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.

 

Statistics: Who is Happier- Working Moms or Stay at Home Moms?

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According to the Pew Research Center, America’s working mothers are now the primary breadwinners in a record 40 percent of households with children. This highlights a very important fact: more mothers are now balancing work and family. But not all of them. Other sources reveal that a significant number of mothers are choosing to stay at home.

So, for all of us moms, the question that we ask ourselves and that we debate with one another is:

Who is happier- those of us who work, or those that stay home?

Well, it depends on who you ask. In writing this post, I spent quite a bit of time surfing the internet for important factoids. Here is what I found:

  • 36% of working moms said they were very happy with their working roles
  • 37% of stay at-home moms said they were very happy with their stay at home roles
  • 78% of working moms were very happy with their family lives
  • 75% of stay at home moms were very happy with their family lives

 

 Huh?

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As with anything, if you look long enough, you can find support for almost any position online with just a few clicks. As an example, last night I typed in: “Breast feeding past age two is safe” and I got 2 million results. Alternatively, I typed in “Breast feeding is not safe past age two”, and I got 5 million results. My point is that you can find literally thousands of official studies, experts, and posts around any topic and about any point of view.

So, as it pertains to working moms and stay at home moms, who is happier?

I have friends who work and are very fulfilled. I also have friends who stay home and are equally satisfied. A woman’s happiness level is based on so many factors, it truly is impossible to base it upon statistics. That is silly.

What really tips the scale is not whether you work or whether you stay at home but that you live your life as a HAPPY parent. For some, this might involve a full time career. For others, it might mean staying home. The statistics don’t really point to anything: only WE know what is right for our families.

Do what works for you. Be a Proud Working Mom (inside or outside the home)!

How to Deal With the Queen Bee Complex – At Work

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In every job I have had, there has always been at least one woman, either supervisor or mentor, that I have been able to look up to. Not many, mind you, but I have always had the benefit of female leadership. I view female leadership as a very positive thing and believe that these leaders have an obligation to mentor younger women. I am not suggesting you have to be best buddies or give a woman anything that is not deserved, but women who have navigated the corporate (or other) ladder have a responsibility to younger women. This is my opinion. Unfortunately, I (and many other working women I have talked to) have encountered the occasional woman in a supervisory role, who does not embrace the sisterhood. In fact, this female supervisor actually acts in a way that stifles the growth or advancement of other women below her.

This woman is suffering from the Queen Bee Complex.

You are nodding your head, Proud Working Mom, because you know who I am talking about. It is the woman at work that surrounds herself completely with men. In meetings, a male’s opinion is valued over yours and she will always help a male colleague over you. She is not very friendly toward you, despite your efforts and you can’t figure it out. If she is a direct supervisor, you will never advance. She will make sure of that. This supervisor will not embrace your presence and your potential for greatness because she views you as a threat. Pure and simple. You are younger, prettier, and potentially smarter than she is and that is a problem for the Queen Bee.

As a young attorney, I fell prey to such a supervisor. I was so excited to be learning from an experienced female attorney and despite my best attempts, she never warmed up to me. Then it moved to her attacking me in meetings and criticizing everything I was doing. It was a no-win situation. I even remember clearly when she announced in front of some co-workers that she needed to see all of my files in her office, pronto. She made me drag my entire caseload (over 100 files) down to her office so she could review every, single, one. She could’ve easily come to my office to review these files but public humiliation in front of my colleagues was much more fun for her. At the time, I didn’t understand what was going on. As my supervisor, wasn’t her job to teach me the right things to do? I was new. Wasn’t her job to help me get better, instead of instilling fear? The only thing I accomplished in my year working under this woman was I managed not to let her see me cry. It was an awful experience and it took years for me to understand what was going on.

