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Friday, July 15, 2011

My balance: Amanda Hesser of Food 52

Amanda Hesser co-founded the addictive website Food52 all about home cooking. A former New York Times food reporter, she has written cookbooks and memoirs, including Cooking for Mr. Latte about her adorable courtship with her husband. (Have you read it? I'd highly recommend it if you want a great, fun read this summer). They live in Brooklyn with their twins, Walker and Addie. Here's how she attempts to balance it all...

*****

1. What's your work schedule?
My days usually begin around 7:30am, when my husband wakes me up to do yoga. I am not a morning person, so I try not to be fully awake for yoga or it would be too painful. We do Rodney Yee DVDs on my laptop in our bedroom. Just 20 to 30 minutes. If our kids wake up, they join us and crawl between our legs. Our babysitter arrives at 7:30 during the school year and gives them breakfast while we shower and dress. I'm out the door usually by 9:00.

I'm a big fan of breakfast meetings. Two birds, one stone. Eat and meet. There's a great café, Taralucci e Vino, near our office. I usually have their delicious cinnamon bun, fresh-squeezed orange juice, and a latte.

At the office, our days are packed with meetings--fun ones! Meetings with investors, designers, potential hires, and other companies. Our office has a bunch of sofa "pods" and we have lots of meetings, calls, naps in the pods. It's the office equivalent of a womb. (Two of these facing each other.)

In between, I email and email and email. Sometimes I think that all I do is email. We have a small team--just 8 of us--and we all sit at one long desk, so there are lots of spontaneous discussions, as well. Micro-meetings! Did I just coin that? The micro-meeting might be about functionality on our site, what our next recipe theme should be, or how to structure a partnership.

I usually eat lunch at my desk. Snooze! I know. But I like to catch up on the news--and the lunch is most often from 'wichcraft. Today I had an asparagus frittata on ciabatta bread. 'wichcraft has a half-price coffee happy hour in the afternoon, and we never, ever, ever miss it because we’re hard-core addicts. It's also located right down the street from Burdick Chocolate, and that keeps us well fed and plump.

I work until 6:30, and a couple nights a week I go out to events in the evening. If I can, I'll zip home to see the kids to bed between work and events. Then I usually get back home around 9:30, eat leftovers, drink a bourbon, and then work until 1am. On the nights I'm home early, I get in at 7 and hang out with our kids until they go to bed at 8pm. Then we eat a quick dinner and work until 1 am. Summary: we kind of work all the time.

2. How do you handle childcare?
Our kids are our babysitter's fifth set of twins. She's both unflappable and indefatigable. She works long days, like we do.

3. Where do you work during the day?
One day a week, we cook and do a photo shoot in my apartment. The rest of the week we work at our office near Union Square. It's a place called General Assembly. The guys who founded it wanted to create a campus for start-ups, and that's exactly what they've done. It's an inspiring place because everyone there is working hard to create something new. It's also well-designed and stylish. Maybe it's shallow, but I like a nice office.

4. What do you like best about your current set-up?
I love that I get to see my kids on Tuesdays when we're doing a photo shoot. They zip in and out over the course of the day, tasting the recipes, playing with toys, tapping on our laptops.

5. What do you find so-so/tricky/hilariously bad about your current set-up? What would you change if you had a magic wand?
We do a lot of our food photos in my bedroom on my bedside table--it has the best light. It's more than a little strange to have a photographer and other co-workers romping around your bedroom when you're not in the porn business.

6. What's your favorite part of your work?
Problem solving--starting a company demands every ounce of creativity and resourcefulness you have and I love that.

7. What's your favorite part of your home life?
Sitting on the sofa with my husband and our two kids, reading together.

8. How does your husband contribute to managing the juggle/house/childcare?
My husband Tad doesn't just contribute. We're partners. If anything, I'd say he's even more on top of it all than I am. And I should work on making it more even.

9. How do you and your husband fit your marriage to the balance, in terms of hanging out together?
We try to go out once a week together for dinner or a movie. The other nights of the week, one of us is often out, and, if not, we hang out and work after the kids go to bed.

10. Do you have time for yourself? What do you do during that time?
I have a family I love, and a job I truly enjoy, and I know that this is a particularly busy time in my life, so I'm not looking for or expecting much time for myself.

11. What advice would you give to other moms about how to balance work and life?
My advice would be to stop thinking about it as a gender issue. Think of it as a parent issue. And demand as much from your partner as you demand from yourself.

12. Do you wonder how other women manage the juggle? Do you think people are open about it?
What I wonder is why no one asks my husband how he juggles? It's not fair to him--because he juggles just as much as I do. And why there is not a blog like this for men?

Thanks, Amanda!

(Second photo by Sarah Shatz)

96 comments:

Lizzetta said...

Oh! What a smart point she makes about how the challenge of juggling childcare and work should be a "parenting" and partnership question, rather than a "mom" question. How refreshing!

Sandra - If it comes in pink said...

I agree with Lizzetta! And the kids are cute :D

Katie said...

I like how it seems like she and her husband share the responsibility of the kids equally. I don't see why traditional gender roles have to apply, especially when both parents are working. It's not like their jobs are gender specific.

nickandnoragettingmarried said...

Great interview--I love Amanda's last point of wondering why no one asks men how they juggle, because lots of dads have that issue as well.

Also, that last picture is adorable! Love the faces.

Monique@Dikke tante Kee said...

Hello Joanna,

I realy want to leave a comment because the issue you have taken to discuss is just the thing I am dealing with now. Also I think it's really important that woman open up on this and support eachother instead of 'keeping up appearances'

I find it very hard to find a balance between work and family being a single mom, trying to work at the things that give me energy (www.dikketantekee.nl and starting up in styling) and (finding) work for making money.

I've got a 8 yr old boy (Tom) and a 5 yr old girl (Pip) It is getting easier with them getting older but still it's a struggle. Do you have a single mom in your balance-blogs?

Love your blogs!

Monique

Carly said...

This was a vert refreshing and exciting interview! Well done! I have no kids yet but have lately been wondering about a lot of these questions and how that aspect of my life will look if I choose to open my own business. I am very thankful for this insight!
Amanda, you rock for thinking of your husband on that last question! Way to point that out! What a woman :)
-Carly
www.createliveblog.com

Anonymous said...

