This is the gleeful no-chill grin of me being proven right! I say all the time that working moms are more creative, more efficient, more able to pivot and make change. Well, I got to hear pres. candidate Sen. @kirstengillibrand speak today at a live podcast of @momsdonthavetimetoreadbooks, and she did something SO cool that proved it all…and made me more convinced than ever that when we have parents in office, we ALL win. 💛Here’s the story: At the event, I got up the nerve to ask her two picky questions about paid family leave (for 5 years, she has doggedly proposed the FAMILY Act bill for fed paid leave). My Qs: 1) Yes, Dems and Reps both want fam leave, but how do we get them to agree on how to pay for it? 2) How can we reset the cultural norm that 12 weeks is all moms need when the health research proves 6 paid mos. is the min required? (FYI: FMLA was originally meant to be 23 weeks…12 was a “temporary” compromise in 1993.) 💛Sen. G. answered the 1st Q by explaining that both sides have come around to the idea that paid leave should be an “earned benefit” (in her bill paid for by a 0.2% income contribution from workers and biz’s, appx $2/week). That basic agreement is, “the best thing that happened this year,” she said. Now the devil’s in these details: 1) broadening the leave to include elder and spousal care; 2) not borrowing the $ from our retirements (“that’s really going to harm women…they can’t just work longer!”). She thinks we can get there. 💛(Now the cool part!) As for my 2nd Q, about that 12-wks fallacy, she admitted, “You’re the first person to raise that…I’m not so sure…maybe you just get any paid leave and that’s your next tranche.” And then, unsatisfied with her answer, she did what any working mom would: *She thought fast.* “I have an idea!” she said. “Maybe you set it up as 0.2% of income but if you want more leave, there’s a greater buy in of 0.4%. Or! Encourage states that do have paid leave to augment the federal leave. So if you’re a good governor, you let people get an additional 12 weeks. Use the progressiveness of certain states to create competition among the governors.” Boom. Just like that. Solutions, creativity, mom power. MIC DROP.
When I was a kid, I used to think that the lyrics to Steve Winwood’s song “bring me a higher love” were, “bring me a pile of love.” I’m standing by that. Happy Passover 🐸 and Easter 🐣 from my pile to yours.
📣 Deep breath moment: My first monthly column for @harpersbazaar is out this morning, and it asks the question,
⁉️ WHY ARE NANNIES SO INVISIBLE ON INSTAGRAM?⁉️
How is it that we (me! 🤷🏻♀️ I’m included!) are so comfortable now exposing the unfiltered messes motherhood🚧💩🚧...but not showing the vital women (some who are working moms themselves, incidentally) who help clean up those messes and make all the dimensions of our lives possible?
I think that needs to change, and I’m happy to start right here with this gorgeous picture. 🌟 💛
This is Jean, our beloved former nanny, at music class with Teddy at age 3. I tried to sneak out of work once a month to join them and still remember racing back to the office this day sticky with sweat on my pink silk top. I was late getting there, late getting back, felt like I’d failed everyone (including my dry cleaner). And then, months later, this photo appeared in my inbox from the music class director: pure joy. It hit me...If my boy feels this rolling-on-the-floor-laughing loved with his caregiver, I’m doing something right. I only regret that it took me this many years to post this image. Jean, we love you. 🌟 💛
My ask today is this. If you have a caregiver in your life — a nanny, daycare provider, grandparent, friend, a co-parent — whose care of your child lets you be YOU, and lets your child feel extra loved, please, put them in the picture. Bring their work to light, because in order to fight for access to quality childcare for ALL, we need to show its value. 🔗
Link to essay in my bio and Stories.
📸: Bobbie Cohlan for @eswsmusictogether 🎼🎼🎼
So, Good Morning America called me this morning (you know, as they do 🙌🥳😵) to see if I had thoughts about the news that Meghan Markle has decided not to do the traditional all-dolled-up post-birth photo-op when she has the baby. Did I have thoughts!! The story is linked in my Stories, but here’s my hot take in two points: 💛
1) I would never claim to know MM’s intentions, but I think it’s great that she’s making what feels like the best decision for herself and her child. From day one, she’s saying: I’m in charge here, and I will be the one to define my motherhood and my public role, not anyone else. In a sense, her public role is a j-o-b job, and she’s saying: I’m not working when my kid is one day old. I’m truly on maternity leave. 💛
2) Meghan, bless her, is a proud, flag-waving feminist, and she knows that her role gives her a remarkable opportunity to reshape cultural standards. Including those around motherhood. Yes, of course, she could have a glam squad come and do her hair and makeup and find her a flattering dress and make her look good in spite of the herculean feat she’s just accomplished by giving birth…but she’s *rejecting* promoting that unrealistic message. New motherhood is a hard and precious and vulnerable time when women need to heal physically and adjust emotionally. She’s owning that. And she’s giving every other mom out there permission to do the same. 💛
PS: 😍👏😍👏to @fridababy for having the *brilliant* idea to publish a letter in the @nytgender imploring her to skip the photo-op. And thank you, @goodmorningamerica for making my morning.
