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September 20, 2023 51 mins

After 10 years working in social, digital, and brand strategy, Neha Ruch launched Mother Untitled, a digital media platform committed to empowering women pausing or shifting careers to focus on family life. In this Candid Convo—just in time for back to school—Emily and Neha dig into the preconceptions people have about working moms and stay-at-home moms, about what it means for our identities when we become mothers, how we raise sensitive sons, and transparency around childcare support. They also provide insight into the new proprietary study from Mother Untitled on the perceptions and experiences of college-educated, stay-at-home mothers in America.

These short “Candid Convos” will highlight the personal, the professional, and of a little pivoting along the way. Hope you enjoy!

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She Pivots was created in partnership with Marie Claire to highlight women, their stories, and how their pivot became their success. To learn more about Neha, follow us on Instagram @ShePivotsThePodcast or visit

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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:05):
Welcome to She Pivots. I'm your host to Emily Tish Sussman.
One of my goals in starting this podcast is to
highlight voices and stories of women who went through something
deeply personal, only to come out of it on the
other side better than they could have imagined. After launching
She Pivots last year, it's clear it's not a small group.
This applies to most women, whether it's a big pivot

or even just a tiny pivot. What's clear is there's
still a lot of unpacking to do around pivoting. So
as we're continuing to build this platform and community through
new episodes, I wanted to also bring you more stories,
unfiltered and honest. So I'll be sitting down with more women,
maybe the occasional man, some of whom have mastered their

own pivot, some are just starting the pivoting journey. Are
some just have something to teach us about the deeply
personal moments of life. So stay tuned for more of
the candid conversation this season. Let's jump right in. This
conversation today is probably one of the most substantive that
I'm going to have on this podcast about what it

means to pivot and what it means for your identity
when you're doing all of that, because this is the
expert in this field as it is evolving right now,
the founder and I guess principle of mother untitled Neha
Rush Neha. Let me just formally welcome you to she Pivots.

Speaker 2 (01:32):
Thank you.

Speaker 1 (01:33):
So we were just chatting a little bit about how
we met, and I'm going to give it to you
to recount.

Speaker 3 (01:39):
You had just run that fabulous piece for she knows
that my kids killed my career, and not one but
like fifty people sent it to me, but to it
in particular, said like, you two must meet, and I
feel like we made that happen within thirty seconds.

Speaker 1 (01:56):
Yeah, I feel like I had the flip side of it.
As soon as I wrote the article, people were like,
but you must have gotten this from Neha, and I
was like, tell me more about Neha. I'd love to
meet her. So how did you start it?

Speaker 3 (02:07):
So when I had my first son in twenty sixteen,
he was born New Year's Day and it was at
the height of the Girl Boss era. Leanin had been
the rallying cry of my business school graduation and yet
when I was rocking in that chair with him, I
felt the sense of contentment and belonging that I had

been looking for. I'm not going to paint that with
like rose colored lenses and say like I wasn't leaking
milk and like sleepshprived. But I did find something I'd
been looking for and lacking in my career to that point.
And I, you know, spent a decade in advertising, I'd
just gotten my MBA. The expectations were high on my
like very linear career track. But I sat at that
point that I wanted to downshift, and I started to

come face to face with like all the societal stigma
that comes with the quote unquote stay at home mother. Right,
So I started hearing like, ugh, you took a spot
at Stanford, Like you took that spot just to stay
at home, and or like what are you going to
do all day? All of the perceptions that you assume

with choosing to focus your life on caregiving for a chapter.
And meanwhile, on the opposite like days when I wasn't
still consulting because I initially downshifted, I was meeting all
these incredible women who were the women you assume like
they were in New York they'd built huge, wonderful, meaningful careers,

and we're saying, you know what, I want to take
a thoughtful pause and make room for family life for
a moment, or I really trust my career to date,
and I'm going to start to freelance or consult just
to build in some more flexibility. And none of it
matched this caricature that I was being served up of
the stay at home mom. And I was looking around
and there was a ton of traditional content around the
working monther quote unquote, but everything had abandoned the stay

at home mother in the nineteen fifties.

Speaker 1 (03:59):
But did you did you really feel like there were
professional women even in twenty sixteen. I'm not talking like
fifteen years ago, but that many years ago that were
openly saying I'm looking to take some kind of down
shift for personal reasons. Yes, because I didn't feel like
I heard that. Maybe it was because I was in
Washington and in politics and you were You didn't exist

if you didn't work in mean people that worked in
different industries that live in Washington were like, yes, I was.
What did my friend referre to himself as he said
he was like mister cellophane in Chicago, like everyone just
like looked right through Hi because he wasn't important in politics.
But so I felt like I didn't necessarily hear people
acknowledging that you did hear it.

Speaker 3 (04:40):
I did, but you had to stop to listen to
hear it because it was layered with a little bit
of shame yet a little bit, but it was masked,
I mean. And by the way, like one of my
favorite anecdotes is I was sitting at a dinner and
there was a woman I knew who worked two days
a week, and I worked two days a week at
that time. I identified with being on a posit or

a downshift, and she was like, no, I'm a full
time working mother. And it was and I was looking
at her and thinking, we work the exact same amount
and we're at home the exact same amount. But there
was a sort of veil of and I wouldn't say
that she was intentionally masquading, which you know, her version
of balance. It was she identified and didn't she identified

with working out of the home, and she did not
want identify with any sense of slowing down.

Speaker 1 (05:30):
Yeah, I hear it is that she didn't want to
lose that like the privilege of that identity, yes, of
being a working out of home person person but whether
it was mother or not mother, but like a out
of home working person, she didn't want to lose the
privilege of that identity. Yes.

