Meet Judith Warner, author of a range of non-fiction books including the somewhat controversial best seller Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety .
Judy, who has been called the Gloria Steinem of our generation, is a former special correspondent for Newsweek, a sometime guest columnist for the New York Times, host of her own XM radio talk show and mother of two girls ages five and eight.
Judith Warner is smart, funny and thoughtful. Because she is also extremely candid and self-deprecating about all things mom-related, we knew she'd be perfect for our first In The Spotlight feature.
Mommy Tracked posed a few questions to Judy about managing motherhood in this Age of Anxiety. Here is what she had to say.
Do you feel you have made professional sacrifices to be a better parent or parental sacrifices to be a better professional?
No, I don't feel that I have made professional sacrifices. I live and work exactly as I did in the early 1990s when I didn't have children. The only difference — and I suppose it is a big difference — is that I now work about six hours a day instead of 10. If I worked more hours, I certainly would be more productive in terms of meeting deadlines and making money. There's no question that the flexible nature of my work allows me to participate more fully in my children's lives than I could if I had a "normal" job. But a "full time corporate position" is not anything I ever would have had, under any circumstances. All this to say: I probably have an ideal set up for being a mother and doing fulfulling work. But this is not the result of clever planning or choosing on my part — its just the nature of being a writer.
What do you think about the so-called Mommy Wars polarizing the stay at home moms and the moms that work outside the home?
All the research I have done and read shows that most women, given a true choice, would prefer to work part-time. I have consistently found that working and stay at home moms have far more in common than they believe; their attitudes toward motherhood are basically the same, as are the pressures that they place on themselves. To the extent that the so-called Mommy Wars exist, I believe they are fueled by insecurity on the part of mothers and a desire to feel better that's satisfied by putting others down.
How do you stay connected with your husband and kids when you are traveling for speaking engagements or working around the clock to meet a deadline?
I pretty much never work around the clock. It's just impossible now. So deadlines simply aren't met — or, if necessary, my children are stuck in front of the TV for a while. I don't travel a lot for speaking engagements, but when I do, I speak with my kids by phone (I speak to my husband all the time by phone as well). My husband and I always eat dinner and hang out together in the evenings. We'd be unhappy if we didn't
Would you work if you didn't need the income?
I would, but I would pick and choose and work less (i.e., one project at a time, if possible, rather than three simultaneously). I can't be happy without work that keeps me intellectually engaged.
How do you manage all the details of your home life?
I don't manage all the details. They are largely unmanageable. I outsource as much as I can afford — with the exception of childcare, which I try to keep to a minimum, as much because I want to spend time with my kids as because I find dealing with finding childcare to be an almost unbearable hassle. My husband is equally disinclined to do housework as I am. He is actually slightly better at it, but does less of it.
If my life is balanced, which in many ways it is right now, it's at the expense of the yard, which is a disaster, of the piles of papers accumulating in the kitchen, of the unhung paintings in my bedroom, the photographs crying out for placement in albums, my insufficiently exercised abdominal muscles . . .you see what I mean. I have work and kids pretty well balanced (today) . . . I'm trying not to care about the things I can't attend to. Unfortunately, I don't succeed well at that.
Since our inaugural interview with Perfect Madness  author Judith Warner, Mommy Tracked has spoken with many more wonderful women writers about how they find balance in their busy lives. Don't miss our interviews with Bad Mother author Ayelet Waldman , The Town on Beaver Creek author and technology columnist Michelle Slatalla , Flirting with Forty author Jane Porter , and Why Is My Mother Getting a Tattoo author Jancee Dunn .