I cry over spilled milk and closing chapters.

I had an unexpected emotional trigger when, as I walked toward the office fridge to grab my pumped milk at 18:45, I saw the fridge door already open, with its glistening empty shelves, and the cleaner standing in front, putting new garbage bags in the trash cans.

The office manager had emailed earlier that everything in the company fridges would get chucked today at the end of the day… I frantically asked the bewildered cleaner if it was really all gone, ‘no, I don’t need milk, it was my pumped milk, mother’s milk, that was in there, in a special bottle,’ and he did feel sorry for me… and had been just doing his job…

I left and stood by my car watching the other cleaner toss the day’s garbage bags into the parking lot dumpster. I debated looking through them. I debated crying. I debated going home.

It wasn’t a lot of milk and I have more bottles. But finding 30 minutes during the day to put my baby first is hard. Every. Day. And finding time to give her special attention is hard. She doesn’t even drink it… she eats it sometimes, as a meal. She never accepted bottle feeding.

She’s nearly nine months and I’m sad to come to terms with moving on from pumping. Because it’s just another little chapter to close up in our lives together.

[UPDATE January 16 2017:  Is now a good time to mention my frozen stock just fell to the floor and cracked and broke?]

The impossible quest.

It was exactly two years ago that I started my current job, director of marketing at a fast-paced startup in a relatively new yet traditional industry. It was also exactly two years ago that I was finished with the mandatory paid maternity leave with my third child. I was coming off a full time marketing consultant position, something I had been doing for almost three years from home.

Newly minted director, newly commuting to an office, newly minted mom of three. It was also a war, it was also the heat of the summer, it was also a major reckoning which basically came down to: what the fuck am I doing?

It was the start of an impossible quest. For the first nine months, I resolved to uncover someone exactly in my position, but 5-10 years later – someone working a full time manager job at an intense company, whose partner also worked full time, who had no time for late night TV show binge watching or running or taking the kids out after tzaharon to anywhere further than a nearby park. Someone with a super intense job, thrown into a managerial position with no training. Someone who was a mother of a three, living in an apartment, no hired help, no parents in the country, no family support nearby. Not native Hebrew speakers, new to every step along the way. Someone who was hacking it to the finish line.

Me. But in 5-10 years, having lived to tell the tale.

I’d ask the female partners at my company. But they’d be disqualified, lacking these criteria or those criteria. I’d scope out women at conferences – my seeming peers. But, no – not full time, or full time less kids, or Israeli partner with parents in town, or some other thing. I’d look around on career oriented Facebook groups. I’d ask people outright.

I’d get a lot of ‘Ooooh I also need that! When you figure it out let me know!’

I honestly thought I could find that person. Surely she exists. Surely someone’s done this. Lived this life. Surely she’d mentor me. Tell me it’ll be ok. Laugh with me and cry with me.

That person does not exist. Not two years ago, not now.

But she will in 5-10 years.

As I look around, having added more to that plate – four kids seven and under, four different drop offs and pick ups next year, two doses of private daycare tuition, same full-time demanding jobs for both parents, still no parents within 30 minutes, etc etc – I know and accept there is no such mentor. No one has my life. No one has your life.

Unique special snowflake shit.

So I’m left to figure it out. I have no idea what the next 1-2 years will look like. I know that I am not limitless so we’ll figure out where that line gets drawn pretty soon.

I will say this: holding a two-month old in one arm and cutting cherry tomatoes with the other is possible. So at least there’s that.

Next year in… your country.

Something really extraordinary happened at work today. In startup world. In the center of Jerusalem.

We had the pre-Passover הרמת כוסית, or company holiday toast. Our CEO spoke a few words, leading to how blown away he is by how the company is growing, both in team… and in the number of pregnant women.

Then he asked a question that’s been on my mind for nearly two years since I started there: **How do you manage to do it? Work full time, maintain your home, care for kids/manage pregnancy?**

As a woman, a mother, a full timer in the work force, it will never get old for me to hear an accomplished 60yo man wonder about this. Without a patronizing tone. Without cynicism. Pure wonder.

I was raised on a lot of equality talk – the power 80s, Take Your Daughter to Work Day, one day there could be a female president.

But nothing means as much or says as much as raising a glass at a company lunch where the CEO calls for blessing the pregnant team members, hiring even more women, and further supporting growing families.

On the eve of a paid maternity leave courtesy of a family-oriented country… it’s not something I take lightly.

Next year in… your country.

Happy International Women’s Day to me.

Here’s how I found out today is International Women’s Day: My classy huz.