I think this is so smart.

But also -- somewhat easier if both parent work outside the home. It's a little clearer cut: nanny arrives, we both leave, we both come home 8+ hours later, nanny departs, and we alternate the cooking dinner/playing with kids hour and then the cleaning up/bath and bedtime hour.

I think the work at home moms are the ones in a pickle. That's more a balancing act. More a "can I afford some childcare when I dont' bring in much money" question.

Anonymous said...

First- thank you thank you for doing this. AWESEOME SERIES.
Second- the two women that point out that balance is a parent issue- not a mom issue- RIGHT ON!
Third- these lives all seem so full and beutiful and, well, just a little glossy- you know? Can we add a question re the crash and burn? Am I the only one that finds that a couple times a week the careful schedule turns into STRESS and i'm yelling at my daughter for peeing on the floor beside the potty (the potty is RIGHT THERE!) or wanting to smack a client upside the head for changing their mind about what they want for the 100th time? That's not just me- is it? PLEASE?

Carrie said...

Those kids are too cute

Anonymous said...

I think this is sad. It sounds like the children rarely see their parents, even for dinner.

R @ Learning As I Chop said...

I am LOVING these posts. Especially as a mom-to-be who also lives in Brooklyn. I've been using my pregnancy as an excuse to slack on my blog (exhaustion etc) but now I realize that it can be done! I feel inspired.

Anonymous said...

I'm torn on this one. She hardly sees her children. I don't think that means that she's damaging them - I'm sure they get enough love, but I imagine it's pretty easy to juggle work and child care when your solution is to pay a babysitter for 14 hours a day.

CRH said...

Amanda makes really good points about building a career you love and equality between two working parents. I have a hard time finding the balance though in her life because it seems like she defers to the baby-sitter to handle many of the day-to-day activities with her children. I think it is valuable for children to see their parents enjoy their work and work hard. I just know that her kids wont be kids forever and this time is precious. I guess what I am saying is that I wish more office and careers would be more flexible and accepting of kids on the job.

Anonymous said...

Well, to be blunt, this seems to be more about juggling a busy work schedule than balancing work and raising your children.

Janna said...

Although it seems like Amanda sees her children less than the other guest bloggers, the woman is a powerhouse. The work never seems to stop for her.

Dhila Backstrom said...

I commend all single mothers out there balancing work and life. I'm extremely blessed to have my husband with me who helped me in so many levels (physically, mentally, financially) and I cannot imagine raising our son and working a full-time job at the same time...alone!

My youngest sister has 4 kids (2 boys, 2 girls), working full-time, going to school and yet still manage to get the kids to soccer, chess club, boys/girl scout. I often disagrees with her parenting style and watching her command her kids and runs the household almost military style almost made me feel sorry for the kids. But these kids are the best kids you'll ever come across if you know the circumstances that she is currently in. The kids are extremely happy and love their mother dearly. She excelled in both roles as a mother and a father.

I guess what I'm saying is, just because you have a different way of raising your kids, you really have no place to say and judge how others raise theirs. Take the time to put yourself in their shoes and imagine how you would react to these circumstances and be blessed with what you have because others may not be as blessed as you are but they definitely make do.

suzie said...

She might be a powerhouse, but why have children if you never see them?
So sad.
She seems like the only one in this series who didn't emphasize how much more she would like to see her children, yet she sees them the least.
Again, why have children?

Patricia said...

Very nicely written and insight, but personally I've always felt having children is a decision you need to be ready to make sacrifices for...that includes needing and having to open up your time to give the proper attention and interaction to the children. Much like a pet, "you have to be home enough" , and children are obviously more imprinted than a dog or cat.

http://www.pinkpeonieswithlove.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

I am really enjoying these posts. They all speak to me directly as a single working mom. But they all seem kind of sad.

This one seems like she only sees her children for an hour a day, if that. Lots of the posts mention working while husband has kids; when do they all see other together? And in ALL of the posts the main strategy of the moms center around getting very little sleep.

How can they maintain their cool at work and with kids and husbands under these circumstances. And also, how long will their health hold up under such a grueling schedule?

It does not seem to me that you are really achieving life/work balance if you are constantly sleep deprived.

Sarah Jane said...

I don't think anyone would have a problem if you just threw a full-time at home nanny at the problem! Shame not everyone has the luxury and funds - or maybe they prefer to actually see their children every now and then!

Amy E said...

These comments seem a bit unfair, I assume she sees her children on weekends and as much as she can during the week. If she were a nurse or doctor who worked 12 hour shifts, or a lawyer or banker who worked even more than that, would people also be saying what's the point of these women having kids? I admire her for building her business and showing her kids she's not afraid to be creative and successful, that Moms can do this too, not just Dads.

Em {orange + barrel} said...

I don't have kids but I would imagine this is more what our situation would look like. I love her attitude -- my favorite is the look at parenting as a parent issue and not a gender issue, I couldn't agree more.

Hannah E said...

To me, it sounds like both of them work too much. My mom and dad both work long days (and each drives at least an hour to and from work) and they still managed to make it home for family dinner every night when I lived at home. It seems to me that if you can't see your children for a significant time everyday, you either shouldn't have had children (because they probably feel neglected or more attached to the babysitter) or you should cut back on how much you are working and realize that family should be your number one priority, not your job. I love my parents, but I probably wouldn't want to converse with them like friends if they were just people that walked in and out of my life for an hour a day.

jenna @ sweetfineday said...

wow. I am really disheartened to read some of these comments questioning Amanda's parenting and work balance. This is ultimately in the end why women will never truly be supportive of each other because we tend to rip each other apart when someone's lifestyle and choices are not aligned with ours.

Our lives aren't sad, as one anonymous commenter have said. What's sad is that we can't hold back our judgements instead of trying to understand that there is no one right path for everyone. No one has a right to judge or hurl such hurtful comments as some of the ones I'm reading here.

This makes me sad.

Closet Cravings said...

I'm exhausted from just reading about her week. She sounds like she's busy nonstop, but she sounds fulfilled and happy too. =)

Need it? Want it? Crave it? Satisfy Your Cravings For Celebrity Style and All Things Stylish and Sweet

teeny84 said...

