June 4, 2012 § Leave a comment
When I first started Judy’s Corner it was my hope that I’d write pithy posts about my journey as an independent communications and media consultant and I’d demonstrate to readers and potential clients that I, well, knew how to write. I also wanted to share my more than 20 years of knowledge and experience in the ever-changing world of communications through real-life examples along with my sharp wit and sarcastic sense of humor. But somewhere along the way, like most women, I changed my mind.
Somehow writing about the latest social media tools and how to measure success in a communications program didn’t seem as fun to me as writing about being a 40-something mother and the trials and tribulations of raising my young son, while running a business, all in New York City. Strangely both areas require incredible amounts of strategic thinking and planning and with both, more often than not in the end you basically punt and do whatever it takes to reach your final goal. The main difference, of course, is a smiling little boy…well, most of the time.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m still learning the latest and greatest in the world of communications and media and I still offer the same services and more to my clients. That will never change. Neither will my sarcastic tone. The only thing that’s changing direction is my blog. Now I know there are hundreds, probably thousands of Mommy Blogs, some of them are my favorites: The Mommy Blog, The Mogul Mom and Traveling Mom, to name a few. But I’m sure there are other 40-something work-at-home mothers raising young children that would enjoy my musings and share their thoughts, right?
In all honesty, as blogs go who really knows if anyone is actually reading them. So in the off chance you are following me (thank you!) I hope you stay in my corner and keep traveling with me along my 40-something journey of working motherhood, and share your occasional commentary along the way!
May 30, 2012 § 1 Comment
It all started last summer when we were invited to the country club of some friends and Jack got the chance to “play” golf with their son. Since then he has taken two golf classes at school and can’t wait to take more. We even bought him his own kid-sized putter that he uses almost every day. He comes home from Golf class and talks endlessly about chip shots and full swings. Hey, it’s never too young to get your kids interested in Golf, right? It worked for Tiger, well at least the Golf part did.
However, to really understand how much Jack has taken to the sport of Golf is to hear what recently happened on our Memorial Day vacation to Boston. It was a normal bedtime routine of Jack refusing to go to sleep, but this time he asked if he could watch TV while he was in bed. He was sleeping on a roll-away bed in a separate room that happened to have a TV in it. While we initially said no, specifically because he wanted to watch Kung Fu Panda on HBO, we finally gave in when Jack announced he wanted to watch the Golf Channel! Now we’re not sure if it was the low tones of the golf announcer or if it’s because he was super tired, but two nights in a row he fell asleep in less than five minutes! Note to self…buy this child a TV for his bedroom at home that only plays the Golf Channel!
Who knows if this trend will continue or if this is just a passing fad, but I have no problem encouraging Jack to follow his current passion on the links. Of course, if he really does go on to become a Golf superstar I guess I’ll have to really work on not being that mother on the sidelines. But let’s face it, to know me is to know that’s probably not going to happen!
May 1, 2012 § 4 Comments
It’s always been a long tradition in my family to make a big deal out of all celebrations be it birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, and of course, important Hallmark holidays. Of all the celebrations, however, birthdays have always been our big thing, probably because my sister and I shared the same birthday (seven years apart!) and there was always double the celebration in our house.
In my quest to share this tradition with my son, Jack, I often tell him the birthdays of all our close family and friends so we can help them celebrate, even if we’re far away. Because Jack has this ridiculous memory and obsession with all things numbers you can literally ask him when one of these people’s birthday is and most times he will be able to tell you. This really freaks people out.
So I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised this morning when after asking me if today was May 1 Jack then asked, “Is today Papa’s birthday and is he 78?” But since my father (Papa) passed away in 2010 (at 76), a month after Jack turned 3 years old, you can imagine my shock. Again, I realize his memory is sick and his fascination with numbers is over the top, but part of me hoped his question was because of our little tradition. He went on to ask if Papa was celebrating his birthday in heaven and I told him he was and that he was probably eating a big piece of chocolate birthday cake!
I’ve always been sad at the thought that my father will probably be a distant memory to Jack as the years go by and I’m always looking for ways to keep him front and center. I’ll forever be grateful that he lived long enough to know Jack (since it took me so long to get with the program and actually get married and have a child!).
I wondered how I would get through today and all the birthdays to come that I won’t be able to call my dad and talk to him, and now I know. I’ll just carry on our celebration tradition by marking the occasion with Jack. I’m so thankful for Jack’s big memory, although I’ll have to be super cautious with what I tell him moving forward!
Happy Birthday, Daddy! I love and miss you everyday! And I hope you’re eating that big piece of chocolate cake!
April 29, 2012 § 4 Comments
Here’s a question for you: What’s harder – getting into college or getting into kindergarten in New York City? If you live anywhere other than New York City I’m sure your answer would be college, but for those of us currently going through the kindergarten admissions process in NYC, I bet I know your response: “I wish this process was for college!”
