Lisa Stone was a longtime journalist, a new mom and a new divorcee when she took a big risk. She left the traditional male-heavy newsroom in 1997 and delved into the world of the Internet in part to have more flexibility to care for her son, then just a year old. At the helm of numerous blogging networks, she became the first Internet journalist awarded a Nieman Fellowship by Harvard University. Frustrated by some mainstream media’s discussion — and exclusion — of women, particularly women bloggers, Stone and friends Jory Des Jardins and Elisa Camahort Page created a bloggers’ conference for women in 2005, and BlogHer was born. The go-to website for women, BlogHer reaches more than 14 million women monthly through its website, annual conferences and publishing networks. After raising her son alone for eight years, Stone and her partner, Chris Carfi, moved in Brady Bunch-style in Half Moon Bay with three kids between them.
You were a working single mom for many years. What were the biggest challenges?
Sleep deprivation and solitude. During that time, as I was supporting my son, I felt I was never done working. Never. For one four-year period I slept an average of three to four hours a night, a huge mistake that really damaged my health. The smartest thing I did was to apply for and accept a nine-month fellowship that allowed me to pick up my son from kindergarten every day. That was a life-changing blessing for which I am grateful to this day.
Did you have to make professional sacrifices to be a more present parent?
A friend once said to me, “You know Lisa, you're good. I think the only thing holding you back is parenthood.” This was a friend who, like me, loves reporting live news. But she was wrong about me, because I don't feel held back by anything. I made some very deliberate choices that I'm happy with — the kinds of enviable choices, let's face it, that an employable grown woman with a four-year college degree and no special health needs for herself or her child can afford to make.
Once I decided to have a child, at 29, I knew that to be the parent I wanted to be, I was making a decision not to pursue certain jobs. I have specifically gone after competitive opportunities where I felt incredibly excited to contribute — and also believed I could be present as a mother in a way that was appropriate for his age. I walked away from the newsroom and the daily news cycle. I didn't try to travel overseas or too regularly. I chose Internet jobs to control my schedule and amazing employers who would work with me. But I was there for my son in the way I wanted to be there for him. Now that he's 13 and really on his way to adulthood, I'm just glad that I'm the one driving him to and from school most days so that I can extort a conversation! And when I do have to travel, I suspect he doesn't mind the alone time he gets with his stepfather and his grandparents.