Speaker 3 (05:44):
And so the short answer is there were incredible numbers
of women who were already making room for family life.
And what I will tell you also is what I
was looking at was, if you go back to twenty sixteen,
Pew Research was already saying this generation of women identify
with motherhood more.

Speaker 2 (06:02):
There was a rise of flex.

Speaker 3 (06:03):
Work right like the wing work wrk, the flexible work marketplace,
it was all on the rise. So I was looking
at it saying, like, you're going to see an increasing
population of women who have the access to be able
to create a career on their own terms, and an
increasing number of women who want to make room for

other priorities for a period of time. And so you know,
I think a lot of it was the moment in
time in twenty sixteen was it was this perfect collision
of like me wanting my own space where I could
start to string together a collective of women who are
reshaping the narrative for my own sake to say like, wait,
there's like an incredible cohort of women that I belonged to,

and also feeling like there was a dearth of any
representation of anything that was beyond the prototypical.

Speaker 1 (06:52):
Yeah, that wasn't like the black and white yes, the
working not working. You know. It's interesting over the course
of doing the interviews and doing this show is that
I anticipated that two points would be common that I
would hear as like the intervening life event, like the
personal thing that changed your perspective. I anticipated it being

one having kids whenever you had them, although I do
I definitely don't have exclusively mothers on the show, and
the other being the pandemic as being things that really
reshaped people's perspective in their lives. And what has surprised
us as we go through these interviews is more likely
it's actually twenty sixteen and the election, the surprise that
people felt in the election of Donald Trump and what

they thought that meant for their own identities as women
working out of home or not, and the country's perception
like what was acceptable you happened to have had your
son in twenty sixteen, which I also did. Was that
a factor in it? For you at all. I've just
heard that from so many guests. Do you think that,

I don't know, change your perspective, but added to the
perspective that you were as you were thinking about your
change and identity.

Speaker 3 (08:02):
That's such an interesting part of it. I think that
now you said that, and I've remembered this picture I
have of my three best friends from home. So I'm
really close to my friends from home, and they had
all come. I was the first to have a child,
and we have a picture of Bodie. I'd brought like
American flag balloons. We thought we were electing the first female, right, yeah,
and that was what we really believed, sitting in life

the New York City Echo Chamber, and in that moment,
I remember feeling the most feminist I'd ever felt.

Speaker 2 (08:31):
And you know so.

Speaker 3 (08:32):
Much of Mother entitled when we parse around where do
the stigmas exist around quote unquote stay at home mother,
one of them is around If you choose this, choose
to pause, you are an anti feminist, which is obviously
like a trope that we want to upend. Whereas I
was feeling the most connected to women that I'd ever felt.

And I think that to your point twenty sixteen was
a feeling of banning to get other, wanting to do
our part, believing so much so that my feminism was
not dictated by whether I was working out of the
home or in the home, but because I was part
of this collective, collective voice advocating for what felt right

for us and our families at the time. And I
do think that collective power in twenty sixteen probably did
help shape that that sense of wanting to be a
part of it, wanting to explore it and pull the
threads apart.

Speaker 1 (09:28):
I mean, you make a good point about what I
considered to be feminism right now, I think as compared
to what we had been taught as kids. And I
think the way that our parents thought about feminism is
that I just think generationally, I just think it's the
way it had to happen. I don't know that it
could have happened another way. Maybe it could have, I
don't know. But the way that women went to work
out of home was to emulate men, and so they

couldn't show up in the workplace as anything other than
I am showing up essentially as a man in a workplace. Yeah.

Speaker 3 (10:00):
Yes, And you know, if you really go back to
the history, because as I've been writing the book, it's
been really interesting delving into it more of the origins
of like first wave, second wave, third wave feminism. Women
went into the workforce really during the World War to
just fill the slots, and then it just exposed this,
wait a second, we want to like stay in the workforce.

Except at the same time there was this incredible push
around advertising and the advent of television. We started to
see these ads depicting the woman at home wearing heels,
pushing a vacuum around. And what emerged was this like
huge chasm, this power chasm between the woman in the
workplace making money and the woman like teetering around in

heels like serving up her like cocktails at the end
of the day. And that power chasm never went away.
And you know, the media really invented the mommy wars,
like just because like media loves a moment where they
can like pit two sides against each other, and so
the mommy wars were like invented over the course of
the eighties, and we created this power chasm that really

like obviously had to close over the years because.

Speaker 2 (11:07):
So much changed.

Speaker 3 (11:08):
Women had access to digital learning so that they're able
to like keep their hand in the game. They were
like getting married and having kids much later, so their
decrued education and work experience. None of the fictions around that,
like ad with the woman pushing the vacuum in heels,
actually existed, and yet we sort of inherited it and

brought it with us and like perpetuated the idea of
what was feminist and what was not right.

Speaker 1 (11:36):
Yeah, and now I feel like my acceptance, like my
version of feminism is just to say, like, do what
makes you happy. Like, not everyone's going to have the
same model. In fact, nobody can have the same model
as anybody else. But I actually don't think that the
generation above us has an easy time accepting that because
it wasn't the way for them.

Speaker 3 (11:58):
No, And I think that that version feminism had to exist, right,
like second wave feminism has to exist to push women,
you know, into a place of being respected for their
contributions and their value in the workforce and the ability
to advocate for equal play like all of that stuff that,
by the way, is still we still need all of that.
And so I think the generation prior would say, we

aren't done. We're not done with that why are we
like pushing choice feminism now? Is it going to unwind this?
And I think what's interesting about feminism today is I
don't think it's just about yes, we want the choice
and like we should all do whatever makes us happy
and strong and all the things we're advocating for the
supports to be able to set us up for success

on feminine terms, right, it's recognizing that we can't like
we do birth children. Our bodies are actually constructed differently,
and so the workforce and or like the way in
which we approach work family has to align with the
realities of what it means to be a woman, which

means taking a closer look at what that is right.
And so it's interesting because some of the when I
first launched Mother Untitled, I did feel like a lot
of women perceived what I was doing as in some
ways traditionalist, when by no means, first of all, let
me just say, like, I don't actually think choosing to
pause or downshift your career at any point is the
right thing for children and or the right thing for families.

