acceptance. I have learned to accept that I cannot always be the perfect mom, the perfect employee or the perfect wife.

What helps me to do this is to gather all of the resources that I can to be successful in each of these roles and to enjoy my life. That's what Working Moms Make It Work is all about. We seek to bring together professional women who face these challenges, create a discussion and meet to gain the tools we need for success. So join in the discussion - oh, and you will also hear from my partner in crime and another fabulous working Mom, Holyn. Together, we will launch what promises to be an organization that is committed to helping you to enjoy life as a working mother.