Tag Archives: work

She Says… The Double Bind

I don’t talk about my work much on the blog because it’s, you know, work. And it’s, you know, probably not terribly interesting to many of you. But as my time and focus has shifted toward my work recently, it has shifted away from the blog somewhat. The two are inextricably linked, as there are only so many hours in the day, and only so much brain space available for things beyond the daily rigamarole of raising children and keeping the house clean and maintaining friendships and enjoying time with my awesome husband (not necessarily in that order!).

Though having a family with two working parents has created some complicated logistics at times (ahem, understatement of the century), it has also allowed me to maintain a part of my persona that is extremely important to me, and gives me the opportunity to model for my boys that 1) women can achieve success in their careers in addition to being mothers, if they so choose, and 2) relationships can (and should) be balanced so that both partners get the chance to do what makes them thrive personally and professionally. Not to mention helping me appreciate the knowledge and experience that our village of teachers, babysitters, family and friends can share with my kids.

Right about this time last year, just before Emmett was born, I was promoted to a new role managing a team leading projects across North America at the management consulting firm where I work. Since then, and even more so since January, I’ve been working harder and longer and on more complicated initiatives than ever before.  As that ramps up, my blogging time and output has decreased, little by little. A few weeks ago I was invited to attend a training program for high potential women leaders. It was a fascinating program and it was exciting for me to be part of this group of inspiring women from various companies. One of the topics we discussed in the training is the “double bind” for women in the workplace. A double bind is essentially a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation. In regards to women and leadership, this double bind is most often experienced in the following ways:

  1. Emotions: Women are either too “soft” or emotional, or too “hard” (read: bitch), depending on the situation. Men acting the same way might be seen as “kind/empathetic” or “powerful/strong”, which do not have the same negative connotations.
  2. Rewards: Women are often held to higher competency standards than men, but are rewarded or recognized less. So they can perform as well or better as a male counterpart, but are often not compensated or celebrated in the same way.
  3. Likability: Women are seen as either competent, or well-liked, but not generally both. “Nice” women are too nice, “task-focused” women are not nice enough.

I have a lot of thoughts about how this manifests itself in the corporate world today, but I also began to think about the double bind in the context of blogging.

I see the parent blogging double bind in the following three ways (though I’m sure there are a million more):

  1. Hard days: If you gloss over the challenging times or rough days in your writing, or omit them altogether, you get dinged for only showing a fake, perfect life. But if you write about them, you get dinged for not appreciating your kids, not recognizing that they are “just being kids” or resenting their very existence.
  2. Fertility: If you wrote about struggling to get pregnant or to stay pregnant in the past, it seems you are not “allowed” to also write about pregnancy being hard or missing things about your pre-kids life, lest you awake the sleeping beast of bitter commenters. “There are millions of women who would die to be in your shoes and have a baby!”. Very true, but one comment, or even a whole blog post, does not mean that the author is not deeply grateful and thankful to their core that they have the babies who they worked so hard for. I am guessing this also applies to bloggers who did not struggle. No matter your road to getting pregnant and having babies, not every second of every day with your kids is a shiny happy sparkly rainbow moment. And that’s ok. On the flip side, if you write a glowy post about the joys of motherhood post-fertility, you’re STILL going to receive hate mail about not acknowledging that some people are still struggling and how hurtful your post was to THOSE people. Ya can’t win, no matter how your story unfolds or how you choose to tell it.
  3. Privacy: If you share intimate details of your family on the internet, you will eventually question why you’re doing it and if it’s worth it and if you are putting your child(ren) in danger somehow or doing something they wouldn’t approve of if they knew about it. However, if none of us shared these stories and sometimes quite private admissions about parenthood and the rocky road to becoming parents, we’d all be sitting around feeling alone and scared and isolated because of what we are going through. Which, at least with most things parenting-related, isn’t the case. There are amazing people out there and the internet is a remarkably rich place to find support, connection and sometimes even real-life friendships. But of course those things often come at a cost of personal privacy.

