Parenting: It Is Not My Job

Lisa writes: It is not my job.

Being a parent is a really tough job. Many argue that it is the toughest job. Yet, speaking only for myself, I made parenthood far harder than it needed to be by taking on jobs that were not mine. My job is to love and care for my kids, to make them feel safe and teach them to navigate the world into which they will venture. My job is to teach my sons the set of values, rightly or wrongly, that their father and I hold dear. My job is to launch educated, good, responsible men.

girl in snow

That is a tall order without adding a whole list of other parenting challenges, that frankly I am not certain can be achieved.

It is not my job to find my child’s “passion.” Passion by its very nature is deeply personal and individualistic. One person simply cannot find it for another. If my kids want one, they will have to find their own Not everyone has a passion and the notion that everyone does is a middle class artifice of the late 20th century. I promise, many people have lived and died having wonderful lives without beholding a “passion.” I do not have a passion, and honestly, I am okay.

[Read more...]



Did you like this post? The +1 tells Google it's great content! We appreciate your support.


Do Your Laundry Or You’ll Die Alone: The Wit and Wisdom of Becky Blades

Lisa writes: Mary Dell and I have read Becky Blades’ beautiful volume, Do Your Laundry or You’ll Die Alone,  and we love it. We don’t just love it because we have high school (and college!) graduates this year. We love it because it is the perfect gift of wit and wisdom for any girl/young woman, age 15-25, and because of the messages of empowerment, understanding and optimism Becky conveys.  It is a little manual for life, and who doesn’t need that?

Do Your Laundry or You'll Die Alone

But Becky’s book is even better with some of the back story. Her slender and beautifully illustrated volume is very much a “mom story” that so many of us can relate to, and we had the pleasure of interviewing her to hear  firsthand.

Interview With Author Becky Blades

Lisa: You say in the book that you wrote this as a reminder to oldest daughter before she headed off to Harvard? Why did she need reminding and why didn’t you just tell her what you had to say?

Becky: My firstborn, Taylor Kay, was a driven child, and busy, busy, busy. Every minute seemed so intense – with few of those hang-around-and-chat moments where topics just come up. When we WERE in the same room, I shared her attention with the crowd of people who were texting or Facebooking on her phone. Since she was working so hard, and I didn’t want every conversation to be an argument, I gave her a pass on that, and other things – like doing her laundry.

[Read more...]



Did you like this post? The +1 tells Google it's great content! We appreciate your support.


Four Most Dreaded Words for a Stay-at-Home-Mom

What comes to mind when you hear that an educated woman, a woman who once had a burgeoning career, has stepped down to become a stay-at-home-mom?  Really, what do you think?  That she is a great mom?  That she wasn’t really all that successful and found the hidden trap door in the floor?  That she couldn’t hack the pressure of the dual lives that most parents lead?  That she found the best solution for her family?  That somebody’s husband must be doing well or that somebody cannot afford childcare? That you pity her or want to be her?

Today, at The Atlantic, Lisa discusses the question she dreads most of all, “What do you do?” (Photo credit: John Schultz/flickr)

Stay at Home Mom, The Atlantic story on stay at home mom

[Read more...]



Did you like this post? The +1 tells Google it's great content! We appreciate your support.


BTDT* Moms Talk Best Parenting Practices

Lisa writes: It is easy for us, as moms, to get down on ourselves about our parental transgressions.  All too often we remember the days when we shrieked at our kids for, truly, little more than being kids.  Focusing on our missteps as moms and dads has become almost a national pastime, as we berate ourselves for not being the perfect parent.

While I am happy to leap onto the bandwagon of self-indictment, and admit to more than my share of errors in judgment and practice, I am going to search out the glass half-full here. I have asked a few experienced moms to jump in and, without crowing, just reflect on what went right. Here are eight of their best parenting practices that we can all consider.  After all, as we like to say, parenting never ends.

mom and baby at zoo, a family visits the zoo, elephants at the zoo

[Read more...]



Did you like this post? The +1 tells Google it's great content! We appreciate your support.


Stay-at-Home Mom With Rebuttals and Regrets

Lisa writes: After pondering for 17 years my decision to be a stay-at-home mom, I put my thoughts on paper.  At no point did it occur to me that I would not work outside our home or that one decade or even nearly two would pass before I returned to the workplace.  But days turned into months, months into years and suddenly nursery school applications became college applications and I would be hard pressed to say where the time went.

