The Innate Hazard of Leading With Your Womb

04.25.13

pregnant

I’ll be at Mom 2.0 in a week or two (not really sure of the date). This is the third year I’ve bought a ticket but it will be the first year I’ll attend. I remember one year thinking how great it would be to have an excuse to go to New Orleans and get some work done at the same time. My husband hates New Orleans so it seemed like the perfect excuse to travel. Then when I looked at the schedule and saw Mad Men parties and photo walks I felt like it would sap my energy just to get dressed to attend. I sold my ticket.

After reading today’s Wall Street Journal piece about the business of Mom Conferences I’m already starting to dread Laguna Niguel. I didn’t realize I had to dress 50’s or borrow a hat for a Kentucky Derby Party. I’ve promised myself I’d suck it up and do it all with an enthusiastic smile no matter how uncomfortable any of it makes me. Mercifully I’ll have Trudi as a compatriot. There are sessions I’m very interested in attending and I’m sure there’s a lot to be learned, I’m looking forward to the learning aspect. Because, like the columnist at WSJ, everything I know about Mom 2.0 I learned on Flickr I have the sense that it’s a boozy fashion competition. Ciaran assures me Mom 2.0 is a valuable use of my time and I trust Ciaran, plus it’s a short drive so if it’s awful I’ll just go home and Trudi can hitchhike like a big girl.

Ask me in a few weeks is Mom 2.0 is a Mom Vacation or a conference. At the moment it’s a question I can’t answer.

Now when a major conference is pending and it’s at a Ritz Carlton and it features things that bloggers want to talk about: food, fashion, cocktails, tech, networking, media, and fun… and when said conference is called Mom 2.0 and then a bunch of self proclaimed Mom Bloggers get themselves worked up into a frenzy about OMG The Patriarchy, people start looking like they haven’t thought things out very well.

Such is the hazard of leading with your womb. Call your self a Mom Blogger, Mum Blogger, Mommy Blogger or Mom 2.0 and the rest of the world will call you Mom too. They aren’t calling you “Mom” because you had a baby, they’re calling you Mom because it’s what you put on your calling card. 

Fix it if it needs fixing or just answer when the world calls you Mom.

Danielle Ellwood writes the following over at the Broad Side: 

If this was Marissa Mayer, or Sheryl Sandberg traveling for work, their trip would never be dubbed as being on a  “Mommy Business Trip“; it would simply be called a business trip. No need to be defined by the status of how many children their uterus has produced or the number of children they’ve adopted. So why are any other women being treated differently?

This actually proves my point. Neither Sandberg nor Mayer have built careers monetizing their motherhood. They are women who happen to be in technology, they aren’t Mom Bloggers attending a Mom Conference.

When I asked what all the fuss is about on Facebook (because I see the article as mostly innocuous) I was sent links to a zillion posts around the blogosphere and quite a few people commented. Audrey Holden had the most amazing comment and with her permission I’m publishing it here.

As someone who has been blogging, professionally and otherwise for 9 years, and someone who has never ever gone to a conference, I can give you an outside point of view by virtue of what I read from women who DO go to these. 

Not only are there millions of photos floating around out there of hanging out in bars or hotel lobbies, drinks in hand, or dancing at various PR/Brand parties – images that give the impression that it’s just a long boozy weekend, there are also the comments in post-conference pieces the bloggers themselves write, about how it was a great opportunity to go and hang out with other women they’ve long wanted to meet, to have a few drinks, party a little and get away from the kids and the mundane of day-to-day life. These same women write on and on about how they didn’t even hit any of the panels or roundtables/discussions because there was too much going on in the PR swag areas, or they didn’t have time because they were sight seeing, or getting together with other bloggers. 