There’s a strange, warped sense of knowing a blogger’s most intimate thoughts and yet, not ever knowing all of the things that they decide not to put on the page. It doesn’t mean they aren’t thinking them, it’s just that there isn’t enough room in the entire internet for every caveat that would be necessary to write before each post so that no one is offended.

I guess what it all boils down to is… you can’t please everyone all the time, so just be yourself. And that goes for women in the corporate world as well as in the world of blogging. And… fuck ‘em. Because, really, why spend time worrying about what other people think? Someone is bound to be offended by almost everything you write, so just write.

Just write, if it makes you happy. And work, if it makes you happy. And raise your family however makes you happy. Don’t worry if other people are happy with you, just be happy with yourself.

She Says… BIG Thanks and Day 1 Down

First things first, I want to thank each and every person who commented on my post about Owen’s rough patch. I’m so thankful to hear that others are going through the same thing with their kids, with or without the new baby issue added in (aka this is just a three year old thang). Several of you offered REALLY good suggestions of things to do. Some we do already (like giving 2 “good” choices for just about every decision throughout the day and letting him choose) and some new ones (different incentives, hugging it out instead of more discipline, etc.). Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Maybe all I had to do was blog about it, because this weekend was FAR better. We still have a long ways to go, and he still has weird blowups about totally insignificant (to me) things, but overall we both changed our attitude a little and we seem to be much more on the same page. The chart that I made has been a huge help for our morning and evening routine, and I also sprinkled in some surprise incentives instead of just making him fill up a whole sticker chart to motivate him more and let him “win” a little. I think last week was particularly rough because Benjamin was working a lot and I was stressed in the evenings trying to get dinner made and Emmett cuddled after long days at daycare and was saying a lot of “no” instead of “yes”. In any case, I think we’re on a much better trajectory for this week.

Which is a big relief, because it’s a big week for me. Yesterday was my first day back at work!

Day 1 down and we all survived.

In fact, we did better than just survived. Owen had a great day at school (sticker day!), Emmett ate and slept like a champ and I made both of my trains without running and pumped every 2.5 hours while making a huge dent in the 650+ unread emails in my inbox. Late in the afternoon I got a text from Benjamin that his shoot was going to be late so I had to pick up the kids (NOT what we had discussed that morning). The train schedule works out such there is only one train that I can take to get back in time to get them. Unfortunately it is later than I like to pick them up, which was a little stressful, but it was our only option. So I picked up both kids, successfully got dinner on the table (straight from the freezer, hey, something’s gotta give) while still making Owen feel like I was playing with him the whole time and did double bathtime/bedtime single-handed.

Supermom SCORE.

Days like that remind me why working challenges me in new ways and teaches us ALL important lessons about flexibility.

We’re all going to be fine. We’ll find our groove.

She Says… Work It, Girl

The last week has been a rocky one. Both kids have been battling nose/chest/ear congestion and a hacky cough. No fevers to speak of and really nothing to do but wait it out, really (while of course hydrating, humidifying and treating the asthma kid). But it has meant extra night time wakeups and extra fussiness and whining during the day. We’re all a bit worn down.

Ahem. Especially me.

This past weekend we went up to Benjamin’s parents’ house in New Hampshire with some friends who have a son in Owen’s class. Perhaps not the best timing to let the boys try their first sleepover, which of course resulted in NO SLEEP for most of us, but it was a really fun time nonetheless. Another post to come with the whole story on that.

Now I have a new deadline looming. No, not Halloween (though I do still need to finish up Owen’s costume — eek!).

My return to work.

DUN DUN DUNNNNNNN. (Do you hear the ominous music playing?)

I go back next Tuesday.

I know, I know. How did that come so fast?

I am feeling surprisingly ok about going back. After Owen was born I took some unpaid time off and didn’t go back to work until he was 5 1/2 months old (in January). And I was still kind of a wreck. My brain was still very much in motherhood lala land and the transition back was hard. In planning my maternity leave this time around I yearned for that extra time, but ultimately we decided that paying for Owen’s daycare meant that we couldn’t swing more unpaid time. And since I got a promotion right before I left back in July, I have a LOT of work to do when I get back. However, now that I’m here, only a week from going back, I feel so differently than I thought I would.

