In Honor of Mother’s Day: Shtty Mom Book Preview

If you’re like me and on Mother’s Day you seek ways to escape your children (because isn’t Mother’s Day supposed to be about the MOTHER not about the kids, hello!?) you might like to pick up this little ditty of a book I managed to get my hands on at the Mom 2.0 conference last week – Sh*tty Mom. I mean, seriously, the title alone was enough for me to put down 50 Shades of  Porn Grey. That’s saying a lot. My husband was not pleased.

Girlfriends, this sh*t is funny. Almost as funny as how bad the writing is in 50 Shades of Porn Grey is.

Sh*tty Mom, written by the ever-fabulous TODAY Moms team and comediennes and writers Laurie Kilmartin and Karen Moline, is the perfect anti- “Are You Mom Enough?” – brouhaha book. These ladies certainly didn’t carry their babies around in a sling breastfeeding until they were wearing braces.

Cool by me. Sh*tty Mom is the perfect book if you’ve texted excessively at the playground, left your kids in the car while you went into get the dry cleaning because it’s too big of a pain the ass to get them in an out for a 5 min errand – GEEZ! and all around lazy-ass parenting moves that we probably all do once in awhile and just don’t admit it. Yes, I beg to have the kids sleep out and tomorrow I plan on taking the afternoon to be by MYSELF doing something non-kid related, and possibly with alcohol. I can drink while shopping, right?

Favorite chapter title of the preview copy I got – “Organized Sports May Be Great for the Kids but They Suck for You” – because in honor of Mother’s Day tomorrow is the ONLY day in the foreseeable future where I won’t have to adjust teeny jock straps and smelly soccer shin guards and cleats.

Because I love my kids, I do. I just don’t like them when they smell.

Yes, I can be sh*tty, and you probably are too, so read the book when it comes out, k? Let me know what you think – you can even pre-order the book for next Mother’s Day – it’s totally not a sh*tty gift.


Mom 2.0 2012 Recap: The Year of Calm

This Mom 2.0 must have been the best blog conference I’ve been to in my nearly six years of blogging. Maybe not for the content I learned (a little more on that later), but for the comfortableness I felt amongst my peers. I think it’s taken a long time to get here, but finally I think I’ve found my place in the world of don’t-call-them-mommy bloggers.

When I started blogging I didn’t struggle with what to write or who my target audience was – it was the working moms I felt solidarity with – we were banded by our guilt (or lack thereof) and of our purpose balancing young kids and life.

Then, when I left the big agency, I went adrift. I never wanted to blog personal, any attempt at me blogging about being frugal was an all-out farce, (have you met me?) and I felt adrift in an ocean of popular mom blogs.

But this time around, Mom 2.0 2012 I think I figured it all out. I’m now my own business owner with a plan and a purpose. I have a role professionally and felt that would benefit from the energy of my longtime blogging peers and new friends.

And that’s why I enjoyed Mom 2.0 so much this year. I had a room filled with fun and laughs (and loud hilarious partying from the boys next door) and meaningful conversations that pushed me beyond worrying about page views and site progress.

Not all the discussions had purpose – I personally felt there were too many inspirational keynotes (I’m not one for motivational talks, shoot me now) and not enough break out learning sessions, but overall I got the gist of what the intention and purpose of the conference was and I got something more for myself. The confidence again that I make sense in the mix. That I have a renewed purpose for my blog. That I belong. Maybe it was the Jew thing. But I’m thinking not. I’m thinking it’s because I’ve found some peace between the struggle I’ve always had with my blog and work. No more. My blog has led me to many interesting places with interesting people and I continue to be grateful for its presence.

Just don’t expect me to start blogging every day or anything now.

On starting a start up…

Emily had a great idea for me whenever I get into a writer’s block here: that I should talk about what it’s been like starting a company as a mom, and as… well… just what it’s been like.

It’s a great idea. Every day I’m living and breathing the growth, success and viability of the company I co-founded with Caitlin, 2 Moms Media. What started on a whim has grown to my half of a full-time, flexible job with clients, conference calls, meetings, stress, fun, late nights, early mornings, and most of all, fulfillment.

Luckily, I have the financial backing of my husband to see if this little experiment in being a business owner works. Luckily, I have in Caitlin a terrific business partner and friend who I can’t imagine doing this without. Luckily, my kids have adjusted to my work schedule. I try to do most things during the day when my eldest is at school, and to not miss too many bedtime routines.

