Do you ever wonder why the phrase supermom was coined? Well, it most certainly was so there would be a way to describe women like Beth Feldman. She is the Vice President of the CBS Communications Group, where she spearheads publicity campaigns on behalf of several divisions of the Company, including marketing, consumer products, the new CBS Magazine Watch! and the entertainment division.
In her spare time, Beth Feldman is also the co-founder of RoleMommy.com , an online community for today's busy moms and the co-author, with Yvette Corporon, of a new book entitled Peeing in Peace: Tales & Tips for Type A Moms . And she has a 7-year-old and a 4-year-old.
As we said — supermom.
How many hours a week do you work? Do you work exclusively in the office, exclusively from home or some combination?
I work well over 40 hours a week, but two of those days, I work from home. I had pitched my bosses on that concept when I was pregnant with my first child and they’ve allowed me and other moms in the department to do it ever since.
What are the best and worst parts of your job?
The best part about my job is that it’s always different. I’ve been at my company for 10 years and during that time I have experienced every aspect of television publicity — from launching really bad shows, to handling the finale campaign for Everybody Loves Raymond to spearheading some amazing projects for our marketing department, including a campaign this year where we announced that we’re advertising on eggs. I even coined the phrase “egg-vertising.” I love variety and I certainly get that at my job. In terms of the worst part of my job, I used to loathe negotiating travel arrangements for celebrities but now I don’t have to do that anymore so I don't have many complaints on the work front.
Would you work if you could afford to stay home? If so, why?
I would definitely work. I have been working since I was eight years old, from helping my brother with his neighborhood paper route to folding sweaters at Benetton while in high school to writing for newspapers and magazines. Now I am working on Role Mommy and pursuing my passion for TV at CBS. I am incredibly ambitious and thrive on having lots of balls in the air.
Describe your childcare set up.
My kids are in school for most of the day and I have a babysitter who picks them up on the days that I’m not home. When I work from home, I take them to and from school but still have a babysitter so that I can escape to my home office, also known around our house as “the bat cave.”
Does the question of who earns more in your household affect the domestic workload division?
It doesn’t. What’s mine is his and what’s his is mine — or is that what’s mine is mine and what’s his is mine? We pretty much split our duties evenly, although I handle most of the clean up and he oversees play time. I make the lunches, I take the kids to school. He helps with homework, plays crazy games with them and gets them to brush their teeth. I say we split up our duties 50-50. We both play to our strengths.
Did your mom work while you were growing up? What did she do?
Yes. My mom started out as a teacher. She took some time off when I was little and then went back into the workforce and steadily climbed the ladder as my brother and I were growing up. By the time she retired, she was Deputy Superintendent of a school district in Forest Hills, NY. My mom is a true role model and I am so proud to be her daughter.
How often do you get to have dinner with your family? What is a typical meal?
We have dinner together between 3-4 times per week. I cook on Sundays so they usually eat what I make — if it’s chicken or burgers. Otherwise, they love pasta with butter, pizza, chicken nuggets and any other dish that can be prepared in five minutes or less. We also eat out a lot. My daughter’s favorite dish is shumai.
On the days you are in the office, what time do you usually get home?
My husband comes home at around 6:00 p.m. and I usually walk in the door around 6:30 p.m. Before that, the kids do their extracurricular activities, have friends over for playdates, do their homework and watch some television.
Do you travel often for your job? Do you try to avoid it or do you consider it the great escape?
I don’t travel that often so when I do, I consider it the great escape. Nothing can compare to those king-sized feather beds at the Ritz Carlton, although the flat screen TV’s above the bathtubs at the Peninsula in Chicago are pretty amazing too.
In your workplace, do you feel comfortable talking to your supervisors about your kids and family life or do you try to keep those spheres of existence separate? If so, why?
It depends who I’m talking to. If I know it’s another working mom who can relate to what I’m going through then I’ll definitely talk about home life. Otherwise, if I know my supervisor isn’t going to respond well to me telling him that I can’t be at the next meeting because I have to observe my son’s swim class, I’ll keep that little parenting tidbit to myself.
What is the one thing you vowed you would never do when you had kids that you find yourself doing?
I don’t think I ever vowed not to do anything — I pretty much take things as they come — and so far, while I’d prefer my son would stop coming into our bed at night, I know that by the time he’s in high school I’ll be wishing he was a little boy and needed his mommy again.
Speaking of bed. If you don't mind us asking, how often do you — you know?
A few times a week — sometimes more — sometimes less.
What is your best tip for maintaining balance or at least some semblance of sanity?
Have a sense of humor — laughter goes a long way when you have an insane work and home schedule.
What do you do when you feel totally overwhelmed?
Cry, have a glass of wine, call my mom or eat a piece of chocolate.
Do you feel that you have made professional sacrifices to be a better parent?
Sure — but I don’t think I would have it any other way. I have been honest with my employer about the importance of being there for my family and I think that has actually worked to my advantage. I have been able to pursue the things I love and give up the things that no longer work well with my lifestyle. Being at a company for over a decade does have its advantages but I also feel that I have been given the opportunity to flex my creative muscles because they trust me and have faith in my abilities.
Do you ever take your kids to work? Do you think your kids are proud that you work? How do you know?
I don’t take them that often since I am home twice a week. I did take my daughter to one of our Role Mommy events recently and she was amazing — she actually sold merchandise for me. I think my kids are proud of what I do — although my son asks me every day — mommy are you going to work today and when I say yes, he gets disappointed.
Describe a typical morning and evening at your house.
Typical morning — wake up at 6:45am. Shower, get dressed, wake the kids. Get them dressed. Head downstairs to feed the cats. Clean up the mess the cats made from the night before. Give the kids breakfast, make lunches. Brush hair, brush teeth, throw on jackets and head out the door by 8:15am. Drop my daughter off at school, my son off at pre-school and then hit the 8:48am train to Manhattan.
Get home at 6:30pm. Make dinner for myself and my husband while he plays with the kids. Check over my daughter’s homework — think it looks fine. My husband re-checks it and finds a few mistakes. After serving dinner and making a side dish that probably tastes pretty bad, the kids interrupt us because they want dessert. Stop eating to give them ice cream. We finish dinner, my husband plays with the kids, I clean up and then we start getting ready for bed. My daughter goes down at 8:30pm and my son — who hates to go to bed by himself — falls asleep with us in the den while we try to catch up on some primetime TV.
Do you exercise? How do you fit it in?
We have a trainer who comes to our house twice a week. That’s the only way I can fit exercise into my routine nowadays — if it comes to me then I have to do it.
What do you think makes a good mother?
Patience, a sense of humor, creativity and setting limits.
What is your guiltiest pleasure and do you have time for it?
Sleep . . . not really.
What are the best and worst things about being a working mom?
The best thing is that I get to pursue what I love while raising my family. The worst is not having enough hours in the day to accomplish everything on my to-do list.
What inspires you?
Other amazing women who have pursued their passion while raising a family.
What would you do if you had more time?
Who is your hero?
Like this interview with television publicity executive and RoleMommy.com  founder Beth Feldman? Then don't miss our Working Mom interviews with video producer Elisabeth Roberts , MTV Vice President of series development Liz Gately , and The Jim Henson Company's co-CEO, Lisa Henson .