When is it Time to Lean Out?

The New York Times recently published a story about how Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Chairman Mark Zuckerberg are currently under fire for putting subscribers at risk during the height of the 2016 election. Sandberg, who is best known for Lean In, a “This is How You Should Do It” advice book for career women, has managed to juggle her career at Facebook and her own personal brand for more than a decade. After the tragic passing of her husband, she continues to be a highly successful career woman, author, speaker and mother. But could now be the right time to finally take her eyes off the prize and Lean Out for a change?

When my children were little and I was climbing the corporate ladder, I was all about Leaning In. I advocated for myself and was one of the first working mothers in our office to telecommute. I still managed to secure promotions but also changed certain aspects of my job to accommodate the needs of my family. While I was fortunate enough to afford childcare, I still chose family over work – especially when it came to emergency situations involving my husband or my children. During that time, I worked on some of the biggest shows in Network television and never missed a beat – except when I went into early labor right before May sweeps.

That’s the tough part about making it to the top of a major company if you are a working mom. Now picture the scenario if you’re a single working mom with two New York Times best selling books, traveling all the time, speaking all over the world and trying to save your company’s reputation after the 2016 election. That’s a tough job for a man but as a woman and a mother, it’s exponentially harder.

Recently, I was slated to speak at a conference and thought I’d be home in time to pick up my son from high school and walk the dog. Unfortunately, my time slot for my presentation moved from the morning to late afternoon and before I knew it, my carefully crafted house of cards came tumbling down. Sure, Uber can come through in a pinch if the app is working properly (it wasn’t that day) and to complicate matters, our dog walker was unavailable. Oh, and did I mention that right before I was supposed to start speaking, I got an urgent phone call from my daughter that she was headed to health services on campus because she was having excruciating stomach pains? Sometimes, even when you’re trying to focus on your career, life has a funny way of stopping you dead in your tracks.

One would suspect it would be easier to Lean In harder as your kids get older but the opposite is true. That’s the exact time they need you as they prepare to leave the nest. When they are in their adolescent years, teens may experiment with drugs and alcohol or combat mental health issues that could lead to anxiety, depression and even suicide. When your kids are on the verge of becoming adults, that’s when they need their parents to pay attention to what’s going on in their lives.

Back in the early 1990’s, young college grads like me were told we could have it all. A career where you can make it to the top of that corporate ladder and be a great mom too. But the reality is, it’s hard to juggle both at the same time. You can be great at your job but there are going to be times when you have to walk away so you can focus on your family. You’re still amazing at what you do, but one day, when your kids are older, they will appreciate the fact that you Leaned Out at work so you could Lean In more with them.

I have many friends who came of age during the “Working Girl” era and we all agree that no matter where our careers have led, we are happier knowing we have always managed to find a way to pursue our passions without shortchanging our kids in the process. One friend Leaned Out during her daughter’s grueling college application process. Another confided that she doesn’t want to be a department head in her company because she’d rather make it home in time each night to be with her family. A third recently walked away from her job completely because she hated what she was doing and didn’t want life to pass her by just because she was busy climbing to the top. Then there are people like my mom who had to give up a job that she loved when my grandmother’s bout with Alzheimer’s disease worsened and she could no longer be left alone for extended periods of time.

We all make our decisions to Lean Out when it makes sense for us. That doesn’t mean we’re not good enough and it doesn’t mean we are quitters. Many of the women I admire and respect are realists who have figured out that the meaning of life does not center around your career.

Recently, a dear friend lost one of his best friends to cancer. His name was Tom. Tom was a throwback to another era. He barely used technology and yet had a way of engaging with people that made the experience completely unforgettable. After his passing, Tom’s friends continue to share stories of how he has forever touched their lives – through his humor, his music, his giving heart, his voice and his wisdom. Tom connected with children, teens and adults and while he never made it to the boardroom, he has left his mark on countless lives and will never be forgotten.

As I contemplate what’s next in my own career, my thoughts keep going back to Tom. At the end of the day, success is not about Leaning In so you can have a seat in the boardroom. It’s about Leaning Out so you don’t miss out on the best things in life.