My brain is back. My body is back (of course I wish I had more time to exercise and most of my pants are still a little tight around the waist, but for the most part I’m back to my normal size and feel relatively fit). While of course I’ll miss Emmett’s sweet little face during the day, I absolutely adore our daycare and know he will be in great hands while I’m working.

We’re all going to be ok.

So this week is my “practice week” sending both kids to daycare all four days, all day long. Benjamin is traveling again (yes! again!) and I couldn’t totally get everything organized this morning to do a double drop-off, so I opted to take Owen at his normal time (7:15am) and bring Emmett back to have a nice, long morning nap in his crib with his humidifier on. Poor guy is still snorting and shnuffling quite a bit. I’ll pack him up and take him to school when he wakes up. But for the rest of the week, it’s double everything, and Emmett’s longest days at school yet.

Oh, and time for me to practice pumping. As I mentioned, I’ve been pumping at my bedtime since Emmett started going to bed early. I’ve been using those extra ounces to help me tank him up at the following night’s bedtime as needed (I seem to run out of milk and he seems to want to eat, eat, eat) and then I’ve started a small (very small) freezer stash with the extras. But this week I’m going to be pumping all day long Tuesday through Friday! Here’s hoping I can pretty much keep up with what he’s drinking at school.

Aside from pumping, I’m trying to figure out how to best use these 4 days of freedom. I’d love to fill them with manicures and shopping (ha!), but in reality there are so many little projects at home that I’d really like to wrap up before I go back to work. Papers to file. Baby clothes to sort and put in the attic. Deep cleaning in all of the nooks and crannies to do that I’m sure I won’t be doing once the work schedule picks up.

Lame. I know.

I’m going to do another post all about pumping (apparently I have lots of posts that I’m planning on writing “soon”…), but leave me your best pumping at work tip to get me pumped (get it? pumped?) for work next week!

She Says… Travel Ban

Woo boy, last week was a doozy.

Another one of those busy work weeks for me (running a training for 40 people single-handedly, which meant early mornings and late nights and being on my feet constantly in between) coinciding with a long trip for Benjamin (all the way across the country in L.A.). Thankfully Owen did his part this time by not coming down with some awful illness in the middle of it and everything went very smoothly (despite my blood pressure skyrocketing during every commute because I was constantly rushing TO work after dropping Owen off and FROM work to pick him up before it was way past his normal dinner time).

Two things got me through it: 1. Owen was angelic almost the whole week. He slept well (yay for the new clock system!), did efficient drop-offs and pickups at school and was so much fun to hang out with for the time we spent together in the mornings and evenings. 2. It was the LAST time this will happen for a long time.

That’s right. I’ve instituted a travel ban for Benjamin until Baby #2 decides to come out and play.

This trip to L.A. was a big job for Benjamin, and one we didn’t want to turn down, but I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t a TEENY bit nervous about him being across the country while I was nearly 36 weeks pregnant (2 weeks away from when Owen arrived). I didn’t THINK anything was going to happen, but, you know… you never know.

When Friday morning came and I got Benjamin’s text that he had landed in Boston, I let out an audible sigh of relief. We did it. I held the baby in, successfully completed a challenging week of work (times a million while super pregnant), and he completed his last trip.

We’re filling this weekend with mundane things like walking to the farmer’s market on Saturday morning, mowing the lawn together and actually enjoying a night out to celebrate our 7th wedding anniversary (which was actually last Monday when Benjamin left for his trip and we didn’t even exchange cards to celebrate). And it feels lovely.

Now I’m hoping for a few more weeks with this baby on the INSIDE so we can enjoy our last few weeks of a family of 3. Just not TOO many more weeks, mmmkay, little guy?

 

She Says… The “D” Word

It’s been a week, friends. And I don’t mean that in a good way. And, coming off of last week, I was really in need of an easy, catch-up week.

