A Cup of Ambition is a weekly newsletter filled with thought-provoking essays, interviews, links, and reflections on all things related to working motherhood. If you are here because someone shared this with you, I hope you’ll subscribe by clicking on the button below.
**I typically pre-schedule posts when I go out of town, but I’ll be taking next week off for some much-needed rest. I will be back in your inbox on August 11 😎**
I’ve said it a million times, but I firmly believe that parenting is a leadership asset and organizations—and parents!—would be well-suited to recognize parental leave as a key time for leadership development.
It's a huge identity shift to transition from "worker" to "working parent", and coaching can help new parents clarify their values, establish boundaries, and cultivate the transferrable skills important in both domains. Plus, coaches can work with managers to ensure they are properly supporting their new parent employees.
If you are interested in parental leave coaching for yourself, or bringing a parental leave coaching program to your organization, please reach out (you can either reply to this email or schedule a consultation through my website).
Cities aren’t meant for kids. But they could be (The Atlantic)
My husband and I lived in Center City Philadelphia for most of our 20s. At one point, we lived in a duplex above a 7/11 (classy), next door to a couple who had just had a baby. My husband and I marveled as they schlepped their City Mini up and down the stairs to their front door and rolled our eyes as we could hear their son cry through the paper-thin walls in the middle of the night. After about three months, we weren’t surprised when they decided to move out to the suburbs. I remember the dad telling us it was just too hard to raise a baby in the city.
This is a great article that asks us to re-imagine how we can create cities that are more conducive to raising a family, and highlights the broad benefits of doing so. “The difficulty of raising a child in a city is not unique to the United States, but it mirrors the strain of American parenting in general: Kids are sidelined by policy makers, and that creates unnecessary burdens for parents. [. . .] Because there are so few ways for kids to handle boredom and loneliness independently—other than on the internet—many parents must continually scramble to arrange playdates and register their kids for activities.”
Working parents are having a rough summer. Some co-workers don’t want to hear about it. (Wall Street Journal)
Oh boy—this article evoked some strong reactions from me! And though I certainly don’t agree with every perspective voiced in this article, I do think it’s important to read. Because whether colleagues are voicing their resentment towards working parents out loud, it’s likely some of them are feeling it, and that’s important for us to know.
“Co-workers without kids understand that parenting is hard. Really. They also say that it’s a choice and that people with kids gripe too much. Rushing to the camp pickup line by 5:30 p.m. can be frazzling, sure; staying late to hit a deadline can be stressful, too, and childless workers say they’re often expected to finish the job when parents need to dash. Don’t even get them started on time-off requests, an especially contentious subject in sunny weather. They say colleagues’ family vacations routinely get approved before their own romantic getaways or solo excursions because managers (who often have kids, too) prioritize time with children.”
My manic first days of motherhood (The Cut)
This is a really powerful first-hand account of postpartum psychosis, a condition that affects one of every 500 postpartum mothers.
“I knew that being manic wasn’t my fault, but the hardest part was coming to terms with the fact that during the early weeks of my daughter’s life, I had been distracted and delusional. I had no prior history of mental illness and was shaken to discover how thoroughly my brain had betrayed me. While manic, I was convinced I was thriving as a mother. It was painful to think back to how happy I’d been, how calm and at ease I’d felt following my daughter’s birth. Had any of it been real?”
Two humorous pieces, because we all need some levity right about now 🙃
A few math problems for mothers (New Yorker)
My favorite controlled substance is daycare (McSweeney’s)
This summer has been a bit of a logistical nightmare for me. My kids are in a hodge-podge of different camps in the mornings and we have two sitters (plus a back-up) who help out in the afternoons. Even with all of this infrastructure in place, it seems like there’s always something coming up—someone had a COVID exposure, someone else is heading out of town, camp is closed for thunderstorms, etc. Even when everything is working well, it’s still challenging working from home and having the kids here in the afternoon.
Because of all this, I’ve really struggled to settle in and embrace summer. I’m so focused on making sure that everyone is scheduled and everything is running as planned that I haven’t really gotten to relax.
A couple of weeks ago, my husband chartered a small fishing boat. I like to joke that I’m more of an “indoor mom” and this really didn’t seem like my cup of tea. In fact, I seriously considered not going. I’m so glad that I ignored my first instinct, because it ended up being one of my favorite memories of the summer.
We ended up catching a total of nine fish (who woulda thought??) But the highlight was catching a 32 inch sea bass together with my son—the look on his face when we reeled that sucker in was priceless.
Maybe there’s an activity, event, or experience that’s slightly out of your comfort zone. Think about doing it anyways. It might be just what you need
A few weeks ago, in a discussion thread for paid subscribers, we had a great conversation about professional role models. It made me reflect on my own experience, and—unfortunately—what came to mind first were the handful of women I’ve known in my career who modeled behavior I knew I never wanted to emulate.
But then I thought back to my first graduate school internship at a small nonprofit organization. The Executive Director, Barb, was an early role model of a strong, highly competent, and exceptionally kind leader. The internship was unpaid (like all social work internships), but I will never forget that she thanked me for my work each and every day—regardless of the fact that I was required to complete the work as part of my graduate coursework. Through her example, I learned the value of regularly expressing appreciation for all members of the team.
So, I ask you:
Who are your professional role models?
What characteristics do they have in common?
How would you like to emulate them?
P.S., If you’d like “in” on future subscriber threads, consider upgrading your subscription ☺️
I want to cover what’s important to YOU. I welcome reader input in deciding what and who to write about. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and put “newsletter idea” in the subject.