21. The Face of a Working Mom

 
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I’ve been working since I was 16 - my first jobs were at McDonald’s and Gap. Over the years I’ve worked retail, in offices, I even was a docent at a museum. Working - having a job, and a career - is just part of my DNA. Maybe it’s because I grew up with a working mom, who always told me to make sure I had my education and my own career. I spent my childhood watching her rise from an admin role to a professional career in state government, while also taking classes at night and raising her family.

Growing up I didn’t know anyone who had a stay-at-home parent; or maybe I did and I just didn’t realize it. I assumed that every family had two working parents, like mine. I never gave much thought to being a working mother myself, because for the longest time I didn’t think about being a mother at all. But once I got married and committed to the idea of being a parent, I just assumed that I’d be a working mom like my mother was. The idea of staying at home didn’t appeal to me at all, so I didn’t even entertain it. And surprisingly, no one asked me if I was staying home either - I guess they all assumed I’d be a working mom too.

I spent my 12 weeks of maternity leave (fully paid, btw!) completely infatuated with my daughter, but I found myself bored around week 10 or so. Josephine was a really chill baby, and fell into an eat-play-sleep routine that left me with a lot of time on my hands. I was itching to get back to work, to adult conversations and an existence that didn’t revolve around my child. I was able to transition back to work on an abbreviated schedule, yet it still took time to just adjust to a different world that now involved daycare pickup and pumping sessions twice a day. I had moments of missing my baby girl, but I so loved the joy I felt when I picked her up, and her smile when she recognized her mama’s face.

I’m very lucky to have the privilege to be a working mom, and I wouldn’t be so successful at it without the abundance of support I receive. The company I work for is very supportive of working parents, with great policies and amenities. Changing managers has also helped a ton - I now report to a fellow working mom and her flexibility is invaluable. I also have a husband who is extremely hands on and an equitable coparent. And our daycare is the most essential part of our life, because I couldn’t be the working mom I am without knowing my daughter was in a nurturing educational environment. Josephine has gone to the same Montessori daycare for her entire life, and the teaching staff is beyond phenomenal and devoted to the children in their care. Its a little out of the way from our home now that we’ve moved, but it’s worth the drive to keep her in a nurturing environment with the friends and teachers she loves.

Being a working mom is by no means easy but I would not trade this life for anything. And one day I hope my daughter will look at me the same way I looked at my mother - in awe that she did so much and accomplished so many things in addition to raising children.

Things I Read This Week:

A New Diet Study Confirms Your Worst Suspicions About Ultra-Processed Foods (Gizmodo)

7 Ways Fear Is Holding You Back (And How To Overcome It) (Girlboss)

Ava DuVernay’s Fight to Tell the True Story of the Central Park Five (Vanity Fair)

Christians Are Upset That Incels Are Co-opting Celibacy (MEL Magazine)

These Office Etiquette Rules Will Help You Crush It At Your First Job (Girlboss)

RIP Dressbarn, The Worst Named Clothing Store (Jezebel)

The Cost of Being Disabled (Design*Sponge)

my coworker wants the company to pay for a week-long sex romp with his fired girlfriend (Ask A Manager)

How the Instagram Era Changed Boudoir Photography (MEL Magazine)

Beyond the Hype of Lab-Grown Diamonds (Deadspin)

Hospitals Are Performing Episiotomies Way Too Often, Despite Decades of Warnings (Jezebel)

You Don’t Need to Meet Every Qualification to Apply for a Job (Harvard Business Review)

Another Twitter Thread on Abortion (Design Mom)

End the Plague of Secret Parenting (The Atlantic)

Be Upfront About Your Parenting Responsibilities in the Workplace (Lifehacker)

Amazon Goes Full Black Mirror by Turning Grueling Warehouse Work Into a Video Game (Gizmodo)

“I Flew Too Close to the Sun. No Question. Icarus”: Inside the Epic Fall of Michael Avenatti (Vanity Fair)

Reddit Asks the Question: 'Which Propaganda Effort Was So Successful People Still Believe It Today?' (Pajiba)

Separated by Design: How Some of America’s Richest Towns Fight Affordable Housing (ProPublica)

Other Stuff:

Need help with your resume? Book a Resume Review with me!

