Leaning In and Loving It; Or, WWSD?

pirat-games-3I just wrapped up reading Sheryl Sandberg’s hotly contested book, Lean In Lean In is the latest book about working motherhood to hit the shelves and it’s causing quite a stir. If you haven’t heard of it by now, well, let’s just leave it at that. You probably have heard of it by now.

And it seems like everyone has an opinion or take on the book, or maybe worse, Sandberg herself. I don’t really want to re-hash all the opinions or arguments the book has caused. I’m not being cowardly, (maybe lazy and tired), but really I just am not sure I’m going to add too much insight to the discussion of the biggest book on women working that’s come out since, well, I’m not sure when.

What I’d rather focus on is the positive I gained by reading the book. Because I gained a lot. Really and truly! Sandberg has an informative and pretty inspirational point of view. She was extremely lucky in her career, but also, clearly, she was very hardworking. She didn’t just get there because of favors that were called in. And hey, if you’re reading this blog, you’ve probably had a favor called in for you once along the way — is that such a bad thing?

Anyway, I digress. I’m thinking about this book a lot lately. It’s like “What Would Sheryl Do” in my head every time I’m on a call, in a meeting, trying to write a new business proposal. I sort of know WWSD, but here are some changes and observations about myself that I’ve made in just the short time since I’ve read the book. My own WWSD (See we even have the same initials!):

  • I don’t aspire to move all the way up the corporate ladder; I just want to be on one of the rungs. Even though Sandberg clearly speaks to women in executive positions, I was empowered by her message to continually go after your goals and to not settle.
  • I also have decided to speak up more. I used to constantly just keep my mouth shut because I was afraid I was being impolite or talking out of turn or because I was just nervous. So I loved the part of the book where Sandberg talks about how women never interrupt in meetings as compared with men. Now, I’m not advocating interrupting, but I am advocating being honest and speaking your mind appropriately and assertively. You cannot go wrong being true to yourself.
  • I’m not as nervous or resistant to asking my husband to pitch in and help when I need it for work. He’s most definitely the breadwinner, but I’ve been pulling in my share of the pie lately and if I need to work, he needs to adjust his schedule if he can. My kids generally like him better anyway.
  • I also know it was one of the lightest parts of her book, but I appreciated Sandberg’s examples of forgetting to dress her kids for school theme days, leaving work at 5:30 and logging on after bed, and generally feeling torn about where to be and when. Part of me knows that it is very anecdotal and meant to appeal to more of the masses, but that even someone with more help and resources than I can ever imagine still f’s up once in awhile with her kids.
  • The part that really resonated with me was how Sandberg identifies so many examples of how women screw over other women trying to get ahead in careers. It happened to me, I’m sure it happened to you, and I really want to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone I manage, work with, or other. Easily implementable for me as my own business owner.

 

Did you read it? What was your key takeaway?

Kim Clijsters is my hero

Kim Clijsters is my new-ish hero. It’s not the first time I’ve written about her on this blog before. The first time I mentioned her was when New York Times author Selena Roberts took her to task for “opting out” of tennis at the young age of 23.

I bet Roberts is eating her words now.

Clijsters just won her FOURTH Grand Slam last weekend — the Australian Open — in Melbourne last weekend. She won her second — the U.S. Open — after taking the last 2.5 years off to birth and raise her daughter. And won another U.S. Open last year.

How’s that for opting back in? I hope my re-entry into the workforce is one-bazillionth as successful.

And what did she credit for her stirring “comeback” to tennis?

Why, the maturity she feels she has now that she’s a mother. I heard her say that on TV too.

It’s scary to opt-out of the workforce for whatever reason – injury, age, kids, whatever. And it’s equally as scary to opt back in not knowing what challenges might lie ahead. But I get what Clijsters is feeling. In some ways, taking the time off (if you’re lucky enough to be able to do so) only to go back in gives you the drive and insights you might not have had otherwise.

I’m a firm believer that having children has only helped my career, not hindered it. I may not have won any Opens, but knowing I have those little (and one big) dudes to come home to every night makes me feel like a champion.

A whole other look at Whole Foods

I shop at the Lincoln Park Whole Foods almost once a week not infrequently. At first, the store, a behemoth grocery store by any standards, let alone a Whole Foods, scared me. But I’ve grown to love the size, the selection, and especially, the sushi bar. (I even got Cyn to meet me there once.)

Which is why I was appalled and horrified that a local mom, Lisa Portes, was BANNED from Whole Foods for LIFE for accidentally taking out a $15 bottle of chewable vitamins amidst a clusterf*** of epic proportions with her kids. (Full story in Chicago Magazine via Windy Citizen.)