I was asked if this post was hard to write.  It was hard to face, but easy to write.

HuffPost Parents put up “I Regret Being a Stay-at-Home Mom” and the Today show and Fox and Friends asked me to come speak about it.  The thrilling part was the hundreds, now thousands, of comments that have been generated by readers reflecting on their own experiences.

Today SHow, Stay-at-Home Mom, Regrets staying at home

Since posting my confession, women, and a few men, have told us how much it has meant to them to hear these thoughts laid out publicly. Then, and this has to be the very best part of the internet, they have shared their stories and their lives with us.

We have heard from women on maternity leave and women nearing retirement. Some have been mothers reflecting, as I have done, but many have been young moms with infants and toddlers who have the question of returning to work still swirling in their minds. Below we share their voices.

Readers wrote articulate, thoughtful rebuttal posts, and we have gathered them here or they can be found above under the tab “Discussion: Stay-at-Home Mom.

Lest this look like a love fest, a few comments were venomous, as readers suggested I should not have had kids.  A few were a bit touchy, suggesting I just needed to grow up.  And many vehemently disagreed with me, with one particularly astute writer (mom of five, physician, and thought leader) offering up what she felt were more important family issues that should focused upon.  I have tried to reflect their voices as well.

Rather than describing what some incredibly articulate women have said, I offer up their heartfelt insights…

[Read more...]



Did you like this post? The +1 tells Google it's great content! We appreciate your support.


Nine Reasons I Regret Being a Stay at Home Mom

 

Lisa writes: The most expensive decision of my life I made alone.  There was no realtor, no car dealer and no travel agent when I chose to leave the paid workforce and become a stay at home mom.  There was just me looking at my husband, my children (those inside and outside the womb) and the chaos that was our lives. At no point did I calculate the lifetime impact of diminished earnings and prospects.  I looked at the year we were in and the following year, and I bolted.  No part of my brain sat itself down and thought, what is the price both in both this year’s dollars and my lifetime earnings, to leaving the workforce and is it a decision that a decade or two from now I might regret?  At no point did I examine the non-monetary cost which would loom just as large. At the time it seemed forgone, two demanding careers, two small children and another on the way, two adult lives hopelessly out of control.

One day I was working on the massive trading floor of a London bank, the next I was on the floor of my children’s playroom.  And while it meant I would forgo a paycheck, not once did I think, at age 33, of what the job market would look like for me in years hence and therein lies my most expensive mistake.

youngest-child-1024x683

[Read more...]



Did you like this post? The +1 tells Google it's great content! We appreciate your support.


Motherhood and the Empty Nest

Lisa writes: This morning, The New York Times posted a wonderful article, “After the Children have Grown,” about motherhood and the transition to the empty nest.  The author, noted psychologist Madeline Levine, confirms what Anna Quindlen has often said, that the real empty nest begins the day our youngest child graduates from college.  Yet Levine takes a different look at our children’s separation as not a single moment but rather one more step on a long path of pain and happiness that is parenting.  She explains,

Motherhood inextricably weaves growth and loss together from the moment of physical separation at birth to every milestone passed.

Yet she finds that, in some ways, parents are unprepared for this transition despite the fact that we should have seen it coming.

motherhood, empty nest, mothers and sons, after the children have grown

[Read more...]



Did you like this post? The +1 tells Google it's great content! We appreciate your support.


Mothers and Daughters, the Teenage Years

Mary Dell writes: Teenage girls travel in packs, migrating between friends’ houses. Over time, mothers and daughters from each family get to know one another well. When it is our turn to host a Friday night sleepover I am delighted. On Saturday morning, while serving pancakes, I pull up a chair with my daughter and her friends and join them for a chat.  Learning how to be welcomed (momentarily) into my daughter’s group, yet heeding the cue to disappear, are lessons I learned from my mother when she was the one wielding the spatula.

I recently asked my oldest girlfriends about their memories of those long ago school days. Here are some of the things they remember:

mother and daughter, teenage girl and mom in the 1970's

[Read more...]



