Kristen is a Bay Area mom and writes a very funny blog about parenting, among other things. A random sampling of recent topics: hippie preschools, baby lust, and pink eye. In this guest post, Kristen talks about an attempt to move her career in a new direction, and the effect it has on her kids, (ages 4 and 6).
Guest post by Kristen McClusky
Kate and Paige’s favorite game is “Baby-Mama.” It’s what your normal kids probably call “Family.”
No two sessions of Baby-Mama are ever the same. The girls change up who they are, where they live, and the dramatic scenario at hand. For some reason though, there’s nearly always a sick baby or stuffed animal.
Anyway, here’s what I overheard the other day:
Kate: “Okay, so I’m the mom and I’m a writer.”
My Inner Voice: “Aw… that’s my girl! You won’t make a cent, honey, but it’s a noble profession.”
Kate: [as if she'd overheard my thought] “—and a doctor.”
My Inner Voice: “Nice! Always good to have options. And the doctor gig will definitely help pay for Dad and my nursing home some day.”
Paige: “Okay, I’ll be the big sister. And I’m gonna be a life coach.”
My Inner Voice: “Oh, Jesus Christ. It’s time to move out of California.”
On the heels of the Mom 2.0 Summit, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the gargantuan responsibility of raising two daughters. Not that you folks with sons have it scot-free, but it seems like with girls it’s infinitely easier to f*** things up.
I want my daughters to be happy about who they are and how they look. And I want them to know that they can be anything they want to be when they grow up.
My parents did an excellent job of instilling this notion in me. And yet I still became a writer. Go figure.
In the past few months I’ve been doing a lot of what-do-I-want-to-do-with-my-life soul searching. Specifically in the realm of career. And I was happy to realize that what I’m currently doing—working in the world of parenting media, interacting with moms every day, blogging my butt off—is where I want to stay.
But I’ve been thinking about what my blue-sky dream job in that world is. There’s not enough space on WordPress to divulge the scazillions of ideas I came up with. But one thing I kept coming back to was my love of radio.
Thankfully I sleep with an immensely brilliant being every night. My husband Mark that is, not our cat. (Okay, so we don’t even have a cat, but I couldn’t exactly pretend we sleep with our fish Karen.)
So Mark suggests, “Why don’t you do a podcast and pitch it to Mamapedia?” Mamapedia’s a community of 3.5 million—you guessed it—mamas. And where I happened to work.
So I did one of those “shoulda had a V-8″ head thumps, then kissed my smart husband. It was a great idea.
I decided to pitch the idea to my boss with a sample podcast already in the can. Make it easy for him to hear how good it’d be, and be able to unequivocally tell him (and know myself) that this was something I could continue to do.
I started developing the editorial angle, researching software, listening to other podcasts. And I lined up a high school friend who’d just written a book on parenting to be my first guest.
All this on top of my regular workload, writing class, school volunteering, blogging, mom duties, housework, and selfish endeavors to sometimes sleep.
If you haven’t stretched like this for a while, I highly recommend it. I worked my little—okay, medium-sized—butt off planning it all out, writing a script, and practicing with the software (thanks, Dad!).
I woke up early one day to record the podcast in my basement while Mark got the girls ready for school upstairs. Then I taught myself how to edit the damn thing. I even picked out some royalty-free brand-appropriate music for the intro.
I didn’t love every part of how I sounded. I had tons of ideas about how to make the next one better. But overall it came together. For a rookie, it seemed utterly acceptable.
Any mom who ever works from home can tell you about The Hand Swat. The way you wave away your kids with one arm while staring into your Mac screen and muttering, “Just two more minutes, honey, then I’ll get you some milk. I promise.”
It’s a guilt-inducing way to roll. It’s not parenting at its finest hour.
But what happened as a result of that week of hard work and child-neglect guilt surprised me. Kate said one night at dinner, “I really hope your boss likes the podcast.”
And Paige said, “Do I hafta eat my green beans?”
The morning I was doing the big reveal to the boss man, Kate gave me a hug before trooping off to school and said, “Good luck, Mama! If he likes it, let’s celebrate tonight.”
An entrepreneur mom who presented at Mom 2.0 shared some artwork her young daughter had made. It was a sign that said, “My mom startid a com-p-n.”
When the slide with that image came up, the businesswoman presenting started to cry—a reaction she apologized for, telling the crowd it surprised even her. Her tears triggered the ballroom of hundreds of other women to well up too.
Then we all got our periods together.
But seriously, sometimes when us working mothers feel guilty that our jobs are cutting into our roles as moms, we’re too wrapped up in self-flagellation to realize that the work we’re doing may actually be making a positive impact on our kids. We’re modeling you-can-do-anything-you-want-to-do behavior.
Sometimes our kids even feel proud of us. Imagine!
My boss liked the podcast, by the way. Kate spearheaded a family-dinner party that night. Then a few weeks later I found out my job was being outsourced to a less-costly editorial service. I was going to be leaving the website.
Alas, a second podcast never aired.
But you know what? That’s totally okay. I’m already talking to other companies about other cool gigs.
At this point I have no idea what form my next job will take, but it gratifies me to think that Kate and I now know that I can make another podcast—or, hell, teach myself any number of new skills—any time I want.
And when she grows up, she can too.
Kristen lives in Oakland, CA with her two daughters and geek husband. While plotting her next career move she’s doing laundry and blogging at motherload: diary of a modern day housewife superhero. Follow her on Facebook or on Twitter at @motherloadblog.