Working Mothers, Teenage Daughters & the iPhone 6


The conversation has been going on for the past fifteen years.  Are children at a disadvantage when both parents work full time?

I’ve come to believe the bigger impact is on the former executive mother, but many fathers are opting to stay close to home for their kids as well, so gender is now just an ancillary factor, but I can only speak to my own experience.

As a Marketing Director in technology, I loved developing new products, lunching with the PR and advertising people in San Francisco, and making a decent amount of money.  All of this was not exactly torture.  I like to know how things work, I like being an early adopter (still), I love the stress and fast pace of a launch or rush to market.  I like being competitive and I like to lead, manage and win market share.  I possessed, at the time, a rare innate sense of what made people want to buy technology.   During the years I worked South of Market and in the Financial District, I was able to compartmentalize my family.  I knew my children were home and safe in pre-school, grade school or with a reliable nanny, so I was able to focus on my work.  Now my children are teens and the landscape has changed dramatically.  They are on the move and when they aren’t I don’t exactly want the party at my house.  I have good kids, but they are also well supervised kids.  I will save the gory details of the 90 days I spent as a contracting Business Analyst in San Francisco last summer for another time.

I was told today, by a well seasoned mom (four kids out of college), that I have five tough years ahead (my youngest is 13 years old).  I kind of freaked.  No, let me be honest, I really freaked.  Because as the days go by I am increasingly longing for a life that is my own again not just one that is subjugated by carpool schedules, house work, dinner preparation and laundry.  If you’ve read the inspiring, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg, you know that it is possible to have a version of it all. However, Sandberg fails to mention that if you have it all you are likely doing it all.

I woke up on Monday, trying to figure out how to fit it all in.  One of the nastier tasks on my list was to pick up the iPhone 6 that I had pre-ordered for my daughter from the Apple Store (the reason why is another blog post).  I was the first of my friends to own an iPhone and everyone in my family has an iPhone and we upgrade often.  So being in the store and talked down to by the store employees was especially annoying.   Every time I asked a question the employee looked at me blankly and couldn’t give me an answer.  I was gently ushered to a seat where they tried to teach me how to setup my 11th iPhone.  I asked a complex question about my iCloud network and the employee just stared at me and kept repeating my question.   I can’t blame her.  I looked totally helpless wearing mommy sweat pants, my hair in a pony tail, perched on a stool with the other moms and senior citizens.  Plus, I was literally squinting at the iPhone 6 like it was a foreign object, so it is probably not her fault (note to self: wear real clothes to the Apple Store).   By the way, it’s not complicated to setup (with cloud backup) an iPhone, but it is more complex to use the iCloud to it’s full advantage, especially when the kids turn off the tracking devise feature and the calendar (the reason for the cloud).  In the end, I took the phone home and set it up myself (plug and play).  And, I was able to multitask while I did the house work.

How did this happen?

Sandberg failed to mention in her book the life of women entrepreneurs.  She didn’t address the never ending days of a parent who works from home.  Where there is no time off, but just one task followed by the next and many fun and wonderful moments and memories sandwiched in between.  The five hours I spent in the car yesterday with the teen volleyball team and driving my daughter to soccer practice truly created some priceless moments.   Because of these moments, I thank God for my small consulting business (minus the Business Analyst contract), my blog and my cookbook Real Food for Real People.   I am especially grateful for the fun and exciting things that I can do from my home office to help others and keep myself entertained while keeping a close eye on my teens.  I would, however, love for it to be more than something I squeeze into my already busy day.

After the Apple store incident, I started to question why I’ve worried how my working or not working would effect my kids, but didn’t consider how it impacted me.   Unlike Sandberg, I have chosen a middle road to having it all, but it has not been without losses.

Please let me know what you think.  I welcome your thoughts and comments on this topic.

P.S.  I would love for Sheryl Sandberg to be a secret shopper at the Apple Store, preferably wearing sweats and a pony tail.

4 thoughts on “Working Mothers, Teenage Daughters & the iPhone 6

  1. Love this, Sydney! The pressure to “do it all” will always be there for women. The stress, discussion, and monetary impact of deciding to work full time OR stay home will not go away. You make a great point about what stage of our kids’ lives they need us the most, or isn’t it every stage? Always good to hear other mom’s opinions and thoughts. None of us are alone. By the way, I also find myself dressing up to go to my daughter’s doctor’s appointments so that I’ll be taken seriously. 🙂


  2. My best advice for the upcoming years is to use that iPhone to call the other parents re arrangements and whose home!!! And yes. there will be party house where someone allows the kids to do whatever they want as long as they don’t drive…good luck! I dropped one off at college and feel five years younger, one more at home for 3 more years…don’t want them to hurry by but it will all be ok!


    1. Thanks DeAnna. I’m glad to know someday I will feel five years younger! You looked great at the Alpha Phi dinner in Portland this summer, so I will hang in there. I use the iPhone to make her send me a real time picture of herself, where she is, and who she’s with. If it looks sketchy I can go and get her. And FYI, sometimes the parents are home and the kids are still drinking and the parents just don’t know it. Keep them busy and on a short leash (sorry Polly for the dog metaphor – I know you hate it when I do that).


  3. I love your posts, Sydney. I grew up with a full-time working mom, and so did both of my kids. We all turned out great. I found that I learned independence and responsibility and my children did too. None of us were partiers because we learned to choose responsible friends and were involved in school activities that stressed the importance of being a team member that others knew they could count on. Both of my kids graduated college early and have great jobs. Our families were busy, but never too busy to not show up to support activities and cheer on accomplishments. It sounds like you are and always have been there for your girls and even though it’s harder now, you still have them as a priority. Hopefully when the teenage years’ difficult attitudes arise there is another family member like their aunt or cousins, or even a good friend they (and you) can vent to and everyone is supportive and good listeners. I know sometimes you just might need a break from each other, but have a strong relationship that you can come back to when emotions have settled. I can tell from your writing that your family has that relationship. Your girls are fortunate to have such a strong role model as both a mother and business-woman. You are amazing and are modeling how adversity can make you stronger. Your girls are so lucky that you’re their mom!


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