Archive for the ‘AP and Working Moms’ Category

Survival Tips for Working Moms

meditationWater.  When I first wrote this post, my #1 was “caffeine.” I had convinced myself it was necessary for mental acuity and basic survival.  Not true! A big glass of ice water in the morning together with some stretching, and lots of water all day long….so much better for maintaining a state of Zen.

Sleep.  Turn the screen off and hit the hay at a decent hour. Email can wait.

Meditation + Mantra. 

    • Sitting serenely to meditate outside surrounded by natural beauty might not be in the cards for a daily ritual. Try using the commute to give mental focus on envisioning your state of being for work versus home.
    • It’s easy to inadvertently let the lines blur. You can either lose respect on the work front with an imbalanced display of warmth over strength, or get home after a stressful day and let the frustration unfairly spill over to your kids who have been eager for your loving attention all day. When it feels really hard to show more strength at work, or more patience and love at home — try pausing for 10 seconds and running a personal mantra in your head. Personal fave:  I can. I will. I am.  

Exercise.  Everything that I write on this post is really a reminder list for me — not something I’m proudly doing every day and advising others to do. I continue to struggle with this one in particular, having convinced myself it was impossible to fit exercise into my work+family care schedule. And the negative impact to my body, mind, and spirit has reached a point of badness I can no longer ignore. I’m starting with baby steps — daily early AM exercises at home and physical therapy 2x a week to heal my back, wrecked from hours and hours of hunching over a computer and a few rear-end car accidents last year.  

Daily Greens for the Family.   For breakfast:  smoothies with frozen kale, frozen berries, coconut water or milk, or milk of choice, nut butter.  For dinner:  spinach can be added to or made a side for just about anything.

A digital family calendar.  We’re all about the shared Google calendar.  I’ve been a fan of the Cozi app for scheduling family events and scheduling text and email alerts.  Though I haven’t tried it yet, I’ve also heard that AboutOne is great.

Weekly personal time and date nights.  If you’re an introvert like me, alone time is critical to recharge from people-interaction overload. And marriages always seem to come last in families with two working parents. Weekly date nights can do wonders — especially if you can avoid talking about anything that feels like a family to-do list or an issue to solve at work.

Remember to breathe.  If you haven’t heard this song already – check out  Alexi Murdoch’s Breathe.  So good….

Posted in AP and Working Moms | 1 Comment

Sitter Stories

Bad Match

After a loooong hiatus that included losing the URL for eight months because I failed to renew with the host and some company swiped it, put it in no-man’s web-land and then held it for ransom — I’m happy to take another crack at the Mommy Blogging thing.

Topic du jour:  baby sitters.

When I think back to the early years when my girls were babies and toddlers and any short separation resulted in what felt like primal anxiety and heartache, it’s hard to believe where we’ve come since then and how much faith I put in others to help us care for them today.

We’ve found sitters through friends’ recommendations, our own friends, sitter-finding web sites, and craigslist. The first two categories of resources have worked out quite well — except that the young, bright women we found through friends didn’t want to be nannies forever and went on to pursue other things.

In all, we’ve had to part ways with three bad matches.

Here’s the stories — from the most recent a few weeks ago, to the first fire 3+ years ago.

The Evangelist

Really sweet, kind young woman. More than happy to support our family beyond childcare to run an occasional errand, do laundry and help prepare dinner. An unexpected red flag went up for me during our interview when she said she was called to missionary work. But I didn’t follow my intuition.

We’d like our children to learn about different world religions. Somewhat hastily we thereby decided it would be fine for them to learn about their nanny’s faith. But we didn’t think to request parameters on her sharing, not anticipating how it might happen.

During the first week with the new sitter, when lying down with girls for story time, my eldest said, “Mommy, did you know Jesus died for us?”

“Yes, I’m familiar with that,”  I said.

I knew this came from the sitter and wasn’t really concerned beyond worrying about possible details shared about the death — which I think is too much for a four and six year-old.

The second week, again during story time before bed, she said, “Mommy, did you know if we love Jesus, we go to God, and if we don’t, we go to Haides?”

She’s familiar with “Haides” because we’ve been reading the Greek Myths.

My response:  “Yes, that’s a story some people believe and some people don’t. Daddy and I don’t believe that.”

With that I knew that we’d made a mistake and this wasn’t a good match for us.