Last year I got a pair of Yummie Rachel high-waisted leggings on the recommendation of a blogger, and they quickly became my fave pair of leggings. I just got two new pairs and they are an absolute dream to wear.

How did you feel about the Game of Thrones finale? It ended the way I expected it to, so I can’t complain. Overall I wish the final season had gone differently but this Wired piece breaks down how the show evolved, and why this season has been so difficult for people. We got an end to the story, maybe not the end we wanted, but it’s nice to have some finality.

Also Pose is on Netflix now, so if you didn’t watch it before, you definitely need to watch it now. And Billy Porter is a got damn LEGEND and a national treasure.

Enjoy your holiday weekend and make sure you take a moment to acknowledge the sacrifice made by fallen soldiers this Memorial Day!

Buying A House Is The Most Adult Thing I've Done

I officially became an adult in 2000, but I did not feel like an adult for a very long time. I know that probably sounds weird, but when I say it to people, they most often agree with me, and commiserate. I think the “not yet an adult” feeling comes from an idealized view of adulthood that we all grew up with. I looked at my parents with their full-time jobs and house full of kids they were raising, and I just didn’t feel like I was an adult in the same way that they were.

I spent my college years having fun, and my 20s figuring out who I was as a person. Along the way I did a lot of adult things - I started my “grown up” career, and even changed careers; I moved myself across states, twice; I figured out how to set up a 401k and pay taxes and other adult things. In my 30’s I finally started to feel like I was getting into the groove of being an adult, but I still didn’t see myself as an adult for some reason. It started to slowly kick in when I got engaged and began planning a life with William. My feelings of adulthood got even stronger when I became a mom, because suddenly I was THE ADULT and responsible for keeping another human alive.

Even with all these life events, I truly did not feel like an adult until we applied for a mortgage and bought a house.

 
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It’s so weird, right? Like out of all the things I’ve done, buying a house is the thing that made me really feel like an adult? But it did, even more than becoming a mother. For a long time I couldn’t explain why I felt that way, until I figured out what it was about buying a house that was so different from the other adult things I’ve done in my life - getting a mortgage and buying a house was the one time when people scrutinized my entire life and deemed me “acceptable” enough.

Think about it - for other milestones of adulthood, you don’t have to subject your entire life to someone else’s scrutiny & judgement. Getting a job just means you have an interview or five, and maybe submit to a background check. Buying a car? Show them a couple of paystubs and you’re good and ready to drive off the lot. When you apply for your marriage license, all they wanna know is your married name (if you’re changing it) and take your money. And if you want to have a kid, there’s no entity that decides if you’ll be a good parent, unless you’re attempting to adopt.

I knew that applying for a mortgage would require a lot of paperwork, but I wasn’t prepared for just how much, and the types of things that they would need to see before underwriting our loan. Pay stubs, full tax returns, bank statements, even a detailed letter from us noting where we were getting our down payment from - all required. Not to mention the complete scrutiny of all our assets and debts, and our credit histories. This isn’t a complaint, I’d just never had anyone dive so deep into my financial life.

I’d always been a little worried about one day buying a house (Do we make enough? Is our credit good enough?) so my worry kicked into high gear during our underwriting process. I worried that something from our past would come back to haunt us, but it all worked out fine. It was the best feeling to get that call from our broker saying everything was approved and we could close that day (which we did).

In the year since we bought and moved into our first home, I feel like more of an adult. I feel like I’ve finally ticked off all the things that added up to being an adult - getting married, having a child, buying a house, having a career.

What made you feel like an adult? Or are you still waiting for that feeling? Share with us in the comments!