I think it was the right thing for me in
that moment, and I think many women either because they
can't offset the cost of child care and or because
they actually want to be at home for a period
of time, that is the right choice for them because
it works for their families.

Speaker 2 (13:40):
But it's not.

Speaker 3 (13:40):
You know, there's proven successful outcomes for children and families
no matter what, whether you're working in the home or
out of the home, or existing in between. But when
I started, I think a big thought was, well, she's
encouraging women to pause, And what I would say is no,
I'm trying to create a narrative wherein if women choose
to pause or downshift, if they they do step out

of the traditional workforce for a period of time, they're
not only respected and valued for the contribution in the home,
but they're not seen as their brain dying. So that
when and if they choose to go back, which ninety
percent of women do and aim to do, when and
if they choose to go back, they have an easier
time entering because they're not written off and counted out

as like shriveling and like their homes.

Speaker 1 (14:24):
Yeah, it's so funny you put that language saying to it,
saying that it was seen as traditionalists because even though
I was basically launching like a corollary concept. I think
at first I also saw it as traditionalist, and I
was like, but wait, I want to talk about the workplace.
And I think it was because I had such a
hard time seeing myself. I think it's why identified with

that story you were saying about the woman who couldn't
see herself as not working. I couldn't see myself outside
an identity as not a working person. And it had
nothing to do with being a mother or not. I
didn't necessarily want to be like a working mom. I
just couldn't. It was too hard for me to accept
my identity as anything other than a working person. And
so no matter how much I was working, it was

hard for me to give the same And I think
I probably still struggle with this, but to give the
same level of acknowledgment of like the work that goes
in if someone is not doing any work outside the
home and in any way like whether it's a little
bit part time or full time. But I think I
still struggle with that. I think it's so ingrained in
my identity that the place that I find value is

whether the work product that I create in work outside
the home is valuable. Yes, it's so ingrained in me
that it's very hard to view myself in terms of success,
like being successful in any other way.

Speaker 3 (15:42):
I think it's the single biggest stumbling block for women
when they choose to part with the linear career your track,
even if they're not identifying with taking a full pause
to be at home, like, even if they're doing anything
apart from the linear career track that they were on.
It's this idea of so much self worth is tied
to our salary and our titles. And I mean that's

the thesis around untitled with mother Untitled is this idea
that when you step into this untitled chapter, we part
with a lot of the ego and the identity derived
from career ascension. And what does that feel like to
exist in the vastness of the untitled space? Right? And
by the way, the other part of that is the

other part of untitled is the dismantling between the antiquated
titles of stay at home and working mother right, and
so stay at home you can understand why we would
champion to start to blow the edges around that because
it's so black and white, it comes with so many
societal trips. But working muther right when you so closely
ident What I'm hearing from you is you so closely

hold on to like I am a working mother, that
anything that is not that or that is working in
other ways, whether you're volunteering or whether you're working in
the home, feels antithetical as opposed to just part of
an expansive identity.

Speaker 1 (17:02):

Speaker 3 (17:03):
Right, And I think that that is the really the
opportunity for women right now is to exist in the gray,
is to exist in that mast in between and say
that way you're you're not confined to worth and success
in one format, and your options are open so that
you can sort of tap into what you need to

make room for in that moment in time without penalty
on the other side.

Speaker 1 (17:28):
Right, I think it's so they're so complimentary, like what
you're doing and what we're doing with she Pivots, I
always look I respect your work so much, and I
always look at them as being sort of like two
sides of the same coin. Like I feel like what
we're trying to do with she Pivots is to tell
the stories about the personal events that happens to someone

that changes their perspective so that they can then find
a different thing they create, whether it's a career, whether
it's a business like whatever. Maybe it's happiness in the
same thing, but changing their perspective due to personal reasons
and then finding something professional that comes out of it,
like changing that narrative around that. And I feel like

you are really sitting in that place, like in that
moment of the change, and specifically for mothers in the
child here, and I think that there's a lot of
debate around like, you know, should we have should we
just talk about parenthood, should you talk about motherhood? Did
we just talk about women in general? I get that
a lot. We just did our first heap pivots, but
you know, really, oh yes, it was our very first.

Speaker 3 (18:33):
Which is a gift, by the way, for men, I
think the men need that permission. By the way, there's
a rising stat around men choosing to positive careers. But
I think men unfortunately are you know, feeling limited sometimes
by the expectations of what that role is supposed to
include being a male partner in a family, in a
two parent households right, And so then when men find

themselves at career junctures that we have a lot of
discourse around, they don't have the same resources and conversation,
And I think that is one of the privileges of
being a woman is that we talk a lot, especially
I I mean, like we like to talk.

Speaker 1 (19:11):
Yeah, we could do the show, maybe make it like
a twenty four hour talk, then we could go all day.

Speaker 3 (19:16):
But I do think, like I think about for the
male at home parent right now, there are you know,
at least women who choose to pause or take a
non linear path half your podcast. They have mother untitled
that there's an absence of that. So I'm glad that
you're doing my heap pivots.

