Tuesday, June 22, 2010

OIJDIM isn’t the answer

I’m taking a break from the end-of-year-class-project-teacher-gift, a book of photos and quotes of my daughter's 2nd grade class. Nice idea (not mine!), waaaaay too much work. This “little” project has got me thinking about my inability to negotiate my fees well. This is a freebie of course, but I could have said no or asked for help. Why not?

Three times recently I’ve low-balled my fees. In one case I’ve done additional work without charging. In another, I gave so much information away in the initial--free--meeting the client hardly needs me. The interesting part is these clients are all women, 2 are moms. At the same time, I held my ground with a male client, aimed high and got more than I thought I would. Why am I so resistant to asking another mom for what I’m worth? For payment for my skills and knowledge?

Last week I had a networking coffee with another mom from school—a real go-getter with a new business. Repeatedly, I offered to help her--gratis--with her website photos (“It’s what I do! Really, it’s no problem!”) Repeatedly she refused. She finally said: “You have to stop thinking like a designer and start thinking like a business person.”

She’s right. That kind of “I’ll take care of it. Let me help you” attitude is so ingrained in me I can’t stop myself from offering help. Isn’t this is what we mothers do: we pick up each others kids from school, edit each other’s resume, design the bloody class project? We raise our hands. We’re volunteers. It’s called sisterhood.

How many times do we say “Oh, I’ll just do it myself ” instead of asking for help or, in my case, asking for more money? (After I write this post I’ll likely pick up the TV room rather than try and get my kids to help.) Since the days of having an assistant are over, there’s a certain amount of “Oh, I’ll just do it myself ” inherent in business (as in motherhood). Like folding laundry, sometimes it’s just faster to do it. And often there isn’t anybody else raising their hand.

But, to paraphrase my coffee date, I have to stop thinking like a mom and start thinking like a CEO. “OIJDIM” isn’t always the answer and doesn’t necessarily mean free.


Friday, June 11, 2010


I’m not one of those moms who gets offended easily and writes letters about stuff she’s read about or seen on TV. I simply don't have the brain power or the time.

But here I am on a Friday night, when I should be nursing a second beer on the stoop, watching my kids skateboard, writing about how upset I am about the finale of GLEE. Yep, GLEE—a show, the only prime-time show, I adore. What’s got me upset (besides the loss at regionals)? All the baby stuff.

Let’s just gloss over the glamorization of teen pregnancy. Yes, Quinn had a few hard moments in the first trimester but she became a better person, won her mom back, and managed to dance and sing right up to delivery (even my kids were worried about the baby on that regionals number).

What really has me freaking out is the way GLEE has handled adoption. As the mother of two adopted girls who are GLEE fanatics I’m struggling to find a way to explain the mixed and downright sad messages their favorite show has sent out. I’m not sure which of the following is more troublesome:

1. Rachel’s birth mother, knowing that Rachel is her daughter, coerces a student to woo her and then break her heart to gain advantage at regionals. At the same time, the birth mother, unable to contact Rachel directly because of adoption laws, gets the student to plant a cassette tape so Rachel will discover who her birth mother’s identity and contact her. How f--cked up is this? She’s breaking her daughter’s heart, but hey, she also wants to meet her after 16 years.

2. Having finally met Rachel, the birth mother decides that she’s missed too much of Rachel’s life and can’t handle a relationship with her. So she abandons her daughter a second time! (She sings a Lady Gaga duet with her to make up for her crappy behavior.) Oh, and then she let’s the student, who is now Rachel’s boyfriend, dump her and throw eggs at her. Nice.

3. So, you’d think Rachel’s misery would end here. No. Her friend Quinn, shedding not one tear, gives up her baby (after a ten-minute delivery). And guess who adopts the baby on the spot? Without so much as a background check, Rachel’s evil birth mother, carries a new baby girl home.

One of my adopted daughters (I have 3, one biological) threw a tantrum the night we watched the finale. At the time, I passed it off as a stayed-up-too-late fit. But after thinking all this through, I wonder if unconsciously she was upset about the messages the show was sending her. Is it really so easy for a woman—even a young one with a means side like Quinn—to give her child away? And could a mother really reach out to her daughter, a 16-year-old girl, befriend her, and then decide it’s too late to get to know her? Could she really just replace her flesh and blood daughter with a newborn? Should any of this be mixed up with comedy?

As I said above, I’m not prone to bitching about prime time TV. At the same time, choices were made in the writing of this show. Why did they have to involve Rachel’s birth mother at all? And if so, did she have to be so mean and calculating? Thankfully, Rachel’s the most resilient character on TV and we know she’ll bounce back (if she hasn’t already). But as a mom, I can’t let my girls think that they could or should sing their way through a hurt like this.

We’ll be discussing GLEE’s finale at the dinner table for awhile.