Did you like this post? The +1 tells Google it's great content! We appreciate your support.


Mom Bloggers Would Have Made Me a Better Mother

Lisa writes: “Is that normal?”  was the first, second and probably third question I asked my pediatrician every time I walked into his office.  Normal.  Young moms are looking for normal but, in truth, we don’t know what it looks like.  Enter the internet and Mom bloggers.  My kids were born in the 1990s and my access to online information was limited in their early years.  Had I been able to consult this tribe of supporters, I would have learned that “normal” looks like a lot of different things and that my kids were fine.

I would have loved to have been part of a global group of young mom bloggers sharing information, trying to make sense of the changes in their lives and bringing humor to the process.  I could have used all three, perhaps humor the most.

Mom bloggers would have made me a better mother and here is why:
Mommy Bloggers
[Read more...]



Did you like this post? The +1 tells Google it's great content! We appreciate your support.


The Lavaliere

Cathy, a Grown and Flown friend writes: Her face was a perfect oval, with large round deep-set eyes and a Roman nose. That face possessed a genuine beauty far exceeding the allure of any gemstone. The wedding band she wore was gold, small and unobtrusive.  She rarely wore other jewelry, saving her lavaliere for special occasions. Her jet black hair was always simple, pulled back in a chignon or loose and wavy around her face. She was, in fact, of Roman descent. My mother.
lavaliere necklace, lavaliere, mother, grandmother, vintage photograph of woman

If I close my eyes and think of her, I picture her in a pair of Bermuda shorts, blouse tucked in, sneakers on, headed out to the garden to weed. Or dressed in a pale yellow shift dress with a simple pair of pumps and a handbag. Her skin was medium olive and she tanned easily. As a girl, she spent summers in Milford, Connecticut where her father, an Italian immigrant and New York merchant, had a summer home. There she learned to seed the garden, look for plover’s eggs and listen to the sound of the sea as it strummed the shoreline. Raised in the city, she was a country girl at heart. [Read more...]



Did you like this post? The +1 tells Google it's great content! We appreciate your support.


A Memory of Love

Gabby, a Grown and Flown friend writes: One of the most interesting things about teaching non-English language learners is that often my students “enlighten me” about life in America.  It most frequently happens when I try to cover some aspect of American culture and their pointed observations and questions offer a fresh perspective worth deeper consideration. My memory of past classes is full of these moments.

memory, Dominican Republic, tropical flower, red hibiscus

  [Read more...]



Did you like this post? The +1 tells Google it's great content! We appreciate your support.


The Perfect Panties

Knickers are aspirational, not in the career, socio-economic sense, but in a more revealing, personal sense. They speak to who we want to see ourselves as and who we want to be seen as, they express our doubts and insecurities, our folly and our sense of fashion.  A pair of panites lets us say that we are no longer that goody good girl, without ever having to really do something bad. They let us say, right now this a brand new mommy body, and for six weeks (per doctors orders) listen to the granny pants speaking. A new pair of panties can satisfy a craving for something novel or a touch of luxury. It turns out that it is far easier to change our underwear than our relationship, our look, or our fundamental personality.So what do our knickers say about us?

sensible knickers,cotton underwareJust had a baby and we are in sensible panties.  The amount of fluid loss after having a baby is one of the many, many unpleasant side effects associated with childbirth.  So into the briefs until the body settles down.  If the flabby belly and constant drip, drip, dripping don’t make you feel unattractive enough–the oversized knickers surely will.

perfect knickers, perfect underwear, black pantiesThen there are the trying too hard panties – the gorgeous, diaphanous numbers that are actually too small, too expensive and not machine washable. But having been dumped by the guy we thought was IT, well, sometimes a girl just needs a little pick me up.  These will be the single most expensive pair of panites we will ever own, they will be uncomfortable and may never actually be worn. For a moment in the department store we had a fantasy of recklessness and revenge, yet back at home, better sense prevailed. [Read more...]



Did you like this post? The +1 tells Google it's great content! We appreciate your support.