Speaker 1 (19:30):
I totally agree. I think that even what I'm seeing,
I feel like most people I know who had kids
like pandemic on like in the last three years are
gay men. Is most of the parents that I know,
and of new parents that I know, and of the
parents that I see of kids that are sort of
school age when parents are starting to kind of like

group off and like make plans, I find it hard
for I think the gay dads in particular to find
their pla because they just sort of don't naturally fall
into any of the like very hetero categories of like
the way that families tend to group and so I
think we do need to be intentional about this, and
I actually try to talk about every time we have

these like parenting talks, but like think about the makeup
of the parents in your class, like how they naturally
have these random encounters and like you know, how they'd
get included. But you know, a part of the reason
that I decided to only have women on sheep Pivots
and even call it sheep Pivots well after I got
the seasoned desist order, but then there was an intentional
reason after that, and I thought I actually wasn't giving

up that much, Like, yes, men need it, but I
actually don't think men are evolved enough right now to
be able to have a really thoughtful conversation about where
they feel included excluded, how they think about their identities.
Like I think most male conversations right now would unfortunately
be a little bit too stunted. It would be like
a real short podcast. So hopefully season ten of she

Pivots is maybe it's a full he pivots. I don't know.
Here's new ideas, because I agree with you the world
needs it. The way that I ended up attacking it
was by another article that I wrote called sensitive is
the new strong thinking about raising our sons and looking
at it from that perspective, Like we're always talking about

you know, we've had these ideas that we need to
especially if a child, but especially a son, is showing sensitivity,
then we have to show them how to overcome that sensitivity.
But I want my son to see his sensitivity as
an attribute. Yes, yes, And then I think we can
start to have a generation of men that will be
thinking about talking about their feelings, how they see their identities.

But like we're of a generation right now like parenting
young kids, like we can build them up from scratch,
we have huge opportunity.

Speaker 3 (21:48):
You know, as you're talking, I'm reminded of one of
the biggest differentiators of our generation of parents is just
the intellectual nature of parenting today, right, Like we talk
a lot about the impact if you do nothing else
and you're focused on raising your children right now and
bringing love and care to that, you know, you're raising

the love generation. And I think that a lot of
the women that make up our community are very intentional,
very conscious parents. Who really I mean is there is
such a wealth of information, maybe too much information around
parenting and this is the first generation of parents that
have been exposed to that and are taking that in.
And whether you're focused on nutrition or you're focused on

gentle parenting or respectful parenting, that is a level of
intellectuality that is that is unparalleled with any other generation.
And so it's both impactful and it's a lot more
around self healing and self growth. And one of the
things we talk a lot about, and this is another
way women are, you know, an evolved species, is that
when women step in to parenthood today, we're not only

committed to how can we raise our children meaningfully, but
how can we raise ourselves alongside? Yeah, and that is
something really interesting when I think about, you know, the
power you talk about the pivot. I talk a lot
about the power in the pause and in the transition,
and I think it's a lot of that power lies
in the personal development that this sort of time and

transition in our life is so so primed for.

Speaker 1 (23:22):
Well, I want to talk about that, that that power
in that moment because what's I struggle with a little
bit sometimes and I think that you I'm gleaning that
you do too. Is what's interesting here is that we're
building businesses around not being in the business we were
in before.

Speaker 2 (23:39):
M m mm hmmm, mm hmmm.

Speaker 1 (23:41):
And so in some ways it's great because we can
design the way we want to work and what we
put out into the world, and it feels meaningful, it
feels like culture change. But there's also a little bit
of a tension around it.

Speaker 3 (23:51):
One hundred percent. I mean, I said for a long time.
So there is a great irony in building the first
platform for women on career pauses and change the narrative
around career pauses while being on a career pause. And
so the thing that I have had to sit with
and the discomfort has been not letting my pace outweigh

my purpose. So I launched, I talked about having my
son in twenty sixteen. I launched on January tenth or
twenty seventeen, and I came out of the gateheard.

Speaker 2 (24:20):
Right like it was.

Speaker 3 (24:21):
There was a lot of quote unquote working mother communities,
and I was excited about this little haven of shining
the light on women who were making room for family
in a new way.

Speaker 2 (24:31):
So excited about it.

Speaker 3 (24:32):
Twenty seven to teen to twenty eighteen, there was great
sort of organic growth. I had my daughter in twenty eighteen,
and where I'd perfected this, like perfect two days a week.
You know, I was consulting at the time and working
on this platform. I had sort of thought I'd nailed it,
and then I had my daughter, and it like up
ended any sense of rhythm that I'd constructed. And so

it was like I was hitting pause on pause, on
pas on pause. And then twenty nineteen came and I
was like, Okay, this is going to be the year.
And then I had shingles, and then twenty twenty came,
and then it was twenty twenty one when both my
kids were school aged, and there was sort of this
incredible divine timing where suddenly the world and culture felt
ready to re examine work and family in a way

that they hadn't right and you talked about the pandemic
being a potential catalytic moment for a lot of your guests,
and so even though I started noodling on this in
twenty sixteen and really putting it out of the world
in the world, then twenty twenty one, in post pandemic,
was really the moment I said, no, this is the
time to step in and really drive this conversation. And
it happened to align with personal timing too, But there

was a lot of planting the seeds in the years
prior and then when the timing worked for myself and
my family, dialing it up right.

Speaker 1 (25:47):
Did you see specific moments of growth and like, okay,
you have a significant following on instagramming that's probably where
a lot of this kind of audience evaluation is coming from. Me.
I remember, like you, doctor, Becky's often talked about, and
you talked about it on this podcast, how she had
went on Instagram like the day before the lockdown or
something crazy like that was like her first video.

Speaker 2 (26:05):
Yeah, so it was.

Speaker 1 (26:06):
It was the perfect timing of everyone saying, oh my god,
how do I deal with my kid when I'm locked
in with them now? All of a sudden, Like did
you see specific moments or specific content that took off? Yes?