I don’t want to talk to my small children about hell as a real place. My personal belief is that hell is a state of mind and I’ll share my view of that with them when they are older. We also want their exposure to different religions to come through as learning there are multiple paths to God and different faiths exist based on family upbringing, where you live in the world, and sometimes what you choose when you’re older.

We realized for our family, that for someone who will have significant influence on the kids as a regular caretaker — we either need someone more aligned with our personal worldview or someone who isn’t called to convert others to their beliefs.


The Risk Taker 

Took girls to the neighborhood park in our double-wide stroller. Didn’t feel like hiking up the hill back home and took a ride with a male “acquaintance.”  My eldest, who doesn’t miss a beat, said the sitter met this nice man for the first time at the park.

A) If my daughter spoke the truth, she was essentially taught by a trusted adult in her life that getting into cars with strangers is a perfectly acceptable thing to do. Oh My God.

B) Even if this guy was in fact someone our sitter knew, she made the choice to put the girls (2 1/2 and 4 1/2 at the time) in a car without carseats.

We got home from our date later that night after the girls were in bed.  The baby-sitter was open in sharing all of this with us while casually drinking a beer she found in the fridge.

So disappointing on many fronts.  The girls really adored her.


The Crier 

Super sweet. Creative. Came to the house with art supplies and fun projects to do with the girls.

And within the first three days on the job, she cried on two occasions to us with girls witnessing her upset.  Once because she was distraught at getting caught in traffic and being 20 minutes late.  And the second time, I don’t remember the impetus.

I just didn’t have the emotional capacity to take it on — straight out of the gate with a brand new sitter.  I really wanted someone grounded, emotionally stable, who felt good about herself and could model that for the girls when they were together.

We were very fortunate to find someone who was all that and more in a nanny we were blessed with for two years that we hired after we let go the emotionally sensitive young woman. She is busy at an important new job now and I am really missing her!

Our girls are in after-school daycare now five days a week. I’m holding the vision that we find someone of her quality that could help pick up the girls two days a week so they could have some play time with each other at home and I could exercise after work.



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Dear Time Magazine…

Just in time for Mother’s Day, your new issue of Time has been the talk of the nation this week. I’m imagining all the editors basking in the glory. I can see the champagne toasts in the office, the high fives for the “brilliant choice!” on the cover image, the hugs and congratulations for young writer, Kate Pickert for writing a potentially career-changing article.

Good for you guys! Wow. You proved shocking, provocative, controversial images and perpetuating the polarization of working mothers versus non-working mothers can stir the pot and sell your tired magazine. You transcended the threat of digital — at least for this week — and can “own the conversation” with your print. BRAVO!

Were finances really so threatened that you had to kick a big part of the population of Moms the week of Mother’s Day?

First, I’m personally not offended by the cover image. I might have nursed my Littlest until she was three. It just didn’t work out that way, and I chose to wean just after her second birthday. But I have friends who nursed until their children were three. Who cares? Why do people have to make up sick stories in their heads that sexualize breastfeeding and decide that small children still breastfeeding are on the path to being “messed up.”?   Show me a pre-adolescent boy on his mom’s breast, and I’ll likely join the call to Judge.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding the first six months, and continued breastfeeding for at least the first year.  The World Health Organization recommends that continued breastfeeding continue up to 2 years or more years. There’s no denying the scientific, proven — life-saving health benefits. And yet Time decides to paint a picture of extended breastfeeding as “crazy”?!

On the flip side, you could just have easily put together a controversial cover with a woman in a business suit at her office and baby in a daycare crib alone with a bottle and listed a bunch of stats on this baby’s future health risks. But I don’t think my friends who didn’t breastfeed deserve national Shock & Awe criticism either. I have friends who were not interested in trying breastfeeding at all. Straight to formula after birth. I have other friends who tried nursing for a few days and gave up when it wasn’t working for them.  Their business.

I’m curious what your end goal really was? I can hear your editorial management staff claiming something noble like:  “Let’s start a powerful conversation on parenting that engages people across the country!”

Seems to me the goal was to stir up conflict, insecurity, defensiveness, polarity, and ultimately divisiveness between people — and leverage those emotions to make money. If it were truly about encouraging dialogue, I think you might have chosen less negative language. You would have interviewed and been CURIOUS ABOUT middle of the road Attachment Parenting folks like myself. You would have interviewed people from the national organization.

To make the gross implication that anyone that practices Attachment Parenting breastfeeds their children until they are 4, 5 or 6 years old was a clever, sensational tactic to draw attention to the subject — but it’s just not true and you are choosing willful ignorance to paint that as the norm for Attachment Moms.  And trumpeting the “crazy mom” thesis?  Just flat out lame.

