No Bi*#& I’m NOT Pregnant!

No Bi*@&, I Am NOT PregnantBack in the day, when my kids were younger, I was a busy working mom trying to balance all the things that came with motherhood. My weight was one of the things I struggled with the most. The pounds didn’t just melt off of me and instead, I held on to about 20 more than I wanted to. It was frustrating enough not being able to exercise, eat right, and lose the weight but compounding the situation was the number of people who would ask me if I was pregnant. I’m not talking about an occasional person that wanders up and whispers “Are you pregnant?”  I am talking about all kinds of people approaching me in public places, asking loud and clear  “OOOOHHH, when are you due?” 

If there was a Guinness Book of World Records for the category “Most Asked if She Was Pregnant When She Was Not” – I would hold the record.

I had people ask me at the store, in a crowded courtroom, in a packed elevator, and even on an airplane. Once the awkward silence passed, it was my job to let them down easy (while my cheeks flushed with embarrassment).

And if you think that it was only insensitive men asking these questions, you are wrong. It was men AND women!

After a few years, cracks started showing in my otherwise confident exterior. While on a small airplane with my 4-month-old son, an eighty-year-old man asked me (really loud) how it was possible that I could be pregnant again. My response “its not possible. I’m not pregnant” and I continued down the aisle with my crying baby. The last straw came the day after my 40th birthday. I was at the gym getting weights before the start of an exercise class and a woman came up to me and asked “When IS that baby due?” as if she had been waiting for the baby for months. In front of about 25 people I responded politely “I am not pregnant” and walked away. Instead of dropping it and feeling embarrassed, she boldly continued to follow me and insisted “No, you are pregnant!” I ignored her and kept walking back to my place in the class with this woman still on my heels. She said one more time “You are definitely pregnant!” (as if I was and just didn’t know it yet) and that was it. I turned around with clenched teeth and with trembling hands and finally said what was on my mind:

No Bi*#& I’m NOT pregnant!

The good news is that she finally got the message (along with the 25 other people in the exercise class) but the bad news is that I left the class on the verge of tears and it ruined my week.

At the time, I swore that I would take this topic to the masses. To address this faux pas with both men and women. I needed to call Oprah. I didn’t have her number. I still don’t. Instead, I am writing this to publicly implore everyone: PLEASE STOP ASKING WOMEN IF THEY ARE PREGNANT!!!!

If you find yourself curious about a potentially pregnant woman, follow these 5 easy steps:

  1. Don’t ask her if she is pregnant.
  2. No, you can’t ask her “How are you feeling” while staring at her belly, it’s the same thing.
  3. Seriously, don’t ask her if she is pregnant. It’s none of your business anyway.
  4. You will regret it, I promise. Just drop it!
  5. Follow steps 1-4.

 

The Working/Traveling Mom

Working Mom Travels

My job requires me to travel, which I enjoy. Why do I feel so guilty?

I have three kids who range from 4 to 12 years old and I’ve been traveling since they were newborns.

Guilt is a funny thing. You likely feel guilty because you are enjoying something that you believe you should not. Although you can outwardly admit that you enjoy traveling, it sounds like you believe that you shouldn’t enjoy being away from your family. I would argue that being away can actually help you and your family if you allow yourself to enjoy the break and return refreshed.

When I started traveling for work after having my first baby, I had the “new mom guilt”. Now, I have “guilty pleasure guilt”. I have to admit, there are times when I look forward to escaping from the chaos of the day-to-day management of my family and have some quiet time for myself. When I travel for business I am highly productive during the day and when I return to my hotel room in the evening it is my time. There is nobody asking me to do anything for them – no kids, no husband, no dog…only me. Do I feel a little guilty? I used to.

The best way to combat mommy travel guilt is to truthfully assess what is making you uncomfortable. Begin by asking yourself a few questions:

  • Is your child care arrangement with a quality provider? Do you worry that your friends, your partner, your relatives are overextended while you are away? What about your daycare or nanny? Do the hours accommodate the trip, or do you need to make an adjustment? If your child care situation is taxing on your family, then find another way to care for your children and this way, you can leave knowing both your kids and caregiver will be satisfied and not counting the hours for your return.
  • Are your kids feeling your reluctance towards traveling and manipulating you? Are they getting you to drop some of the rules you have worked so hard to establish? This would include lax bedtimes, extra helpings of desserts, extra phone/text time, and lots of overpriced airport gifts. If you are falling into these common traps, your guilt is teaching your children to be manipulative and further implies that working is a bad thing. It isn’t so stop!
  • Is your traveling requiring you to miss to many significant events in your kids lives? Traveling is fine, I have done it for years. Consider that maybe it isn’t the travel but the sheer number of hours you are required to be away that is weighing on you. Whether you are in Tahiti or Denver, if you are gone too long consistently this can be a larger source of guilt than the travel itself.
  • Do you wish your kids missed you a bit more? Ahh…this one is tough. All of that fretting to call home and realize your kids are still making practice, still getting homework done, and still smiling. If this is the case, then you need to adjust your thinking a bit and become more comfortable with being a working/traveling mom. Your kids do miss you, and you miss them. You should feel confident that they are being well cared for and that you have established such a solid routine that your absence does not create a break from your family rhythm. This should be a source of pride so start thinking about it that way.
  • Do you feel guilty because you DON’T miss your kids? Many traveling moms I know hesitate to admit how much they enjoy being away, assuming they are being viewed as bad parents if they vocalize that they like the separation time from their families. It is perfectly fine to enjoy your occasional independence from your family. Let it go…we all need time to refresh and take care of ourselves. Use the time to take care of you. Get the manicure you have been wanting, order room service, watch a PG-13, or *gasp* a rated R movie. Catch up with a friend on the phone. Whatever you do, keep the guilt in check and remember the reasons that you are working in the first place.

