Insert Awkward Silence *Here*

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It happens to me every time I am explaining what I do to one of my friends, an acquaintance, family members, or a friend of a family member. I tell people I am working, that’s not bullshit. I feel like I am working. I spend hours in front of my computer working on all things that relate to Proud Working Moms – dreaming up ways to help all of the legions of hard working moms. My goal is to help encourage, inspire, and make our fellow PWM’s smile. It seems simple enough and worthy of support from those around me. Yet this is how the conversation always goes:

Them: You are working?
Me: Yes, I am working with a partner on a blogging project called Proud Working Mom and I am really excited about it.
*awkward silence*
Them: Ooooh…um…that is…um…great.
Me: Thanks! (then I notice that they are actually not that excited and seem more puzzled)
*insert another super awkward silence*
AND SCENE.

I am a Proud Working Mom. I have been busting my ass for the better part of two years trying to learn all the things that I need to learn to run a blog/website and make it a business. Before I started this project, I didn’t even know what Twitter was and I was kind of scared of it. The last year of my life has been a time of personal growth and I have learned more in 12 months that I ever did in law school. Yet I still get *crickets* from some of those around me. Some of those that I thought would be my biggest supporters. Why? Is it because my current project is not as lofty as being a practicing lawyer? Is it because I am throwing away my law degree by getting involved with something as paltry as a blog? Are people waiting for it to be a success before they officially endorse it?

I have become a businesswoman, a computer geek, a social media guru (o.k., I am getting carried away…lets just say I understand it all now), a blogger, and Jennifer and I continue to help other working moms every single day. It is an awesome feeling. Once in a while, when we are doubting our direction or mission, we get an email or a comment or a note from one of you awesome Proud Working Moms which makes us nod our collective heads and say THIS is why we are doing PWM. I have heard people say in the past that if you are doing something you love, it will never feel like work. I understand that now.

My point is that I am quite proud of the site that Jennifer Barbin and I have created. I am tired of casually mentioning my work under my breath and sweeping it aside as if it is no big deal, as if it doesn’t really matter. It IS a big deal and I am proud that we have made this vision a reality (especially at my advanced age). I will no longer endure the awkward silence.

I AM A PROUD WORKING MOM AND CO-FOUNDER OF THIS WEBSITE, DAMMIT. There, I said it out loud. I feel better.

13 Things You Should NEVER Say to a Working Mother!

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I have been a working mother with three children for a long time. In that time, I have had lots of people ask me questions and give me their unsolicited opinions on many occasions. While most people don’t intend be rude or judgmental, it is always surprising to hear out loud, what some people should keep to themselves

Here is my list of the top things you must NEVER say to a working mom and just for fun, I have included my sarcastic responses (that I have managed to keep to myself):

“I saw your kid on the class trip today. She was crying – I think she missed you.” Thanks, I feel much better for the information.  Anything else you would like to tell me, like about how you think she might not be meeting her milestones, or will be emotionally damaged for life?

“I could never let someone else raise my kids.” Yes, I let others make all the decisions for my children. I have little to do with anything…their parent teacher conferences, birthday parties, homework, doctor appointments, playdates, or offering any sort of parental guidance. Heck, I don’t even hug and kiss them, cuddle them, or have any part in tucking them into bed.  I am never the first face they see in the morning, and I never do anything fun with them like have picnics on our carpet, or watching the same animated movie 100 times. And, I never ask them about their day. Nope, I have nothing to do with my children.

“I don’t know how you do it. I’d feel too guilty.” So….I wrote an entire book about this.  We do feel guilty, but we can feel great too. (Buy my book- that was a shameless plug, I know)

You trust your babysitter, right?” Oh no, I actually never considered her/his credentials. I just put out a job post on craigslist and took the very first applicant based on price. But thanks for making me suspicious!

“Good for you for putting your career first!” Yes, every single day I get up and I think to myself: The most important thing in my life is my career. To hell with my family, that has nothing to do with why I work.

