Posts Tagged ‘ working moms ’

Matt Lauer Alienates Working Moms Everywhere By Asking a Stupid Question

Monday, June 30th, 2014

Matt Lauer and Mary BarraThe TODAY show‘s Matt Lauer interviewed General Motors CEO Mary Barra last Thursday, and he didn’t hold back on the tough questions—asking the car company’s chief about whether there will be additional recalls, whether there was “something criminal going on” at the company, if there was a cover-up involving the ignition switch issue, if cost-cutting played a role, and what it was like for her to talk to grieving family members who lost loved ones due to the problem. Ouch.

But it was a different, more personal, question from the interview that’s still making news. See the partial transcript, posted by Time.com’s Charlotte Alter:

LAUER: You’re a mom, I mentioned, two kids. You said in an interview not long ago that your kids told you they’re going to hold you accountable for one job and that is being a mom.
BARRA: Correct. (smiling.)
LAUER: Given the pressures of this job at General Motors, can you do both well?
BARRA: You know, I think I can. I have a great team, we’re on the right path…I have a wonderful family, a supportive husband and I’m pretty proud of the way my kids are supporting me in this.

Alter ended her post with this: “How’s this for a question: Can Matt Lauer be a good dad and host the Today Show? Let’s discuss.”

Hear, hear. As a working mom (and a journalist myself), I’m simply tired of this question being asked when a high-powered CEO who happens to also be a mom does an interview. Aren’t we past this yet? (Sadly, it appears we’re not.) Lauer took to Facebook to defend the question, writing:

“Thanks for all of the comments and feedback around our interview with GM CEO Mary Barra this morning. I wanted to share some thoughts around one of the questions that has started an important conversation. As part of the interview, I referenced this Forbes article where Barra talked about the challenge of balancing work life and home life. She said, “My kids told me the one job they are going to hold me accountable for is mom.” She had just accepted the job as the first female CEO of a major American automotive company, and in the article she said that she felt horrible when she missed her son’s junior prom. It’s an issue almost any parent including myself can relate to. If a man had publicly said something similar after accepting a high-level job, I would have asked him exactly the same thing. A couple weeks ago, we did a series on “Modern Dads” and the challenges of fatherhood today. Work-life balance was one of our focuses. It’s an important topic, one that I’m familiar with personally, and I hope we can continue the discussion.

But plenty of commenters called bs on that explanation, including the author of the Forbes article Lauer referenced, Joann Muller, who wrote that she “never felt compelled to ask if a ‘mom’ could handle being CEO, because I already knew the answer.”

Sorry, Matt, but I just don’t believe you would have asked a man this question. In fact, I think you’ve probably had ample opportunity to do so in your years as a journalist, yet I’ve never seen that headline come out of one of your interviews. (And I trust that it would, indeed, be a headline: Newsflash! Male CEO Asked if He Can Be a Good Dad and Run a Company at the Same Time!”)

It’s true that Barra herself has brought up the work-life balance issue—but frankly, given the seriousness of the issues facing GM right now, how is her personal life even relevant? How Barra performs in the job of CEO of a huge, public multinational company—one that makes products that can potentially affect the lives of every single person on the road—is certainly my business. But how she’s doing in the job of mom? That’s hers.

Work-Life Balance in America
Work-Life Balance in America
Work-Life Balance in America

Image: Today.com

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Letter from a Work-From-Home Mom: We’re All in the Same Boat

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

Odds are, your Facebook feed has been inundated with a set of letters one blogger wrote — kind, gentle “I get you” notes from a stay-at-home mom to a working mom, and vice versa. Basically, one blogger’s attempt to stop the imaginary “mommy wars” with imaginary love notes. And maybe you’ve also seen the blog posts shredding apart these letters as retro drivel that doesn’t do any good for anyone, disrespects moms who work (or don’t) because they have no other choice, and basically read like they’re written by someone who doesn’t know any better.

So here’s the letter you didn’t get—from the work-from-home mom, the hybrid mom who kinda understands both the SAHMs and the working moms. The one who shushes her kids for work calls and feels guilty when she’s revising a report on her smartphone during the school concert. The one who blocks off her calendar to read stories to the first grade class and folds laundry on conference calls. The one who will be letting her kids spend their sixth snow day of the year tomorrow playing Disney Infinity ad infinitum, so she can attend to a series of meetings and must-dos.

But the truth is, there’s no one perfect way to be a mom—we’re all just doing what works best for our families (and hopefully, ourselves) at the moment. Whether we work or stay at home or work from home, we’re all stretched too thin, we’re all losing patience with our partners and our kids, and we’re all doing something that would lead to lots of snickering and eye rolling from other moms. We’re all soldiering on with too little sleep and too little time. And we’ve all internalized too many blogs and Pinterest posts and media stories that make us feel like we’re not measuring up if we don’t have a clean house, fancy handcrafted valentines treats, a C-level executive job and a hot date with our spouse on Saturday night.

We need to Just. Make. It. Stop. We need to throw our fellow moms a lifeline, instead of a snarky comment. We need to keep our mouths shut about others’ parenting choices (unless it’s something that’s truly, absolutely dangerous—like a toddler in a high wire act). We need to mind our own business, keep our eyes on our own papers, and vow not to be the catty commenter or the queen bee mom who looks down our nose at our friends’ baby name choices or vaccination regimen. Don’t rock the boat—we’re all on it.