It *seems* like for every three women who go to a conference and LEGITIMATELY get something out of it outside of self proclaimed “me time”, and attend the panels and discussions, there is one who only goes for shoe competition (I call it this because there are no end of posts, pre-conference where women are crying over which shoes to take) swag, free booze, and the schoomzing. Unfortunately, it’s this one blogger who make the rest look bad and give off the impression that these conferences are little more than how Joanne Bamberger characterized them – working mothers (and the non-working too- my own opinion) using conferences as vacations from their families. 

Is this why I don’t go to conferences? No. I don’t go because of social anxiety issues that render me unable to function in large groups of people. I’d genuinely like to go to a conference because I think there are a few out there that genuinely have something to offer someone like me. At the end of the day though, I bet I don’t have a single pair of shoes that would be OK to wear to a mommy-blogging conference.

It’s strange to me that we Mom Bloggers spend so much time branding ourselves as mothers and then lose it when our motherhood is acknowledged.

Do Something Scary

05.17.12

Last night I went to an event where I knew no one. I guess technically I knew the host, but I didn’t know him to the point where I’d leave the house to spend hours with him talking about nothing.

I figured I’d go to the event and surely there would be someone there that I knew. Los Angeles is a small town.

I pulled up to the address and gasped a little. Twenty or so years ago I almost married someone there. The Swede, it was a close call but thanks to my Grandfather it’s the wedding that never happened.

So I entered the party a little rattled but ready to put my best foot forward. After the scanning the crowd I realized I knew no one and I decided that this wasn’t going to be like a regular LA event where you show up and have drinks with people you already know and leave having met no one. I completely barged in on a conversation that three women were having.

“I’m going to go ahead and introduce myself. I’m Jessica.” And I extended my hand.

It felt like 852 years passed before smiles crossed everyone’s faces, but they did. And it was great. I met three amazing women and a man. A makeup artist, a German writer, an interior designer and one who never talked about her work. They were smart and they were funny and my circle of friends just got larger.

It was terrifying and I’m going to continue to terrify myself otherwise it’s just not worth leaving the house.

Teaching Jane the Value of a Dollar (or 75)

01.19.12

Jane is invited to a birthday party at Sephora. Well, we think she’s invited, I don’t have the evite, but the host child assures her I need to RSVP. The girls will be getting makeovers and whatnot. It’s a very nice but fairly typical birthday party so I was going to buy my fairly typical birthday gift which puts us close to $40 with card and gift wrap.

Since I’m off to Chicago tomorrow morning I need to buy the gift today and Jane has instructed me to purchase about $75 worth of cosmetics for the 13 year old birthday girl. I started to say no, but since we were on the way to school I didn’t want her going to class upset. I figure she’ll just have to be upset at home.

I want to explain to her that every birthday party is pricey. We spent a fortune on her 13th but the gifts were in line with what I’m prepared to spend. I thought about telling her to spend her own money, but I don’t want her feeling like she has to overspend.

We’ve done a miserable job showing restraint for our own kids. Birthdays and Hanukkah always seem to creep up to a thousand. After 13 years of excessive gifts for my own kids how do I turn around and tell Jane that it’s just not like that?

I guess I just do. I’m not shelling out $75 for a birthday party and I’m not prepared to let my daughter use her money.

What would you do… besides turn back time?

Mothers and New Years Eve

01.1.12

We were at two New Years Eve parties last night. One for the New York New Year and one for Los Angeles. Both parties were mother parties, both in very different ways.

The first party was hosted by my friend Lisa. She celebrates a New York New Years Eve. This is the only way to celebrate New Years Eve if you’re in Los Angeles and don’t want to get a babysitter. People started arriving at 6, at 9 we watched the ball drop, kissed our spouses, kissed our kids, kissed a friend and had the option to be home and be tucked into bed by 10. Just after the New York Midnight the Lisa’s kids performed a rock concert. It was a party hosted by a mother that embraced families and wanted her kids to have a community around them.

By ten we were home, Alexander and Mr. G were done for the night, but I’d received this email from my mom.

SNAGHTML70fefcf

Who doesn’t want to show up for a party when their mom has hired a good tarot card reader? You’d have to be crazy to miss that.