“I’d give anything to get away from my kids for an entire day.” If you really mean this, send me your resume and I can help you out. But remember, this “freedom” comes with its own issues. We are not getting away and going to the spa.  It is called “work” for a reason.

“I’d miss my child too much to be away from him all day.” Well, I have no idea how you feel because I am an impersonal and non-maternal mother.  I have no feelings and never miss my kids. 

 “I don’t know how you do it. It must be so hard.” It is. I don’t know how I do it. But I don’t think work is the problem because parenting is hard whether you stay at home or go off to the office. I don’t know how any of us do it. It’s glorious and rewarding and full of love and it is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

“You must be so organized to be able to balance everything.” I love this and hate it at the same time. I think I am organized and I do think I accomplish a lot during a week’s time. But I also know I am one parent teacher conference away from a full melt down (like all moms working inside or outside the home).  Last week, Parker went to school and brought his toothbrush to show and tell. I have runs in my panty hose, and I never write thank you cards for my children’s birthday presents. I don’t exercise as often as I should and EVERY DAY something slides. There really is no “balance” just organized chaos. I am no different than anyone else.

“You look exhausted.” Wow, thanks! I feel even better now! Want to watch my kids this weekend so I can hit the spa, get a manicure, and sleep in?  No? Then let’s not say this to a working mom.

 “There’s always time to work later, these early years are so precious.” Why oh why is this NEVER said to fathers? I actually get many special moments with my kids. When Parker climbs into my bed and tells me “I am the best mommy in the whole world”, or when Emily smiles and says “I love you”, those are all special moments and I cherish them all.

 “Aren’t you concerned about not being there for your kids?” Just because I am at work does not mean I am not “there” for my kids.  Please get some perspective.

 “I’m surprised you went back to work. Your husband seems so successful.” Why would you assume that you know why I am working? Some women LIKE to work outside the home and I am sorry you are not one of them. 

Here is what we SHOULD say:

The questions and words should not be filled with judgment but with support.  After all, we are all mothers, we all adore our children and we all want what’s best for them. We are all doing what we have to do for our families and we are all different. So, let’s give each other support and understanding no matter if we stay home, work from home, work outside the home or somewhere in between.

 


photo credit: ktpupp via photopin cc

Hysterical Female Syndrome

hysterical female syndromeDo you have a tendency to speak your mind and give your opinion when asked?

Is your language filled with flowery words such as ‘I think’, ‘I feel’ or ‘I need’?

Do you suffer from outbreaks of opinion when you have a disagreement with a male co-worker or a male boss?

Have you been accused of being ‘too emotional’ when you express your displeasure?

If you have answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, you may be suffering from something we call Hysterical Female Syndrome.

Hysterical Female Syndrome n.  A tendency to explain thoughts or feelings using emotion and/or lots of words. Prevalent among humans who have a vagina. Frowned upon by males everywhere. Often used as an excuse when a male doesn’t want to listen to what a female has to say.

Sound familiar? Have you ever been accused of being ‘hysterical’? Here are a few common examples from my years in the workforce:

  • “Lets not blow this out of proportion.”
  • “I think you are getting too emotional about this.”
  • “Do you need a few minutes to pull yourself together?”

Even when this language is not used, there is no mistaking that wide eyed look of the male counterpart while arching his eyebrow and implying *this bitch is crazy*. The only thing more infuriating than having a male co-worker fall back on one of these lame excuses is the lack of an effective response. You can’t come back with “I’m not being emotional, you are just a jackass” because in some cases, it may be your boss. And while a swift kick to the crotch is the only effective response I can think of, physical violence is not the way to advance your career. Here are a few other ideas:

  • Remain calm. Again, resist any impulse to throttle the jackass who said this to you as an actual hysterical reaction is exactly what he wants.
  • Point out that while you may have different perspectives on the issue, you are just voicing your concerns and they are just as valid.
  • Stick by your guns. If something needs to be said, be bold and say it! Don’t back down.