Speaker 3 (26:17):
So I do think it's funny because I remember she
and I'm messaging back then and then popping back onto
her page and being like what happened?

Speaker 2 (26:25):
Like weird?

Speaker 3 (26:26):
Yeah, I'm just like a little person again now, and
she she I mean, her timing was fabulous, and I
think twenty twenty one had a similar feeling for me.
But it was twenty twenty two that I saw them
like twenty twenty one, I you know, where I had been, like,
I mean, if you're going to talk about it from
Instagram numbers, I was like, had sort of just maintained
from the time of my second daughter till twenty twenty one.

And I think one of the big shifts for me
was sharing content as I was like experiencing and living
in the pause versus like I've now studied this and
like interviewed two hundred women and I'm going to start
speaking about it as an expert. And I really shifted
into much more thought leader content around and the reframes
that you know, are shared widely, and I think that

that was the catalytic moment of growth. And I think
it was twenty twenty two that I really started to
share content around re examining our worth in sort of
quantifiable terms, the worth of an at home parent, sharing
reframes around how to think about financial interdependence, you know,
with our partners. So if you're someone if you are
the partner not working at home or sort of not

working for pay versus providing unpaid labor in the home,
how to think about that as like a financially intertebeddent
organization as opposed to like, one of the unfortunate limiting
beliefs is like I am now and dependent and that
can feel really hard for an ambitious woman, Right, So
that reframe really took off reframes around not feeling like

you can't ask for help. I think so many of
the women I've interviewed will say, like, if I'm not
working for pay, I don't deserve help. So really challenging
some of those false beliefs and using social media to
do that and have a discourse about that, those pieces
of content were shared and really helped grow the audience
in a huge way.

Speaker 1 (28:13):
How do you sit with that exposure of vulnerability? It's
a lot. I mean sometimes I have these vulnerability hangovers
after probably conversations like this. So how do you how
do you handle that.

Speaker 3 (28:28):
I'm more boundared than I think I appear like, I
really think that I have sort of key content pillars
that I am really happy to have conversations about that
I know are going to make a difference for the
woman on the receiving end, right, Like, and if I
can share about myself and like reflections I'm having about
the nature of like let's take the pace, like knowing

that I'm going to move more slowly today and that
that doesn't mean I'm any less successful. That means I'm
being deliberate and that I trust that process, right, Like
sharing that is a personal reflection. But I don't share
about parenting like. I don't share like I will never
claim to be a parenting expert. I love parenting, I

really do. I think I've grown tremendously in it. But
I think I've made mistakes and I think i'm learning.
I'm a consumer of other people's wisdom and I'm trying
to do the best I can. But I do not
talk about unless it's in the context of parenting is
helping me and helps women grow themselves, and that's the
ripe opportunity and career pauses, that's the power, that's the

unlocked potential. So I really keep it tight as to
what are the angles. I'm willing to share and explore.
But I don't openly share about what it feels like
to stay up at night worried about my child and
something that they're going through, Like that's off limits to
me and or my marriage and or my parents. You
know that to me is irrelevant to community who's collectively

exploring what it means to exist in the gray area
of holding personal pursuit and personal ambition alongside motherhood and
that constant recalibration.

Speaker 1 (30:03):
Well, Mylilah loves yourlila, So you're.

Speaker 2 (30:05):
Obviously doing a great job.

Speaker 3 (30:06):
And the parenting that's so nice. I hear good reports
from there. But like you know, at home is always different.
It's a different level of chaos.

Speaker 1 (30:13):
Oh god, the level of chaos. It's interesting you say
that because I would think of you, you know, if
we're trying to think about like a category, like I
probably would have put your work in a parent in category,
because those are the only categories we have. Like I'm
thinking specifically about you know, when we're submitting podcasts, we
have to check in boxes what are we are? And

we never really know, like for she pivots, like are
we in career, business? Are we in parenting? Are we
in lifestyle? Like we're kind of at the center of
all of them, but also a little bit none of them.

Speaker 2 (30:44):
Yeah, So I think the.

Speaker 1 (30:45):
Idea that you're coming at this only talking about the parent,
like only talking about the mother and not talking about
the impact on the child is smart, and you are
creating a new category.

Speaker 3 (30:59):
Yeah, I would actually say inversely, the child's impact and
the mother, right, Like, I think the act of parenting
is enriching.

Speaker 2 (31:06):
But I think it's interesting because with.

Speaker 3 (31:08):
The book, you have to assign it categories, right Like,
there's a category, but it's nonfiction self development, right like
it's and it's more in the career. You know, one
of the big societal tropes, like the big game changer
that we're trying to enact is that women on career
pauses should still be considered career like it is one
chapter of an evolving story of her career and she

can't be counted out. And so it's actually like a
lot of this work is keeping her confident and clear
that this is one part of her story, and then
from a larger macro level, shining a light on the
gray area around her role at home, the ways in
which she's volunteering, the way that she's networking and meeting
incredible women that she's you know, at the playground, the

way that she's taken an online class or freelancing, and
so that side of it is just proactively trying to
blurrow the edges so that she has never counted out
of the career conversation.

Speaker 1 (32:07):
Where do you think people generally find you? Like, do
you know, like do you really have an idea? Like
who you're speaking to? Like women who are thinking about
taking a career pause, are they already in it? Are
they trying to find their way out?

Speaker 3 (32:18):
So it's fifteen percent or fifteen to nineteen like fluctuates
depending on the month, are like in the preparing Then
there's a significant majority who are on the pause, and
then the remaining is starting to edge their way back
into freelance, consulting, small business, a lot of the gray.

There's just so much movement between those, right, and then
there's like ten percent that are returning to the workforce,
like the's traditional workforce.