Jane and I left our house just after 10 and kissed Mr. G and Alexander one last time in 2011. Twenty minutes later I’m walking into my Mom’s living room and I open the front door right into Laura. Laura who was our family’s first friend, Laura who still smiles the same as in 1973 and whose speech pattern remains exactly the same. Laura who I see every ten years or so and even without frequency I’d still feel free to show up at her doorstep.

Laura is one of the mothers. There are other mothers there too. There’s Nadia’s mom who has been firmly entrenched in my life for 39.5 of my 41 years, and Stephan’s Mom who is a newcomer at just 39 of those years, there’s Patty who went camping with us and who spoke perfect Spanish which enchanted me at age 7 and made the most perfect needlepoints for my children when they were born.

I held my daughter’s hand and walked into a cocoon of mothers who have loved our whole family for three and four decades. I left their warmth only to visit with Davina and have the first two cards as the Ace and Queen of Pentacles. She told me a story about a double boiler and low flames with great results. She told me that my husband supported me and was my greatest fan and that I’d had incredible opportunities come my way workwise and I needed to stop passing them up. She said it’s not normal to forego so many opportunities. “Write a book”, She said. “I will.” I replied and this time I think I mean it.

The food was spectacular as it came from one of my favorite restaurants (which is of course a husband and wife team) and the table linen was a gift from Mama Lucy.

At the real midnight I kissed my daughter and then my mother and then a room full of mothers who have always loved me and who I have always loved back.

The Conversations I’ve Had Today

12.2.11

I just got off the phone with some guys from Veep. 10 days ago I get an email from them that said:

I’ll keep this email as short as humanly possible. Watch the brief video below, and if you have interest, I’d love for you to use VEEP free of charge. That’s it.

Folks, what you see above is what is known as the perfect pitch. I said sure and I started with Veep Saturday. If you were grading me on this food plan I’d probably get a C, maybe a C-. After a phone call today I sort of know how to use the website. In case you’re wondering I’ve lost two pounds in six days.

Makes no sense to me either.

We went to the party with Nick Cannon and Ingrid Hoffmann last night and I was so glad we went. It was hosted by SKYY vodka and it was a tiny party. Maybe 20 people? Anna and I monopolized Ingrid because we are tacky that way. Here’s a ceviche recipe as told in just a few seconds.

What she didn’t mention was that she’d finished the ceviche off with a dash of cherry infused vodka and it was ahhhhhmazing. There was also a splash of cherry infused vodka in the chocolate mousse. I like drinking vodka but I’ve got to say I really like it in food too.

So after we left the SKYY appetizer party we headed to Mr. Chow for dinner and the chef came out to show how they make the noodles. So fun.

This week I’ve had dinner out with two girlfriends for absolutely no reason at all. If you haven’t connected with a girlfriend this week my challenge to all of you is to grab one friend and go for dinner. You don’t need an agenda or a reason, just do it. It’s good for your soul.

Of course I have about five posts brewing about my incredible trip to Riviera Nayarit. My friend George is headed to Sayulita for a wedding and I’m ridiculously excited for everyone in that wedding party as Sayulita was a charming little enclave that I hope to visit again soon.

As I’m writing a post telling you about a press trip, a small celebrity party and a food plan that was made available to me because of blogging I get a phone call from a marketer friend who wants to talk about the Momfia and how she is sick to death of bloggers complaining about getting pitched. I completely agreed with her. But then if a blogger was on the phone with me I’d completely agree with the blogger. Mostly though I understand that bloggers just bitch and moan too much and we all need better about me pages.

And then we talked about the fact that blogs get popular and the opportunities and the products take over the content.

And then I looked in the mirror.

Shit.

So, I’m asking you, my readers, to please hang tight. I have to tell you about Riviera Nayarit and some surrounding areas in Mexico because the trip was so spectacular you’ll want to add it to your vacation plans.