20. Tired Of Being Tired

 
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Friends, it has not been a good week, if you are a woman.

I can’t even say that I’m surprised. The legislation that’s been passed in Georgia, Alabama, Missouri, Ohio (and being considered other places) is draconian, cruel and should be illegal. It is an example that freedom is not free, and that we’re all under assault. Yet part of me is also feeling a bit of smugness, because we’re in this position because so many white women voted against their own self-interests, especially in state-level races. Republicans across the country are emboldened to make The Handmaid’s Tale a reality, and it’s all because white people decided they were being left behind in the world. How sad and short-sighted of them.

I won’t rehash the countless articles, blog posts, and social media posts that outline just why these laws are so terrible. I will however, urge you to read this incredible Twitter thread from Design Mom, and to encourage you to do whatever you can to fight back, be it with your money, your time or your influence.

I’m tired yall. I’ve been tired for a long time. Many of us sounded the alarm years ago, but we were drowned out by the choruses of “but her emails” and “lock her up!” And so, here we are, and very soon America will be Gilead and we’ll all be Under His Eye. I hope yall are ready.

Things I Read This Week:

“Am I bad person?” Why one mom didn’t take her kid to the ER — even after poison control said to. (Vox)

Even Breadwinning Wives Don’t Get Equality at Home (The Atlantic)

I’m the Longest-Serving Republican in the Iowa Legislature, and I’m Switching Parties (The Atlantic)

Your Big Bank Sucks. It’s Time to Bail Yourself Out. (MEL Magazine)

The NYTimes Comments Section Breaks Out Into White Nonsense Over the Aperol Spritz (Pajiba)

The Supreme Court’s Worst Decision of My Tenure (The Atlantic)

A Teen Designed A Graduation Cap That Directs People To A List Of Students Killed In School Shootings (Buzzfeed)

Elizabeth Warren Deserves Your Undivided Attention (GQ)

our traditionally male company has an annual golf trip — but our new female employees don’t play (Ask A Manager)

Nearly a third of millennial moms are having postpartum sex before they feel ready (and that's not okay) (Motherly)

Other Stuff:

I made these carrot cake cupcakes this week and they are so unbelievably good. I’m not normally a carrot cake fan but I love these.

I absolutely love everything in this doula story - I had a doula for Josephine’s birth, and I can’t imagine getting through my 36 hour labor and c-section delivery without her. Every mama should have access to a doula.

This week I worked with two coaching clients! It was really awesome to connect with two separate people looking to make a career change, and put my expertise to practice. If you’re looking for some help in your career, I’m available for Career Mentoring as well as Ace the Interview Prep Sessions.

End your week on a high note with this video of Method Man

Let’s all get some self-care this weekend - take care of yourself and your people!

Why I Left My STEM Career

This post originally ran on The Billfold in September 2017 - I was very fortunate to pitch this piece to them! The Billfold has since shut down but I wanted to share this piece for those who didn’t see it the first time. Enjoy!



 
Photo by  Rodolfo Clix  from  Pexels

Photo by Rodolfo Clix from Pexels

 

Growing up, I was fascinated by science. In the eighth grade, I decided I wanted to be an engineer, and devoted the next seven years of my life to that dream. I started college at the University of Minnesota as an engineering major, but when I got into my first engineering course, I realized that I hated it! Turns out, I don’t really give a damn about how much is coming out of the reactor at time t. I wanted to know what was in the reactor and what reaction was taking place.

I’d spent the previous summer interning in a R&D lab, where I thoroughly enjoyed my days in the lab. Now I understood that, though I’d devoted many years to becoming a chemical engineer, I had a much stronger affinity to chemistry. After that revelation, I changed my major and focused specifically on polymer chemistry. The next two years of college were more suited to my interests, and I spent time interning in labs and doing an independent study in a research lab.