Sometimes Life is Like a Tea Kettle…

I don’t know about you, but my personality is just like a tea kettle. I can be even keel for awhile, and I navigate through life pretty well even when a few curve balls are thrown my way. But sometimes, things reach a boiling point and that’s when I blow.

via GIPHY

This coming week, I’m going to be hosting about 18 people for Thanksgiving. It started out with a pretty manageable group and that number has steadily grown with family coming in from Maryland, Michigan, Miami and now Boynton Beach. This past Friday, my parents, who had left early to head to Florida decided to fly back to New York so they could spend the holiday with us. Don’t get me wrong. I’m thrilled they’re coming, but know that things are now going to get a bit harried this week and my upbeat demeanor  is about to hit Defcon 4.

Out of our 18 guests, about 6-8 of them will be sleeping over so that meant I had to clean the entire house before they came. And trust me, while I can rock a powerpoint, a blog post and a press release, cleaning the house is not one of my favorite past times.

I also had to do the laundry and our dryer is on the fritz so that meant it would take double the time to dry everything (about six loads total). Oh and did I mention that one of my cats (this means you Hazel) peed on my comforter in our guest room and while I tried to wash it, it still smelled so I had to throw it out and get a new one? 

via GIPHY

Meanwhile, I had noticed that in my kids’ bathroom, strange black dots started appearing on the wall. Holy crap. Black mold. Actually, it was just condensation and dirt formed by never opening the windows. So early yesterday morning, my husband and I went to the supermarket so we could buy a 22 pound turkey, a few cans of yams and cranberry sauce and I could get cleaning supplies. Of course, we walked out of Stop & Shop spending over $300 in groceries, but it is the holiday and as my father in law always says, you can’t put a price on a good time.

Once we stocked the house with food and bleach products, my husband had to leave for the rest of the day for a meeting so I whipped into action. I proceeded to clean the kitchen and both bathrooms and even got the black gunk off the walls while wearing pretty latex pink gloves. I was rocking cleaning the bathroom even though I started to feel a little light headed from all that bleach.

After I opened some windows, I ran downstairs to do more laundry, fold clothes, pay some bills and corresponded throughout the day with my daughter who was coming home that night from college by way of Michigan (she decided to visit a friend for his birthday weekend), Philadelphia and then finally back to New York.  We started texting at 6am, I got another text at 11:00am when she got back to Philly, then another call at noon when she was at her apartment, then another one at 2:30 when she was on the train back to New Rochelle.

After I loaded another batch of laundry, put the clean dishes away, loaded more dirty dishes in the dishwasher, threw out the comforter and some old stuff in the fridge, I headed out again to buy a new comforter at Home Goods. The place was packed but I knew what I was there for. I passed the kitchen and dining section first and grabbed two fresh holiday tablecloths on the way over to the bedding department. Then I found a reasonably priced comforter and made my way to the register where I waited another 10 minutes in a long line that whipped around a few aisles. While waiting my turn and mindlessly checking my Facebook and Instagram feed, I glanced over at the items lining my way to the register and of course, had to impulse buy some decorative napkins since I was standing there for so long and was sucked in by the allure of things I really didn’t need to buy.

When I got back home, I put my pretty new comforter on the bed in the guest room and made sure to close the door behind me so the cat couldn’t get in again and wreck the place. I then went to the basement to fold laundry and my son then informed me he had to get a trifold poster board for his marketing class. Of course, it was due the next day. I instantly told him we should pick it up at that moment but he wanted to wait because he still had homework to finish. So I told him we should go in an hour because I had to get his sister from the train in two hours. He proceeded to stay upstairs for two hours and then I had to leave for the train but he still needed his poster board. 

And that’s when things reached a boiling point. I had actually been keeping it together pretty well but after putting in more loads of laundry and listening to our squeaking dryer, and folding everyone’s clothes, and cleaning black crap off the bathroom walls, and putting all the groceries away, and doing the dishes, and buying a comforter at Home Goods and waiting on a ridiculously long line, I finally blew my stack. I never yell at my son, but there I was arguing with him for not being more proactive with me. Why didn’t he come down the stairs like I had suggested so we could go out sooner to get his poster board? Instead, I insisted he come with me to get his exhausted sister from the train and made her wait in the car while we picked up the poster at Staples and then we all headed home and ordered in dinner because honestly, if I had to cook last night, I seriously would have lost it. How did housewives do it in the 50’s anyway?