But, starting this little (very little) startup hasn’t been all easy peasy. There have been weeks where the mom guilt of years past has reared its ugly head or when I’ve served the kids mac and cheese for the fourth night in a row or I just really needed to take that conference call from the bleachers during the tennis lesson. I have made school pick up. I have missed school pick up and sent my son home exhausted with a friend to buy me another hour of work time.

There are times where I feel that I’m not doing enough for the business. Not enough networking, not enough meetings, not enough WORK.

Still, three years later, it’s the same issues, the same debate, the same feelings. Guess that’s because, at the core, not much has changed. I’m still the same person; I still believe you have to do what makes you happy with your career, your kids, your husband – to the extent that you can afford to and have the ability to do it. In my world, even in my back to part-time working world, motherhood will always be my job #1. Ok, after that last email gets sent in the carpool line.


Big week

Last week was one of those weeks where I over-committed a bit. It’s been awhile since that has happened. A quick re-cap, because we all know how often I blog. Ha!

  • I introduced our new client, Artizone (launching in February and you will be glad when it does!) to my BFF moms in business friends at the quarterly Neighborhood Parents Network networking event. If you are a small business member of NPN, it’s totally worth it to attend one of these get-togethers!
  • I co-hosted a great blogger breakfast for my friend Hope and her Social Media Masters Summit with my other friend Alison.  We got to meet representatives from two amazing companies, Jockey and Calumet Photo.  Just so happened the Jockey PR rep was my friend from grad school, so, in addition to all the amazing blogger friends I got to see there, I had a little IMC reunion! Holla!
  • I got to attend the Social Media Masters Summit. I don’t get to go to conferences out of town that often so when I can do something local I get so excited to learn from my peers. Especially good was the panel on brand and bloggers (clearly my interest) with Foiled Cupcakes Mari, Gabi Tompkins from Crain’s and Gina Judge a PR pro from PepsiCo and also a new Chicago mama. I’m hoping after this panel and the resulting changes made to Klout, we can all agree, influence is social media is all relative! You have to decide for yourself and not only pay attention to just the numbers.
  • I went to the opening of the new baby store behemoth in the suburbs, WONDER! WONDER! Is CRAZY COOL!! I mean, look at this wall of strollers below. That’s right. Strollers. And that’s just a start. They offer classes, every baby product competitively priced under the sun, customized birthday parties, healthy food (cafe coming soon), and also soon enough, an online store.
  • All the while, I was able to shop on Totsy all week (I’m a compensated Totsy mom but all opinions about the site are true!) for some awesome stuff for the kids for the holidays and a few awesome pieces of jewelry, for, well, ME! Not everything on the site is a great fit for me, but this week I scored! I totally recommend you registering and of course, buying!

Thankfully, this week is a bit slower…

So, what did you do last week? What are you up to this week?

    In the stream

    My dad always had a saying, “Once you’re in the stream, you’re golden.” Meaning, if you want to be networking and doing, and working, you have to get in the proverbial stream of fish, and go…

    I’m obviously my father’s daughter. When I see a chance to jump in, if I can, I will. This weekend I jumped into She Streams, a conference leading women and brands into the future of social technology. I was asked to speak on a panel about finding success from your passions with the amazing Mojo Coach Debi Silber and the incredible Angela Santomero, also known as the creator of Blues Clues, Super Why, and the forthcoming new take on Mr. Rogers, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. And me.

    Before our session, which concluded the break out sessions for the day, I attended yesterday’s terrific keynote speech from Build-A-Bear founder Maxine Clark and a good talk on branding with my new idol, Luxury Travel Mom and the go-getter Go Mom. Had a terrific post-lunch chat with the CEO of Macaroni Kid (boy is that woman smart!) and got great advice from Audrey McClelland and Maria Bailey herself about videocasting (it’s what we should all be doing, apparently.) And, I was labeled by one attendee of our session as “that marketing woman in the red blazer.” (It was in a good way.)

    Me and my passion posse.

    Mostly, I learned that it’s good to go out to conferences like this and see people and remember that you’re part of the school of fish.

    Other key learnings from She Streams:

    1) If you’re not doing video for your content, you’re missing the boat. What blogging was 3 years ago, video is now. So, if you feel like you are camera-savvy, hop on that train!

    2) Bloggers want money. I don’t really know how to couch this any other way. The debates are ongoing, but the experts keep telling the bloggers – you are worth something, so ask for it. As I’ve said before on other blogs, I agree with this — to an extent. I don’t think every blog or blog post or tweet or what have you is worth the same amount of money. Sometimes I think product should be worth enough, if the product matches what you talk about on your site. But look for money to continue ruling the conversation between brands and bloggers in the days/ weeks/ months to come.

    3) There’s no substitution for in-person or face-to-face communications. In my prior life I would coach corporate execs on this very thing – it’s important to see your employees in person every once in awhile. Same with my blogging and marketing co-horts. Best part of going to these conferences, again, is talking to people in the flesh. Much less snarky and more fun than on twitter.

    4) Let’s remember to be supportive of each other. Too many times, I think we, as moms, worry about the backstabbing and the superiority factor. In my short talk, someone came up to me afterwards and thanked me for being honest that I have a lot of support to help do what I do and to make my career and beautiful life happen. She felt that we, as moms, sometimes put up the facade that we can “do it all.” I told her you’ll never get that from me – so let’s try to be as real as we can be…

    48 Hours

    That’s how long I’ll be gone on a business trip for the She Streams Conference tomorrow. This is slightly shorter than my foray down south in May for Mom 2.0, also the last time I went away on a work trip.

    Forty-eight hours is nothing for me but apparently a lifetime for my eldest son who cried a bowl of tears at bedtime tonight. It was if I said I was going hyperspeed on the Millenium Falcon to a galaxy far, far away.

    Close, I’ll be in New York.

    I sort of thought as he got older it’d be easier to work more. Turns out that’s about as big of a myth as the Star Wars story itself.

    Yes, the logistics of working are a bit easier. He’s away in school all day, so I have that time to fill.  He doesn’t care what I do when he’s busy building and learning and running around the field at school.

    But he does care when I’m not the one who’s going to be with him when he wakes in the morning. Or when he gets home for school. Because to me, those times are the ones that make me as crazy as when they freeze Han Solo in the vat of carbonite. However this is sacred time to him, I know. It is security to have mommy there to wake him up, put him to bed and keep the “normal” routine going.

    And while it’s not bad to shake the routine up every so often, it doesn’t help with the dreaded “mommy guilt” that I constantly try to stray from in my quest to have a part-time, flexible, [insert work-life balance adjective here] job. He’ll be fine, I’ll be fine, we’ll all be FINE. But it just might take 48 hours to ensure it.

    Is there really no room for women part-time in medicine?

    I’ve debated this topic with my father, a physician, for over eight years now. He, an old-school doctor, established in his field, has always had a beef about women in medicine – that it’s not fair for them to take spots in medical schools and residencies, if only years later, they are to exit the workforce, or, work part-time.

    As his strong-willed, feminist and outspoken daughter, I could not believe what I heard my progressive father say. He, who told me to always “be my own boss.” He, who always told me not to ever have to rely on anyone else “but myself.” He, who supported my every career move. How could he say these words?

    Well, you can imagine my astonishment today when I read this Editorial piece in the New York Times called “Don’t Quit Your Day Job,” and written by a female anesthesiologist, Karen Sibert. The premise of her argument is that part-time medical work (the majority of which is taken by women) is bad for medicine because it’s hard for patients, hard financially on the institutions that provide the female doctors’ education and ultimately, bad for the industry because of the so few residency positions available to many hard working and educated young med students.

    An excerpt from Sibert’s piece reads:

    Students who aspire to go to medical school should think about the consequences if they decide to work part time or leave clinical medicine. It’s fair to ask them — women especially — to consider the conflicting demands that medicine and parenthood make before they accept (and deny to others) sought-after positions in medical school and residency. They must understand that medical education is a privilege, not an entitlement, and it confers a real moral obligation to serve.

    She goes on:

    You can’t have it all. I never took cupcakes to my children’s homerooms or drove carpool, but I read a lot of bedtime stories and made it to soccer games and school plays. I’ve ridden roller coasters with my son, danced at my oldest daughter’s wedding and rocked my first grandson to sleep. Along the way, I’ve worked full days and many nights, and brought a lot of very sick patients through long, difficult operations.

    Patients need doctors to take care of them. Medicine shouldn’t be a part-time interest to be set aside if it becomes inconvenient; it deserves to be a life’s work.

    When I read it the first thing my competitive-self thought was, “damn, my father is now validated.”

    But I have to think further about it before I really will concede too much ground. I don’t know the ins and outs of residency programs and med school applications and the finances behind Medicare. But, what I do know are my friends, who are doctors, some who work part-time and some who do not, and whether or not our medical world would be better off without them, regardless of their schedule, and their present commitment to their causes.

    And the answer is no. I don’t know what the ramifications of women in the medical field will be down the road when I’m old, or g-d forbid, sick. But I can’t imagine that one woman’s choice to stay home with her children more would really impact the big picture of the care I’m getting at any particular moment. And I can’t imagine a world where the caring, thoughtful, smart and dedicated doctor friends of mine are not practicing because of the inflexibility of systems, procedures and old-school rules reinforced by Congress.