@jenna: you're so, so right. I think it takes a lot of guts to post about yourself, your kids and your daily struggles on a blog like this. No one deserves to be ripped apart or judged for trying hard to be the best parent they can be. Kudos to Amanda and her beautiful family.

Jessica said...

I have a very sad, empty feeling after reading this. Yoga, nanny feeds the kids breakfast, weekly date, events most nights. It's almost like they don't want to see their children. My husband was raised by a mom with a schedule like this. She wonders why he doesn't have a desire to see her much. He just says "you weren't there for me when I needed and wanted you and I don't feel a connection to you now that you're retired and actually have time for me."

Anonymous said...

I disagree that the commenters are "ripping each other apart." Stating your opinion on the piece is not an attack, it is simply your opinion.

If it stings a little, maybe it's time to ask why.

Leah W. said...

I really appreciate this entire series especially since the work-life balance is personal, challenging and in this day and age, completely different than my parents notions. As a fellow Brooklynite, I really appreciate the honesty of this entry and as a professional who also spends 14 hours a day working, the sharing of reality here. The costs of childcare and the decisions to work are not easily made. Thank you so much for this series and the other entries that speak on following your dreams professionally and creating a life that works too.

Anonymous said...

Amanda, you have my dream life. I hope to one day achieve a fraction of what you have! Beautiful family and congratulations on all your successes. You are my favorite food writer.

Tiffany | Wedding Flowers Co said...

What a nice interview, the part of n obody asking men is veru interesting... good point! Loved the children! ;) Tiff

Kate said...

I too was left feeling off after reading today's entry. I felt like she makes appointments to see her kids. It sounds like they're with the hired help nearly 24/7. I try not to judge, and I know that everyone tries to make the best choices for themselves and the family, but I was left feeling a bit sad at the way she describes her relationship with her kids. Again, just my opinion responding to what was presented today.

K said...

I feel like Amanda has more of what's traditionally the male relationship to work and family -- and, I find that admirably progressive. If there WERE a blog or interview series for dads, as Amanda suggests there should/could be, I think A LOT of those interviews would read like this -- IF, and only if, the partnership were as equal as this one. Many of the interviews would likely feature the many tasks the wife takes on, and people would be able to latch on that inequality and criticize it.

When work is important to a person, that doesn't mean their love for family doesn't come through. My father worked quite a lot when I was young, but I loved him dearly. These twins are going to have amazing memories, I'd wager, of a vibrant, driven, accomplished, and loving mother.

Anonymous said...

Are having children worth all this stress and guilt?

Laura said...

I think people are right to judge someone who doesn't spend time with their children, as we've all seen the results of children who come second to their parent's career. Though, I don't think it is fair to judge someone from one interview.

Those babies will grow up in a blink of an eye. Pushing guilt aside because it can be called a "social construct" is just another way to get around an innate conscience or intuition about what your child really needs.

Anonymous said...

The phrase "have your cake and eat it too" comes to mind when I read this. I have to agree with many others who questioned why you have kids if you never see them. So sad. I'm glad the kids are happy, but they must miss their Mommy often!

nichole said...

I wish women would stop and pause before firing off a quick judgement based on one interview, and be more careful with words, because "honest" comments may cause a loving, caring mom a lot of pain.

A reader can post a comment in a minute or two and then forget about it/think about something else. But Amanda? Does anyone really think the sting from these comments will be fleeting?

Having been on both sides of the fence, I can attest to wanting to bang my head against the wall when home with two kids all day, and then missing my sons like crazy (so much that I thought about quitting many times) when I was with a client all day. Extremes are never easy, but neither is working from home and balancing it all (what I do now). I've yet to talk to any woman who has it all figured out. Not one.

Motherhood isn’t about who has it harder, who sees their kids more, who succeeded the most, or who has the toughest schedule, so why to we reduce it to that?

And I can't imagine what a single mom feels reading these comments.

Anonymous said...

In response to K:

And If it were a man who had shared this I would be rubbed the wrong way as well. So often I feel like we try justify certain things using the excuse "oh, if this were a man, no one would have given it a second thought." I knew when I married that I wanted a husband who felt that his family was a priority and a schedule like this would not be acceptable (which is not to say that I want to criticize this family. I choose to believe that most people genuinely love their children and make the best decisions they can under present circumstances. And what works for me is probably not what works for others and vice versa). I liked this interview in which this successful man shared how he scaled back on work to be a more present father:
http://momfilter.com/we-want-to-know-more-about/david-netto

Amanda said...

You can listen to these for free.

http://www.gty.org/Shop/Audio+Series/52_The-Fulfilled-Family

Sarah said...

I agree with Nichole. It's time we stop bashing other women and starting building them up. Nothing can be gained from judging someone else's life. Especially when it's based on one short interview.

Some families have unconventional routines, but that doesn't mean those twins don't adore their parents or that the parents don't spend enough quality time with their kids.

My mom was a single parent who worked two jobs as a nurse in an ER while also going to medical school full time. She was in school from the time I started 3rd grade until I graduated high school. Yes, her schedule was hectic but she made a point to make sure we knew that we were the things in her life that she loved the most. I also grew up with a sure sense of how important it is to make yourself happy-career wise and personally. I genuinely loved my unusual childhood and many people love to hear the tales of ER slumber parties and the like. The twins will have similar stories of Tuesday photo shoots and the like.

Amanda is finding the balance that works for her AND her family. You can bet that if she thought her kids were suffering, she'd do something else.

Sarah said...

I think a lot of the "off" feelings about this interview are because people were expecting to read about attempts and strategies to find "balance" in work/career and motherhood. Amanda's contribution to the conversation was more of an unapologetic description of no balance, of diving 150% into career and describing what that looks like. We should respect a woman's right and choice to prioritize her career, and I think people would be expressing less judgment if they thought they were reading a series on "a day in the life of a busy career" rather than "balancing work + motherhood". Honestly, if she *had* to work these hours for financial reasons, people wouldn't judge - what they find hard to swallow is that she's choosing it, without guilt or apology. We need to accept a woman's choice to embrace her career, hire a good nanny, and see her kids mostly on the weekends. Women fought for years for their daughters and granddaughters to be able to make these choices - now that we have the choice, let's not tear down those who exercise it.

Anonymous said...

(fyi - two different Sarah's in the comments above)

Anonymous said...

