Signs you’re ready to tell your boss you’re pregnant

pregnant.jpgWhile reading the UrbanBaby Message Boards (one could really get addicted to such activity) this weekend, I came across a woman who was about 6 weeks pregnant and posted the question of when she should break the news to her boss.  This is definitely a gut-wrenching decision.  You don’t want to disclose your pregnancy too soon in case something happens (sorry, it’s the Jewish superstitious thing in me), but if you wait too long, it’s impossible to conceal the evidence (it’s not like you work on a sitcom where you can conveniently hide your belly behind a couch.)  Most women I know (including me) usually wait until the 12-week mark is well behind us.  But I think there are other tell-tale signs you’re ready to divulge your little secret:

  • You’ve stopped wretching every time you get on the subway to go to work.  Unfortunately, this does not mean that people will actually give up their seat for you.
  • You’re not quite showing, but your coworkers are giving you sideways glances when you go to the water cooler.  Sorry, folks, this means they think you’re just getting fat.
  • You can resist the urge to crawl under your desk for a nap.  Sort of.
  • Your mother you have told everyone she you knows.  Even the woman who waxes her lip clerk at 7-11 who sold you chocolate milk that morning.
  • You’re sick of your bubbly “I’ve had 4 kids and still look this good” coworker asking you if you’re “trying.”
  • At 4 p.m., any food leftover from random lunch meetings looks really tasty.  Yummm, pasta salad.
  • You’ve calculated with your HR department how little how much paid time off you’ll get for maternity leave.
  • The e-mail updates you’ve been getting from finally show a graphic that looks like a baby instead of a blob.
  • You’re actually excited to go maternity clothes shopping.

UrbanBaby preggo: good luck.

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Some advice for Mrs. Cruise

Dear Katie Kate (sorry!),

First, let me congratulate you on the birth of your daughter (how bad did labor SUCK, by katieholmes.jpgthe way?).  I wanted to write you about this article I read in Friday’s Wall Street Journal.  I hear you’re having some of difficulty trying to get back into the acting thing now that you’re a mom.

As a new working mom myself, I thought you might appreciate my perspective on the topic.  There are some people out there who read what I have to say, and others that actually like it.  But, if you’re not that interested in this note, you can just close the screen now and I won’t bug you again. I’ll understand.

Anyway, I hear you want to “get back into the game” and “map out a new career plan.”  These are all great goals to have. I’m so proud of you!  I just want to make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into.  See, you never really know what you want to do with your career after you’ve had baby until you actually start DOING it.  One week back at work you may decide that the whole thing isn’t for you and you want to quit.  And, well, then you’ve spent all that time creating a plan that isn’t going to work out.  If I were you, I’d sit by the pool and drink margaritas I’d just take a small role to start out just to test the waters.  You’re not all about the money, anyway, right?

Second, it’s NOT going to be easy to remember what you’re supposed to do when you get back to work.  How you’re going to memorize your lines is beyond me.  I can’t even remember what I ate for breakfast.  Please, Katie Kate (ugh!) don’t be so hard on yourself if it doesn’t come back to you right away.  Baby steps. (Speaking of which, is Suri walking yet!?? I need to babyproof my house, annoying!)

Next, I know the media’s been tough on you.  You’ve got a lot of eyes watching to see if you mess up.  Thing is, you’re going to make mistakes every day.  Probably way more mistakes than when you showed up at work hungover (oh wait, sorry, that was me a looong time ago).  But over time, you get a lot better and don’t err nearly as often (or get drunk anymore, for that matter).

Anyway, I’ll stop rambling now.  I hope this note helps you as you get back into the working thing.  It’s definitely tough at first, but if you love your job and your freedom, you’ll be just fine. I promise!  Say hi to your hubby for me.

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Oprah Asks, “Can Women Have it All?”

oprah.jpgThank goodness for my DVR.  For without it, I would not have been able to watch today’s episode of the Oprah show on the topic, “Can Women Have It All?” (see representative sample of “women” to the right). The episode discussed the issues between being a working mother or an SAHM.  However, because I have a short attention span, and because Oprah isn’t exactly my favorite TV personality, I’ve decided to split my thoughts about the show into two sections: the serious and the catty.

Skip the next 2 paragraphs if you’re not interested in my really interesting, insightful and very lucid (I’m running on 6 hours of sleep) thoughts about the topic. I promise it will be worth it.  But, since I’m in the business of blogging about working motherhood, I can’t stay completely out of the work-life balance/ SAHM fray that has become my new existence. So here goes.

The show started out with working mother example-extraordinaire Elizabeth Vargas. I actually kind of feel bad for her now, as she’s had to go on the record several times to defend her position for leaving her post at ABC’s “World News Tonight.” Well, on today’s Oprah, she did a terrific job doing just that.  I blogged about her 20/20 piece on the “Mommy Wars” awhile back and found that segment to be boring and a little self-serving.  I take it back.  On today’s show, “Tin Lizzie” (a dependable spokeswoman for all of us working mothers) was eloquent, and brutally honest in her reasoning for making the choices she did.  When she said that on “90% of her days I feel I’m never doing anything quite right” I could totally relate.  Unfortunately, Tin Lizzie was only on the show for a mere 10 minutes or so (excluding commercials which I happily fast-forwarded through).