By the time I graduated from college, I had three internships under my belt. I’d learned a ton, including the fact that I absolutely hated working in a pharmaceutical research lab. This was an absolute bummer, as I’d spent years dreaming of one day becoming a pharmaceutical researcher. Turns out, it was more suited for a Type-A personality, which I am not. My internships also taught me that if I really wanted to work in corporate R&D one day, I’d need to get an advanced degree; otherwise I’d be relegated to the role of “technician” for my entire career. So instead of looking for a job senior year, I took the GRE and applied to graduate schools. I got into my dream school: Georgia Tech.

In the physical sciences, you apply straight into a PhD program, and I started mine just three months after I graduated from undergrad. I was an okay college student, so I was in no way prepared for how rigorous a PhD program at a top-ranked school would be. Frankly, it took all the fun and joy out of chemistry. I loved my classmates and I found my research interesting, but I hated how my professors went out of their way to make us feel small and stupid. My health started to suffer and I knew I needed a different environment. So, after I passed my candidacy exam, I decided to graduate with a Masters in Chemistry. Leading up to graduation, I started job hunting, and I found a job as a polymer chemist for Lockheed Martin.

My first “real” job as a chemist was an eye-opening experience; looking back, it was the perfect opportunity for me. I was hired into a lab where there hadn’t been a new hire in ten years; I was also the only woman and person of color in the lab group. In short, I worked with all old white guys who were getting ready to retire, with the expectation that they’d pass their knowledge onto me.

My labmate had worked in that same lab more years than I’d been alive, but surprisingly we got along great. He was a great mentor and taught me a great deal about corporate life, materials chemistry, and how to grow my career. He and my manager both gave me lots of opportunities to grow my skills beyond the lab, such as allowing me to be the project manager for a major laboratory renovation. At Lockheed I ran a materials lab, doing lots of testing on various materials to answer questions like “why didn’t my two-part epoxy cure?”

My job was fun, I had a great schedule, and I was paid handsomely for my work. But I hated where I lived. Orlando is not a fun town, especially for a young Black professional. So, after a few years in Florida, I started job hunting.

My job hunt led me back to the Twin Cities, where I took a job at a GE Water manufacturing facility. I was hired to run the analytical chemistry lab, but I was woefully unprepared for what that actually meant. I went from a pretty laid-back, low-stress environment to a very demanding, high-stress role that left me feeling like I was constantly underwater. I was truly challenged in that role, and working in a new industry taught me a great deal. GE is well-known as a Six Sigma company, and I learned Six Sigma methodology and completed projects before I’d even gone through the formal classes. GE also sent me, along with my lab group, to project management training.

I’ve noticed an interesting trend amongst all of my college friends: those of us who have STEM degrees all ended up transitioning to non-STEM roles at some point in our careers. For me, after six years in the lab, I was beginning to feel burnt out. I wasn’t eager to simply change companies or disciplines; I knew I needed a non-lab role. While I explored opportunities within GE, I got a phone call out of the blue from a Target recruiter. She explained that they were looking for people with technical backgrounds for data analyst roles, and asked if I’d be interested. I figured I’d give it a shot and see what came of it. After multiple interviews, they made me an offer and I accepted.

I started my non-lab career as a Senior Supply Chain Analyst, working on various projects for the distribution centers. My entire team was made up of former engineers & scientists, and we brought statistical and analytical rigor to our roles, which was a relatively new capability to Target. I spent two years as a supply chain analyst, including fifteen months working on Target Canada, before I moved onto a Senior Business Partner role in Store Operations. Essentially I am a process owner/project manager/analyst working on a variety of projects that impacted operations within the stores.

When people hear about my background as a lab chemist, they always ask me how I ended up in my current role at Target. I tell them that it was a combination of luck and building my skill set. While I was a laboratory chemist, I accumulated a bunch of other transferrable skills. But I also got lucky and was recruited by a company that understood the value of a person’s skills over the subject matter of their degree. My project management and Six Sigma training have come in handy, and so has my experience writing lab reports, solving client problems and troubleshooting issues.

A STEM degree teaches you how to think critically and solve problems logically—both valuable skills in any job. My time at Target has added other skills to my toolbox, like SQL and supply chain methodologies. Almost every day I rely on a skill that I learned in my “previous life” as a chemist, but I apply it in a different way.

Addendum: since this post was originally published, I’ve changed roles within Target but I’m still a senior data analyst, just in a new business unit. I continue to enjoy my work at Target and growing my skillset.

19. Things I Ponder - What Makes Certain Entertainment "Hold Up"?

 
Photo by  Guilherme Almeida  from  Pexels
 

We made it to another weekend!

I love pop culture, especially stuff that I grew up, especially movies and TV shows. Lately I’ve been thinking about one specific question: what makes a movie or TV show “hold up”? For the unfamiliar, I think of “holding up” as being able to be enjoyed years later and still be in touch with current society. There are shows that I was still watch and love that definitely fit the criteria of holding up, and others that I watch solely for the nostalgia because they definitely do not hold up, for various reasons.

Take, for example, Golden Girls - a show that I think completely holds up 30 years later. It’s still so funny and the jokes still work in 2019. And their serious episodes all fall on the right side of history, whether it’s tackling gay & lesbian issues, interracial marriage, the AIDS epidemic, undocumented immigrants, etc. Similarly, I think Living Single holds up in the same way - the storylines were (mostly) realistic, the jokes are still funny and it’s still very relatable in 2019. Contrast that with a show like Sex and the City, which feels really dated even though it was a more recent show. I think it doesn’t hold up because the setup was so unbelievable, from Carrie’s designer habit to portraying a NYC with virtually no people of color. It’s also out of step with current cultural norms - for example, you can hear the term “tranny” on the show, which is a no-no. Another is Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, a movie which I loved as a kid, but as an adult I realize is so incredibly racist in its portrayal of India. There’s no way that movie would ever get greenlit in 2019.

I’m formulating a theory in my head around what makes a TV show or movie “hold up” but I’m curious what other people think - what would you highlight as a TV show or movie that still holds up in 2019?

Things I Read This Week:

Not all of West Side Story has aged gracefully, but its spectacular dancing sure has (A.V. Club)

Black Voters Get That Bernie Marched With MLK. They Want To Know What He’ll Do For Them Now. (Buzzfeed)

LOFT’s New Mommy-And-Me Collection is ADORABLE (The Mom Edit)

Lyft Says It’s ‘Not in the Transportation Business,’ So Disability Law Doesn't Apply (Gizmodo)

Seattle Times Journalist Suspended After Harassing Writer With Gross Twitter DMs (Jezebel)

The Midwest Isn't Just White People (Jezebel)

The True Road Warriors: How Men With Disabilities Travel the World (MEL Magazine)

Switching Political Parties (Design Mom)

Alexa has been eavesdropping on you this whole time (CT Post)

Tweak the Vote | Radiolab | WNYC Studios (Radiolab)

The Coming Generation War (The Atlantic)

Representation Matters: 35 Black Kids TV Shows You Can Watch Right Now (Mater Mea)

The politics of home (Curbed)

Other Stuff:

I took advantage of the Sephora VIB sale to restock on some of my favorite items: L’Occitane hand cream, a Benefit brow pencil, and Clarisonic replacement brush heads. I also picked up the Fenty Beauty Instant Warmth Bronzer in Caramel Cutie - I hope it looks good!

I haven’t been doing much reading lately - my free time is taken up by writing and knitting - but I picked up The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle because I couldn’t resist after reading a quick synopsis.

This weekend is Mother’s Day weekend! I won’t get to spend it with my mom but I did make sure to get her gift and cards in the mail so hopefully she gets both before Sunday. I’ll be spending the day with my little one. For all the moms out there, I hope you enjoy it in whatever way is good for you.

Enjoy your weekend!