Back on the Career Track

Empty Nest, Carol Fishman CohenIs it time to go back to work?  Or maybe time to change career paths with the kids on the way out the door? As the nest empties, these questions naturally arise.  But where to begin?  If you have been out of the workplace for a number of years, dare we even say a decade or more, a job search with a dusty, outdated resume can be a daunting task.  One of my oldest friends, Carol Fishman Cohen,  became a stay at home mom when the company she worked for (remember Drexel Burnham Lambert?) went into bankruptcy while she was on maternity leave.  A decade later Carol was successful in finding a great job, but ultimately her real calling was in helping others tread the same path.  Carol wrote a great book called Back on the Career Track and she has a hugely helpful website called iRelaunch.

I went to one of Carol’s conferences last fall at NYU and it was an amazing networking/information gathering/educational event—even the food was good.  So rather than speak for her, I have asked Carol to give you a few of her most important points, and if you need more you can follow up on her site or at Amazon.  Today Carol is going to talk about mistakes people make in trying to renter the workforce, tomorrow she will give some of her top suggestions on how to get back on the career track.
Three common mistakes people make when trying to relaunch a career: [Read more...]



Did you like this post? The +1 tells Google it's great content! We appreciate your support.


Broody in the Empty Nest

Lisa writes: In England they call it being “broody,” the clock ticking feeling that the one thing in the world you want to hold is your own baby.  It strikes women in their twenties and thirties and if not dealt with can bring on a sense of panic.  But I am in my fifties, almost in an empty nest, and yet I have been having that familiar tug, that feeling like I want to pick up the babies of perfect strangers and have a little cuddle.  When I see a young mother struggling with a whiny toddler and a crying baby, I want to walk over pick the baby up, put her over my shoulder and with that rocking motion we mothers know so well, calm her to sleep.

broody, baby boy, empty nest feeling broody

At first I thought that this was some sort of game that mother nature was playing with my head, making me broody when my childbearing days are over, but then I thought again.  Mother nature is not playing with me, it is I who played with mother nature and if I remember my margarine ads correctly, this doesn’t end well.

I had my kids in my thirties, long after she intended me to bear offspring.  On my clock I have kids in college and could be a decade away from meeting my grandchildren.  On her clock, I should have already purchased the layette, hosted the shower, offered to take the baby for the weekend and just maybe visited on Grandparents Day at nursery school.  You see I fooled with the timeline the universe had set out for me, yet someplace deep in my soul, deep in a very basic part of my brain the message didn’t get through.



Did you like this post? The +1 tells Google it's great content! We appreciate your support.


Work-Life Balance: Home for Dinner

Cathy, a Grown and Flown friend, writes her story about work-life balance: That little face. My daughter had a face like a kitten. Being an only, she had developed the ability to amuse herself on her own, just like a cat! To me, the middle child in a big family, this was a marvel. I was always in the fray. Unlike my child, I could not amuse myself and I never had the time or opportunity to try.

 

work-life balance, working mom, stay at home mom

When my daughter was born, I negotiated six weeks of leave with an extra two if I had a C-section.  I didn’t have the section but I took the two weeks anyway. When I went back, I pushed for a four-day week and got it. I became sort of a champion of “working moms” in a tough fast-paced ad agency. Herein lies the rub we all know. In those four days, I worked longer and harder than I ever had. When I got home, most often quite late, there was my little kitten, padding around our kitchen in pj’s with Dad or our live-out sitter Michelle. She would run to me with her sparkly eyes and her Mamie (a fuzzled lamb she usually had pressed to her face.) I would put her to bed and sing to her—she loved my versions of old Broadway tunes.

Working late was my norm, and an unspoken requirement in management. When I left the corporate world, my homecoming was sweet. My daughter made me a drawing to welcome me home, and it brought me to tears. “Hello…Hi..Hello…welcome home…I missed you”…those words still bring tears to my eyes.  She drew a picture of me with my fur-trimmed coat, earrings, a hairdo and lipstick.

What I never got was how she missed me so much in the evening, when the day winds down and families eat dinner and hang out. I talked to her about it as a teenager. Her response to my query was quick and poignant. “I was so proud of you, Mom…. but I missed you, I really missed you. But I know you were busy in your job.”…she let me off the hook. I feel I shortchanged her. I can’t take the time back and the larger notion of my career was positive. But I wish I had been home for dinner more in those days. She would have liked her spaghetti with Mom at the table too.



Did you like this post? The +1 tells Google it's great content! We appreciate your support.