International Women's Day

And I suppose I was in a celebratory mood since all I ate before noon was a yogurt mixed with Fiber 1, which the marketing world tells me is the most feminine thing I can do. Girls be regular, amirite?

For some reason I agreed to a conference call for the same time I promised my kids the park, so if you’ve ever been there, you know this episode of Working Mom Sitcom fairly well:

  • I’m straining to hear about a new website feature in one ear.
  • I’m negotiating animal cracker terms between two hungry girls.
  • I’m handing a near-empty water bottle to a kid that’s not mine because ‘only keeping track of your own brood’ is for weaklings.
  • I’m thinking ‘soon there will be an action item for me and I’d love to agree to it knowing what it is.’
  • I’m being summoned post-scooter accident… my eldest is bawling like he’s birthed three humans and knows that level of pain.
  • I agree to an action item AND know what it is! Ten points!
  • I’ve run out of time with the animal cracker negotiation because toddler is now inconsolable doing The Clock on the park floor. (I totally get you, Serial Season 2 Episode 9.)

Half an hour later, rounded up kids, car, dinner, emails and – yadda yadda yadda – I’m covered in human shit.

Is that a nice way to describe my nearly two-year-old’s leaky poop?

So there’s all that hardcore scrubbing, me and her, some more kids, laundry. And – ‘Honey, I’m home!’

(When’s International Men’s Day?)

Oh, P.S. – I broke a nail.

Actually, make that two.

The pregnant working mother perseveres in the face of conf–erence.

Credit: The Real Jerusalem Streets

Credit: The Real Jerusalem Streets

A little while ago, I was approached to speak at a marketing conference for end-of-February in the new Hub Etzion shared workspace.

I was in the middle of other conference insanity, but January Liz was all like, shrug whatevs let’s do it so I agreed. Knowing fully that in another month I’d be presenting a marketing talk about audiences to an entire room of marketers – eight months pregnant.

So obviously last week, end-of-February Liz was like oh crap. I’m eight months pregnant. is that an excuse?!

It’s not. Not for me, not right now. So I’m glad I pulled through and didn’t go the route that comes naturally – opening with a stereotypical female apology, explaining that I need some slack cut considering I’m creating a human, bla bla.

I thought about it. I kept it in my back pocket while developing my talk. But by the time I was on the drive to the conference I knew I wouldn’t go there.

The last time I spoke at a conference, it was when I was pregnant with my second. Interesting, right? It was the beginning, I felt horrible, and was trying to hide it still. So no one actually knew. But I knew I had to pull through.

I’m lucky to live in a culture – especially the Israel -> startup -> Jerusalem scene – where mom-friendly is fairly normal, where even if things aren’t totally ideal, pregnant women aren’t a shock to see presenting at (or organizing) conferences.

I owe some of that to some of the most family-friendly bosses I’ve had in my career here. Including the CEO of my current company, who routinely encourages expansive working motherhood.

Considering I’m about to upgrade from a couple to a bunch (a gaggle? a murder?) of daughters, I’m going to give myself a pat on the back for spending the last year and a half attempting to figure out this whole nursing working mother/pregnant working mother thing.

By the way, BlueCon 2016 was a great morning spent with peers (thanks to BlueThread Marketing), and Hub Etzion (founded by women!) is a lovely beginning to something positive and encouraging growing in Gush Etzion.

*Sandberg!* and other things I got from work this week.

Self-Portrait. I call it, ‘Keeping Shit Together’

>clink!<

Here’s to my first full out-of-the-home work week (ok, 80% out-of-the-home) in three years.

Do I have observations? Yes, I have observations. Somewhere. Probably. Behind my droopy eyelids. Under the piles and piles of house mess I’m responsible for.

Obviously, there are pros and cons of working from home and working from an office.

But it’s the latter that’s made me go, Sandberg! .at least three or four times a day.

Sandberg, as in Sheryl Sandberg. Goddess of Facebook. Leader of Lean In. Mother of… at least one.

Sandberg.

Let’s take pumping. If breastfeeding is a beautiful, natural, most basic act of a mother sustaining her child, pumping is the ‘do I look like a cow in this?’ version.

Yes, honey, you look like a cow with two plastic cups at your breasts squeezing every drop of a substance that falls under the category of ‘bodily fluid’ into a container with bright yellow milliliter markings up the side.

Then you’re meant to button up, get back to your desk and analyze TPS reports.

Sandberg!

And in some cases, you may, uh, be doing that in an executive office.

That isn’t your own.