The rest of the show was left for the “lay” women, both working and not working.  Here, we covered familiar territory: judging others, fear that if you work your kids will be screwed up adults, fear that if you stay home you lose a sense of “self.”  The debate “raged” on (on Oprah’s terms) but, unfortunately, Dr. Robin got in the way of some really good fights.  I wish we could have heard more about why these women made the choices they did and less about how we find “the gift” in each choice we make.  To me, a gift is something that comes in a small blue box with a white ribbon.  But I digress.  The debate pointed out a few insecurities I have about myself as a working mother – I’m not doing a good job of what Dr. Robin calls “being attuned” to yourself and your kids whether you’re at work or at home.  I promise, Doc, no more checking BlackBerry when junior is awake and whining. I seriously promise.

Ok, now onto the catty.

oprah2.jpgFirst, can somebody out there please tell me why on God’s green Earth Oprah and Dr. Robin wore matching outfits? I’m just not digging the shiny pink shirt/ brown combo enough to see it twice on my TV screen.  But Oprah’s earrings were fabulous.

elizabethvargas.jpgAnd, I really liked Tin Lizzie’s hair cut.  Where does she get it done? And do you think that ‘do would look good on me?



mom1.jpgFinally, why did all the moms on the show who were profiled look constipated?  Do I look constipated like that all the time?

 See, I told you it’d be worth it.

Oh, and if you care about what I think about whether or not a woman can have it all, here’s my answer. NO. Why? Because we all define “all” differently, so I don’t think we’ll ever come to a consensus.  I feel that I have everything I could ask for, but maybe other moms think I’m missing out on something.  Frankly, I’m kind of “over” this debate at the moment.  But, I’ll throw it out there, what do you think?

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Wall Street Journal takes on work and family balance

Check out The Juggle, a new blog by Wall Street Journal columnist Sara Schaefer Munoz.  (I’m not 100% sold on the name, but it might grow on me.) “The Juggle” aims to discuss all the issues that pertain to the modern family- stress of finding the right caregiver, trying to finish your neverending “to do” list, and managing to do your actual day job – all at the same time.

I liked what I read at first, especially about fake workplace productivity problems  (for those who care, I suffer from PCAST with a small case of my own diagnosis,”Nannyitis“).  And I’m totally glad to see another mainstream paper getting on the blogosphere bandwagon.  Guess I’ll add it to my Feeds… how will I ever “Juggle” all the stuff I have to read!?

“Mommy Wars” on 20/20

On November 10, Elizabeth Vargas, of ABC’s 20/20, conducted a segment on working moms trying to balance their lives.  The segment was good- it covered all the “mommy war” issues: maternity leave, stress of working and trying to make ends meet. (Did you know that Iran and North Korea have better maternity leave policies than the U.S.?) She also made the Department of Labor spokeswoman look like she worked in an alternate universe. (Dept. of Labor: women should “save up” so they can afford to take time off when they have a child. Hah!)  But there was one part I thought Vargas missed the boat on: mommy support systems, i.e. the role of “dad.”

The segment did not feature one husband, boyfriend, partner of the 3 working women profiled.  In fact, I think the word husband only came up once, when Vargas showed a photo of hers (Marc Cohn, the singer, for those who care).  Now, I totally agree that women endure the bulk of the responsibility for child care, working or not working.  But from my experience, I couldn’t be half the mom OR employee I am today without the support of my husband.  Yes, we don’t get enough maternity leave, yes, we may face the glass ceiling that dads don’t.  But without my husband to come home early when I can’t, or to give me some peace on the weekend, raising our son doesn’t work.  Parenting takes two, and while dads may not have to consider the same set of choices or decisions that moms do, it doesn’t mean that the “mommy wars” are for moms alone.

Don’t start the revolution without me

And you thought office politics were bad.  I’m in the middle of a play group coup d’etat. The play group I put my heart and soul into creating during my maternity leave is currently caught in a management overhaul. And I’m the management getting overthrown.  Apparently during one of the groups that I couldn’t attend a decision was made to switch our play dates from people’s homes to a gym class. And not just any old class, but a class that I tried the week before where my son cried at the teacher’s shrill voice (ok, he’s a bit of a wuss, but still.). The decision was made by two alpha NMFs of the group whose kids are older and more mobile. The decision was made behind the scenes. No outside consultants were engaged. Boom- one day, an innocent email went out and then play group as we knew it was over.

But why demand change now? Why rock the 3 month detailed calendar I created which had the play dates set through November? Why pay to sit at a smelly gym and watch my not-yet-crawling son cry at the teacher? NMFs I ask you- are we not engaging enough? Is the carpet on our floors not soft enough? Do we not have enough toys?

One of the other underlings in the group called me shortly after we received notice of the change in direction of our play group.  We comiserated at the loss of innocence, the new focus of our organization, the shleping we’d have to endure.  So what’d we do next? Called the gym and signed up.

Vive Le France

Ok, it’s about time I get on this bandwagon. Lots of discussion recently about a recent Washington Post article regarding the amazing childcare provisions and maternity leave policies the French currently offer.  You can’t imagine it if you tried- childcare subsidies, tax deductions, ridiculously cheap childcare options – all to promote mothers to continue working while helping to increase France’s population.
Now, Leslie Morgan Steiner of the Washington Post blogged about it, and suggests lightly that the US start supporting better working moms and dads.
Generally, I agree with this position. But what if it made our health insurance costs go up? or even our taxes? Is it worth it? Is France really the gold standard here?

I’m not sure, but hell, we could all use a few more weeks off with le bebe.