I agree with many of the above comments - so, you only see your kids a total of... 1.5 hours a day?? I think it's a sad world when a person prioritizes work so far above their own precious children, even though, as mentioned in another comment, women have 'fought for' and 'earned' the right to do so. "Balance" is what we should be after here, right? So move to a smaller house, half your mortgage, drive a used van or something, and spend some time with the children you brought into this world. Kids are not pets, they aren't goldfish you just sprinkle some food into the water for as you rush past.

Ellen said...

I also find this sad. And that's not 'hurling judgment', that's just my response and the point of putting an interview like this out there is to open honest discussion, is it not?

It sounds like Amanda has a lovely life in many ways, one she has the right to choose. But I personally feel that if a person (male or female) makes the choice to have children, they are committing to adjusting their life to raise their children. That doesn't mean they should never get outside help. But if they almost never see the kids and someone else is raising them, why not let someone else have the kids (it's not required) and have the beautiful career you're going for?

I have a lot of respect for women who make the choices in career that prioritize their kids. It does not sounds like Amanda is working like this to survive, which is of course a difficult scenario.

All I'm saying is, she certainly has the right to choose. But like many others, it makes me sad for the kids, who certainly sound like they are on the back burner. Shouldn't children have a 'right to choose' whether they want to know their mommy?

Amen to Anonymous 2:20pm... that's exactly what I'm trying to say here.

immaculate said...

I find most of these comments regarding Amanda's life and family to be incredibly unfair, likely very hurtful to her and her family, and ridiculously judgemental.

I am SURE that neither Amanda, nor Tad, nor the very lovely and capable babysitter they probably very carefully searched for, are treating the children like goldfish, or making them feel unloved.

Working hard to create a financially stable and interesting life for your children, seeking out the best way for YOU, while managing to be creative, independent, have a relationship, manage employees, and have your own life - how can that be seen as a disgraceful thing? I think she is AMAZING (much in the way that I find all these mothers and fathers amazing), she is providing for her children, showing them a role model of a strong woman, and not bending to the whims of whatever current society is saying women should do.

What is it about women that we feel the need to so quickly judge other women's choices? If what works for you is staying home, that doesn't make you less intelligent or independent or amazing, but it also doesn't make you more of a superstar than a woman who wants to work and create a life for her kids where she can give them anything.

Would you judge a single mom for working her butt off, and relying on family or a great babysitter, instead of living in poverty and putting her child to bed every night? Likely not.

Would you judge a "normal" middle class family, where both parents worked, but they just couldn't send their kids to the very best of schools, or travel to see the world? Probably not.

So why judge a family that has the good fortune to have careers that are meaningful to them, enlist someone they trust to help, and do the best that they can.

Bravo to Amanda and Tad and their babysitter for making your life what you want it to be, raising beautiful kids that will have chances in life that some of us could only dream of, as well as being strong male and female role models for your kids, and women like me who want a career, a family, a house, a relationship, and a vibrant life.

I too aspire to do it all (family, career, beautiful house, cook for my family and friends, travel, teach my kids to volunteer, sustain beautiful friendships, etc etc) and I will fall down sometimes, and sometimes I will succeed.

But when I fall, or when I am unsure, I would like to think that I will be surrounded by women who will aim to understand that I am doing what works for me, and help pick me up. People, show a little empathy before you hit send, and realize that we're all different for a reason. Your choices work for YOU, hers work for HER.

Ellen said...

Immaculate - her choices may work for HER, but I have a hard time believing that they work ideally for her CHILDREN. We talk a lot about women having choices - but what about the choices of the children? Because just about every child wants parents who are present in their lives for more than a brief daily appointment. (As mentioned in my past comment, I understand that sometimes survival means working non-stop, which is not ideal, but necessary. But that does not appear to be the situation here.)

We choose to bring these little people into the world and if we make that choice, we should know that our following choices will be affected, perhaps limited, for the good of those children we decided to make. I know that isn't popular thinking, but good parenting involves selflessness. We might think that WE can have it all... but does our child have it all? I would posit that a child whose parents are generally unavailable would not feel like he "has it all".

Deborah said...

This interview made me sad myself. Not sad that she is choosing a full time career, but when asked the question of what is difficult or what she would say is hard, it wasn't that she would like more time with her children or wished to see her kids more. I think at the end of the day we never will look back and say we wished we worked a little more, but rather we wished we had more time with our children. In an hour a day I don't think you can really know who your kids are and be the influence on them that parents are obligated to be.

I am glad that she is happy with her choices, but I don't know how that can be truly 100% authentic. It just sounds like there is no regret or doubts being away from her children as much as she is. And I get the whole father is an equal partner. That is true in our household as well. But mamas are mamas, there's just no changing that. :)

Anonymous said...

Wow. This is amazing. I love how she accepts her work and family life and sounds like she is fully involved and loving it all. It is a fantastic thing to hear the voice of a fulfilled working woman and mother who has a great partnership with her husband. Very inspiring!

I also love that she is not a morning person. Neither am I.

Dana said...

the number of judgmental comments in all these interviews, though perhaps most pointedly in this one, makes me sad. it's not our place as observers to decide that these children's needs aren't getting met. i think we can all agree that being a working mother is incredibly difficult and while i might not make the same choices as the interviewees, that doesn't mean their choices are wrong. there is more than one way to be a good mother.

Alex said...

Ellen - You ask "what about the choices of the children?" Parents make decisions for their children everyday based on what they believe is best for them; it's pretty much the definition of parenting. As a parent, you decide whether or not to breastfeed, whether or not to home-school, whether or not they should take ballet, all without consulting them. Amanda and her husband clearly lead fulfilling lives and their children seem happy and well-adjusted. Just because it's not your lifestyle choice does not give you creedence to deem it a poor choice for their children.

Amanda said...

I think Proverbs 31 is the best example of a woman with balance.

Ellen said...

Alex,

A parent who is regularly not home during the waking hours of their children is making a rather different choice than a parent who decides to put their child in ballet, feed them breastmilk or formula, or do home or public school. The latter choices convey involvement with the children, the former conveys the opposite.

I have in no way been attempting to tell Amanda what to do. Also, as I said in my first comment, I think there are many lovely things about her life which were highlighted by the interview. However, like many others, I found the interview sad and I don't think that it is inappropriate to have open discussions about the varying beliefs on this topic.