I haven’t written much this week, because, well, my Mama taught me that if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all. I’ve been so focused on just doing what I need to do to make it to the next day that I’ve barely had time to look up. I recently got a promotion at work, so in addition to my already very busy days, I am also now leading a team of new people. I’m navigating new responsibilities without being able to give up the old ones, and it’s been exhausting. A great opportunity, to be sure, but exhausting. On top of that, the marathon bombing craziness threw off my schedule and eliminated a few days of work due to building closings and lockdowns and a general lack of focus on anything but breaking news. I counted on this week to catch up and get myself back in order. But instead, Owen got sent home from school with a fever on Wednesday along with a note that said that several kids in his class have Hand, Foot & Mouth Syndrome, so to be on the lookout for that. LOVELY. Of course, as usual, this came on a day when I HAD to be at the office running a training program and delivering a 3 hour training presentation to a packed room. Stressful, to say the least. Not to mention that this all came on the heels of a period of Benjamin traveling more than he has been home, so I’ve been feeling… overwhelmed.

That would normally be enough to stress a person out out. Even a person whose stress threshold is usually quite high. But no, the last piece of complicating news came yesterday, right in the middle of my 3 hour presentation.

I have gestational diabetes.

Remember when I failed the gestational diabetes screening test a few weeks ago, and then had a weird hypoglycemic response to the 3 hour? Well, since I am at high risk for gestational diabetes due to having polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), my doctor/midwife team wanted me to be tested twice. Once early (which I did around 23 weeks), and once at the “normal” time of 28 weeks, which is where I am now. They didn’t want to put me through the stress of doing the 3 hour test again since my body kind of freaked out the last time, so we opted to do a two hour test instead.

I took it Wednesday morning (trapped in the lab waiting room with spotty internet for 2 hours, feeling pukey, while I wanted/needed to be catching up on work…) and the results came back yesterday. High.

Given my weird history with this test and erratic blood sugar levels in general, they are classifying me as having glucose instability and treating me for GDM. That means finger pricks to check blood glucose levels before and after eating, following a strict diet and exercise routine, regularly seeing an endocrinologist and nutritionist until this baby makes his arrival, and increased monitoring of him prior to that point.

So… I’m here. But I don’t have anything nice to say, so I’m not saying much at all.

The silver lining? Owen’s fever stayed really low and hasn’t seemed to turn into Hand, Foot & Mouth or anything worse than a slightly elevated temp. He’s back at school this morning and my fingers are crossed that he stays there, healthy and happy, until the end of the day.

She Says… Balls on the Floor

On Wednesday I read a blog post that literally took the words right out of my mouth. Kelle Hampton wrote about enjoying those crazy weeks/months/years when you can’t keep all of your balls in the air. (Yes. I fully realize how inappropriate that sounds.).

I’m in the midst of one of those weeks where there are too many balls in the air and not enough hands to juggle them. But you know what? We’re getting through. And, hopefully, enjoying it. And, if I do say so myself, the important ones are staying up.

Blogging? Not so much. Eh.

I’m in New York for work. While this means I’m away from my guys and behind on my emails and feeling a little overwhelmed by what I have to accomplish while I’m here, it also means I had a lovely (quiet!) train ride here where no one asked me to do anything for them, and I actually spent a few minutes just staring out the window. I’m eating really good food that I don’t have to cook. I slept 9 hours in my hotel room last night (and only woke ONCE to a phantom baby crying… usually that happens several more times). Everything is humming along smoothly at home without me.

Find the places to enjoy, friends. They are there. Even when things are crazy.

So… excuse the blogging hiatus. It is, unfortunately, one of the balls getting dropped this week. In the grand scheme of things, I think that means we’re still doing ok.

 

 

He Says…A Shift of Focus

Here is a little cross-promotion for my business blog.  I wrote this post today about having our first baby and my thoughts on how that will change my work:

http://benjamineckstein.com/2010/01/a-shift-of-focus/
Feel free to take a look.  Thanks!