And while we’re cutting other moms a break, we need to cut ourselves one, too. Because if you’re anything like me, you probably beat yourself up on a daily basis for at least half-a-dozen things you think you did wrong, the countless ways you don’t measure up to an arbitrary ideal that no single supermom could ever become. You are worried that you’re ruining your kids by letting them watch too much TV, or yelling when you’re 10 minutes late for school (again), or picking up a birthday cake from the supermarket instead of handcrafting a Pinterest masterpiece. But that worry—that’s exactly what we’re all doing wrong. Because in the end, it won’t really matter if you feed them sugary cereal or fresh-made organic granola, if you work a crazy-hours job or homeschool them, if you cart them around to 20 different extracurriculars, or don’t sign them up for a single one. The key isn’t doing this whole crazy mom thing “right.” The key is making sure that your kids know they’re loved. And if you’ve accomplished that, you’re golden.

What kind of parent are you? Take our parenting style quiz to find out!

Child Care: How to Find Quality Child Care
Child Care: How to Find Quality Child Care
Child Care: How to Find Quality Child Care

Image: Working Mom by Pim/Shutterstock.com

 

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Working Mom Sues for Lack of Maternity Leave

Friday, August 30th, 2013

Woman in deliveryMaternity leave. It’s on the brain of every working mom—and even on the minds of those who don’t have kids, but are looking down the road in their careers. Even though national law mandates time off, the question lingers: How will the leave actually impact a woman’s position in the workplace? Unfortunately for some women, like Mary Vandergrift, the answer was not a pleasant one.

A former edit of Patch.com, Vandergrift filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against her former employer, accusing Patch of failing to abide by the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family Medical Leave Act when her boss asked her to work just hours after she gave birth to her daughter in 2011. A website focused on hyper-local news, Patch is owned by internet bigwig AOL. Vandergrift was hired in December 2010 as a full-time freelance journalist for the Golden Valley branch of the site, reporting from Minnesota.

Vandergrift claims that four or five hours after the delivery of her daughter, her boss emailed her to congratulate her and to ask her to work from her hospital bed—a request thather boss had previously made on numerous occasions when Vandergrift was hospitalized due to Crohn’s disease. Although she was set to be on a six-week parenting leave, Vandergrift felt pressure to return to work. Vandergrift also claims that she was previously denied a promotion due to her disability and pregnancy.

In the U.S. federal law dictates that mothers receive 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a 12-month period for a newborn or newly adopted children. Supplemental laws for time off after baby vary state-to-state and policies vary from employer-to-employer. Even developing countries like Rwanda offer a more generous policy than that.

The United States, a country whose leaders constantly emphasize the need to value ‘the family,’ clearly does not value what it takes to make that family if you look at its laws. Australia, Brazil, China, India, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Turkey and the U.K. are just some of the countries that offer a period of paid maternity leave.

Yet, before we battle for more generous laws, employers must abide by the ones we do have in place. If AOL and Patch did, in fact, request Vandergrift to work while on maternity leave, they certainly violated the law. But more importantly, they embodied an ideal that is becoming standard in America: nothing is more important than work. Your family is no longer most important. Your health is not most important. That is what these alleged actions (if they took place as Vandergift claims) tell America’s workforce.

We need to consider where our priorities lie even without instances like this to remind us.

 

Image: Childbirth, breathing exercises via Shutterstock by Leah-Anne Thompson

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Rosie to the Rescue: Remember Other Moms When Planning Playdates

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

Rosie PopeBy Rosie Pope

Check out blog posts by multitalented mompreneur Rosie Pope every week at Parents.com!

Regardless of a mother’s work situation, I bow my head to her and respect what she does for her family. And when it comes to our kids, I feel passionately that mothers—both working moms and stay-at-home-moms—must be considerate of each other and our schedules so as to put our children first. Fall is just around the corner and with it comes a new school year. For many, it will be their first time attending pre-school, kindergarten or perhaps a new school after a move over the summer. Nerves are high, and parents hope their kids will fit in and make friends. As a mom of three young children, I realize that a lot of my children’s success with their friends depends on my ability to keep up, arrange, and encourage playdates after school. These opportunities facilitate after-school bonding, and I don’t want to be the reason that my children miss out.

However, the problem arises when playdates are arranged in the middle of the day, while I’m still at work. I know that proposing a 6am playdate that I could squeeze in before my morning commute would be asking too much. And I can hardly expect stay-at-home moms to hold off on hosting playdates until moms like me get home from work or save them for an already jam-packed weekend.

I am hyper-sensitive to this issue because of my own experiences. In my children’s last preschool, I noticed that my kids received fewer and fewer playdate invitations and weren’t included in birthday gatherings or other activities they should have been a part of. It’s a miserable feeling to realize that your child has been excluded because you didn’t have time in the day to get to know the other children’s mothers, and for that reason, your child gets left out.

Must my kids miss out because of this? Or do I choose to only become friendly with other working moms whose children have similar home situations? I hope not. Rather, I want us to come to reach some understanding of each other—our strengths, our needs, and our limitations—so our children don’t suffer from what’s beyond their control. More importantly, though, I want my children to see variety and learn this message: Some mothers work and others don’t, yet both are exceptional role models.

As we head into this new school year full of new faces, let’s all try to make and nurture friendships—between our children of course, but between mothers, too. I urge us all to try to find some middle ground, whether it’s a working mother getting home early one day to accommodate an afternoon playdate or a stay-at-home-mom being flexible enough to meet in the evenings or during the weekend. If we are respectful of our different schedules, you never know whom you might meet and become friends with.

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