*Note: Hysterical Female Syndrome is not an actual thing. We are just using humor to defuse a situation that could potentially result in males losing their genitalia.

Meet The Meanest Mom In The World

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Setting unreasonable expectations and shattering dreams…it’s what I do best.

I have a teenage daughter who is lovely, smart, responsible, and truly a joy to know. She is helpful, she gets good grades, and I can depend on her.

But man, she’s a slob.

Last week I was cleaning up the house. Against my better judgement, I decided to check out her bedroom (usually I just keep the door closed). Big mistake. Scattered on her floor and shoved in random places were dirty sweaters, candy wrappers, technology cords (ipod, computer, and phone), jeans, underwear, socks, belts, hats, and LOTS of papers.

before

While I DO support an individual’s right to live as he or she pleases, I draw the line at squalor in my own home.

We had been down this road before, this was not a new discussion. In the past, I would take away her laptop or cellphone for a period of time. She would respond with a big clean up. Then, not surprisingly, a few days later, we were back to an episode of Hoarders.

This time, I took a different approach. I put everything into two garbage bags and announced that if she didn’t put it all away, I would gladly drop the bags off at Goodwill. I did not raise my voice, I was amazingly calm.

after

 

My daughter then said something that I believe she has been thinking for some time:

“You are the meanest mother in the world!”

The words were like magic to my ears. As mothers, this is exactly what we all hope to hear from our daughters. I smiled and said “Thank you, I love you too.” She said nothing else to me and slammed her door. You see, as the mother of a 13-year old daughter, I had been expecting that. I was once such a teenager.

I went into our basement and pulled out a poem that my mother had posted outside of my bedroom and slipped it under her closed door. It goes like this:

“The Meanest Mother”

     I had the meanest mother in the whole world.  While other kids ate
candy for breakfast, I had to have cereal, eggs or toast. When others
had cokes and candy for lunch, I had to eat a sandwich.  As you can
guess, my supper was different than the other kids’ also.
     But at least, I wasn’t alone in my sufferings.  My sister and two
brothers had the same mean mother as I did.
     My mother insisted upon knowing where we were at all times. You’d
think we were on a chain gang. She had to know who our friends were and
where we were going. She insisted if we said we’d be gone an hour, that
we be gone one hour or less–not one hour and one minute. I am nearly
ashamed to admit it, but she actually struck us. Not once, but each
time we had a mind of our own and did as we pleased. That poor belt was
used more on our seats than it was to hold up Daddy’s pants. Can you
imagine someone actually hitting a child just because he disobeyed? Now
you can begin to see how mean she really was.
   We had to wear clean clothes and take a bath. The other kids always
wore their clothes for days. We reached the height of insults because
she made our clothes herself, just to save money . Why, oh why, did we
have to have a mother who made us feel different from our friends?
    The worst is yet to come. We had to be in bed by nine each night
and up at eight the next morning. We couldn’t sleep till noon like our
friends.  So while they slept-my mother actually had the nerve to break
the child-labor law. She made us work. We had to wash dishes, make
beds, learn to cook and all sorts of cruel things. I believe she laid
awake at night thinking up mean things to do to us.
     She always insisted upon us telling the truth, the whole truth and
nothing but the truth, even if it killed us-and it nearly did.
     By the time we were teen-agers, she was much wiser, and our life
became even more unbearable. None of this tooting the horn of a car for
us to come running. She embarrassed us to no end by making our dates
and friends come to the door to get us. If I spent the night with a
girlfriend, can you imagine she checked on me to see if I were really
there. I never had the chance to elope to Mexico. That is if I’d had a
boyfriend to elope with. I forgot to mention, while my friends were
dating at the mature age of 12 and 13, my old fashioned mother refused
to let me date until the age of 15 and 16. Fifteen, that is, if you
dated only to go to a school function. And that was maybe twice a year.