I'm sorry that things like this evolve so quickly into arguments. I suppose it is because we all feel strongly about this kind of topic. But I do hold to the belief that clearly enunciating an opposing viewpoint to a public article does not automatically make a person 'judgmental' and I resent that tag. A great deal of child psychology and research would stand behind the comments I have made and I believe they are worth making in this sort of responsive forum.

Ellen said...

And to Amanda - we clearly differ on our beliefs about parenting, but I have no doubt you love your children. I appreciate your willingness to share such an interview, I'm sure knowing (as I would expect if I chose to do so) that open and varied discussion would result.

Anonymous said...

I was pretty sad after reading this entry. I always wonder what kids think about having two professionally successful parents who they see 4-5% of their time awake?

Also, these entries are all from urban women/mothers. Let's hear from a rural mom who works at home. I'd like to read about the activities that rural kids do with their parents that differ from developmental ballet, etc.

Thanks! Great series!

Anonymous said...

Yes! Finally! This has been my favorite interview thus far - smart and with great points about what the husband/father's role should be. And to those that are criticizing Amanda for treating her kids like a "pet goldfish," note that no one ever raises those same points when we're talking about a father that works long hours. It would be nice for Amanda if she could work less (for her own health and sanity as well), but I'm sure that will come with time (as her business becomes more stable).

-Diane

Anonymous said...

Since you mentioned it, I think it's tragic that so many fathers barely know their children. Maybe the urban model is still that fathers are only expected to financially support their children, but I see a lot of rural fathers holding themselves to another standard, like my neighbor who milks his 37 cows twice a day with his 19-month old son in a backpack, making up songs to sing like, "We Are Men, Strong Men." This is the stuff of life. Surely there is an urban example as well.

Anonymous said...

Why are we always to quick to point out what men do? Instead of trying to follow a poor parenting model that some men have set, why arent we encouraging those fathers to spend more time with their kids? Why do we want to be equal to men who rarely see their children?

Kate said...

I was so excited about this entry because Cooking For Mr. Latte is one of my favorite books ever and the recipes are the best. I just made her pasta with lemon and arugula last night. It is excellent and super easy and fast - the perfect meal for moms looking to cook dinner in 15 minutes. But I digress.

Not everyone is cut out to stay at home with their kids all day every single day. I was convinced I would be able to and then I had my son and by the time he was six months old I was going out of my mind. I am exceedingly lucky and get to have my son trot off to day camp three days a week while I get the rest of my life done - taking care of our garden, errand running, cleaning the house and the million other things that come with taking care of a family - without him getting in the way. Yes, that sounds harsh, but honestly, taking a toddler to the grocery store has got to be one of Dante's rings of hell. And sometimes I just sit and enjoy the quiet. Again, I feel beyond lucky that I can do this and I am in awe of parents who stay at home all day everyday with their kids and those who work all day, come home and then start their second, and equally important job, as parents. Parenting is the hardest job you will ever have. I am beyond lucky that I have people to help me along the way.

The only thing that made me feel sad about Amanda's life is that it seems she has so little downtime to herself. That has got to be really hard. I have loved this series.

Amy E said...

I wanted to add to my earlier comment that I was raised by my father, only seeing my Mom at Christmas and in the summers, and I would have loved to spend every Tuesday and every weekend with my Mom, but this wasn't my experience. I know someone else wrote that because of their childhoods and seeing less of their parents that they don't have a bond, but since the age of 22, (I'm now 38), I've seen my Mother on a daily basis and she is my best friend.

I respect others opinions that Amanda isn't seeing her kids "enough" on 4 days of the week, but I find it so unfair that other women are saying this situation is sad, tragic, a mistake for her to be a parent...

In Coners of My Mind said...

"demand as much from your partner as you demand from yourself."
One of the best quotes from this series! As Amanda says this is a parenhood issue,not merely a motherhood issue.

Anonymous said...

I understand that we shouldn't judge mothers. And I don't judge Amanda. Working that hard and that long might be what is necessary to pay her bills/fulfill her/build a future for her family. However, I've worked with children in various capacities, and parents who are not around their children very much suffer. We're trying not to hurt Amanda's feelings per all these different comment's requests, but what about these kids? What effect will having a nanny take care of them their whole day have on them? I just think that often when we have these types of situations, it's not that the parents didn't want or don't love or care about their kids, but they certainly don't consider the effect that this behavior has on their children, and on their children's teachers, future relationships, future bosses, etc.

We live in a modern world where we make a lot of compromises to fulfill ourselves and make sure that we are happy. I also think it's near impossible to live on a single salary these days. I also, as a woman who works myself, respect Amanda's choice to work. However, I agree with many of the other comments when I say that this was my least favorite out of the series.

Anonymous said...

I really wanted to like this, but honestly, the nanny is raising the kids. It's so hard to build a career and be there during kids formative years. I was left with a sad feeling when I saw the picture of husband with laptop and two kids there. I know that may not represent all their time, but no doubt that's how the kids see their parents a lot of the time and it makes me think hard about how much my kids have to compete for our attention since I too catch myself linked in to a laptop or blackberry at home when my kids are awake. This is tough- how we can be there for our kids during these fleeting, but oh so important and precious years. This piece was heavier on fitting career in than fitting kids in.

Jen said...

I loved this post however the comments made me sad.

The reality is ladies, many moms work 40-60 hour weeks. These comments really put a dagger to the heart of working moms.

Joy said...

I love this increasing demand for dad blogs on "juggling". Future series on this blog perhaps, initiated by your husband? I can't believe it's Tad's wife. I just read his book!

Mary said...

this is, in a way the most interesting post of this series as it seems the most controvertial! i like that amanda doesn't refer to guilt as a part of her day (that's not to say she doesn't feel it of course!) but surely though her balance is more work than home life, surely by living a life she enjoys and loves she's setting her children a great example. after all, shouldn't we all be living our lives with joy?! very interesting series. we live in an interesting time!

Lindsey said...