Everyone who has children, babysat children, or watched children from afar can understand how difficult it is to grocery shop (or do any kind of shopping) with kids. Just the baggage and items alone needed to keep them occupied, dry, sanitized and fed is enough without remembering the grocery list, your wallet, and your own, sustainable shopping bags. (Portes gets extra props for those.)

So what, she paid for the groceries, left, forgot another item and went back to get it, took her kids to the bathroom and forgot to pay. Was that worth the shakedown by the security guard in the parking lot, a Whole Foods “mug” shot and directive to never step foot in the store again?

I think not.

I remember fondly when Kristen forgot to pay for the duck that accidentally fell into her shopping cart. Was that worth the $6.95 to take her kids out of the car, go back and pay? Readers were mixed, but I know that I wouldn’t have gotten out of my car at that moment to return it.

We all have our bad moments as mothers. And apparently Chicago does not like when moms have those moments, or moms in public in general (as referenced by the comments to this story and the Stroller Wars story that I was a part of.) Not all of us are a texting, careless, maniacal bunch.

I personally think it’s clear that Portes did not intend to steal the vitamins. It’s also clear that a company has a policy against shoplifting and I cannot fault Whole Foods for adhering to policy.

But where’s the middle ground? It’s not like Portes was a repeat offender. It’s not like she didn’t offer to pay. I’m not sure how the Whole Foods organization works, but most companies I’ve worked with over the years with regards to employee relations give managers the ability to assess the situation of their own store or office and make an informed decision based on that.

Rather, what it seems, is that everyone likes a scapegoat, especially when it’s a harried mom. It’s easy to judge that mom and assume the worst. She was an easy target for the bored security guard in the parking lot. As Portes says, “They didn’t leave the slightest margin for human error.” And that seems exactly like what it was. Human error. We all err as humans.

Even the crazy Chicago mom haters.

Even the manager and the security guard at Whole Foods.

I love the store, the products and the people I encounter at Whole Foods. But I’m not a fan of the way they handled this situation or their inane, inflexible policy. It makes me wonder who’s looking over my shoulder as I soldier on through the vast aisles of the store. I better make sure I triple check my cart on the way out.

Some Firsts

My first night out with the ladies since having #2 consisted of a few more firsts:

  • The first time I used a breast pump in public. Well, if public is considered in my husband’s car while parked on Belmont. That’s public enough for me. He kept psyching me out that everyone walking out of Potbelly was looking at me. Needless to say, I will not be repeating that first again any time soon.
  • The first time I showed up at an event where I was a guest of main attraction. My name looks good in lights, er, on a printed program. (You can see the photo story here, hopefully the video soon, too!)
  • The first time I read something I wrote to a public audience. Will probably be the last, but I’m glad at least a few people I know laughed. (Thanks to momtrolfreak for the photo.)

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The first time I put on real jeans since giving birth.

  • The first time I actually felt like a legit writer. Among already established writers. In a book that I’m proud of and think is absolutely hilarious. (Hint, hint buy it!)

It’s no Accident there are two Good new shows for fall

I really didn’t need to add any more television shows to my repetoire. But my friend Beth has a way of looping me into her world of lovely CBS television shows, chances for conference calls with TV stars and on-set visits (which of course I can’t do being 7 months pregnant) that get my dorky Midwest heart all-a-flutter. I just can’t say no to someone asking me to watch a new television show.

Especially when they’re good. 

So last week I sat down to watch two new shows appearing on CBS’s lineup this fall – The Good Wife and Accidentally on Purpose. Starring Julianna Margulies and Jenna Elfman, respectively, these shows deal with the issues I write often about here: re-entry into the workforce after having kids. Of course, I have no experience about dealing with the issues of an unfaithful husband or getting accidentallky knocked up at age 37, but whatever, I’m always trying to be transparent about putting reviews about anything up here on this blog.

Because they’re good.

According to CBS press materials, The Good Wife is:

a drama starring Emmy Award winner Julianna Margulies as a wife and mother who boldly assumes full responsibility for her family and re-enters the workforce after her husband’s very public sex and political corruption scandal lands him in jail.  Pushing aside the betrayal and crushing public humiliation caused by her husband Peter (Chris Noth), Alicia Florrick (Margulies) starts over by pursuing her original career as a defense attorney.  As a junior associate at a prestigious Chicago law firm, she joins her longtime friend, former law school classmate and firm partner Will Gardner (Josh Charles), who is interested to see how Alicia will perform after 13 years out of the courtroom. Alicia is grateful the firm’s top litigator, Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski), offers to mentor her but discovers the offer has conditions and realizes she’s going to need to succeed on her own merit.

Hello, you had me at Chris Noth. (Even if does play the biggest prick to cross the TV screen since Elliott Spitzer.) Margulies looks great and shows a depth of emotion in her character as a jilted wife. I’ll be back to see if she sticks by her husband’s side for much longer.

You can watch a clip here:

 Accidentally on Purpose is a little lighter and a little, well, less realistic. But it’s still fun. According to CBS the show is:

is a comedy starring Golden Globe Award winner Jenna Elfman as Billie, a single woman who finds herself “accidentally” pregnant after a one-night stand with a much younger guy, and decides to keep the baby… and the guy.  A newspaper film critic, Billie is barely surviving a humiliating breakup with her charming boss, James (Grant Show), who’s still trying to resume their relationship.  Suddenly expecting a child with her “boy toy,” Zack (Jon Foster), Billie and Zack make an arrangement: to live together platonically. Billie’s party girl best friend Olivia (Ashley Jensen), and Abby (Lennon Parham), her conventional, younger married sister, eagerly look forward to the new addition and offer their own brands of advice and encouragement.  But when Zack and his freeloading friends, including Davis (Nicolas Wright), start to turn her place into a frat house, Billie isn’t sure if she’s living with a boyfriend, a roommate, or if she just has another child to raise.

Hello, you had me at Grant Show. Like I said, not so realistic, but Jenna Elfman is way cuter and less annoying as she was as the wacky wife on Dharma and Greg, and the dad-to-be is rather adorable and endearing. Plus, you had me at Grant Show.

Watch a clip here:

Both shows air this fall.

Things I don’t expect to see while on vacation

A snowstorm in April:

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This is not what I call “spring skiing.”

A random product I reviewed a long time ago (so long that I can’t even find it in my archives) staring at me from the bar where I was enjoying a drink called, “The Geisha.”

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To my knowledge, Gloves in a Bottle is NOT a key ingredient to the Geisha drink.

Making it onto Alltop Moms. I can’t even believe I’m in the company listed on this site. I’m all the way at the bottom, but who cares, I’m there! (Thanks, Nicole.)

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Kim, thanks for the button. That about sums it up for me too!

Seeing many friends of mine in the blogosphere meeting KATIE COURIC in NYC. Beth, next time you offer me a chance like this, remind me that my husband will always be there, while Katie may not be. You guys rock!!

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Vacationing alone with hubby is overrated compared to meeting #1 female celebrity. Just kidding, honey.

That’s all until I get back from snowy paradise…

Edited to add: I SO did NOT meet Katie!! I think re-reading the caption it makes me sound like I did, but I didn’t. Just jealous of those that did. Next time I’ll get out of my vacation haze and proof before I write!

What I really wanted to tell those swooning engaged couples registering at Crate and Barrel yesterday

  • Don’t look at me that way. In 5-10 years, you too, may find yourself dragging a screaming toddler up the escalator on the way to find velvet throw pillows to cover the puke stains on your couch.
  • Trust me, a toddler throwing grapes on the floor is much better than smushing them in his hands.
  • You most likely won’t ever hold your significant other’s hand while shopping for silverware again.
  • I guarantee you’ll never unpack that Krups ice cream maker. It’s ok.  Four years later and I haven’t opened mine yet.

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Still dusty after all these years.

  • The love you have for each other will never equal the love you have for a brand-new set of non-stick Calphalon pans.

And while I was picking on unsuspecting couples at Crate and Barrel, here’s what was happening on the web:

  • The Secret Lives of Soccer Moms goes postal: I realized that after I talked to Tracey and watched the premiere episode, I forgot to Tivo the series.  Which means I missed out on following all the crazy backlash the show is getting on the web.  Holy crap, people. Get a life. It’s a TV show. Geez.
  •  Mickey’s going to be eating matzah one day: The Disney “blunder” is no more. Go Devra! Hope they like your charoset.
  • Just what I want to read before going to bed at night: I don’t see the point of reading a fictional book about the life I’m leading. Sounds to me like another helping of the Mommy Wars hype with a different title.
  • I started a new pet project. Click here to see the beginning of genius.
  • ** Edited to add: Have you all seen this new site Alltop? I’ve read about it like 4 times today, so I had to write about it. It collects all the top blogs on the web according to different categories. It’s a great way to see all of your favorite sites’ top 5 posts in a few scrolls of the mouse. There is even a category for mom blogs, but you won’t see me there (yet?) so don’t forget to come back and visit here after you scroll away!