Speaker 1 (32:46):
What do you feel like people ask you the most?
They want advice on how to deal with the stigma?
Which is the hard you know, it's both. It's both
the thing I can probably speak volumes about right like,
you know, because I had to do that personal work,
and it's the thing that I like, I'm most committed
to changing to a world. You know, we recently released

the results of the AMP Survey American Mothers un Pause.
It's the first of its kind survey of twelve hundreds
at home moms and then a thousand general pop.

Speaker 3 (33:18):
And it was really centered around taking a closer look
at this new woman making room for family life and
from a general population perspective, we really wanted to understand perceptions.
And what's wild is seventy eight percent of women say
they feel completely misunderstood for.

Speaker 2 (33:36):
Their role at home.

Speaker 3 (33:38):
You know, that's the disconnect that we want to solve
for because it's one part feeling completely undervalued for the
contributions of unpaid labor. Because where that holds you back
is then your ability to ask for help. And when
you ask for help, then you help your mental health,
you help your ability to stay connected to the workforce
and other community contributions in other ways. But in the
other way, like that misunderstanding makes very challenging for women

to re enter.

Speaker 1 (34:02):
I want to get to that piece the child's care,
having whatever child care and support looks like in your
family in different homes. I do feel like for me,
I'm transparent about a lot of things. That's something that
still feels too vulnerable for me to talk about, feeling
judged in it or not judged in it or whatever

the case may be. You've been quite open about it.
Did that How did you come to being so open
and how does it feel?

Speaker 3 (34:29):
I think I really feel committed to that transparency because
I think it helps women ask for the help that
they deserve, and I really do believe that it is
I mean, I think I came to that conclusion for
a few reasons. One because I didn't want to perpetuate
this idea that I could create and build a platform

like in the fringe hours of motherhood. Yes, like that illusion,
because you have to remember that there is a community.
My community is mainly centered are on women that either
have part time, very intermittent childcare or none. And so
I never want that woman to feel like my day

wasn't purposeful because I didn't share life five hundred I
Instagram stories and reframs that are going viral like that,
That isn't We cannot all share the same metrics of
success and the same metrics of productivity in a day,
but we certainly can't if we don't understand the other
person's support system, right. And also I had to remember

for myself in a personal experience, right because I had
you know, I had sort of oscillating levels of care,
mostly not because I have the privilege to be able
to have childcare if I want it. I really just
don't like people in my space, Like I am like
a very classic only child, and so when I'm with
my kids, I want to be with my kids and
I don't want anyone else around. So I always it

worked for me to have two days of childcare, sometimes
three afternoons of childcare, depended on the on the phase
we were in, and I would look around and think,
like I could be doing more, I should be doing
more from other untitled and I had to remind myself
but like, I don't have the support to do that
right now, and I will one day one day, and
I'm in that day right now. One day my children

will be at camp from nine in the morning till
four thirty and I will have that time. But it
was really important for me to remember and reflect on
that myself, and to make sure that other women weren't
comparing themselves to me. And how do I feel about
it after I share? Sometimes I feel nervous. I feel
nervous that someone's going to turn around and be like,
and someone did say this, well, you're not truly fully

an at home parent because you have you know, X
amount of hours of childcare, to which I would say,
like great, because I'm trying to dismantle the trope of
like a black and white nature of an at home parent.
You're right, I'm somewhere in between, and I'm so lucky
to be able to do that.

Speaker 1 (36:54):
And I think it does open up the conversation. I mean,
we get this question a lot talking about people's pivot.
Is there is a presumption that pivoting is a totally
privileged opportunity. I thought going into the first season of
this that that was a big priority for me to dismantle,
and so we have had guests on that have used
government programs, government assistants.

Speaker 2 (37:16):
You know.

Speaker 1 (37:17):
We had one guest who was renting out a tent
in her living room was an airbnb, you know, to
be able to get by.

Speaker 3 (37:22):
She definitely doesn't have a problem with people in her space, and.

Speaker 1 (37:25):
That was like a whole nother level. I was really
anybody on the She's like, yeah, it didn't go long,
And I do still I do still see it as
a priority for me to have those stories on and
continue to tell those stories. But I actually think that
there is such an abundance of because it is the stigma,
and it is societal of women who consider themselves professional
and white collar and high achieving, who thought they had options,

like the options are what make them anxious? Yes, Yes,
because you always, like you said, you always felt like
you were supposed to be doing more. You always think
you're supposed to be doing more that I when I
think about this show as the opportunity for culture change
by opening up and telling stories, I think maybe that's
a more impactful path for us right now, like us

being like you know, cheap hboits and the team. And
I don't mean to say this and to suggest that
what you should be doing you should be doing what
you are doing.

Speaker 3 (38:15):
Yes, but I know what you're saying, and I it
resonates because I do think often that is the pushback, right,
and I will you know, I've sort of I have
deep thoughts on that that I share about. But where
I come back to is if you are in the
privileged position to be able to do this work and
shine a light on people navigating non linear careers and

making the best choices for them and their family, and
you can do the work of dismantling stereotypes and opening
up options. There's a ripple effect there, and so I'll
tell you also in the AM survey, three and ten
women had to make the choice to pause their careers
because of the cost of childcare. So yes, we often
speak to and speak about the other seventy percent for

whom it was the privilege to choose. But the ripple
effect when we change the perception of the pause is
felt by everyone. It's felt also by the women who
don't get our right to choose. And I would say
the same for you, because women come across men and
women come across pivots for a whole onslot of reasons.
But whatever the profile of the guests you have, you're

shining a light on this very big, powerful moment where
women are transitioning and it's unlocking huge amounts of opportunity
and it's sort of you're infusing trust into that process
that can be really hard, and that is felt by everyone.

