I was the first woman ever to be pregnant at Firstborn, a New York digital agency. Before I made the announcement, I was filled with anxiety. How would my bosses react? Would people treat me differently? Would I be written off as someone who couldn't handle her job anymore? Would I still fit in?
My daughter is now 17 months and I'm still happily working at Firstborn. Since then, I've learned a thing or two and, while I'm no expert, I can share some knowledge with any would-be agency moms.
This "You Can Have it All" stuff is a crock.
You can be a great mom and have a successful career, but you never get to "have it all" at the same exact moment. One minute, you may feel like you're kicking ass at work, but you've plopped your kid in front of the TV because you have to take a conference call. Another moment, you may have to miss an important meeting because your kid is sick, but you get to snuggle your babe and kiss her sweaty head to make her feel better. You rarely get moments when you feel like you're a super woman at both. In those fleeting milliseconds, I encourage you to tell people how amazing you are. Because you are friggin' amazing.
Acceptance is the key to life.
Learning to accept what you can't control is one of life's great lessons. This is especially true for a NYC agency mom and it's one I have to remind myself of several times a day. There are so many variables on any given day that I would go mad if I tried to make them all go my way. Whereas I used to plan my life and fret about the future, now I literally take things day by day. I have enough to worry about because I am, like, keeping a human being alive, so I've stopped overstressing about a project's timeline or if my subway broke down or if I can do it all. I can. It will be fine.
You can do anything. Really.
One day, I had to get a passport for my daughter. When we got to 31st Street, I realized it was THE post office -- the old one in the movies with stone steps, no ramp and no elevator -- and I had taken the stroller. I strapped my daughter into the baby carrier and dragged the stroller backwards up the thirty-one steps. I then had to shove the whole mess through a rotating door, only to have the meanest lady alive tell me that I had to go back across the street to photocopy my license. She swiftly changed her mind after my series of obscenities and my daughter screamed in her face. When we were finished, I dragged us back down the steps and yelled, "What else you got, New York?" at the bottom. OK, I didn't yell that, but in my movie version, that's what I would have yelled. My point is you can be one tough mutha when you have to be.
If you're the only mom, great.
Just in case you didn't know, a million brands want to target moms. And if you're a mom, you're an expert on being a mom. So, everyone wants you on the great mom brands. Which is fine by me because I could talk about mom stuff all day long.
It's OK to do things your own way.
Like the rest of the agency world, I worked all hours until the work was done-ish. I went out for drinks with coworkers whenever there were drinks to be had. Now I'm on a schedule because I have a whole other important "job" as soon as I get home.
I decided that I wasn't going to stick out like a sore thumb and I was just going to own being different. I work really hard during the day -- harder than I've ever worked. I pick my kid up from daycare. You can't be late because A. they charge you and B. you are the horrible parent whose kid is crying because they think you're never coming to get them. Then, sometimes I work from home at night. I always get everything done; it's just done with a big baby break (filled with baths and poop and night-nights) in between. I've had to leave meetings early to pump, or because my kid hit her head at school or because I realized I had spitup on my shirt. This is all part of the miracle of life and I deal with these things as they come.
It takes a village.
It's hard to work at a demanding job and be a mom, and it's so important to work for an agency that's supportive. Everyone at Firstborn is amazing and I don't know what I would have done without the support. We figured it out together from my maternity leave to my first weeks back to my new life as an agency mom. If you work for a place that isn't supportive, there are a lot of agencies in the sea.