I find it incredibly ironic that at the same time the majority of my friends are going through the college admissions process for their children, I’m going through the kindergarten admissions process for my child. And in New York City, it’s basically one in the same. How can that be, you ask? Well let’s see: in order to apply to one of the prestigious kindergartens in New York City your 4-year old has to take a test and score in the top percentile, you have to go on a school tour, write an essay about your child (your 4-year old child!), pay an application fee, conduct parent and child interviews and then wait to find out if you are either accepted, wait-listed or rejected all together. Sound anything like college to you?
Now here’s another question: Which costs more?
I realize that I’ve been out of college for more than 25 years (I’m so old!) and that having attended a state university my recollection and experience with college tuition is obviously somewhat skewed, but come on, we’re talking kindergarten! A friend of mine was looking at a private college in California for her daughter, but quickly ruled it out due to the hefty price tag. When I asked her how much it was and she told me, I’m sure she was expecting me to choke, but I didn’t. I told her that was about the same price as private kindergarten in New York City. She choked.
I know you’re probably saying “your choice, your problem,” and, “what about public school?” Well what about it? We happen to live in a great district with a more than fine public elementary school, but there’s a slight challenge in that there are so many children living in the same district that there’s actually a lottery to get into the school. Since I’ve never had any luck at playing the actual lottery you can only imagine my excitement about banking on this system for child’s education.
I realize this kindergarten process is not necessarily exclusive to New York City, but based on the sheer number of kids in this city, I have to think the competition here is unlike anywhere else. The testing process alone is enough to put you over the edge. If you don’t believe me, read this article from New York magazine titled, “Failing at Four.” Nice title, huh? Apparently Stanley Kaplan (now Kaplan Test Prep) has capitalized on this phenomenon as they now offer Kaplan Kids with online training courses for pre-kindergarten students. In the words of my 4-year old son, “What?!”
And then there comes the part of the process where you actually have to choose which schools you want to submit an application. There are so many schools in New York City that offer different forms of education it truly does feel like you’re applying for college. The differences are that at least for college you can select schools based on climate, how good looking the students are and how high their sports teams are ranked. Not the case for a kindergarten. Luckily busy New Yorkers have a number of “advisers” who can help guide them through the entire process, with no guarantees, of course. Unlike life where there actually are no guarantees, you’ll have to shell out thousands of dollars no matter what the outcome.
Of course, a more low-tech way is to read what many call the admissions bible, the “Manhattan Family Guide to Private Schools and Selective Public Schools, 6th Edition.” And then there’s simply the school’s own website. Now maybe it’s my years of public relations training and my own ability to write spin, uh, I mean good marketing copy…or maybe I’m just a cynic (probably the latter), but after reading the majority of these sites and the bible, I can understand why most parents find very few reasons to not apply their child to every school. But here’s the rub. It’s not that each time you apply you’re paying anywhere from $75-$200 an application or that you even have to tour each of these schools and conduct a parent and child interview. It’s that the likelihood of you getting into any of the schools is well, like winning the lottery. Some schools only have 20 slots for “new families” as the majority of their openings go to siblings and legacies. Get the picture?
I told a friend of mine the other day, also going through the process for her son, that we should start a new reality show. We can call it “The 4-Year Old Scholar.” Why not? There’s a show for everything these days. And besides, who wouldn’t want to watch this crazy process play out on television. I would! It worked for Pregnant in Heels!
Despite my sarcasm, I too am going through the process. If for nothing else than to say I survived (hopefully). In the end I’m confident Jack will get into a school that will best fit his and our needs and all will be fine. The upside to all of this is that by the time he’s ready for college this whole process will be a piece of cake. Hell, maybe we’ll be able to dust off his kindergarten essays and use them again!
April 3, 2012 § 2 Comments
This morning I was watching The Today Show and after a segment with Tori Spelling talking about her new book and her new baby (is she really pregnant again!?), who comes on to perform, but Wilson Phillips. Wow! That really took me back. Apparently they have a new album out called Dedicated and it includes songs of their parents (the Mamas and the Papas and the Beach Boys). Appropriately they sang what will probably be the most popular song on the album, “California Dreamin’.”
This song has always had significant meaning to me and hearing them sing it today is very ironic timing. Twenty-two years ago this month I went on my own California Dreamin’ adventure and left Texas to move out to Los Angeles to chase who knows what. I had a job with a record label and the first band I had the privilege of promoting was none other than Wilson Phillips. At the time they were a very young, brand new girl group with harmonic voices that brought back to life an era gone by. They were an instant hit and it was so much fun helping take their songs to the top of the Billboard charts, experiencing all the fanfare at their concerts and being part of that slice of musical history.
I remember when their single, “Hold On” hit number one on Billboard knocking out Madonna’s “Vogue.” As a thank you to all the record promotion managers at the label (myself included) they bought us each a brand new Nintendo Game Boy. Now this was a very big deal because at the time I was on a plane every week going from city to city promoting the label’s music and now I had a new toy to keep me occupied. Tetris fast became my favorite game and I mastered it in no time.
As Chynna, Carnie and Wendy were being interviewed this morning I heard them say things like between them they have something like nine children and they’re all in their mid-40s. How can that be? During my days as a record promotion manager I saw a lot of interesting things and it allowed me to meet all types of people. I always had a special connection with Wilson Phillips because we were all about the same age and even though they were considered music royalty, they were always very gracious and appreciative, and just as young and innocent as anyone in their 20s looking to make it on their own.