Speaker 1 (39:37):
Right, Well, we actually haven't gone through your own personal story.
I mean we did a little bit at the beginning,
but like, can you give us like a little bit
more background into the background that got you there? Also
the fact that we went to college together, but yeah.

Speaker 3 (39:47):
I know, but don't know each other. Yeah, because and
I really think this is why. So I guess the
conversation starts with you know, I've been reflecting on why
am I more risk tolerant because I to think that
a fair amount of taking a pause and feeling so
trustworthy of that pause comes with a sense of self trust,
right and risk. I'm not going to discount that it

and I think it came from when I was in
I grew up in a very small town outside Boston.
It was predominantly white, and I'm not going to go
on like a big racial tangent, but I will tell
you I did self sabotage, honestly in my teen years
to fit in. I think I wanted to dismantle I
was all about dismantling stereotypes even then, and I wanted
to dismantle the stereotype of being an Indian girl. So

I was like, ah, the best thing to do is
like tank my math grades, you know, or like party
really hard or do whatever. And I woke up one
day it was the morning of my graduation, and I
said to my parents, I don't know how I had
this one moment of wisdom because I hadn't had many.
But I came downstairs and said, like, if I go
to college right now, I'd already been accepted. But I said, like,

if I go now, this like path is just going
to continue and I need to take a pause. And
I went to India for a year. My parents were like,
you do what you do, you you do whatever you
need to do to get back on track. And I
felt like breaking from the path was what I needed
to return to myself. Like that trip started with like

three weeks in the Himalayas. And I'm not outdoorsy, like
I just like I claim to be many things, I'm
not outdoorsy, except there was something about separating from everyone
and everything and all the expectations and all the wanting
to fit in that you come back to, Okay, what
do I really like? What do I not really like?
What do I want my life.

Speaker 2 (41:33):
To look like?

Speaker 3 (41:35):
And that was a gift from breaking from the path.
And I think that that gave me the trust to
obviously replicate that experience in motherhood, you know, decades later.
But in between I came back. I did go to college.
I think I came back it to college with like
a very renewed sense of ambition, like and I think

I really went to college to just go, like I
just wanted to get through it, and I got in
three years started a career in advertising. I got lucky
because I started in the advent of digital media, so
like Twitter had just launched, and they basically were like, oh,
you're twenty two years old, Like you seem like you
know what you're doing, like you should probably do this,
and mom blogs was my beat, like that was what

I was so hilariously that was what I was assigned
to work on, and I fell in love with women.
I fell in love with digital media. My boss took
me over to start digital strategy at a larger agency
called Hill Holiday.

Speaker 2 (42:27):
So I got lucky.

Speaker 3 (42:28):
I got some like lucky timing, lucky breaks. Had a
really nice career there, focused on mom brands, and I
knew I wanted again, like a pause. I wasn't ready
to part with the perceptions and optics like I wasn't
I was still in my late twenties, Like I wasn't
about to take a career break then. But I did
go to business school. That was my juncture, that was

my train stop to surround myself with smart people, figure
out what came next.

Speaker 1 (42:53):
Came back and you went to like the top business school.

Speaker 3 (42:56):
I did, I di I did. It was the only
one I applied to because I really did. I don't
think advertising people usually go to business school, like that
isn't a typical path, But I think Stanford is like
really really receptive of that sort of unique, non traditional background.
So it was the right school for my background and
what I wanted to do. And I came back. I

thought I'd be in the startup world, and then I
had my son, and I think motherhood was sort of
this incredible collision of two things. It was similar to
business school a train stop to like surround myself with
incredible people. And that's something I talk about all the time,
is that, like I met some of the most diverse
women across industries on the playground, like in baby classes,

because otherwise I'd been in the lack halls of ad agencies.
I'd met one specific type of person, one specific type
of industry prior to that, and so it was a
real opener and expander in that way. And the other
thing it brought up was that time like back in
the Himalayas and then teaching in India, where you know,
when you're stripped away from other people's expectations, the ego

of like trying to fit, you can really figure out
like what really matters?

Speaker 1 (44:07):
Yeah, is there anything we haven't covered? We've covered a lot,
We did cover a lot. What's the main point that
you want to get across? What do you want people
to know about when they hear about mother entitled?

Speaker 3 (44:19):
You know we really are like, yes, we're an oasis
for women on career pauses to comment surround themselves with
women that help them feel confident and still connected to
their creativity and the opportunity and their career pause. But
it's also above all things, it's a movement to change
and dismantle the tropes around stay at home motherhoods so

that women can choose to pause or shift and exist
in this like vast gray area between stay at home
and working mother so that we can make the right
choice for right now and transition back to the workforce
when we're ready.

Speaker 1 (44:52):
What is one thing that at the time you saw
its like a real negative and now in retrospect you
really see it as maybe having put you on their path, you.

Speaker 3 (45:01):
Know, short term. I'll tell you that in twenty eighteen,
twenty nineteen, it was really hard to look around and
see the wing was blowing up. Hey, Mama was growing.
You know, there were all these amazing women led companies.
Obviously they've all had their challenges, you know, since and
I wished I really saw what I was doing as big,
and yet I couldn't make it big at that moment,

right like I was in the depths of postmarket and
anxiety transitioning to two children, like sitting there being like
I don't even know how to split my hours up
in the day, let alone like run this thing alongside,
And I don't think I would have sold. I wanted
to write this book, The Power Pause. I wanted to
write it back then. But if I'd tried to sell

that book in twenty eighteen, it wouldn't I've sold.

Speaker 1 (45:46):

Speaker 3 (45:47):
Timing is everything everything. Twenty twenty two, they were ready,
twenty twenty three, they were ready. I was ready, and
so there was a lot around trusting timing.

