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.

State of the Workspace 2015: working from home vs working from an office

I’m at a point where I can say I’ve gone both ways, and, a year into my ‘new’ job, I can sum up my thoughts on working from home versus working from an office.

In no particular order, except that the first item on the list is OBVIOUSLY most important, here is my…

State of the Workspace 2015:

Clothes: Actually… It’s not as hard as I thought to fake it with clothes that feel like pajamas but play the part. Perhaps even harder than the ever elusive ‘work-life balance’ is this – the ‘feel good-look half decent’ balance. And about ten months in, I figured out concealer.

Audio enrichment: Podcasts while running in the morning – check. Podcasts while commuting in the morning – check. This category gets a tie.

Fitness: Now I spend the time I was running, driving. But I also spend the time I was sitting at a kitchen table eating, racing around the office to find people. The fact is, I really missing running. I miss feeling fit. I felt more fit during my third pregnancy while working from home than I do now.

Food: In this category, I lose either way. Why is food during work hours such a hassle?

Networks: Obviously working in an office with lots of different people connected to other different people is better for making connections, getting fresh air, and practicing my native skills of empathy and tolerance. Well, some of the time.

Coworkers: From home, I worked for a ’boutique’ marketing agency, learned a lot about the business, worked on very different projects, experienced client relationships and sharpened a lot of skills. I was working with a tiny team of people I’ve worked with for years before – we knew each other very well. And Skyped daily. But I always knew – introvert that I am – that I missed having a team in my vicinity. Knocking on other people’s doors (or barging in as the case may be), striking up conversations over coffee. Part of that is the fortune of working with great people. Part of that is – introvert that I am – I do require human interaction in doses. Like vitamin D.

Parenting: You know what – in a weird way, working in an office wins. You’d think that being home all day means when you pick up the kids you have way more energy to spend with them. But I find it to be the opposite. I was a drag as a WAHM. I was done by 4pm. Now, I’m still on at 4pm. And 6pm. I’m tired, of course. And I have way less time for the random stuff I used to do for the kids. But the quality of the time and my mood is way better. And I can be amusing and silly way easier with the energy floodgates opened.

Boundaries: I didn’t have as much opportunity to push boundaries. I had some – working with clients taught me a lot, both business-wise and skills. It did push me. But being around dozens of people and solving tactical problems while solving people problems while keeping my shit together at a constant rate is a whole other skill set. Which, it turns out, I already had from the pre-WAHM days. I had just forgotten.

Happiness: When I took my current job a year ago, I knew all hell was breaking loose. The hours. The commute. The energy. The sacrifices. How would I manage it all? But as absolutely insane as it was to be thrown in the deep end right from the gate – I was growing happier. And then I realized – working from home wasn’t working for me. There are a lot of benefits, and a lot of things I miss.

And then, this past winter, those days it was pouring outside, and I’d think, ‘who the hell would choose to go outside for any reason today?’ but I’d still push myself to get dressed and get in my car and wish for the WAHM lifestyle… well, those days did always come to an end.

I’m simply… happier now than I was then.

Seriously, I think it’s the vitamin D.

So, State of the Workspace 2015: I’m sure I’ll work from home again. I’m sure I’ll work in different offices, too.

But after three years at home, I’m happy to be doing something different.

5 metaphors that describe my working motherhood right now

Just for fun, because I just finished working and it’s after 10pm, here are five metaphoric-idiomic examples I can think of off the top of my head that describe my experience right now as a fairly career-driven, family-driven, career driven, family driven, career and family driven working mom.

  1. I’m on a roller coaster that in theory could stop, but I can’t reach the lever, and the fact is, I kind of don’t want to reach for the lever, because I’m a sado-masochist curious about where this will stop.
  2. The chicken comes first. Also, the egg. Both come first. And you rule the roost. Both roosts. You rule all the roosts even when you’re pooped.
  3. Most of the time, it’s about keeping your head above water. Sometimes you just have to hold your breath and jump in, feet first. Sometimes it’s not you jumping in, but your kid, at his swim lesson, while you’re scrambling to organize a press release.
  4. The ball is in my court. Constantly. But my hands are tied. And now my wrists are tired. And also my face. My face is tired.
  5. There is no such thing – for anyone, ever – as sleeping like a baby.

And with that, Slack is buzzing and some kid is stirring and cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon…