There is a lot of conversation right now about the new New York Times Magazine article "The Opt Out Generation Wants to Opt Back In," by Judith Warner. It is a follow up to an article called "The Opt Out Revolution," written 10-years ago by Lisa Belkin about how successful, ambitious, women were choosing to step away from their careers to devote their attention to staying at home with their children.
I was the poster child for the Lisa Belkin article, and now I am the poster child for the Judith Warner one.
However, to be totally honest, my "decision" to leave advertising was really made for me based on a slowing economy, cutbacks in agencies hiring freelancers (which I was at the time) and having a young son who needed a lot of therapies due to physical delays. I became a stay-at-home mom more by circumstance than by choice.
Even though I was no longer writing ads I still needed that creative outlet, the catch being it needed to accommodate a life that involved routine errands, preschool carpools and being 100% involved with my son's needs. So, after about a year of being home, I co-wrote and published a book called KidSavvy Westchester and went on to publish a second edition. Ok, so now I was an author and publisher who had an enormous palette of cartons in my garage making me also a book distributor.
Over the years I made efforts to get back into advertising, but without an up-to-date "book" (which is what they used to call portfolios of one's work back in the day) or a current reel, the prospects of opting back in to a field that I truly loved just wasn't happening. And with every passing year it was becoming more and more out of reach.
I started what some would call a "mommy blog" in 2006, back when people would stare at you blankly and say "Uh, what's a blog?"
Personal blogging led to professional blogging at MamaPop, Cool Mom Picks and Cool Mom Tech which ultimately landed me in a dream partnership with Carley Knobloch and her vision of a website that featured weekly how-to videos.
We co-launched Digitwirl in January of 2011 and got nominated for a Webby in that first year against well-known sites like LifeHacker and Yahoo. As every actor who has ever been nominated for an award and loses says, "It was an honor just to be nominated," but in this case, it was really, really true.
Conceptualizing, creating and writing the first year of videos for Digitwirl was a dream gig. And it gave me the tools to launch this company. But when I look at where I started and where I am now it's really been a dotted line that forms a complete circle.
I have met so many female entrepreneurs who are also mothers and, just like me, motherhood has forced them to reinvent themselves in ways that those who stayed on the career path may not have had to. A high-powered attorney who is now creating a line of jewelry. A journalist who launched an educational children's website. And a copywriter who ended up becoming a mom, an author, a blogger, a script writer and founder of a production company that takes all those skills and applies them in new and exciting ways on every new project.
Whether we're "leaning in," "opting in" or still trying to figure it all out, all I can say for sure is that I am better at my job because I am a mom. One day it would be nice to read an article about the generation that could return to work easily having become mothers, not despite it.