🌟Did you know that 80% of the wage gap can be accounted for by The Motherhood Penalty? 😵For #equalpayday yesterday, I posted a whole guide to protecting your income and status at work after baby. 🙌 It’s still up there now (and is much prettier than these squared off screenshots! 🤷🏻♀️😁) and will live on in my “resources” button above too. #thefifthtrimester #workingmom #maternityleave #payequity #wagegap #motherhoodpenalty #paygap #maternalwall
Yesterday, my friend Alexis over at @notsafeformomgroup sent me a question from a member that had blown up her Stories with opinions, cheering, and outrage: -
🚨Should she quit after maternity leave? 🚨
My answer, which she turned into a blog post (link in my Stories) night surprise you. -
And I loved this raw admission here from Alexis herself about the resentment parents and non-parents feel in the workplace. 🗣🤰In my corporate work, it’s one of the cultural challenges I teach companies to correct. 🏭🏢🏦 ....
HERE’S ALEXIS, UNFILTERED:
Repost from @notsafeformomgroup using @RepostRegramApp - I was that single twenty something in the office who giggled along with the UPS guy as he glanced towards the cubicles of my coworkers when we both heard the loud whirring of the pumping machines. I was the married girl without kids (a few years later), wondering why the mom in my office (who I managed) always “had”to leave early to take care of her son. I said nothing during the catty bitching (among other women) about the moms at work who went home early and how nice that must be. WHO WAS I? I can’t relate to that girl now. I am ashamed of her. I know so much more now: the women coming back from maternity leave — they were back from a war with their bodies, freshly wounded, leaking, pained. The ones scrambling to make work work, and home work, and motherhood work, and somehow do it all on some dumb 9 to 5 schedule that doesn’t actually work. What did I know then? Nothing.
The current conversation we are having on IG Stories about returning to work after maternity leave (and all the other subjects that come up around that) is so important. These are still murky waters to navigate, and it helps to know how others are doing it and to get expert advice.
Read SHOULD I QUIT MY JOB AFTER MATERNITY LEAVE on the website to see what Lauren Smith Brody of @thefifthtrimester has to say about exit strategies and how to talk to your boss. So lucky to have her insight here!
✨Last night, I had the great, belly-laughing, tears-tingling-my-nose pleasure of hearing author/midwife/guru/poet Ilana Stanger-Ross read from her gorgeous new book, @aisforadvicebook and be interviewed by @mindrnyc’s brilliant Sarah Lux-Lee. I can tell you this: If I had read this book while pregnant or in those first hazy days of motherhood....I would have been a lot more okay. I’ve linked to Amazon and posted a couple of pages in my Stories (shh...don’t tell the copyright police!). It’s so beautiful. ✨
Wrote these three quick #backtowork tips for @nyssacare the other night while the 🍝 boiled, the husband opened 📬 and the kids blasted Imagine Dragons (💭🐉...🙄) because while I will *never* purport to be an expert on “balance,” I’m a firm believer in the #fiveminuterule (if it only takes 5 mins, do it now so it doesn’t haunt you from your to-do list). 💛
#Repost @nyssacare with @get_repost
Bestselling author Lauren Smith Brody's 'The Fifth Trimester' was critical in helping us prepare for the end of maternity leave. She kindly shared her top tips with Nyssa for all of you heading back to work soon, or supporting someone who is. Thank you @thefifthtrimester 💕
1) Do not feel guilty: Feel sad or conflicted or excited or whatever feelings you've got, but please don't blame yourself for the fact that you're back at work before you feel ready to be. It's a symptom of our country's (evolving, getting better) culture that new mothers aren't supported the way they should be. Go back to work and be honest about what's hard so we can all make change together. But don't think you've done anything wrong by doing good work and supporting your family.
2) Protect yourself from The Motherhood Penalty (that's the measurable impact on women's income and status after having kids): If you negotiate for flexibility, do not take a pay cut unless you will actually be delivering less work. See your motherhood as a strength, not a weakness, and negotiate with the greater good of all parents in mind.
3) Find a haircut and a work outfit uniform that make you feel great: They'll get you out the door faster in the morning, and, as much as I hate to be superficial, the research really does show that if you feel good about how you look, you project that to the world.