Speaker 1 (45:58):
Yeah, I think that's a important point that we should
bring out more. I feel like, even when I'm booking
guests for this show, that if someone says no, like
I don't take it as like a no forever and like,
well our timing was off, like I'll come back to
you or they come back to me, like maybe I'm
ready to have a different kind of guest on or
have a different kind of conversation.

Speaker 3 (46:16):
Well, a different conversation because the conversation evolves, right, Like
I think back in twenty eighteen, it would have been
so personally rooted in living it. And for me now
with sort of the plethora of women we've gotten a
chance to interview on the site and profile, it's sort
of opened up the angle and all the angles we
want to cover and all the phases of the journey

and the areas that women need support in a way
that we're still unknown to me. And I feel like
I'll just keep I think we'll all keep exploring it.
Like you're season ten. Yeah gonna look a lot different.
It's called he pivots, like apparently we just announced it.

Speaker 2 (46:52):
Yeah, here breaking down.

Speaker 3 (46:54):
I think our husbands are going to be like the
first ones on it, I know, except the first guess.
I know.

Speaker 1 (46:59):
It does often surprise people find it. My husband was
an army officer and.

Speaker 2 (47:04):
I did not know that.

Speaker 1 (47:06):
Oh that's good. Yeah, my husband was an Army officer.
He went to West Point, he served two tours in
AREC and now he just, like you know, gets by
as one of the regular dads I know, in a
community where no one's in the military. I need to
understand how you guys met blind date. We were set
up on a blind date, and I was working in
military personnel policy at the time, so it didn't weird

me out that he was in the Army. I mean
he was out by then, but he was in DC. Yeah, yeah,
we were d Yeah, there's so much military community in
DC anyway that you're like a little more in it.
But I mean, even when I told my friends from
the Upper West Side of Manhattan that my new boyfriend
went to West Point and was served in the Army,
They're like, oh, is he Like, is he okay? Does

he feel like TBI and so it kills a lot
of people. I was like, no, it's pretty normal.

Speaker 2 (47:54):
Did he watch Homeline? Did he watch online? No?

Speaker 1 (47:56):
I just I know, I think he just didn't find
an interesting. He has a very high tolerance like Chef's
watching Bear right now. Yeah, No, he has a very
high tolerance for travel. I would consider unsafe. He has
a very high tolerance for the Like right before the
Iran deal, he went on a vacation in Iran. He

said it was the best job he ever took. But
he's like he went to Afghanistan for fun, like he
was not deployed there. It's very high tolerance for that
kind of travel.

Speaker 2 (48:27):
Where's he from?

Speaker 1 (48:29):
New Jersey?

Speaker 2 (48:30):
Oh, like all the adventurers are.

Speaker 1 (48:33):
Wow, the land of all the big adventurers.

Speaker 3 (48:36):
That is so fascinating to me. You know, Dan and
I met and then our dating was transatlantic. Our dads
connected us because they work together in the nineties. They
connected us for work.

Speaker 1 (48:48):
This is biblical?

Speaker 2 (48:49):
Is it?

Speaker 1 (48:50):

Speaker 3 (48:51):
And our life was travel like. Our dating was entirely
travel I think it expedites relationships.

Speaker 1 (48:58):

Speaker 3 (48:59):
Wait, so you go, your dad's were set you guys up,
but just for work. They set us have just for work.
So Dan was in tech and I was nondvertised. I
was on the digital side of advertising. They did not
I mean, I'm not Jewish, I converted, as you know,
and they, yeah know, his parents most definitely did not
want us.

Speaker 2 (49:16):
To be together.

Speaker 1 (49:17):
Oh really that was a thing.

Speaker 2 (49:18):
Yeah, yeah, no, that was a thing.

Speaker 1 (49:20):
How have you managed that well?

Speaker 2 (49:24):
I converted, so I checked that box.

Speaker 3 (49:26):
And then I did a lot of therapy because as
you can imagine, I mean, per like what I just
said about my upbringing, I had all sorts of belonging stuff.
So then I like one from like not belonging in
like waspy town in Boston, Like now I don't belong
in this like very Jewish family. So you know, I
did a boatload of therapy. And in the end, I
think time is everything. Timing is everything, right, Like everyone

takes an adjustment period, like there was a learning curve
of like, wait, this isn't going to disrupt our entire life,
like she's actually one of us in like other ways.
And I was like, no, oh, my marriage isn't gonna
implode if they don't approve of like every single thing
I do, Like this isn't like this is this is safe?

Speaker 2 (50:08):
Yeah, time time.

Speaker 1 (50:11):
Nah. This has been such a great conversation. We really
covered a lot of ground. My favorite kind decorating. On
the next podcast, please please, we'll just do a house
tour perfect. I hear those are big on YouTube.

Speaker 3 (50:23):
Oh really, I'm I'm still learning on video, so you can.

Speaker 1 (50:26):
Teach me well, we can bring house tours to podcasting.

Speaker 3 (50:30):
We're coming up with a lot of things for season ten,
season ten, season eleven.

Speaker 1 (50:34):
It's gonna thank you so much for joining she Pivots.

Speaker 2 (50:38):
Oh thanks for having me.

Speaker 1 (50:43):
Thanks for listening to this candid convo episode of she Pivots.
Check back in weekly for more conversations with inspiring women.
To learn more about our guests, follow us on Instagram
at she pivots the podcast. Leave a rating and comment
if you enjoy this episode to help authers learn about it.
A special thank you to our partner Marie Claire and

the team that made this episode possible. Talk to you
next week. She Pivots is hosted by me Emily Tish Sussman,
produced by Emily eda Veloshik, with sound editing and mixing
from Nina Pollok, and research and planning for Christine Dickinson
and Hannah Cousins.

Speaker 3 (51:24):
I endorse che Pivots.
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