People who associate themselves with AP like myself have the opportunity to participate in the conversation you started — which is a good thing. But you choosing to write from such a judgmental point of view doesn’t make me feel good. Most Mothers, including myself, tend to have no shortage of self-doubt and worry about the best way to raise emotionally secure human beings.

Your words:

A lot of people might use the same word {crazy} to describe the child-rearing philosophy Joanne subscribes to. It’s called attachment parenting, and its rise over the past two decades has helped redefine the modern relationship between mother and baby. It’s not just staunch devotees like Joanne; the prevalence of this philosophy has shifted mainstream American parenting toward a style that’s more about parental devotion and sacrifice than about raising self-sufficient kids.

First, what do you mean exactly by “self-sufficient”?  The infant who has learned to soothe himself?  The infant who has learned that no one will attend to him when he’s hungry or upset at night and eventually gives up?  Is that how you define self-sufficient?  Is it all about being able to go to sleep alone and stay asleep?  Or are you making a judgmental leap that babies that nurse “too long” and are tended to at night will grow up to be weak, nervous, and incapable of functioning independently on their own…..?

The childhood formula for self sufficiency: LOVE. Compassion. Attentiveness. Cuddling. Acceptance. Encouragement.

In your video interview, Kate, you imply that anyone who is drawn to Attachment Parenting is likely compensating for something emotionally missed in their own early childhood.  You also write that the science is murky.  But honestly — for being a Time magazine writer, I really think your own research was weak. Only focusing on Dr. Sears, you miss a library of material on the subject.

My early childhood was wonderful. I have very fond memories of both my parents. I wasn’t drawn to Attachment Parenting because I felt like I missed some critical bonding. I was drawn to Attachment Parenting because I spent a great deal of time studying about pregnancy and infancy before having children and was impacted by the new scientific findings that didn’t exist when I was born.

Aside from the health benefits of breastfeeding touted by the American Academy of Pediatrics and World Health Organization — there’s proven emotional benefit for both mother and child with breastfeeding. And for an infant having his or her needs met in general. You mention nothing in your article about the stress hormone cortisol and the impact to infants when this is consistently elevated. Nor did you write about the positive biochemical benefit of oxytocin and how this is released with breastfeeding and physical connection.

But if you haven’t received thousands of letters by now educating you more on this subject already, I’d be surprised.

Here’s where I may surprise you.  While I wish you would not have been so extremist and judgmental (I truly think it was a selfish move on your part to get attention and make money), I do appreciate the opportunity for Attachment Parenting to be self-reflective and take a hard look at the reality of the recommendations put forth that are very difficult, if not impossible, for every woman to adopt. AND I think for anyone who has adopted Attachment Parenting and is unhealthy or in chronic poor emotional state because of lack of sleep, or has taken attachment so far that they’ve sacrificed their marriage and forgone time together without children — this is a good time to self-reflect and consider making some different choices.

Having participated in both extremes — staying home, nursing around the clock for years with 2 children and co-sleeping to working 70 hours a week, only seeing my children for an hour in the morning and an hour at night and insisting we sleep apart during the week so I could get good sleep and function at work — I think I have a unique perspective and appreciation for both types of Moms.

You wrote about Attachment Parenting being misogynist because a woman has to give up her career to do it. Women are choosing to do this. We are grown-ups, intellectually capable of making big life choices including the choice to take a break from careers for focused time with children.

However, there is a serious financial impact for most American families who make the choice to live off one income and the harsher reality of so many single mothers — some of whom don’t have maternity leaves, or have very short ones. How many people have parents like Dr. Sears who “subsidize” them when babies are born so the mother can stay home at no financial loss the family?!

Honestly, my being so hell-bent to be home with my Littles when the recession kicked in and my husband’s business was in trouble nearly destroyed us. Now I’m working my ass off to try and make up for lost income.

Yes, these precious souls new to the world need Big Love and there’s many different parenting styles — all of us loving our children in different ways, all of us with the same goal of raising emotionally stable, self-sufficient young people.  And part of being able to love well is when you love yourself — which for many women includes the intellectual satisfaction of a career.

Women who work from home can have it all in my opinion.  It’s challenging and takes a ton of discipline and still requires childcare help. But it’s doable. Extended nursing easy. Planned breaks to give children attention at different times during the day — easy.