Hurrah for partner husbands who do it all!! My husband is an incredible partner in our marriage and I know he'll continue to be such when our baby arrives in September. What's crazy is that we live in such a sexist society (here in Switzerland) that his coworkers actually make fun of him for doing things like vacuuming, cooking dinner for his exhausted pregnant wife who also works 100% and emptying the dishwasher. I'm super proud of him for wanting to be an equal partner in our marriage and life. Kudos to your husband for doing the same!

Anonymous said...

It's stories like this that make me think it would be selfish for my husband and I to have children, bc we too have long, long work days. It sounds like Amanda and her husband do not have much time during the work week to spend with their children. I don't know that I could be satisfied, guilt free, and happy if I only saw my kids briefly in the morning and then for about an hour in the evening. I don't believe for one minute that most of us can have it all. Something always suffers. I just wonder what her children will remember about their early childhood. My guess is it will be the babysitter.

DENISE. said...

Ladies, let's let our blogosphere be a community that unites us. Maybe we can also drop the judgement and support each other. There's no one way, there's no right way. There's just what works for you. When you read something you don't like, maybe it's time to ask questions ... or put yourself in someone else's shoes ... or maybe just choose to keep your opinions to your self. Because your judgement is destructive. Hasn't one of the big messages of this series here been that woman are fearful of sharing what they consider to be their failures, and then they realize that we can really rely on and support each other? It's the haters here that try to teach us to stay bottled up. That's ugly! I applaud Joanna for the series and for all the brave women who participated. I think it was awesome for moms and non-moms alike.

Anonymous said...

Denise- if we can't disagree then there is no real discussion. I don't have to support something I don't agree with. And disagreeing with someone's choices is not condemning them to hell people. Plenty of people oppose some of my choices. I respect their opinion and move on.

Penelope said...

I've been reading this thread for a bit and I think there are a lot of important points.
I, too, had a weird feeling after reading this interview and I definitely agree that this sounds more like a statement of a urban woman and her scheduling capabilities rather than a deep insight to being a mother and a business woman. Maybe Amanda isn't about to get into the nitty-gritty moments (which is fine) but then I can see why the readers, who were expecting more, felt underwhelmed.

I can't say she has no right to be a mother or even if she's a good mother. But I do know if she had described her situation exactly the same but with a stay-at-home dad - much of the criticisms said here wouldn't have appeared. I think more than anything, people here are reacting to the idea of NONE of the parents being around. The children do seem like an afterthought - maybe the kids aren't 'damaged' but in my experience, children are incredibly observant. And they remember. I knew a girl in highschool who had all the latest and best clothing but she told she'd trade it all for having her dad around more - and her mom was stay-at-home - she needed that relationship!

I've struggled with the idea of how marriage, life goals and children are all supposed to blend together and yes, a lot of that pressure tends to fall heaviest on the woman. We are a lifesource for our children, we are strong and can do a lot. But I feel like in all the years of being told to be a professional, get a career, travel, live selfishly, there has been something missing. Our bodies do not preserve themselves indefinitely. I know a woman in her mid forties with a baby girl of 2. She put off children for a long time, had to spend lots of money to get pregnant and even know treats the kid as another appointment. What's fair in that?
We've all gotten so comfortable in never taking NO for an answer.
We want to say we have it all, at any cost, is there even time to savour it all?

Mary said...

oh penelope i completely agree with your point re the stay at home dad! it came to my mind after i posted earlier. this post would have attracted so many different comments - much more along the lines of - go there superwoman we applaud you and your fabulous husband. it def is the 'hired help' aspect that is controversial here, not the working all day lady who doesn't see much of her kids during the week. hence also the comments about single working mothers. reminds me a bit of what life might have been like a hundred years ago in england in richer households where the woman might still be at home but the nanny still brought up the children. sort of like in mary poppins! i guess we're all in a transition phase culturally where norms are changing. at the end of the day each to his own. surely a wonderful nanny is better than a stay at home parent who is unhappy with his/her life? this series highlighted for me how something always seemed to give for the (sometimes workaholic?!) parents involved. mostly sleep, which cannot be a good thing but in this case i guess the nanny is picking up the slack for the working-all-the-time parents. it's a balance albeit different from the others featured. and although some of the (more negative) comments featured seemed to make some readers sad i don't think their mentioning that here was horrid. after all, isn't it great we're all thinking about this. it obviously means a lot to people and so it should. we all have to work at achieving our own balances whatever they are. it seems from the comments that amanda's balance would be a step too far for many but still it's a balance, her balance. and fair play to her for being honest.

caitlyn said...

Part of the problem is that all of these interviewee's, with the exception of Amanda, are WAHM's. She has a photo-shoot in her house one day a week, and works in an office the other days. So I don't think she was a good fit for the series because we were looking for a 'balance' in her life and clearly there is none.

Anonymous said...

She seem like a hard core professional and I like her attitude when it comes to partnership. But, I feel when you have kids you need to give them more of yourself. Like others, I feel the article was more about her job and when she eats food during the day then her time with the kids. I rather live in a smaller apartment, make less money but be with the ones I love. I guess I come from a different culture and have seen the flip side of a lifestyle like this...Just glad my Mom, a single parent was around when I was young, now she is busy with her career and making a splash. So, proud to have had a loving and devoted Mom.

Lady Di said...

We all make our own choices about how much time we wish we could spend with our kids, and also how much time we feel we need to spend working. So many considerations factor in to those choices (financial and emotional), and while it's true children grow up fast, they do grow up. If your life is built around parenting, you might find yourself feeling unbalanced when the kids leave the nest. So balance can also mean having a fulfilling career, and other roles and relationships beyond being a mommy.

Kate said...

I commented earlier and came back to read up on the rest of the comments. I agree with many above that mentioned the focus being on the sitter and the fact that both parents seem to be absent. We're reacting more to the fact that these children may grow up thinking of the sitter as Mom. Another commenter said that it's great they're working to give their children everything. Personally, children need hugs more than fancy toys and trips, and hugs are free. But, that's my opinion, not a direct attack on the author.

Others say that no woman should have to sacrifice all of them selves and give up their own wants and goals. While I agree to some extent, I think this is not entirely true. This was my issue as well. I personally have struggled mightily with my decision to marry and start a family, since I am the type of person who loves to travel frequently and work abroad. But, family is important to me and I understand that once I take that step, I simply can't spend every day thinking about me me me. Children are a choice, and choices have both fantastic and negative consequences. Instead, I have worked to find ways to sustain myself personally and professionally while still building a healthy family life.