In addition to their new album they also have a reality TV show coming out appropriately called, “Wilson Phillips Still Holding On.” I know I’ll watch it if for nothing else than to see how they’re keeping together all these years later. Like us all, they’ve had missteps here and there, but damn they can still sing! I wish them much success with the new album, the new TV show and all their other endeavors. As for my California dream…while I left there years ago, ironically the man of my dreams turned out to be from, you guessed it…California. Who knew? And by the way, I have never lost my touch with Tetris and continue to master it today…minus the Game Boy, of course!
January 30, 2012 § Leave a comment
When all my friends were having children (in their 20s and 30s) I often looked on in awe at how they juggled mommy duties, wifely obligations, work commitments, and just doing something every once in a while for themselves, although that always seemed to be the last thing on their lists. I’ll be honest, while I was often envious they had happy marriages and children, I was almost never envious of their hectic schedules and seemingly mundane routines. And like most people who are single and have nothing but time to themselves, I often thought if and when my time came to have their life I’d certainly do it differently. And then my time finally came.
I’ve never been one to do things in the traditional sense. I think the only thing I did early in life was talk. So it was no surprise that marriage and children became part of my plan while my friends of the same age (and younger) were celebrating 10-15 years of marriage and helping their kids study for Bar and Bat Mitzvahs and pre-college exams. But that didn’t matter because while they were building a home, I was building a career. I always thought how great my life was that no matter how tough a time I had at the office at least I didn’t have to be responsible for anyone but me at the end of the day. Selfish, right? But like most things, even that can become dull and routine.
Now that I’ve added wife and mother to my previously exclusive title of career woman my list of responsibilities have increased tenfold. To cope I find myself drawing upon what I know best, just getting things done. And living in New York City adds a whole new twist to things, starting with getting around town. It never fails, when you’re faced with a day that includes before and after school activities, it’s always raining. No problem if you have the safety of being in your car, but when your main mode of transportation includes your feet, an umbrella and a stroller, let’s just say it gives new meaning to a bad hair day. Add into the mix client obligations for work, personal errands and making dinner, well now you have a real party! But I digress.
Whether at work or home, women are born multi-taskers; it’s in our DNA. We can’t help ourselves. We’re constantly finding new ways to devise plans to get things done, and get them done in the most timely, effective manner.
So now I have the life of running around to school, play dates, birthday parties and swim classes while managing a career and home. I haven’t lost that single girl fantasy of doing things differently, however. Experience is my wisdom…okay, some may call it my age, but whatever it’s called it works! I don’t wake up and create a to do list and put projected hours next to each task, but I definitely have a strategy or plan of attack to each day. When I was in full career mode I was always resistant to change. It terrified me. The good thing about my plans today is that I’ve learned to punt when things change, which is pretty much an everyday occurrence!
I’ve always found the phrase, “You can have it all” so cliché when talking about a woman having a husband, career and family. I mean would you settle for anything less than having it all? Not likely. And what does having it all mean anyway? Today change no longer scares me; bring it on! Some days it may not be pretty, but because it’s no longer just about me, I now have no choice but to just get it done!
September 11, 2011 § Leave a comment
With all eyes on New York City as the nation marks the 10th anniversary of 9/11, I can’t help reflect on my own experience from 10 years ago. On September 10, 2001 I happened to be in New York finalizing my new apartment lease. Now this was unlike anything I had ever done because in New York signing an apartment lease is like the equivalent to buying a small house in Texas! I had never plunked down more cash for anything in my entire life…and I like to shop!
I’ll never forget contacting Rona, an apartment broker, and asking about her services. If you remember the woman who played the real estate broker in the movie Wall Street, who liked to say, “honey” a lot, you will know whom I was speaking to. Rona was a true New Yorker who has done it all and seen it all. She told me she only got paid if she found me an apartment. Imagine my surprise when she informed that her fee was 15% of the first month’s rent. I said, “Rona, honey, I just want you to find me an apartment…I don’t want you to live me with!” She didn’t laugh. But I digress.
My lease was signed on September 10, 2001 and in one month I would move to New York City to start the next phase of my life. My flight that evening back to Dallas was severely delayed due to thunderstorms up and down the east coast. I remember them getting us on the plane and the flight attendant saying we weren’t going anywhere for several hours. And then the pilot got on and said we were delayed, but as soon as they lifted the hold we would get home. He then mentioned that we were lucky because we were going south. Anyone going west that evening was stuck for the evening. I can only imagine how long they were really stuck after the next mornings’ events.
Everyone remembers where he or she was when the planes hit and what they were thinking at the time. I just remember the first thing that came to my mind was, “I just plunked down my life’s savings and I don’t even know if I have a place to live.” But I never wanted to get some place faster than I did at that very moment.
Moving to New York has been the greatest experience of my life…from tremendous experiences through my job to meeting my husband and having a child. While Texas will always be my home, I’ve never been happier to be a part of such a vibrant city that after one horrific day in history made me Texas proud to be a part.