I know I shouldn’t complain about having to clean my house but sometimes, when you are expecting a ton of guests for the holiday, the last thing you really want to do is clean the house, do the laundry, go grocery shopping, buy a new comforter at a store that’s packed with pre-holiday shoppers and track down a tri-fold poster board from Staples too. 

So yes, I blew my top when I shouldn’t have but my son forgave me because he’s a great kid and knows that I sometimes have a tendency to lose it when things get a bit stressful at home. We now have made a pact that when he’s assigned a project and needs supplies, he should just order it that day on Amazon Prime and we won’t have any problems. Come to think of it, next time, I’ll order my comforter from Amazon too. I actually ordered a slipcover for one of my chairs that has been mangled by Hazel – the same cat that peed on the comforter – hopefully it’ll get here before Thanksgiving so I can cover up her nasty habit of ripping my furniture to shreds.

And that dear reader is the story of the weekend I blew my top. I’m sure you probably have a few tea kettle stories of your own to share – especially around the holidays. While I’m grateful for family, this time of year just gets me totally stressed out and sometimes, like a tea kettle, I reach a boiling point and blow. But it’s okay. Today’s a new day and my son just informed me that all the lights in his bathroom went out. Time for some morning coffee, then I’ll shove another load of laundry into the dryer before I haveout to buy some bathroom lights.

Guess I better put the tea kettle back on the stove.

Go F**k Yourself Fridays: Phony B*tches

Since I’m now in my last year of my forties, I’ve decided to just go balls out with how I feel about people. And damn, does it feel good. So today, I dedicate this post to a topic that’s near and dear to my heart….phony b*tches.

Go F**k Yourself to the phony b*tch who always seems so nice when I see her in person but then shows her true colors with her passive aggressive political comments on Facebook. Wait, that does sound a little like me, but I swear I’m talking about someone else.

A big I SEE YOU goes out to the phony b*tch who purposely avoids making eye contact because she clearly doesn’t want to say hello. Listen up, if you keep looking in another direction you will not suddenly turn invisible. Suck it up and say good morning b*tch!

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To the woman in the nail salon who I’ve met about a dozen times at a mutual friend’s house but doesn’t seem to recognize me even though I’m sitting right next to her. Hello b*tch, it’s been a long time. Let’s catch up. Then again, let’s not.  

A big Go F**k yourself goes out to the distracted b*tch who really doesn’t care to have a conversation and is already looking over your head to see if there are more important people in the room she should be talking too.

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If you happen to see yourself in any of these scenarios, don’t worry, I really wasn’t targeting you. Being a phony b*tch can happen to the best of us. Just try to catch yourself next time you try to avoid people you really don’t care for. My solution is to just stay home and binge watch a Netflix series or make plans with people I actually like.

I’m a Little Bit Country…

I bet you’d never guess that a Jewish girl from Brooklyn loves country music but I have to admit, I have been a fan for more than 25 years and counting. It all started a long time ago when I was a junior publicist for “The Maury Povich Show.” Before the show became a “Who’s Your Daddy Fest,” Maury would feature entertainment guests and one of my favorite memories was the time our staff was flown to Nashville to produce a few shows while the CMA Awards were taking place.

I’ll never forget our talent booker Tricia Daniels attempting to hunt down Billy Ray Cyrus with a golf cart during the height of his “Achy, Breaky, Heart” fame. While she never did book Billy Ray, Tricia was able to land Clint Black and many more country stars on the show that week and I got to take Maury to his interviews on a few local Nashville TV stations.  I remember having an amazing group photo somewhere in my house and wish I could find it now because we all looked so young! Plus, so many of those hard working production team members went on to incredible careers and I am always blown away when I get to see them pop up on my Facebook feed.

A few years later, I landed a job at CBS and eventually got the chance to be the publicist for the CMA Awards. The team that I worked with at the CMA’s were nothing short of stupendous. Two of my favorite people in Nashville are Wendy Pearl and Scott Stem who led the public relations efforts on behalf the Country Music Association. Wendy and Scott are two of the nicest people I have ever met and no matter how stressful things got during the show, we always managed to laugh  the entire week and I couldn’t wait to come back year after year for more music, mayhem and excitement. 