    I’m not sure if Siber is an anti-feminist. I don’t know if she comes from the old-school world of medicine like my dad, but I appreciate her words. However, in the facile world I live in, I just don’t agree with them.

    What say you? Can female doctors work part time, and do it well?

    Behind every great woman is an even greater man??

    Women are constantly trying to get out from behind a man’s success be it in the business world or beyond, but what about when the great success of the family is the woman?

    That’s why I loved this piece in yesterday’s New York Times about Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the soon-to-be chair of the Democratic National Committee. She not only kicks butt as a Congresswoman, but also as a mother. And she gives due credit to where much of it is clearly due — to her husband. Wasserman says in the article:

    “I promote that you don’t have to choose between work and family.” But, she adds, “I married a great guy.”

    He’s apparently so great that he doesn’t even need hired help around the house when she’s off in Washington working. Unreal!

    It’s refreshing when I read accounts of women who are uber-successful in their professional life cop to the fact that they have a husband at home bearing the weight of child care or personal responsibilities. I keep thinking all those awesome working moms I meet are somehow making it all happen on their own (FWIW Design Mom says Ben Blair does his half – love it!).

    So a big thanks to Ms. Schultz for being so forthcoming to all us curious bystanders about how she gets it done.

    Paying to work

    I’m at the precipice in my new career where I’m too busy to not be working until 11 pm every night, but not busy enough that I can afford more help so that I’m not working until 11 pm at night.

    I’m paying to work. The cost of my childcare is just being covered by the revenue I’m generating.

    And that’s before taxes.

    This is how I think life is going to be as a quasi-consultant until my kids go to school full-time. You mean you thought I was raking in the dough? You thought wrong.

    I’m finding that while it’s mentally challenging/ enjoyable, exhilarating, dramatic, funny and cathartic to be working, it’s not exactly lucrative. But little are the options for the stay-at-home-turned-semi-employed-freelancer.

    How do you all do it? Are your kids just running around like mad while you’re fielding calls? Are you that efficient during nap time? Do you pull all-nighters like Janice? Do you fake it til you make it? Please tell me if you’ve figured it out.

    I found an old blog post of mine about how part-time work is the devil. Ouch. I do see it’s ghoulish qualities, but now that I’m purportedly my own boss, I see the benefits too. Hey, I’m packing it up and high-tailing it to NYC tomorrow.

    Which just means I’ll be up to my ears when I get back.

    I’m gonna pay for this gig I got either way.

    Brand and blogger magic

    This never happens to me. I’m a very very fortunate person, but I never win anything or get offered much. Unless you count the time I won a mountain bike my senior year of high school when my mom was on the raffle committee. I swear to g-d it wasn’t rigged.

    But this week it feels like I won the blogger lottery. Literally. First, the amazing folks at GM offered me a vehicle to test drive for the past week. My vehicle of choice? The GM Acadia Denali – with chrome wheels. Because every grocery-getting mom in the city needs some chrome.

    Man, I really loved looking at this car. Parking it in a tight city spot? Not so much.

    GM has been so kind to me loaning me cars to take about and I’m so appreciative. It’s so smart of them to let bloggers and others test drive their cars – we are in the market for a car with a third row – and now I will definitely consider the Acadia when it comes time to switch out. And I’m not just saying that! I told my husband I wish we could test drive every car we like for a weekend instead of a five minute drive up and down the Kennedy. So, thank you GM.

    And yet, my week just got better. Because on Tuesday, I got an email from the folks at Waggener Edstrom and so I opened it up right away. I know how good that PR firm is. (It didn’t have anything to do with the subject line which read: “Mom 2.0 Sponsorship”). And sure enough, when I opened it, I couldn’t believe my eyes.

    Waggener Edstrom, in conjunction with their client, Microsoft Windows Phone (yes, that Microsoft!) was offering me a full ride to the Mom 2.0 Summit + a 30-day trial of the phone. I almost spit water all over my Mac Book. (I told them I use a Mac – it’s compatible. Yay!)

    Whenever something like this happens on a smaller scale (much smaller scale), I like to ask how folks from on high find my little, unpublicized, topsy-turvy-on-topics blog. They said they looked at working mom blogs, and there I was.

    How ironic is that? I just started working again!

    Sometimes brands and bloggers just f*** it up bad with asking too much, too often. And then there’s a week like I had. Where I received meaningful outreach that helped me in ways beyond the blog. It can happen.