Are you in this space right now? Do you have a fellow PWM who is going through this? If so, here are some tips on how to deal with a Queen Bee:

    • Do not let her see you CRY. You can go home at the end of the day and cry, or run into the bathroom if it cannot wait but whatever you do, never let the Queen Bee see you cry! 
    • Lean on your friends at work. Make sure you only share this work predicament with the people you trust. Go to these people for advice and counsel but be careful not to become an office gossip.
    • Keep performing! I have said it before and I will say it again, if you are having a problem at work, you need to keep doing an awesome job, despite the problem person.
    • Be graceful. If things don’t improve, you need to consider your next move. Do you want to stay in this job? If so, your next move is to talk to Human Resources about the problem. Ask if you can be reassigned to another supervisor. If you don’t want to stay, it is time to start setting up coffee and lunch dates with your professional network to see what else is out there. You can do it!
    • Use your resources. If it is truly time to look for a new job, have no fear! Make sure you check out all the resources available to you. Friends, colleagues or one of the great online job finders like Ladders.com.

Proud Working Moms, we are all in this together. Take a look around you and make sure you are supporting and embracing your fellow working women. Lets banish the Queen Bee!

photo credit: thegardenbuzz via photopin cc

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!

 

13 Gifts You Should NEVER Give a Working Mother for Christmas!

In an effort to shamelessly capitalize on our earlier post, 13 Things You Should Never Say to a Working Mother!, I have come up with a fun little holiday DON’T list. Feel free to print it out and give it to my husband (or your husband).
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It is that time of year again. I have just recovered from last Christmas and here we are again. Buying presents, getting holiday cards out, arranging for all the various holiday parties at home, work, and school. It is exhausting. Like most busy working mothers, all of the things I want for Christmas are not available in stores. Health for my family, a few precious moments alone without anyone else around, and 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. My wish list is simple. Yet my sweet husband is still asking, what do you want for Christmas? After 13 years of marriage, I would think the answer is obvious. I don’t want to give him all the answers (he still has to do some of the work) but I am willing to narrow it down.  

Here is a list of the 13 gifts you should NEVER give a working mother:

  1. Any form of weight loss equipment. I know that I have said that I want a treadmill but I don’t actually want it at Christmas. This will be a reminder of how much weight I have gained over the holidays and will not be received well.
  2. No books, supplements, or anything relating to losing weight. Seriously, I have warned you. If you buy me a weight loss supplement because it will help me “get healthy”, I will kick your ass!
  3. Cleaning stuff. Yes, the advertising is very good for new gadgets like Roomba (battery operated vacuum cleaner) and it would make my life easier but if you really want to help make cleaning the house easier, pick up the vacuum and get to work!
  4. Electronics. I know that is what YOU want for Christmas, so buy it for YOU. Don’t buy it and put my name on it because chances are I don’t know how to work it and don’t have the time to figure it out.
  5. More errands. Your heart is in the right place but if you really don’t know what to get me, don’t get me anything. I don’t want a bunch of stuff with the receipts so that I can then go on an always unpleasant ‘return-spree’. In other words, don’t give me the gift of more errands. 
  6. Pets. More specifically, don’t buy me anything that is breathing and can poop. With two boys and a dog, I am all set!
  7. Clothes. Seriously, don’t. You don’t know my size and if you buy me some cute outfit in a size 4, I am going to get Hulk-angry. I am not a size 4 and if I want to buy some new clothes, I would like to go to the mall (without the kids) and shop! 
  8. Crafts. Have we just met? I have no interest in learning to knit, paint or cook. In fact, just skip Michael’s all together.
  9. Athletic gear. I know this is related to several of the items above, but wanted to be crystal clear. Don’t buy this for me. This combines #1,#2, AND #7. Remember, Hulk-angry!   
  10. Some assembly requiredThis is self-explanatory. Anything that says this on the box or in the 35 page instruction manual is not for me.
  11. Lingerie. Really, you didn’t know this?  Now, if you wanted to combine it with a weekend at a fabulous hotel without kids and you did all the arranging and packing, I am suddenly interested.
  12. Coupon booksYes, you DO know what I am talking about. I don’t want you to scribble out a bunch of coupons on construction paper on Christmas Eve for “free babysitting” or “Mommy’s night out”. You are my husband, these kids are yours, too! 
  13. FlowersBecause then you would have nothing to give me for Mother’s Day.

I know, I know, then what do you want for Christmas? Everyone is asking. As I mentioned above, the things I truly want are intangible. But if you are still looking, I would note that booze, jewelry, and chocolate are always welcome (and are not on the list).

Happy Holidays fellow Proud Working Mom!

photo credit: tranchis via photopin cc

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