Out of the Mouths of Babes

Serene Mastriani II

What mothers make is money, especially in 2014.

Mothers have been steadily making a move into the workforce at a steady incline for the last several decades. In fact, in 2013 working mothers surpassed their male equivalent in employment records nationally. This leadership position in the workplace for women has been long awaited and the feminist in me gregariously celebrates the win. However, the mother in me is frequently torn, as I pack my bags each week to leave my daughter and unemployed husband home.

I have fought for equal rights in my household, community and workplace for the past 25 years, earning equal or more than my male counterparts and certainly skillfully and quickly leaping over my husband’s earnings. My theory was simple; earn more and secure equal pay and negotiate at every turn so that when you are out of the house working it will fairly compensate you for the time lost. Theory is exactly what it was, a messed up view of the value of being home. Let me be clear, staying home with my daughter, something I cherished for a few short years, was not my finest hour. I suffered from what most high powered career women face when they decide to hand in their resignation and the corner office for an apron and the kitchen, over functioning. Monday morning would start with a several hour hike, followed by some sort of a mommy and me music together class, lunch with other mothers, afternoon at Berkshire South for baby and me yoga, home just in time to create an elaborate Martha Stewart inspired dinner.

Here’s the reality I was bored, exhausted, eating my way into obesity and uninspired. Each week my solution was the same; do more, schedule more and eat less. It never worked so after a few short precious missed opportunity years I returned back to the workforce. You are probably guessing that it was by choice to return to work but like many other working women; I was forced to return as my husband lost his Fortune 500 job and company car. Maybe it was because I was forced or maybe because I finally had realized that I could have relaxed a little but the combination of the return and the guilt of leaving was overwhelming.

The first few months I tried the impossible juggle of continuing to participate in the mother groups and weekly sing along, grasping my brand new blackberry and sneakily trying to answer emails and text messages with one hand and banging on the drum with the other. I was constantly distracted, unfocused and quite honestly psychotic. Inevitably after a few too many months of trying I decided to make some changes; I hired someone to take my precious daughter to the group activities and then went down the slippery slope when my husband took an advertizing job with long hours with an even longer daily commute; I hired someone to help in the house with my daughter’s bed, bath and dinner routine! I was officially now working and climbing back up the corporate ladder with a toddler in sometimes in tow.

Based on what I have written so far you may assume that being a working mom and making money was and is very rewarding and without regret. Well, you couldn’t be more wrong. Being a working mother feels like an open sore that sits right on your shoulder below your bra strap and the more you move or try to adjust the strap the pain never goes away and in fact gets worse. The guilt is constantly gnawing at you and literally at times feels so consuming that it rapes your mind completely of lucid and logical thoughts. I am constantly reminded myself and by my daughter of all the missed events, tearful scrapes, fevers, bruises and the almighty hurt feelings.

One summer afternoon I was stuck in traffic leaving Goshen, NY nearly 3 hours from Stockbridge, MA. As I dodged around cars, re-routed, sped, cried, screamed, bit the insides of my mouth and rendered myself physically sick for nearly 4 hours, I still failed to make the end-of-camp 15 minute theater production. Just as I pulled into the parking lot of the run down Lavan Campus, the other parents were walking out to their cars. There was my beautiful daughter with bouncing curls and angelic features walking out holding her daddy’s hand. I ran over to her with the almost dead wilted flowers I had purchased almost 8 hours before and as I went to scoop her up into my arms, she turned her face away and said these hurtful words; “great job Mom you missed the whole show and I will never forgive you for it”. What she should have said is that I will never forget it and I will throw this day up in your face for the next decade with escalating anger and resentment.

Serene Mastrianni, RPh is a pharmacist and a care management liaison for GSK. Serene is President and Founder of Negotiating You, a motivational company designed to increase the net worth of women in various work environments. She is co-host and co-creator of the popular radio show Radio2Women which broadcasts weekly on WBCR-LP 97.7 FM .

Previously, Serene spent the majority of her professional life as a top rated representative and sales manager in the fast paced world of pharmaceutical sales. As the only female on a team of eleven managers, Serene experienced the challenges facing women both in and out of the workplace.

Serene, her husband Chris, and daughter enjoy the many splendors of the Berkshires and live on the Housatonic River, located at the elbow of the Appalachian Trail in Great Barrington, MA.

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