     Through the years, things didn’t improve a bit. We could not lie
in bed, “sick” like our friends did, and miss school. If our friends
had a toe ache, a hang nail or serious ailment, they could stay home
from school. Our marks in school had to be up to par. Our friends’
report cards had beautiful colors on them, black for passing, red for
failing. My mother being as different as she was, would settle for
nothing less than ugly black marks.
      As the years rolled by, first one and then the other of us was put
to shame. We were graduated from high school. With our mother behind
us, talking, hitting and demanding respect, none of us was allowed the
pleasure of being a drop-out.
     My mother was a complete failure as a mother. Out of four
children, a couple of us attained some higher education. None of us
have ever been arrested, divorced or beaten his mate. Each of my
brothers served his time in the service of this country. And whom do we
have to blame for the terrible way we turned out? You’re right, our
mean mother. Look at the things we missed. We never got to march in a
protest parade, nor to take part in a riot, burn draft cards, and a
million and one other things that our friends did.
She forced us to grow up into God-fearing, educated, honest adults.
      Using this as a background, I am trying to raise my three
children. I stand a little taller and I am filled with pride when my
children call me mean.
      Because, you see, I thank God, He gave me the meanest mother in
the whole world.

written by Bobbie Pingaro (1967)

Here’s to all you PWM’s ….may you also be the meanest mother in the world.

PWM’s….if you are really struggling with your teenager, (bigger stuff than messy rooms), all kidding aside..you are NOT alone and we are here to help. There is  a great E book and Parent Forum (with a live chat/support group) that is a wonderful resource for working parents.  For more information, check out the site My Out of Control Teen, or get the information about the resource here:

My Out of Control Teen

 

photo credit: Leshaines123 via photopin cc

Don’t be an ASKhole

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While not defined in a traditional dictionary, “ASKhole” pops right up in the Urban Dictionary. You may not be familiar with the term but all Proud Working Moms know this person.

An “ASKhole” is a co-worker who asks you a question or asks for your advice. The Askhole comes into your office, takes up your time batting an idea around and requires time out of your busy day to get valuable information. Once you have given your time and provided valuable assistance to this person, the ASKhole then completely disregards it and continues on to another person to ask the same question. The ASKhole knows no boundaries and doesn’t concern himself with how much of a burden he really is. It is only later in the day or the next day when you find out that not only did the ASKhole ask everyone in your corridor the same question, but he didn’t follow any of the advice given.

I know what you are doing. You are wondering if you are an ASKhole.

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If you are still reading this, you are not an ASKhole. If you were, you would’ve stopped reading this and dismissed it as a waste of your time. That is how ASKholes roll. So, here are a few tips on how to avoid becoming an ASKhole:

1. Make sure you are asking the right person for information. If you are looking for advice on a work issue, find someone at work that knows more than you. CAVEAT: Avoid asking people that will answer the question whether they know the correct answer or not – these are known as “know-it-alls” and are even more problematic than ASKholes (we will address them in a separate post). If you are seeking advice about your personal life, make sure you are asking someone who makes good choices at home. The co-worker that is know for his all night parties and binge drinking is not the person you should be asking.

2. Offer something of value in return. Once you have identified the correct person to ask for information, don’t just barge into their office looking for answers. Offer to buy that person a cup of coffee or take them to lunch and let them know that you need to run something past them. It is the least you can do. A good colleague won’t let you do it and will offer advice for free, but the gesture is nice.

3. Be thoughtful about what to do next. No one says you have to take the advice once it is given. It is nice to let the person know how much you appreciate their time and that you will give some thought to their advice. And then actually do it.

4. Don’t ask everyone in the office. Maybe you didn’t get the answer you wanted. Instead of proceeding down the hallway and asking every other person what they think, take some time and reflect on the advice given. At the end of the day, it is up to you to decide what to do. After careful consideration, be a professional and make the call.

 

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