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Would You Ask a Man That Question?

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A real life snapshot from my life as a work-from-home mom

A few weeks ago I was asked a question that I initially didn’t hesitate to answer. It’s actually a question I’ve been asked on more than one occasion, so I felt prepared to defend myself with an explanation. The question was, “How do you plan to balance work with a family?”

It’s not an unreasonable question, right? It was asked in a light-hearted way by a new client who, I truly believe, felt like they were going through any normal paces of qualifying someone to be their new PR consultant. The board voted unanimously in my favor and I ultimately got the job. Sometime later, a female colleague of mine, who was also at that meeting, brought up her frustration that I had to answer such a “ridiculous” question. She picked up on the (not so subtle) sexism of that question that I’ve come to view as normal as a female business owner and working mom. Her point was clear. Would you ask a man that question? No, no you wouldn’t.

Picture a man being asked “How do you plan to balance work with a family?” during a job interview. I envision a bewildered look come across his face as he responds “What do you mean?” He would likely ask for clarification before he felt compelled to offer an explanation…an excuse, really. Meanwhile, I had my “excuse” locked and loaded because it’s one I’ve had to provide time and time again. Sometimes I even voluntarily offer it up as I can see the look of concern come across a client’s face when they learn I have two young children, one of whom stays at home with me 5 out of the 7 days of the week.

“When do you have time to do work?”

That’s another common question. I used to be proud to answer this with a description of my highly disciplined and efficient schedule that is required for raising a family, keeping up with the house and growing a business. But now I see that I was defending myself from society’s disbelief that I can be a mother and a business owner – and do both well.

I’m not angry or outraged at these questions. I hold no grudge against the people who asked them. Rather, I’m shocked by my own numbness toward sexist remarks made to women entrepreneurs daily. I’m sad that I allowed myself to feel guilty, even for just one second, for “balancing work and a family.”

It is without question that a woman most often gets the lion’s share of work and responsibility when it comes to raising a family. Rather than questioning her ability to work and parent, congratulate her, offer encouragement and be flexible with your demands.

How refreshing would it be to instead hear “I know you have a young family. It’s wonderful you’re pursuing your passion. We will flexible, as we know family comes first.”

I’m fortunate to work with understanding and encouraging clients who not only know I am a hybrid mom, but see it as a badge of honor. They know when they call me there’s always a chance you’ll hear a babbling baby in the background or that I may need to reschedule a meeting because I’ve got a sick toddler. But as a mother, I also know how to power through a challenge and multi-task like it’s an Olympic sport. If you want something done, give it to a busy person. And if you want something done quickly, correctly and with every distraction going on around her, give it to a mom.

Have you ever been asked a sexist or unfair question? Share how you responded, or wish you had responded by leaving a comment!

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Posted by on February 13, 2017 in Business & Success, Life

 

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Parenthood: Adjusting to the Ever-Changing “New Normal”

On August 4, 2012, my definition of family changed. Newly married, my family became me, my husband and one particularly ornery cat. We worked to re-establish our daily routines as we learned each other’s habits and quirks. Our staggered steps turned into a beautiful dance and eventually I couldn’t remember what life was like before it was “us.” This was a precious, but fleeting moment in our lives as my definition of family soon changed…again.

On May 11, 2013, I held my baby boy in my arms for the first time. For most of the world, nothing had really changed. But for me, nothing would ever be the same. I mean that truly in all aspects of life. I’m not too proud to admit that parenthood was (and is) like being stripped of everything normal and familiar and launched into a new world where all the skills I had relied upon to be successful up until this point became completely irrelevant. Those first few months, I felt just as lost and overwhelmed as a newborn – oh the irony in that!

This new, little family struggled to again establish our beautiful dance around one another. Just when we overcame one hurdle (yay, he’s sleeping through the night), another popped up in its place (what child cuts fourth teeth at once). With every milestone, we established a “new normal.” Date nights turned into Friday evenings spent at the park, romantic dinners were brought home in a takeout box and bedtime was rarely after 8:30pm – for anyone in the house.

As a creature of habit, I loved every routine we have had as a family – because it was familiar and it was ours. It was never too long until we again had to pivot into a new normal. Travel schedules, illnesses, moving into a new home and changing seasons all brought about necessary change to which we adjusted.

And another big adjustment is right around the corner…

In no more than a few weeks (I’d like to think a few days), we will welcome another bundle of joy into our home and our routine. Our new normal will shift again…substantially. I waver between moments of excitement for this change in our lives and moments where I question our sanity for opting into another momentous challenge. Our family’s current routine is nice. It’s safe and it’s predictable. We have established a pretty beautiful dance – yes, a dance that includes meltdowns, potty training and comprise, but a beautiful dance indeed.

Luckily life gives us a nine months heads up that such a change is about to happen. Not many other circumstances in life afford us such preparation, nor do they promise such joy. As I struggle to fit as much as I can into every day leading up to the birth of our second son, I have found that life has a wonderful, and at times, frustrating way of slowing us down to absorb what we might otherwise miss.