I do not feel that anyone truly attacked Amanda. She has posted her story in a public forum that is design to encourage response and conversation. It is perfectly acceptable for each person here to chime in with their opinion, their own response to what they have read. There is no right answer for everyone, but clearly, this post struck a very similar nerve with many readers, and that's saying something.

Katie said...

This thread is the first time I have ever felt unhappy reading Cup of Jo. I don't have children yet but am planning on having them not too far in the future, and I plan to work. I know it will be hard to balance, but I feel I owe it to my children--daughter or sons--to give them an example of a successful woman. To show them that it's not the woman who must automatically work part-time or work from home or make any of the concessions that cause women to be underrepresented across the leadership strata of society. I also want to give them opportunities--my job will give them the chance to live abroad, to attend subsidized private schools abroad, to have a wealth of experiences I never had. I feel this will give them far more over the course of their lives than a childhood in straitened circumstances with few chances to learn about the wider world.

I in no way judge women who take time off or stop working or cut back, and I would appreciate if the judging didn't go the other way. Having been raised by a working mother myself, I am horrified by the frankly antediluvian attitudes being expressed here--automatically equating working mothers with bad mothers.

Can we please just live and let live? Why is there this instinct to tear down a successful woman?

Anonymous said...

This article made me feel very sad as well. I actually read it and then re-read it to see if I had missed a part where she talks about the time she spends with her children. But I didn't miss a part, she really only sees her children an hour a day. I understand that starting a business is hard work, but what about working from home so that you can take short breaks to interact with your children or cutting the workday shorter in order to have dinner with them? Maybe even skipping a few industry events to be home earlier. Why would any mom want to be away from their children so much?

Anonymous said...

I feel torn after reading the interview and comments. I guess my main question for Amanda is: why have you chosen not to cut back on your work hours in order to spend more time with your children? (applies to your husband equally). Sounds like you have an amazing, dream job and a happy life and I'm happy for you...I just wonder why there isn't more time for the kiddos. Blessings!

Belinda said...

There's nothing better than your children helping you bake in the kitchen. Is this the right person to promote "cooking at home"?

christina said...

I'm sure that Amanda and her husband are doing what they think is best for their family as a whole, and no one reading this blog knows all of the ins and outs of their lives to make a better decision than they do. Putting your personal life out there for anyone to read about (and have opinions about) is a risk. Amanda, I hope you aren't hurt by all of the negative comments written here. I grew up with a working mother and my childhood memories are not full of daycare teachers and after school programs...they're of my mom and my brother and road trips to see my grandparents on the weekends and taking me to softball practice. I'm guessing that its a struggle for you to only spend about an hour a day with your kids before they go to bed and not something that is your ideal situation. My mom talks often about how difficult that was for her, so she left for work earlier (around 6am) so she could come home earlier and spend more time with us before bed. As we got older we could obviously stay up a little later too.

I completely agree with your comments about it being just as much of a juggle for the father! My husband comes home from work and starts in straight away helping to feed babies (we have 4 month old triplets), trying to exercise or finish up a project from work, eat dinner and somewhere in there we try to ask each other how our days went!

Jamie said...

I read this story twice, and then I read the comments. I understand the visceral reaction other people experienced because I felt the same way. I don't think anyone is being judgmental or mean in their comments. The words and images convey a definite feeling of "out of balance" on a blog that emphasizes balance. Women tear each other apart for all sorts of trivial bullsh!t, like choosing group daycare over the supernanny; giving the kid a frozen pizza for dinner instead of fresh organic vegetables, disposable diapers vs. cloth; working at all vs. being June Freaking Cleaver. These comments are not along those lines. We're addressing a basic need of children, which is to be given time and attention to bond with their parents. All of us who have children are expert enough to know that one hour a day isn't enough, and since it was published on this blog with this particular premise, I feel pretty strongly that the discussion here is fair game and reasonable. I know all too well the reality of a start-up life, which is not at all conducive to balance. Maybe Amanda's situation is temporary, but we aren't given that information.

I have struggled nearly 11 years to find work-life balance, and while I've found a solution that works for me, of course it isn't always easy. I can relate to so many of the women profiled here. My husband has struggled also to find balance, and while he intellectually understands the concept, he still doesn't put it into practice. We were talking to a child psychologist who said one of her patients is a high-profile attorney who complained that her daughter was oppositional and defiant at home and school. She didn't know how to get through to her daughter to address her behavior. When the psychologist asked the attorney to document every minute of her time during the day, the attorney came back with roughly an hour a day devoted to her daughter. The psychologist's response was, "Why did you have a child, knowing they require time and attention? You're going to wonder when this child is an adult why you don't have a relationship with her. You need to reevaluate your priorities and move things around in your schedule." My husband is at risk of the same thing. It was a wake-up call for him. Children are temporary, and they don't come to you in your 1-hour time block to give you a laundry list of their issues. You have to know them, hear what they're saying and what they're not saying. If I didn't take the time to truly know my daughter, I wouldn't have realized that she was struggling in school this year because she has inattentive-type ADD. If I hadn't heard her say two days in a row, "My stomach hurt before technology class again today," I wouldn't have asked the right questions to discover that she was being bullied by two kids in her class and throwing up beforehand. (And "balance" allowed me to be standing outside that classroom the very next day, waiting for the bullies and the teacher to come out.) It terrifies me to think how miserable she'd be if I hadn't been paying attention. What if I had just whipped out the laptop and blasted off some email instead of watching/listening? It's so tempting.

So I understand the problems with judgmental women, and I live the balance issues. But I'm also keenly aware of the risks of the children getting shortchanged, and I'm sure the other commenters are as well. I think that's the perspective from which which we're responding with these comments. And if there's more to the story, that's great and we hope the comments are taken with a grain of salt. Our feelings are based on the information given.

Naomi said...

Both of my parents -- former hippies who became professionals -- worked full-time jobs, and they took turns making dinners, doing the laundry, and driving me to music lessons. I am fortunate that I have a mother that was able to pursue her interests away from the home, and a father that happily took on half his share of the housework. I hope my family relationships now, as I plan to have children, will resemble the happy and equal ones of my childhood. This was a great post. Thanks!

carocka said...