One of the best moments ever was the year I brought my dad to Nashville and he helped out on the red carpet, handing water to Brad Paisley and many more country music stars. Dad even wrote a poem that he shared with Wendy and Scott called “The Jewish Cowboy.” Meanwhile, I invited legendary TV writer Jay Bobbin to spend the week with us in Nashville too and he got to experience what it was like to be a seat filler. Plus, thanks to Jack Sussman, one of my favorite television executives at CBS, Jay was able to get a one on one interview with the legendary Dolly Parton.

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I'm ready to see you all! #cmaawards50

A post shared by Dolly Parton (@dollyparton) on

There’s one thing I can say about country music artists. They are some of the most talented and nicest people you will ever meet. During rehearsals, I was always mesmerized by their effortless performances and when the show was live, it was amazing to watch the intricate stage movements and changes that took place throughout the telecast. There really isn’t anything that compares to being in the audience at the CMA Awards and I highly recommend a visit to Nashville and the Grand Ole Opry house so you can experience it yourself.

Enough of my trip down memory lane. Time to get back to watching the CMA’s. Even though it’s on a different TV network and my dear friends Wendy and Scott have since moved on to even bigger and brighter careers, I’m sure they are somewhere in the audience or backstage tonight reminiscing, smiling and laughing. My two Nashville friends have both figured out the secret to a great career. Do what you love with people you admire and respect and success and happiness are sure to follow.

Tuesday Wisdom: Trust Your Gut

Recently, I spoke at a conference for entrepreneurs and salespeople and was grateful to meet several individuals who are hard working, kind and optimistic about their future. I got to hear some really great stories – like the NYC realtor who used to sell property in Jamaica and even sold a home to Usain Bolt. Or the firefighter who donates a portion of his closing costs from his job as an associate real estate broker to families of firefighters affected by 9/11. 

There were dozens of people I met and I loved hearing why they decided to become entrepreneurs. But there’s also a type of person I always try to avoid at all costs. And that led me to post this on my LinkedIn page…

Maybe it has something to do with the political climate that we’re currently in but I am so tired of watching people behave badly that I’m just going to call it when I see it. Carly Simon said it best, so this one is for all the misogynists out there who probably don’t even realize they are being jerks.

And for those nice people out there who are grounded, grateful and authentic this one for you…

When you think about how you want to be remembered in life, it’s not going to be about the millions of dollars you amassed during your career. It will always be about the lives you touched along the way. Sure Oprah is a gazillionaire, but people hardly ever talk about her money. They talk about her incredible impact on the lives of those less fortunate. You can never manufacture authenticity.

Videos and Tweets That’ll Make You Smile…

There’s nothing like falling into the rabbit hole of Twitter and Facebook and stumbling across priceless videos and tweets that’ll cause you to spit out your morning coffee. Here’s a sampling of what I uncovered while trolling my social feed over the last few days. You’re welcome…

Cutest baby and kitten on planet earth…

Ridiculously cute…

Posted by Beth Feldman on Monday, November 12, 2018

I happen to live vicariously through the Facebook page of Jenny Lawson who is also known as The Bloggess.  Jenny is a New York Times best selling author with kids, cats and dogs that add to the every daily hilarity taking place at her house. Check out one of her latest cat videos and you’ll see what I mean…

He can’t sit in my lap while I’m drawing so he’s pouting.

Posted by Jennifer Lawson on Saturday, November 10, 2018

Classic tweet by Betty F**king White…

Another priceless tweet for the Queen of Mean Ann Coulter…

Grab a tissue because this one is going to make you cry…

Teen's gift brings classmate to tears

A teenage boy was brought to tears when a classmate surprised him at his desk with a random act of kindness https://cbsn.ws/2rebZxA

Posted by CBS This Morning on Thursday, May 3, 2018

Role Mommy…the Refresh

So I shared why I started blogging in the first place and when I took a trip down memory lane and began watching videos that I have produced over the last decade, I took a hard look at my blog and decided it needed a makeover. No more pinks and blues for Role Mommy. We’re all about the writing and the funny so you’ll get to read my witty or ranty posts right here from your laptop, your iPad or your phone – whatever your fancy, I’ll be serving it up on Role Mommy 3.0 (if that’s even a thing).