You work to better the lives of your children by being able to provide for them. You work to be a great role model for your daughter who believes that she can become whomever she wants to be. You work to empower yourself and be your best you! Now get out there and DO IT Proud Working Mom!

 

Working Mothers – Learning The Rules of the Game

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When I was a kid, I played soccer. I played a lot of soccer. In fact, I started playing at 7 years old and stopped when I got pregnant with my first son, 10 years ago. When I stopped playing, I had fulfilled all of the things that I wanted to do as an athlete. I was a good team player, I still enjoyed the game and I stopped playing without suffering a career ending injury. Looking back on those days, in addition to all of the great cardiovascular exercise, I have learned many things that have helped me in my everyday working life. The lessons I learned playing soccer have taught me valuable lessons that relate to the working mother world. I want to share them with you this morning.

Rule 1- Support your teammates.  Whether you are sitting on the sidelines (see the first 5 years of my soccer career) or playing in the game, you must always support your team. As a working mother, this means supporting your team whether that team is your family, place of work, or close friends. I have news for you:  as women and moms, we are all on the same team, plain and simple. We need to support our team. Some of us work outside the home, some work in the home, some work part-time, and still others are what I like to call full-time working bad-asses! We are all still on the same team and most of us are dealing with the same issues in our lives. Not one of us is perfect and we all need support. Instead of wasting time comparing and competing with our teammates, lets support each other in our respective journeys. Always support your team!

Rule 2- Practice makes perfect.  Lets face it, there are very few of us that possess pure, natural talent. Nothing was more clear to me than playing on the field. I was never fast enough or aggressive enough or big enough. I found that after years of practice, practice, practice, I got better and worked smarter. I was never going to be a natural soccer player, but rather, I worked for every goal I scored or every steal I made. The same is true with working. In order to be successful at anything, you have to keep practicing. I was not born a blogger, or a writer, or even an editor. I have worked hard for months to get up to speed on the things that I need to learn in order to make this website a success. The more work I put into it, the better I will get. If I don’t get better, I will try harder.  I encourage you to do the same!

Rule 3- No guts, no glory.  Sometimes in soccer, you go for a ball when you know it’s going to hurt. It is a big play and the rewards are potentially huge, like scoring a goal, but you know that you will likely get beat up by the goalie- but you do it anyway. Why? You do it because sometimes you have to ignore the risks and be bold to score. My journey with Proud Working Mom (proudworkingmom.com) has been a long one and the goal is to bring all working moms together in a positive way. Yet still there are women who don’t agree. I am being bold in my attempts to unite my fellow Proud Working Moms and as the say…go big or go home. In life, I have never regretted trying something and failing. I have done plenty of that. My only regret is when I let fear hold me back from trying. In work and at home, take chances, you will never regret it!

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Rule 4- It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it is how you play the game.  Whether you are playing soccer, in a courtroom, or in a boardroom, integrity is king.  When you play on the soccer field, you play by the rules and beat the other team with your skills, not with shortcuts. Integrity cannot be bought, it is earned. What can take a lifetime to earn can be destroyed in a second by a bad decision. We see real life examples of this everyday. There are a growing number of high profile individuals who have literally spent their entire careers building up trust only to be destroyed in an instant by bad choices (see Anthony Wiener and Elliot Spitzer, just to name a few).  It is never worth it. The bad choice or shortcut will never be worth sacrificing your integrity. Conduct yourself with integrity at all times and beat out your competitors with your skills.  For anyone in the working game, integrity is an essential element of success.

Rule 5- Have fun!  Ok, I have to confess that with my 7 year-old’s soccer team, this is actually the first rule of soccer. Since we are all adults, I have moved it to 5. Having fun is still an important rule of the game. If you are not enjoying what you are doing, it will be too much like work. I will confess that when I played soccer, the two-hour practices were brutal. But after the work was done, I was proud of what I was doing and enjoyed lots of things about soccer. I enjoyed being part of a team, my teammates, the smell of the grass at an evening game (which I still remember) and let me add that winning didn’t suck. As a working mother, there are things that stink like waking up at 5:00 a.m. every morning or traveling every week away from your family. Focus on the positive things that your job allows you to do for yourself and your family. Have some fun!

In addition to working with ProudWorkingMom.com, I am a soccer mom of sorts, coaching my 7 year-old’s soccer team (The Blue Dragons). It has been more fun that I ever imagined. I can’t sit these kids down and teach them the  5 rules that I have shared with you. I can only hope that by playing the game, they learn these lessons and it helps them in life.

Now that you know the rules of the game, get out there and play!

Summer 2015 By The Numbers

shutterstock_99675002We are only halfway through the summer…..shit.

Lets face it, if you are a working mother, summer is not always fun in the sun. It is trying to juggle the kids EVERY SINGLE DAY and at the same time, trying to actually get work done (oh, and also trying to maintain your sanity). My kids are out of daycare and I wish I could tell you that summers get easier. They don’t. It just gets worse. So far this summer, here are my numbers:

– The number of minutes spent reading that awesome book that my best friend recommended as a ‘great summer read’.

1 – The number of ‘Brunswick Zone’ meltdowns my 9 year old has had. That is when he has a shit fit after I refuse to take him to Brunswick Zone so he can spend every penny he has. Believe it or not, last summer, I think he had already melted down about 5 times, so I think I see improvement. Feels good.

2 – The number of meals I have cooked. True story.

3 – The number of loads of laundry I do everyday because my kids have suddenly decided that they need more that one outfit on any given day. And I have boys!

10 – The number of times every hour that I tell my kids to leave me alone so I can actually get something done.

14 – The number of physical altercations I have broken up between my boys.

20 The number of times I have considered sending my kids away to an ALL – SUMMER recycling camp. Thats right, at least once a day, I regret not signing my kids up for camp. Next year, I am not asking them if they want to go, I am just doing it! I know, I know, a rookie mistake.

32 – The number of minutes of actual work that I have completed since the beginning of the summer.

43 – The number of days left this summer (not that I am counting or anything).

Good luck getting all your shit done, Proud Working Mom. Remember, just take it a day at a time. If that fails, then I recommend drinking!

Stop Being A Working Mother Martyr!

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Do you see long work hours as a sign of character? A badge of honor? Do you feel like you have to show your face at the office to be perceived as working hard? Do you feel needed when you come back to your desk and find 20 voicemails and 150 emails? Do you feel compelled to be seen at the office, otherwise, you could be mistaken for a part-timer?

Ladies, working like crazy no longer guarantees a job for life. How many times have you heard about the dedicated 20+ year employee who got laid off? Working yourself to death does not guarantee a raise, a bonus, or even a promotion. What it does guarantee is not seeing your family very much.

I used to be there but have learned from my mistakes.

One of the problems working mothers face is that we don’t have very many role models to look up to. Instead, we emulate people we think  are successful. Looks can be deceiving. That person we think is succeeding is working 24/7, trading office time for family time, and is constantly stressed out. Are long hours really the hallmark of a successful working mother? The answer is no.

The good news is that the world is changing and the expectations about working, hours, and face time in the office is changing too. I now have great success with my career, I have dinner with my family most nights, have some wonderful friendships, and even carve out time for outside activities like this wonderful site and the occasional exercise class.

How do I do it? I stay focused and set boundaries.

Change Your Thinking: Work more effectively for less time- After almost 20 years of working long hours, unnecessary travel, and unproductive office time, I finally realized something. If you do your job, and do it well, you will get ahead even if you don’t arrive at 5:30 am, and stay until after dark. Your biggest enemy is not your work schedule, your email box, or even an unsupportive manager… it’s the way you think about work. Stop assuming that working a lot means you are effective- they are two very different things. Ask yourself the following question every single day: am I being productive?

Demand Evaluations Based Upon Accomplishments (not hours worked)- I run a sales team. At the end of a long day, all that really matters is if we make our goals. If this can be accomplished in 60 hours per week or 2, it makes no difference. It is a dramatic example but the idea is the same for all professions (not just sales). When you are making a profit for your company, when you close a new account, or when you help to get major goals completed, this is much more valuable than office time spent reviewing email, chatting with co-workers, or filing reports. Make the time you are in the office count for both you and your employer.

Teach them how to work with you: “Hey, can you have this ready for me tomorrow morning?”  “Can you make the sales meeting at 6:30 tonight?”  

In my early years, I would work all night to meet deadlines, often even sleeping at my desk. I was always the first into the office and the last to leave. I would never miss evening meetings. But then I had kids. Life changed and so did my priorities.

Consider this radical idea: rather than just hopping to everything and killing yourself in the process, tell your co-workers how to work with you, not the other way around. Simply say that you want to give the project your best effort and will need four days to complete it – set a deadline that works for you. Or for that evening meeting, respond that it doesn’t work for you and give them a more realistic time (that doesn’t interrupt family time).

When you do this an amazing, almost magical thing happens: 99% of the time, they listen and adjust.  Don’t assume they understand your schedule. They don’t.

Enlist the partner in your life- the importance of a real partnership– We spend a lot of time talking about this at PWM. Dual career families are now the single largest group of families in the workplace. If you add in single parent homes you now have the majority of the workforce- not kidding. When we all support each other, we can build a new model (eventually a more popular one) of dual parenting, high productivity, and reasonable hours.

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