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Mama’s got a brand-new gig

No, I didn’t go back to work or anything crazy like that, but I did take on an assignment that has deadlines and everything! I’m going to be writing for Work It! Mom’s newest blog, Moms on Issues.  I’ll be tag teaming with esteemed blogger Veronica, writing about all the social and political issues moms face with on a daily basis and how moms are covered in the media.

So take a whirl at our first two posts and let us know what you think!

And kudos to Susan, my first blog friend, who’s teaming up with us over at Mommy Track’d. Can’t wait to see what she comes up with…

At least she’s honest – Julianna Margulies on being a working mom

marguliesx.jpgIt’s always fun to see how celebrities are quoted about how they handle motherhood and work.  So when I came across this story in USA Today I couldn’t resist quoting yet the newest working mom on the block – Julianna Margulies, who’s starring in a new show, Canterbury’s Law, this Monday night. In the series, she plays a ball-buster lawyer. In real life, she’s mom to six-week-old Kieran.  I’m sure she was asked the obligatory, “how did you handle pregnancy and working?” question, which elicited this response:

I got pregnant by surprise at the end of April, and in May, we found out we were picked up. I don’t want to be the working mother. We’ve seen it a million times. How do you juggle? And it is impossibly difficult, as I’m now finding out.

Furthermore, she was against writing her pregnancy into the show. Most times I find it irritating when celebrities wax poetic or give unrealistic advice about the beauty of working and raising their children on movie sets or whatever.  So, thanks Julianna for keeping it real. It is impossible to juggle.

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The Secret Life of a Soccer Mom – Is it reality?

slsm.jpgI just finished watching the premiere episode of TLC’s new show, “The Secret Life of a Soccer Mom,” and I have to be honest – I liked it way more than I thought I would.  I knew plenty about the show after talking to the host, Tracey Gold, yesterday, but typically I don’t let my DVR record things that have the words “Secret” and “Mom” in the same title (sounds kind of like a bad Lifetime move, don’t you think?).  However, after whizzing through the show in about 45 minutes, I found myself with a bit of a lump in my throat and a little more happiness about the choice I made to be a SAHM.

The first episode centered on Adrian Stark, wife of a doctor and a mom of three.  A wannabe fashion designer before she had kids, the show gave Ms. Stark the opportunity to work for fashion designer Bianca Nero for a week under the guise that she was “going to a spa.” (Hence, the “secret.” Lifetime references abound.) So while she went off to her new “job,” her husband stayed at home watching the girls. It was your typical here’s-what-happens-when-the-mom-works-scenario with the kids running wild and the house in disarray. Let’s just say if there are assistants who cook the food all day while you’re away it’s not that realistic.

And watching Ms. Stark do her assignment was kind of like watching a summer intern at work.  The bosses came down hard and fast and Ms. Stark looked frazzled and nervous.  I can only imagine, though, how she must have felt, considering before I interviewed Ms. Gold yesterday (my first “real” story since I stopped working) I was sweating like a pig.  The point? It’s hard to rejigger your brain into work mode after you’ve been in SAHM mode. I thought the show treated that shift well.

Some folks were a little bothered by the secretive nature of the show, but I just chalked it up to the fact that it’s on TV. I mean, how else were they going to get those moms out of the house? I know if I want to leave for a day I have to book it like 3 weeks in advance, call in major reinforcements and clear it with a slew of people. Anyway, *spoiler alert* at the end of the show, Ms. Stark does a great job, gets the job of her dreams and accepts a full-time position with the designer. Dad seemed truly happy for her and the kids were thrilled. (This is the part where I got a lump in my throat.)  It was sweet, really. You could tell that she loved staying at home with her kids, but wanted to try something new, so kudos to her!

This show isn’t going to be for everyone, though. Some will think it’s going to fuel the Mommy Wars and devalue women’s choices.  But I’d like to think more positively about it after watching it. It gives a little insight into a typical my SAHM life and what can happen down the road. And I think it’s good for moms in general to watch other mothers go through what many of us think about as well as show employers that even if you are out of the workforce for awhile you still got ‘skillz (er, skills.)

So if they have to throw in a few television cliches in the process I’m not going to sweat it.  I’m going to record it again next week and maybe catch a good movie on Lifetime while I’m at it.  Hey, we all have to live vicariously once in awhile, right?

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