ROLE MOMMIESLauren Young
I haven’t been a mom for that long. (Two years, 75 days, 14 hours, but who is counting?) In my short time on Earth as a parent, I’ve noticed more and more books that poke fun at the joys of parenting. The latest one on my radar is a hilarious book called “Peeing in Peace” by Beth Feldman and Yvette Corporon. Beth and Yvette also publish a website called Rolemommy.com, which captures the spirit of the book with funny stories, heartfelt confessions, and practical tips for working moms.
I recently had a chance to interview Beth, and I’ve already stolen a phrase from her: “non-existent spare time.” (As in…In my non-existent spare time, I write for this blog, try to get to the gym and to yoga classes, keep up with 100 or so “best friends,” serve on several alumni and advocacy boards, etc.)
Although we only talked on the phone, I can tell Beth is cut from the same cloth. She is a doer. She is on a bunch of boards, she has a high-powered job as a publicist at CBS, and she writes books and publishes a website in her non-existent spare time. Here are edited excerpts of our conversation:
Q. What is a Role Mommy?
A. A role mommy is a role model to your children and other like-minded moms. If you are not working, you are pursuing a passion like ice skating because you love it. I see many moms who spend their days getting their children to and from activities, and they have the weight of the world on their shoulders. That creates a lot of unhappy moms. The bottom line is that you don’t want to lose yourself when you become a mom.
Q. Why does the world need Role Mommies?
A. We were tired of seeing the stories about women opting out. It was depressing. There are so many working mothers out there doing it day in and day out. We just don’t have time to shout it from the rooftop! If you are a career-minded individual, it’s difficult to put the breaks on. Sure you have to slow down, and do different things, but you don’t have to give up a piece of yourself.
The whole point of a role mommy is to know that you are not alone in what you are going through. You need girlfriends to share stories and advice with, especially as a working mother. Every working mom should be a role model for other working moms.
Q. Where did the title “Peeing in Peace” come from?
A. Your privacy is totally gone when you are a parent. That’s what “Peeing in Peace” is all about. When you go to the office, you get to go to bathroom without somebody banging on the door. Or, you get to have a lunch that’s more than a chicken nugget. The office is a place where you become a person again. You are like Cinderella. But the reality check is that nothing compares to that feeling you have when you hug your kid at the end of the day.
Q. Do you have many role mommies at work?
A. My role mommies are my friends that I commute with on my train. I live in New Rochelle, NY. Everything I learned about parenting, I picked up on the train. Today we talked about kitchen renovations. Last week, it was sick kids. It’s all word of mouth.
My mom worked as well. She was an amazing role model. She started as a teacher and retired as a deputy superintendent in Forest Hills, NY. She was always moving ahead in her career. When I was younger, she had summers off, but, as she moved into administrative roles, she worked during the summers. I never felt like my mom was putting in 120-hour weeks, and I didn’t see her.
Q. Are you a role mommy to anyone?
A. I started at CBS when I was 26. Since then, I got married and had two kids. I’m the old person in the office. When I had my daughter, I presented a plan to boss that would allow me to telecommute two days a week. It was supposed to be a trial period for six weeks. Seven years later, I’ve paved the way for other people in my department and on the West Coast to telecommute. Of course, I don’t take advantage of it. If I need to come in for a meeting, I come in.
Q. What has surprised you the most about being a working mom?
A. People always say to me: “I can’t believe you do it all.” I guess I’m on autopilot. I thrive on doing a lot of things at once.
Q. Do you have any role daddies?
A. Yes, we do. We call them Dads of Reinvention. Nick Katsoris, our publisher, was the first one I met. He wrote a children’s book called “Loukoumi” while he had a day job as an attorney. He is also editor at the “Hellenic Times.” He does a million things.
Moms are also incredibly entrepreneurial. We know so many Moms of Reinvention, who reinvented their lives while raising a family. The woman who illustrated our book is one.
Q. Is work/life balance a sham, or is it achievable?
A. It’s not a sham. It is achievable, but maybe it’s not balance. It’s moderation. Yes, pursue a career if it’s important to you, but you have to factor in your other obligations. This morning I thought I had to miss my daughter’s Chinese dance performance. Oh my God, the guilt of missing it was too much! But I called my mommy friends at her school, and it turns out the performance is next week. And I plan to be there. These are the things our kids remember. I remember when my parents came to see me do something.
You can find more about Beth, her book, and other Role Mommies at rolemommy.com. (Some proceeds from the sale of the book go to Design-her Gals' Gal to Gal Foundation to assist patients battling stage four breast cancer.)
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