Women, like myself now, who work in an office twenty-five minutes from home?  What we can do is pump during the day and save milk for babies.  Though I’m not nursing anymore, I appreciate that the company I work for has reserved private rooms for Moms to do this that can’t be booked for anything else.

Working Mamas can also give our children big, full attention when we get home — quite possibly in a way that the stay-at-home mom can’t because of the compressed time that we have to be together and our guilt. And we can choose to keep sleeping together in a big bed to get that physical connection and cuddle time missed during the day. In our family, we rarely do this now, but we chose to recently the night we got home from taking a week long vacation without our children who at age 3 and 5 happily stayed with my mother.

What we can’t do, is see or be with our children while we’re away at work for 40, 50, 60+  hours a week.  And this is what every working mom struggles to deal with emotionally.

I would have loved to see an article the week of Mother’s Day that brought together the different approaches to Motherhood today. In a way that looked to find the common threads. That had a goal of inspiring curiosity versus judgment and bringing people together with compassion and sympathy versus creating division.

Maybe next year?





Posted in AP and Working Moms, Article Reiviews, Time Magazine | 2 Comments

It’s been 6 months since my last confession. Er, I mean post. On the first day of a New Year when many people get inspiration to go after that thing that they’ve been wanting to do or neglecting, I found the oomph to write.

I can. I will. I am. 

So here’s the skinny on my absence. Within the same 2 week period in June last year, we sold our house and recording studio, moved into a rental house half the size and I left one job and started another. My new job, doing product marketing management for a pre-IPO software company, a level of marketing I’ve never done before, made for a very intense first 3 month “ramp up.”  Doing this level of work for any company would make for a challenging first 3 months. I naively said, “Yes” to leading the marketing for a new product launch and putting together everything required for US and UK sales training, and doing the actual training 8 weeks after I started.

Hello Crazy Stress.

To get anywhere close to success required that I work way more than I ever imagined doing as a mother of young children. The first three months on the job, I’d guess I averaged 80 hours a week. After the product launch in October, I averaged 60 hours a week up until this past week that I’ve thankfully had off with my family.

I feel like I’m losing (or lost?) my identity as an Attachment Parenting, Hippie-ish, Vegan Wanna-Be Mom. I haven’t known how the heck to write about it and have been too exhausted to try. Any spare time I’ve had outside of working, I’ve wanted to spend with my girls and husband or sleep – and not write a blog post lamenting about missing my girls.

I’ve gone from wearing long gypsy skirts and flip-flops to belted dresses and high heals. I’ve gone from snuggling with my girls until they fall asleep to hugging them both goodnight after stories and leaving my Littlest to cry for me with her Daddy while I go back to work. Though I still maintain a decent level of compassionate “Say What You See” communication to mediate conflicts, there’s been several occasions where my lack of self-care and feelings of overwhelm resulted in fully flipping a lid.  Flash temper. Yelling. Threatening “you can’t have this if you do that.” Asking “why are you being so mean?” and any number of other reptilian brain reactions that don’t translate into any form of Zen Mama whatsoever. And ultimately seeing a reflection of myself in my children that is really hard to see.

I’ve gone from passionately pursuing a plant-based, low-sugar diet for my family to cracking on it all. Not because I’ve changed my belief on how rotten dairy and sugar is for our health. Emotional comfort, addiction and “easy” trumped short and long-term health. Not in excess. But enough to have me not want to claim being “mostly vegan.”

I find myself typing and deleting and typing and deleting. I could circle around how hard it is to work so much with small children (and then I’m reminded of single mothers who work 2 jobs and I promptly stomp on this thought). I could ruminate about how guilty I feel and how I so want to feel more connected every day.  I’ve done plenty of this with my husband and in my head. But really – what good does that do?  The truth is — the recession fully kicked our asses and we’re very grateful that this job opportunity crossed my path and that together we can provide for our family in the way we want and save for long-term security.

Where I struggle to find peace is the identity loss of a persona that I created for myself publicly here on Attachment Mama. I’m generally a person uncomfortable with ambiguity. This has left the Universe laughing at me often and inspires me to embrace Mystery and Change and an expanded view of what’s best for our family.

What could Attachment Parenting mean for our family now?

(To be continued.)

Wishing every mother the best for themselves and their families in 2012.  Happy New Year!


Posted in AP and Working Moms | 2 Comments

Attachment Mama, What Up?