HowEVER, Sheryl (and Marissa, for that matter) – you never mentioned the commute! Well, not the traffic part or the crazy drivers. But the QUIET. The sweet sweet sound of silence in the form of engine revving and wheels rotating and you know what? I don’t even know what else goes on because in my head, there are just trees blowing in the wind and beautiful blue skies overhead and the occasional cussing out the guy in front of me, but even that is adult conversation.

I will say this for Sandberg… I may not have your money or stature, but at least I have a family-friendly culture backing me. And some decent female role models to talk to, within a relative arm’s reach.

It’s going to be hectic and insane and every breath seems as delicate as a spiderweb cliche, holding everything together. For now. (Until I think of a better cliche).

I hope your American female colleagues can say the same soon enough.

5 ways #KahenaCon got me pumped to go back to work

I signed up for KahenaCon soon after registration opened. Maybe even the day it opened. I really enjoy this conference for getting inspired in the kind of work I do, by hearing from others doing it and by the atmosphere we create when we get together. It’s a gathering of marketing professionals within the kind of environment that suits us – plenty of networking time, solid speakers, awesome lunch.

But this year I had an alternative motive – not only get inspired by the work I do, but get inspired to start looking for new work in my field. Looking for your next professional opportunity can be rough when you’ve just released a new add-on (parents, amirite?).

Newborn at home means new job hasn’t sounded as attractive as it should. It’s making me do a lot of thinking. Luckily, a marketing conference had its say today.

Here are 5 ways KahenaCon inspired me in the search for my next digital content marketing opportunity:

1. Ladies, ladies ladies. 

The conference kicked off this morning with two fabulous females: Joanna Lord, CMO at BigDoor and Kate Morris, digital marketing consultant at Distilled. There is just something so welcoming about this when you’re a lady at a conference.

To anyone rolling their eyes (ugh, why do ladies always mention ladies?)… too often in the startup/marketing/hi tech world, we don’t see enough women up there. And for KahenaCon to fly out and kick off with two of the best presenters out of the whole day, who happen to be girls? Makes me feel good about our profession, too.

2. We’re alone but we’re not alone…

A few minor points Joanna made in her keynote session, ‘The Loyalist Advantage’ might be the thoughts that resonated best with me today. They both validated my self-worth as a marketer and offered a healthy dose of nostalgia for when I worked for a larger company:

  • Sometimes it’s lonely when you’re a marketer in a bigger company. But at least we’re all in it together: Can I have budget? *No.* I made something out of nothing! Can I have budget? *No.* I could do this better, can I have a developer? *A developer for marketing?! No.*  
  • We jump in head first while the execs hang back. Someone has to for a company to survive… so there we are. First responders.
  • We’re chameleons – usually the only ones at a company who are evolving… and we also take it upon ourselves to evolve our colleagues and company, too.

3. Second life for the ‘struggling’ writers.

There’s a GIRLS story line this past season where Hannah ‘sells out’ working for an advertising agency and laments her disloyalty to her creative writer self. I totally got that but it’s also incredibly naive; if she moved over to digital marketing, she might see how much room we have to create.

And really, where else would we all be if it wasn’t for this professional space? We, the recovering English majors… the dime-a-dozen MBAs… the disillusioned former journalists (FYI, I qualify as only two of those things).

We got a second chance to be creative and make our own path in an ever-evolving profession. I think we done good and I’m ready to get back to the conference table.

4. My local marketing buddies.

This might be unique to Israel. We’re blessed with an intimate hi tech and startup community, which has created an even more intimate digital marketing community. I genuinely enjoy being a contributing member to this group and seeing my colleagues a few times a year so we can discuss tactics, method, and our dangerous habit of operating Twitter while high on coffee.

5. Pumping breastmilk in a conference room.

True story. A breastfeeding-friendly conference organizer is a sign of a mother-friendly professional culture which points to a wider family-friendly society. And I’m so, er, pumped to be a part of it and know that for the most part, I will be welcome as a working mom as much as the (likely) working parent who takes me on their team.

So… when I get those batteries charged for the daily pumping… time to get back to work!

Working mama.

It’s not a joke when they say working moms work two jobs. And it’s not funny that there is no solution to Israel’s absurd month of August problem.

So it’s been rough being a work-from-home-mom for the last few weeks. It’s been stressing me out, and I’ve absolutely been taking it out on the kiddies. It makes me regret going back when I did. It makes me feel awful. It makes me want to improve the situation because it can’t go on like that.

So in the last week, I’ve begun shifting the patterns. I’ve been collecting tips from peers in similar work stylings. I’ve been setting aside special focus time for each kid.

On occasion, each kid tries to empathize…