We would like to introduce you to Romi Lassally. She was a successful Hollywood film producer and then made the difficult decision to stay home with her kids. Her youngest recently started kindergarten and she went back to work with a drive that had been bottled up for the eight years she was at home. She is now the full-time features editor and sometime writer for Arianna Huffington's wildly successful blog, The Huffington Post. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and three children, Phoebe, Annabel and Owen, ages 16 to 6.
Romi's professional and parental journey is interesting and inspiring. But her charm, candor, approachability and never ending quest to help other working moms succeed in cyber space are what make her a true original. Romi has become our trusted advisor, cyber friend and consistent source of genuine belly laughs. Need someone to emulate? Here she is.
If you want more Romi after reading this interview, you can read some of Romi Lassally's thought-provoking articles at The Huffington Post .
On average, how many hours a week do you work? Do you spend most of them in an office?
I work at least 40 hours week, but because The Huffington Post is a virtual company — I steal these hours whenever I can (5:30-7:00 before the kids are awake; 8-10 after they are asleep, etc). I work both at the office and at home. I love the flexibility my job offers but it’s often hard to maintain boundaries . . . as I do most of my work from my computer . . . it is always beckoning me — from my desktop to my Blackberry! As as I work in the blogosphere — I need to keep up with the cyber pace.
You stayed home for eight years with your kids. What brought you back to the workforce?
Now that all my kids are in school full-time, I really wanted to jump back into the work force . . . so I did. And I love it! And now that I’ve figured out a new rhythm for my life, I love it more and more everyday.
Do you find yourself doing anything that you vowed you would never do when you had kids?
One of the things I vowed I would never do once I had kids but now find myself doing is muli-tasking. When I am with them . . . this is what I struggle with the most. I really want to be present with them when I am with them . . . As I worked full time when I had my first child (until she was 7) I would always tell my friends, and myself, Be at work when at work and be with the kids when with the kids . . . Much easier said than done then and now (especially with the Blackberry and the nature of my work.) I have to hide my Blackberry and make sure my computer is off when I come home (or when they come home).
Forgive us for asking such a personal question, but with all the late nights at the computer, do you ever find time or energy for sex?
No apologies necessary for asking the question about sex. Answer: Certainly not as much as my husband would like.
The juggling act with three kids and a demanding job has to send you over the edge sometimes. What do you do when you get totally overwhelmed?
What I do when I feel totally overwhelmed depends on the day . . . some days I just throw up my hands and consider quitting. Other days I cry (but only briefly . . .) But most days, I just plow through – I LOVE my job, I LOVE my kids — I just do my best. Arianna Huffington recently reminded me that doing what we do – as women and professionals — we will never feel caught up. You get to the top priorities on your list BUT you will never get through the whole list. Never. Very sound advice.
And I also read an advance copy of a book called A PERECT MESS — The Hidden Benefits of Disorder. I swear just the title alone liberated me from my nagging desire to have everything in order in my life — both personally and professionally.
Do you feel you have made professional sacrifices to be a better parent or vice versa?
When it comes to sacrificing, no doubt I made professional sacrifices to be a more present parent. I had kids very early in my previous career as an exec in the film business. This, unfortunately was a handicap. I left that career entirely after the birth of my second child and remained home until my third child was in kindergarten (this year). I have to admit that even though I stayed home for a long time — I was never comfortable with my decision — I am a career girl at heart and frankly always panicked about what I was going to do once my kids were in school. So last year I set out on a mission to find a new career — I practically stalked Arianna and The Huffington Post — working as the oldest intern (43) for over 8 months until they finally had to hire me.
Talk to us about the so-called Mommy Wars.
Ah, the mommy wars . . . I think they are skirmishes – not an all out war. I’m in an interesting position — I was a working mom very young (had my first child at 27), I left the work force when I was 35, and now, at 43, the mother of 3, I’m back in the saddle again.
With this unique perspective, I now see how the battle lines are drawn, and frankly see how I’ve contributed to both sides. The biggest problem as I see it is judgment. I admit that when first a working mom, and then a stay at home mom, I definitely harbored a mixture of feelings toward the group I WASN’T in.
Rushing to my demanding job when I had my first daughter and sending my nanny on all her playdates (not to mention to the market, the bank, etc.) I couldn’t imagine how stay-at-home moms could fill their days, let alone feel satisfied. But the tables turned when I had my 2nd child, and had a chance to see how the other half lived. I threw myself into my full-time motherhood with a vengance — I even became president of the PTA. And part of me really enjoyed this time of my life. But I would be lying if I didn’t admit to a constant undercurrent of anxiety – I felt adrift without a professional identity — and really worried about the future when my kids didn’t need me as much. I was also unfulfilled creatively. I couldn’t live completely in the moment.
No doubt, working motherhood is a complicated gig — and I think it’s the guilt and the second guessing that keeps us divided rather than united.
You've worked, stayed home and now work full-time again. What has this journey taught you about yourself?
For the first time in my life, I am truly comfortable with my dual role of career woman/mother. The first time around I was tortured . . . I was wracked with guilt and couldn’t balance my roles as worker/wife/mother . . . it was a disaster. But that’s not to say that quitting was an easy decision . . . it was one of the hardest things I’ve done. I think much of the pain I endured when deciding to quit was due to both separation and mourning. I think this is something very few people openly discuss because they aren’t aware of what is going on emotionally. Leaving my professional life at 35 — to me — although I didn’t know it at the time — felt like leaving the person I had worked so hard to become. I couldn’t even give up the many suits hanging in my closet, despite the fact that they were WAY out of style (can you say shoulder pads?) and after 3 kids there was no way I was going to fit into them either!). I think I felt that if I gave away the suits, I was giving away the chance of ever being the working girl who would wear them again.
Want to hear more from working moms like Romi Lassaly who've found success creating flexible careers in social media? Don't miss our interviews with BlogHer  founder Lisa Stone , Cool Mom Picks  co-creator Liz Gumbinner , and Celebrity Baby Blog  founder Danielle Friedland .