I’m a busy mom like many of you and I know that what I really want to read about are things that will take my mind off things like MSNBC or Fox TV. I mean, sure, I do keep a running feed of cable news throughout the day and those loud breaking news updates always gives me a bad feeling in my stomach, but that’s the reason why I knew it was important that we all take our mind off things for a change and read stuff that’s just about life and not politics.

So here’s to a place where you can go to escape. Find out how you can lose weight and still eat good food. Travel to great places on a budget. Cut to the chase and see a great movie because I’ve seen it first and I can tell you if it’s Oscar-worthy or a total dud. And I’ll be sharing lots of great career advice from my in-the-know friends because whether you’re a new mom or an empty nester, the reason I started this blog was because as parents, we should never lose ourselves in the process. You still have big dreams. You are still important. I know I’m starting to sound like that great scene from “The Help” — you are wise, you are kind, you are important — but I digress. Dammit, what I’m trying to say is you deserve to do what you love even if you have to get one kid to soccer practice, another to their math tutor and a third to dance team rehearsal…all at the same time while doing a conference call from your car.

So make it a great week Role Mommy and make sure to make time to do the things you love. Even if it’s singing in your shower before you have to wake your kid up for school. No matter what goes on in your life or around the world, you deserve a little escape from the crazy. Sing, dance, eat, paint, read or drink some great wine. Whatever you pick, if it puts a smile on your face, then my job here is done for the day.

Back to Blogging…

A long time ago before I even became a mom, I began reading books about what it was like going through pregnancy, childbirth and eventually child rearing. Like everyone else I know from back then, I initially bought a book called What to Expect When You’re Expecting, and truthfully, it scared the sh*t out of me. Every time I had a cramp, I thought something was going wrong. I freaked out about every stage of my pregnancy and when my daughter finally did arrive, I was one of those jumpy parents who would hover over her bassinet to make sure she was still breathing.

One time, during my first few weeks of motherhood, I was so dazed and confused after breastfeeding at 2am, I carried my daughter back into her room and accidentally bumped her tiny little head on the door frame. I was convinced I had knocked her unconscious and so, my husband grabbed a washcloth, drenched it in water and wiped her face with it. In an instant, she turned beet red and woke up crying. Crisis averted.

When it came to child #2, I loosened up a lot. I bought a new book, The Girlfriends Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth, and finally, I knew I had found my tribe. Spare me the fear, I was all about the funny. After that delicious read, I jumped into The Three Martini Playdate by Christie Mellor and realized that I loved this sarcastic take on motherhood so much that I was going to start writing about my life too.

From there, I began writing with a friend and we decided we were going to publish a book. Sure we didn’t know anyone who could actually publish it, but we were determined. We spent a summer in my basement, writing and laughing and eventually, Peeing in Peace was born. While it took us about nine months to actually find a publisher who would take a chance on us (thank you Sourcebooks), we eventually did while launching Role Mommy along the way.

Role Mommy has become a place where I have shared embarrassing stories about my kids when they were little (footnote: by the time they were 12, I was forbidden to share anything funny about them on my blog). I posted reviews of TV shows, films and products and also featured guest content from other parenting writers from around the web. And I produced dozens of incredibly memorable events. These days, my little site that could is serving up a dose of stories and sarcasm again. I’m back to doing what I love most – making people laugh, think and maybe even shed some tears along the way. And I’m working on some fun events again too.

So welcome back to Role Mommy if you haven’t been here in a while. And if this is your first time visiting, then hope you like what you see. I’m writing again from the heart about work, life and everything in between. Even though I’m practically an empty nester and I no longer have funny tales to tell about my kids, it definitely feels great to be doing what I love again.

Go F**k Yourself Fridays…The Road Rage Edition

Today, I’ve decided to dedicate this post to all the people in this world who seem totally oblivious on the road. See if you can relate to these scenarios..

Go F**k yourself driver in the extra large SUV Lexus truck who can never seem to park inside the lines at our local shopping center. When I have to slide back into my car like a gecko because you decided to go over the lines with your luxury yacht on wheels, you totally deserve it when I accidentally hit your side view mirror with my door.

