I’m in the Houston airport waiting to fly home and I am sad that I’m not with my kids. It doesn’t feel fun to fly around the country making deals when you have a home life that depends on you. Which is why most women who have control over their lives don’t travel for work.
But look, if you have a career where you earn more than $100K, you either routinely work late, or you travel for work. Which is why a huge majority of mothers want to work from home, or work part-time.
It’s just that once you decide you are working from home or working part-time, you are not going to build a career with any achievements big enough to brag about. So many women tell me they want to work part-time but they want to do work that’s fulfilling, that matters, that blah blah blah. But people who commit to something part-time end up mattering part-time. Which is to say not at all. Sorry.
There is no war between working moms and stay-at-home moms. There is a war between women who construct their lives as lies and women who believe them. The women waging war are the the ones who talk about how they magically give nothing up. They spend their lives propping themselves up as a goddess of work-life balance while
inadvertently putting down all other women in the process.
The big famous spotlight seeking liars? I’ve already called those women out as full of shit. Now I’m going to start calling out do-gooders; the women who look the most sweet, the most humble, the most pulled-together are also spewing lies about their work.
In the airport I was remembering going to Cubs games as a kid and then I started googling Theo Epstein. He’s the boy-wonder of baseball who became the youngest general manager at age 28. He won the World Series twice with the beleaguered Boston Red Sox, and now he’s in Chicago trying to do the same thing.
I couldn’t help also googling his wife. It’s my nature. I like to know how women manage their lives.
Her name is Marie Whitney and she went to Harvard for graduate school in public health and she worked with disadvantaged kids, and blah blah blah, she’s a do-gooder with a great smile and a hot body. No surprise there.
And I am SO INCREDIBLY BLOWN AWAY BY THE CRAP SHE DISHES OUT ON HER SITE THAT I’M PRINTING IT ALL HERE. RIGHT NOW.
NO. WAIT. I’M GOING TO ANNOTATE IT.
Two Penny Blue began in 2010 AFTER MY HUSBAND WON TWO WORLD SERIES AND WAS THE MOST VALUABLE MAN IN BASEBALL in a humble 8×10 office in the attic of an old home on the outskirts of Boston, MA. ONE OF THE MOST EXPENSIVE HOUSING MARKETS IN THE US. I would work whenever I could steal a few moments away – usually while my baby son napped. At first the task – creating a incredible line of jackets and blazers with a social mission of educating girls around the world – with no formal fashion training BECAUSE YOU DON’T NEED ANY TRAINING IF YOU’RE RICH and a tiny budget seemed.. well, impossible. EXCEPT THAT BECAUSE “TINY BUDGET” IS RELATIVE THE FEAT WAS ACTUALLY NOT AT ALL IMPOSSIBLE. It was exciting, scary, exhilarating, and by most accounts, simply crazy. The order was a tall one and the standards of excellence for the collection were exceedingly high and uncompromising BECAUSE IF YOU HAVE UNLIMITED FUNDS YOU CAN LINGER FOR TWO YEARS OVER THE DETAILS – the fit needed to be perfect, the fabrics the finest in the world, the craftsmanship the best I’d ever seen BECAUSE I COULD AFFORD TO HIRE ONLY THE BEST, and the jackets modern classics. But hour by hour, day by day, sleepless night by sleepless night, the passion for the company only grew stronger and the dream of Two Penny Blue became a reality. In July, 2012 I launched our first collection of blazers on our website. The response was overwhelming BECAUSE BOSTON WAS OBSESSED WITH EVERY SINGLE THING MARIE AND THEO DO and I packed orders up to the ceiling in the attic until 2am thinking “wow , we might just have something here.” And we do. My baby boy is now 7 years and that tiny, dusty attic in the office has grown into an eclectic design studio in a great shopping district in Chicago. NEXT TO WRIGLEY FIELD BECAUSE MY HUSBAND IS WITH THE CUBS NOW The passion, the mission, the fear, the excitement, and crazy determination are stronger than ever. Our story is just beginning.
If I had not accidentally done research, and then annotated this story you would have thought you could launch a fashion business, too. You would have said you want to have kids and open a business on the side. Like that would ever be possible.
Why does Marie have to tell this story? Because she wants people to feel like she did something that is bigger than quitting work to raise a family. She doesn’t want people to think she went to Harvard to save disadvantaged children and then just married well. Because it’s really hard for anyone to get a great education and feel like they can do anything and then realize you can pretty much do nothing once you have kids.
Unless you have TONS and TONS of money. Or you have a career that is very very well established before the kids arrive. The New York Times has told us that women who launch successful businesses with young kids have husbands with money. But we tune that out. We don’t want it to be true. Instead we want to listen to people like Marie Whitney Epstein who tell us tall tales about small business struggles.
I also want to point you to the incredibly small amount of press this company has received since inception. In fact, every single mention in the press begins with the Cubs. This is because Marie doesn’t do press. She doesn’t need to. She will never find herself having to leave her kids at home so she can go to some odd-ball city for a press junket.
That, I guess, is why I’m so angry. I’m angry that when I write about how hard things are for me — that having a startup and raising two kids is totally unmanageable — people offer me suggestions. Like, oh, I’ve seen lots of women do this, surely you just need a new strategy.
When we talk about women trying to work while they take care of kids, there’s a lot of finger pointing: maternity leave laws should change, companies should provide flexible jobs, men should do more emotional labor… But what we really need is for women to stop lying about their choices, achievements and struggles. A key step toward institutional reform is for women to be honest about what they are able to do and the resources that have to do it with.