If you've already returned to work after maternity/paternity leave, what did YOU find most helpful to ease the transition? #thefifthtrimester #fifthtrimester #workingmoms #momguilt #maternityleave #maternityleaveisover
🎉🎉🎉You guys have heard me rave about @thedoubleshift, a beautiful and insightful new podcast about working motherhood by my friend journalist @katherinegoldstein. Katherine is coming to town and we’re doing a listening party and conversation on April 9 at my inspiring and gorgeous coworking space, @bealuminary. It’s cohosted by my awesome friend Leah Fink, founder of @classes_at. And I’ll have the honor of interviewing Katherine. We’ll be talking mom guilt, the Motherhood Penalty, podcastery, & her adventures interviewing some of the most fascinating, intrepid women I’ve ever heard of. Obviously, we’ll have @williamsburgpizza and wine. We’ve only got a few tickets left and I wanted to invite you! I’ll link to the rsvp (suggested donation $15) in my Stories. (PS: I can’t post about April 9 without saying happy bday to my MIL and my gorgeous goddaughter! 💛💛)
I don’t like this picture very much. Not because of the caverns of sleep deprivation under my eyes…but because it brings me right back to a time when I was skating on the edge of okay with a postpartum mood disorder. 🥀
Fast forward 10 years and I’m definitely posting it, because yesterday 🎉🎉the FDA approved the first-ever drug specifically for postpartum depression.
My husband, as you guys may know, is a psychiatrist who runs the inpatient psychiatric unit of a major academic hospital in NYC…where they will be using the treatment. Hello, work worlds colliding! 💊🌍🤱 We’re on vacation at the moment, so I decided to interview him as we got our boys ready for ski school this morning: 📝📝📝
Me: You’re excited about this drug.
Dr. B.: Yes, for sure. It’s an antidepressant that has a novel mechanism. It’s structurally very similar to progesterone.
Me: Hang on. You went straight to the chemistry. Progesterone is a naturally occurring hormone during pregnancy, right? So when you give birth, you have less of it?
Dr. B.: Yes, that’s right. This drug is an important option for women who don’t respond to standard treatments like antidepressants or psychotherapy. It requires a 60-hour infusion in a hospital setting and rapidly reduces symptoms.
Me: But if it works really well, and quickly, why wouldn’t you go straight to that?
Dr. B.: I would anticipate that most women will probably want to stay in their own homes with their babies. But I do think this drug can be a first-line option for women who prefer this treatment.
Me: Do you think insurance companies will see it that way?
Dr. B.: Great question. I would be cautiously optimistic that they will cover it for women who are truly in need, which is a significant population.
Me: The first thing that occurred to me when I read this news was that the treatment could help destigmatize postpartum depression. If there’s a medicine to treat it that works so quickly, no one can say it isn’t real.
Dr. B.: I hope you’re right. Depression is a medical illness. It is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide.
Me: Disability comes up in my Fifth Trimester work when moms have taken ⬇️
❄️Today’s rare and rather glorious version of “having it all” brought to you (me) by: my husband and in-laws, ski school for the kids, a potential client who didn’t blink when I mentioned I was “at altitude” (she’s got 5 women out of a team of 15 currently on maternity leave so I didn’t want to put this call off), and the lovely woman at the lift ticket desk who assured me that the “WIFI is great up there.” (Also by Amazon Prime for the snowshoe delivery when I finally got smart and stopped torturing myself with fear of death from skiing the bunny slopes.) #winning #workingmomlife #entrepreneur #alwaysworking #alwaysliving ❄️
💥Feeling brave this morning.💥 I'm a couple of time zones behind at the moment, so I'm probably the last of the fantastic women quoted in @liveworklead's @forbes story this morning to post...but that's a good thing because now I feel pressure to say something original. 🤣🙋♀️ Here goes.
I'm honored to be featured alongside these working mom advocates, but 🤫here's a BIG SECRET: We are competitors. Not all directly, but pretty close.
When I launched my company #thefifthtrimester I worried about that. After all, would most male entrepreneurs share resources and contacts? Would they promote each other's work? And yet, that's exactly what I've found myself -- and ALL of these women -- doing: Spending an hour or more every day writing emails titled: "introducing you two!" (yes, with an exclam...it's girly and it's FINE) and folding one another's businesses into our pitch calls -- "actually, it sounds like what you're looking for is services from my friend Sarah, too." And you know what? It doesn't just feel good...IT WORKS. It freaking works. One big giant rising tide. 🗣🌊🛥🌊🗣 This work is a privilege and these women are my colleagues, as we all sit, working, in Detroit, NY, LA -- often solo but never alone -- to forge this long overdue correction for mothers in the workplace. I'm SO proud of the way these women have made me rethink what real leadership looks like. Thanks to Mary Beth Ferrante for featuring us all here, and thanks to @motherhonestly, @mindrnyc, @elliemoms, @returnityproject, @thedoubleshift's @katherinegoldstein and many others. We are #bettertogether. Link in my Stories! 😘