I am in awe of Amanda's life, dedication and energy. I simply wouldn't be able to do it - One thing I was wondering the most about when I read her post was that she does not expect to have time for herself. She obviously puts herself last behind her kids, her husband - and yes, also her job because she doesn't have her career as a hobby. I do know myself (and my mother's example) well enough to know that apart from my wish to work I also need to spend time alone away from everyone in order to be a happy mum.
I expect my husband to have the same duties and responsibilities in a shared schedule and do not at all agree with that (what I think) incredible old-fashioned "But mamas are mamas, there's just no changing that." as another commenter said. I am thankful that I live in a place where both dads and mums can take paid leave for childcare and dads can also be the "mums". And I am thankful to have a husband who knows that I need to be independent from kids and family and work from time to time.

Apart from that, I am especially sad that so many commenters seem to be experts in knowing what Amanda's children feel,that they have a sad life and a sad relationship with the parents even though they haven't heard or seen those kids.
I was an Au-Pair myself for two girls when I was younger. The older one started boarding school when she was 12yrs because that's "what you did" in that familie's social circle. The parents were divorced and the mum worked full time (not only for financial reasons but also for her own fullfillment). She came home around 6pm, the girls dropped everything when she arrived and did not look at me until the next moring. They spend their one or two hours in the evening and the week-ends together with creative projects, cooking, outings or simply cuddling. They loved their mother dearly and I am sure that they still have their very close relationship (as they had with their dad as well whom they met every second weekend). This mother's life has been some kind of example since then (minus the divorce...) It is not just how much time you spend with your children, not that you can pride yourself that you spend time waiting for their sports class to finish or that you are the one who tells them to clear their stuff away - it is the positive energy you bring home, the happy example you set, your interest in their development and simply the love that you have.

So even I would not be the one with happy energy if I had Amanda's schedule, her example is again great and inspiring like the others. So thank you ladies & thank you Joanna!

Anonymous said...

After re-reading, I see that Amanda does see her kids in the evenings (not every, but its in there - At the end of 1, and No. 7)Be careful about generalizing on Amanda's generalizing!

I think the commenters are right to point out the issue here is generally (anti) full-time parents working, and employing a nanny. Amanda seems to be pretty representational of this, and perhaps she isn't flattered in this Cup of Jo format (for ex. comparison to Jenna Park or Jordan Ferney).

Personally, I grapple as a sahm to deliver and afford all the culture and education and even time for reading stories. I suppose I always feel better (/smug?) when I can say, 'at least they get me all day', and my hugs etc.

Full time working mothers with full time nannys, vs. sahm is polarizing. period.

Joanna, We need you! What do you think?

Anonymous said...

Can everyone please erase the comment "why even have children" from their lexicon? It is an incredibly powerful- and HURTFUL thing to say. To someone you don't know.

Please.

Stop.

Think.

Do your kids need you as much as you think they do?

Really?

How do you know?

What do you need?

Think.

It takes a few minutes, doesn't it?

So how can you be so quick to say.

Anything.

About someone you don't know at all

Let alone her children.

Stop.

Think.

Find some compassion. Which is presumably a quality you may be attempting to instill in your own children. Whom you wouldn't speak to like this. Since you know them. And can act lovingly toward them.

Anonymous said...

Being an involved parent and working as a full-time professional is a challenging proposition. The schedule Amanda describes shouldn't surprise anyone. She's running a start-up and building her own brand. The hours she keeps are quite typical for someone in that situation. Of course it's a personal choice. The commenters who describe the situation as "sad" presumably have made different choices -- to have one parent stay at home, or not to live in New York, or not to have the same career ambitions. That's what makes this blog so valuable -- it provides specific, personal examples so that readers can see what choices other people have made and use those stories to inform their own choices.

Anonymous said...

How sad for the children-one hour a day. Although I admire her drive and ambition I do not see how this person is managing parenting since she rarely seems to be doing it.

Anonymous said...

There is one for dad(s)! Its called www.dadwagon.com

Anonymous said...

At the end of our lives, surely we will regret time not spent with our children than time not spent building our careers. That kind of regret is painful to think about. We all have to make choices about where we put our time, resources and what we value most. Kids won't care if their parents have a successful brand as much as they'll care about time spent with them- love is spelled t-i-m-e for a child. it doesn't have to be 24-7 time, but my gut tells me it needs to be more than what is presented here. The great thing is that they sound like they have the resources to change things up if they want.

Kate

Anonymous said...

I hate it when people get so judgemental about other mothers. It is absolutely gender-based, too. I know several women whose husbands are taking low-paid 2nd jobs to provide for the family These dads will not see their kids but it seems okay to most people (i.e. better to have the dad work than the mom)

I see my kids 2.5 hours a night if I'm lucky (not counting a 15 minute shower). They sleep later than they should. I wake up at 5:15-5:40 am in the morning to commute an hour to work. I wish I had a shorter commute or could see them more often but it's just not possible right now. I continue to look for a closer job but haven't had success in that so far. I also do like my job and co-workers and my work is near my parents (who help with baby sitting), i.e. "solutions" like cutting commute or just finding another job is not always easy.

I also hate that people think it's so easy to cut back or drop out of the work force and then go back. So many of my friends are struggling and with zero retirement funds at 40+ of age because the SAHM can't get back to work or simply doesn't want to after years away from working.
This woman is supporting her family and a role model.

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Anonymous said...

This did make me sad. My husband and I are equal partners, too, and we both have pretty cool careers, but we organize our lives around maximizing time with our son.

On the other hand, maybe this setup really does work for them. I don't know them or their kids. My instincts aren't their instincts. So...I guess all I can really say is, it's not how I'd want to live my life, but I'm glad we all get a choice.

Also, I appreciate Amanda's courage in being honest about what it takes to get to the level of success that she and her husband have achieved.

sugar pop said...

I too felt a little bummed after reading this post. I was super jealous/inspired by her love for her work and her days at the office. It's amazing that she gets to do what she loves and is successful as well. Bravo! What bummed me out was the overall tone of the interview. Her responses felt a bit cold somehow? Especially in relation to her kids. But no two moms are alike and it IS tough to get a real feel for a family from one short interview. I would never judge her as a mother but I do understand the feelings this interview brought up for people.

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