Another shout out goes to the pedestrian who about five seconds earlier got out of her Lexus SUV/Truck and then walked into oncoming traffic without even looking where she was going. Pay attention lady and while you’re at it, go fix your piss poor parking job. And oh, Go F**k yourself!

Don’t even get me started on the Saturday cyclists. Seriously, every time you ride outside the bike lane or have a conversation while riding tandem 3-4 across and block the road, I want to open my window and stick my arm out so I can knock you over. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m an avid indoor cycler. But when I’m riding outside, I do whatever I can to ride inside the lines because I don’t want to get hit by a car. You’re not going fast enough for me to pass you on the road so for the love of drivers everywhere, MOVE the F**k OVER!!!

After merging onto the highway, I’m always careful to stay out of the left lane because there’s always that one a**hole who decides to ride my tail until I finally move back to my safe place (aka the middle). Seriously, left lane tailgaters, Go F**k yourself every time you try to play chicken with the car in front of you. I really wish there was an app that took a photo of your license plate and reported it to a cop so they could instantly pull you over for being a jerk. Hmmm, maybe I need to get started on that.

Go F**k Yourself people who hold parking spots for friends or family. That means you Alec Baldwin, who got arrested last week because he punched someone who innocently grabbed an open spot on a busy city street like any sane individual would do. Alec meanwhile got pissed because he was holding the parking spot for someone else. Isn’t Alec Baldwin a multi-millionaire? Why is he holding spots on a Manhattan street when he can just park in a garage and leave everyone alone? While I love your Donald Trump impressions Alec, your bully behavior earns you Go F**k Yourself  honors this week.

Finally, to the indecisive woman who cut me off and didn’t signal because she realized she wanted to make a right turn and almost caused an accident, Go F**k Yourself! Just because you are lost or confused doesn’t mean you can just ignore the car next to you and make a right turn. If you almost cause a fender bender because you think you’re the only car on the road, please leave your car at home next time around and take an Uber.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone and drive safe!

Melancholy Mondays

This past weekend, I found out that our friends lost someone very close to them, their lifelong friend Tom. I was lucky enough to have met Tom when our family tagged along on their annual summer vacation to Block Island. For the last three decades, they reunite with their high school friends where they relax at the beach, gather around a bonfire, shoot off fireworks, shop at the farmer’s markets in town and enjoy amazing lobster and lots of drinks.

But there’s even more to this picturesque New England beach island than the quaint stores, the sunshine and the ghosts (don’t even get me started on that one) some of the most memorable times we had on Block Island were because of Tom – or shall I say Pirate Tom for those of us who were lucky enough to see him in action.

Each summer, Tom would visit with his friends on Block Island and during that weekend, would transform into his stage persona, Pirate Tom. Dozens of kids and parents would gather around Pirate Tom as he embarked on a trek across Mansion Beach that would eventually lead to finding a buried treasure. With his booming voice, kerchief on his head, scraggly beard and white flowy shirt, Tom embodied the spirit of someone who had just stepped out from another time period. The moment he began to speak, we all became part of the adventure as he made us laugh and we cheered him on as he fought off another swashbuckler who attempted to steal the treasure trove of beads that were buried somewhere along the beach.

It was so much fun to see Tom entertain those kids and the group seemed to grow year after year to a point where some kids didn’t even know Pirate Tom but knew they definitely wanted to be a part of the action. No matter your age, if you witnessed a Pirate Tom performance, you walked away with a priceless summer memory.

There are not many people in this world who can touch people’s lives at any age but Tom had that magical gift. He was a bartender, a voice over artist and actor who relished the opportunity to tell stories while making people laugh and brightening their lives.

And that, my dear readers is what life is truly about. It’s not about having a fancy title next to your name or driving an expensive car or having a spectacular home. Life is about the people who make your days fuller and richer with love, laughter and adventure. Tom was that person and while he is gone, his legend will absolutely live on for generations to come. In fact, I think we’re going to take a trip to Block Island this summer to retrace those magical steps along the beach. While we may not find that buried treasure again, what I’ve come to realize is that Pirate Tom was the treasure all along. 

Pirate Tom – Legends are never forgotten