The past few weekends, our little family has enjoyed more undivided time together than I can recall in recent history. I captured a picture that will forever define our current normal – as it is right now, but will never be again. As much as I never want to leave this moment, life has taught me again and again that the new normal that lies ahead is the best one yet.

Whether you are a new or veteran parent, can you relate to the ongoing struggle of adjusting to the “new normal?” Share a personal story or piece of wisdom!

Our “normal”…for now.

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2016 in Learning, Life

 

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The Life Lessons of Parenthood

Until now, my sole focus has been on nurturing my business, growing relationships and enjoying married life. I had more than enough time to pour into hobbies, passions and leisure. Don’t mistake where this is going. I enjoyed this chapter of my life – every day of it, but I also knew I was ready to experience something more than just myself and my business. I was ready to experience parenthood…

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Just a little more than two months ago, life provided us with the greatest gift we could ask for – a healthy baby boy. As I am sure every parent can relate, he is our personal pride and joy. He is also where we pour nearly all of our love and time right now. Though I am far from a seasoned mother, I have already learned quite a bit. This knowledge is nothing I could have anticipated, but has had a great impact on the way I view life, family and even business. Here are the ten life lessons parenthood has taught me in two short months:

It’s possible to multiply time.

I’ve always been efficient with my time, but parenthood has taught me how to do this to an extreme. It’s amazing what I can get done during a single nap hour. Procrastination is a luxury that simply doesn’t exist in our house anymore. I know that whether it’s household work or client work, now is always the best time to do something because I’m never quite sure when my next free moment will be.

You will cry over spilled milk.

When you feel like you’re always racing against the clock to accomplish as much as you can in the least amount of time, even a minor set-back can trigger a meltdown. And as any mother knows, every ounce of milk represents energy, time and nourishment for your little one. When milk spills, you will most certainly cry over it.

Give yourself 30 minutes more than you think you need.

Having a child is the ultimate excuse to be late. Anyone with kids is extremely empathetic to the fact that the most unexpected things can and will come up. But parenthood didn’t override my need to be on a schedule and run as close to on-time as possible. I’ve found that no matter how well I have my day planned, an extra 30 minutes can always be used. Before, when I would plan for something taking 5 minutes, I know it’s more likely to require 35.

When rest finally presents itself, you will learn to fall asleep within 15 seconds.

Free moments are hard enough to come by, but an even harder task is deciding whether you should catch up on work during this time or catch up on your zzz’s. Sooner or later, the desire to sleep will outweigh all other options and when it does, you will learn to close your eyes and doze off in a matter of mere seconds. Before parenthood, it would take some TV and tossing and turning to fall asleep, now it just takes closing my eye lids.

The little things will become the biggest things.

Never did I think watching someone raise their head or kick their legs would illicit cheers and praise. But as a parent, watching your little human grow right before your eyes is absolutely exhilarating. This has taught me that life’s smallest moments can create the biggest memories. It’s all relative to what that achievement means to each person – and to a mother, I am easily awe struck by these milestones.

Patience can be learned.

I was never a patient person and long ago I let go of the idea that I would ever somehow morph into one. I thought it was a virtue I simply didn’t possess. Above all things, parenthood has taught me a whole new level of patience. Before, I would easily become frustrated when things took longer than I anticipated or didn’t go exactly as planned. Now, I find myself calling upon a new level of calm to overcome such situations – often with a joke and a smile.

Progress is always two steps forward, one step back.

As sleeping patterns slowly begin to stabilize and feeding times spread further apart, I look forward to every ounce of progress we make. But these small victories aren’t a straight line of progress; rather it’s more like two steps forward, one step back. Some days I feel like I have this whole parenting thing down and other days bring me to my breaking point. Whether today turns into a good day or a bad day, I do know one thing for sure—it won’t last more than 24 hours and tomorrow can and will be completely different.


There’s no room for ego.

Just weeks ago, the thought of singing, humming or cooing in public would have made me feel nervous and awkward. Now, I make silly faces and funny noises so regularly I hardly notice whether I’m in front of a crowd or not. Parenthood has taught me how to be utterly goofy all in the name of child entertainment and to never mind what anyone else thinks about it.

You are always being watched.

Long before children can do anything else, they can watch. I have no doubt that my every movement and every sound are being recorded by a very impressionable mind. My actions will only continue to be studied with each passing month and year. If I wasn’t one before, I am certainly a role model now – and this means 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Life is a precious miracle.

Above any other life lesson I could anticipate learning, this one carries the greatest impact. I always felt that I had valued life, but never until I became a parent did I realize just how miraculous the gift of life truly is. Parenthood has given me a profound appreciation for life at all ages. I feel so blessed to have a healthy, thriving child. Watching him get to know the world day by day will become the greatest memories of my own life.

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Meet the newest partner of Bennis Inc, Holden Scott Shirley, born May 11, 2013

 
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Posted by on July 15, 2013 in Life

 

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