The Truth About Being a Working Mom
The hardest day of my life…
My husband is bath time/bedtime Daddy and it’s all because of me.
My mom worked as a nurse in a newborn nursery; absolute top of her industry. Her mom, my Grandma Ivy, worked as a milliner and was a class act. They both were amazing partners to their husbands first and also the most incredible Mamas. I definitely have the best Mama on the planet. She still mothers me EVERY day; every day. I longed for her every moment she was not with me; still do. She found a way, despite working, to be ever present for me, my two older sisters, and my younger brother: after-school snacks, my bed made, family suppers, chauffeured to every voice lesson & every girl scout meeting, modelled lessons on how to bake, host, shop, love unconditionally; everything that matters in what I value today.
“Your Father come’s first” she would say.
This was a truth in my life, and it was not a negative. I felt her love and attention as a child in the purest forms. She was my everything and even now that I am a mother and a wife, nothing has been diluted in my relationship with my Mom.
Undoubtedly, my parents 50+ years of marriage (they are on their second honeymoon in England right now!), where they put each other first, has had an impact on who I am, not only as a wife, but as a mother.
When Frith was born, I was the General Manager at BONDST. During my entire nine months of pregnancy, I worked, in heels, till 2am. Frith was born on January 19, 2011 at 11:59am. I returned to work, in heels, till 2am, when he was just five weeks old.
“Going back to work will be the hardest thing you have ever done.” my Mama said.
She was right. Sobbing, I gently handed my son to our new Nanny, Naty. I picked up my breast pump and began to take steps toward the subway. I had to literally think about walking: “left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot.” By the time I reached work, I’d already surpassed the minutes I had been separate from Frith since the day he was conceived. I honestly don’t know how I did it, but now I can see the gift I have given to Frith and my husband Jason by being a working mom.
That day, Jason became bath time/bedtime Daddy. Naty would finish her care at 7pm and Jason did the rest. At that time, Jason’s Dad, Grandpa Bob, stayed with us three days a week in our guest room. Bob was a business partner in Jason’s company, COLE Audio & Video, and he would travel in from Connecticut to lead the guys in the field and support Jason in raising our precious Frith. Together they bathed, fed, napped, played, fed, cuddled, napped, fed Frith… and then Daddy would do bedtime.
I continued to work at BONDST until 2014 when I left to open my own restaurant, White Street. Frith was three and I went from working 50 hours a week to working 65+. It’s hard for me to describe the sacrifice I made as a mother and I can’t honestly say it was worth it, but it is what I did. Somehow, we got through. Jason and Frith would come and visit me at the restaurant at least twice a week. It was hard, really hard. I cried A LOT, so did Frith, but when I was home, I tried to be like my Mama. I loaded up the fridge with home-cooked meals, I did laundry, made beds, hosted THE BEST play dates. And when it was just “Mommy, Daddy, Frith” (a phase Frith still loves to say when we are all together) we would dance till we were dripping with sweat and sing to exhaustion (which was actually not possible for me- I never tire of singing!!).
Once a week, when I was home for bedtime, Jason would retreat to his office and give me the honor. I would crawl into bed with Frith, read stories, then lights out for lullabies, “The Goodnight Song” followed by “Somewhere over the Rainbow” on repeat until we were both asleep.
Those nights were heaven.
I left operations at White Street in the Spring of 2016 and six months later we decided to close. Shortly after, still needing to “bring home some bacon,” I accepted the General Manager position at Empellon. Jason and Frith again would visit me at the restaurant, Frith now seven and obsessed with the Chicken tacos.
“Mama, I don’t know why you closed your restaurant. You had the best pancakes! But now my favorite food are these Chicken tacos, so it’s okay.”
In many ways, both White Street and Empellon were my other children. After “birthing” now three kiddos (Frith, White Street, and Empellon) AND being awarded the greatest honor in NYC restaurant accolades (three stars by The New York Times), Jason and I decided we could afford the risk of my starting my own company, Flaweless. Frith was very upset.
“Mama! You can’t stop working at Empellon!! I need those tacos! Mama, please!!”
For REAL, this conversation happened and despite telling him how we could still visit and eat tacos, how now I could go on field trips and pick him up from school AND PUT HIM TO BED AT NIGHT, he was very disappointed. My working A LOT was all he knew. He did not feel the sacrifice I had felt since he was five weeks old. He had been so well cared for and it was all he knew.
Jason and Frith came in on my last night of work. I came off the floor and my staff treated us to the most wonderful “last supper.” I took my last sip of mezcal, hugged every teary member of my service team, fist bumped the Chef team and, holding Frith’s hand, walked out onto 53rd Street with my family. I’ll never forget what Frith said:
“Mama, how will they know what to do?”
“What do you mean, Frith?”
“Mama, you’re The Boss. How will your workers know what to do?”
He looked at me with deep concern. I realized in that moment that Frith also saw my restaurants and their teams like they were my children. He was worried how they would survive without me.
“Well sweetheart, I taught them how to do all the things they need and now they are ready to try it without me. They’ll be okay. I’ll miss them, too.”
We nearly walked all the way home to TriBeCa that night. I didn’t have to think about walking. I didn’t have to think “left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot.” When we got home, Jason invited me to do bedtime but Frith wasn’t having it.
“Mama! Daddy is the reader!”
We all laughed, Jason grabbed Frith and headed to stories. I grabbed a glass of wine and headed to my roof. To this day, a year later, Jason is still bath time/bedtime Daddy. Frith will not have it any other way and it is oh so right.