It’s been almost 2 weeks since my incredible 24-hour retreat alone. I did not intend to take this much time off from Attachment Mama! A few people have asked to hear how my big night away went, so I’ll happily conjure up the memory of it here now.

Though The Crossings retreat and wellness center offers complete spa services, I did not indulge in that this time around. I did, however, fully enjoy a delightful dinner in silence with two $10 glasses of red wine.  Then, in a solidly buzzed state, I sauntered back to my guesthouse where my pristinely clean and tidy room awaited me with a private deck and balcony overlooking the Balcones Canyon lands Preserve. I breathed in the air, the view, the solitude, and the sunset with complete gratitude and a peaceful heart, knowing my girls were perfectly content with their father. I realize the mellow state of my being is probably more attributable to the two generously poured glasses of wine floating through my veins versus a truly natural feeling of content about being away from my little angels overnight for the first time.

After gazing at the rugged natural beauty around me for several minutes on the deck, I came back inside, closed all the window shades, undressed and was asleep in a kick-ass cozy bed within five minutes.  It was 8:30 p.m.. And I slept for 13 hours!  I did wake up briefly at the standard early-bird time my daughters wake up (5:45, God Bless). My heart raced with fret, wondering if my Littlest was O.K.  But after taking a few deep breaths, I thankfully fell back to sleep, enjoying my first post-baby solid “sleep-in” until 9:00. Pure Luxury!!

Since returning from my mini vacation, I’ve been focused on several time-intensive projects at work including coordinating pre-screening events of a film called “Forks Over Knives” with Whole Foods Market all around the country. The provocative film highlights the groundbreaking research of Cleveland Clinic surgeon, Caldwell B Esselstyn Jr. (Rip’s father) and T. Colin Campbell, PhD, author of The China Study.  They’ve both spent the last 25 years proving through research and patient studies that a plant-based diet can prevent many standard Western Diseases, including heart disease and diabetes.  The film officially releases to the public on March 11, 2011. Our press release that includes dates and locations of all the pre-screening events taking place in October should go out tomorrow.

Even though I still can’t claim to eat 100% plant-based myself and have had a whole variety of comical emotional responses to this reality since I joined the Healthy Eating team and Rip/Engine 2 —  I now confidently wear the PlantStrong badge. It’s exciting to be part of this healthy eating education movement — especially as I witness firsthand the idea of a plant-based diet becoming less and less fringe or “impossible” and increasingly more popular as people of all walks of life get curious about the benefits and start giving it a try.

Just today, CNN posted an interview with President Bill Clinton talking about his choice to eat almost entirely plant-based with the hope of reversing his heart disease. And he credits the studies of Rip’s father, T.Colin Campbell and Dean Ornish, MD as the research that lead him to this decision.

We have new intensity on the home front as well. The Big News: We’ve decided to sell our beloved house and recording studio. Tiny sniff. The choice to do so has been two years in the making as we’ve gone back and forth on Hideout Studios, our personal Field of Dreams.

The original vision in building it was first, to scratch the recording studio itch in my husband, and second, to replace my income (or close to it), so I could follow my long-imagined desire to be home with my children during their early years.

We envisioned living in our home for twenty years or more and raising our family there. A new perspective and reality came with the Great Recession. When it hit both Mark’s interior design business and the recording studio, and I was in full SAHM mode, we went for months with 10 percent of our pre-baby income, whittling our savings away bit by bit to cover the bills, convinced each month things were bound to turn around and we needed to hang in there.

We finally turned the corner this Spring. And the experience left us with a keen desire for my husband to focus his attention on one business instead of two, and to lower our living expenses so we’re better prepared for the future. We have absolutely zero regrets in building our house and studio in the first place as we’ve grown in a 100 ways that we wouldn’t have otherwise. We’ve witnessed so many wonderful musical works of art come to life including Sweet Songs, Molly Venter, Craig Hella Johnson, and most recently — Ben Kweller’s latest album– plus many others in between. And now we prepare to pass the torch.

So we’ve been working like mad the last month or so to prep the house to go on the market some time in October. And the most significant part of this preparation will require us to move out for 10 days while our water-damaged wood floors are sanded and re-stained. Starting tomorrow.

The Universe knows I don’t do well with boredom. But, Jeesh!

So between all this hubub, in the back of my mind the last two weeks I’ve been mulling over how to keep on keepin’ on with my personal creative outlet and service to other new parents: Attachment Mama — AND stay reasonably well-rested and sane.

No answer yet except continuing to write, but less often.

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