When Beth Feldman had her first child 10 years ago, becoming a fulltime homemaker just wasn’t an option for her. As a publicist at CBS, Beth was over the moon about her baby girl but she still had her own dreams to fulfill. Wanting to work fulltime but desiring to do so on her own terms, Beth approached her boss with a solution she could deal with. How about letting her work from home twice a week? Telecommuting was relatively unheard of at the time; however, Beth’s boss gave her a six-week trial period to see how things went. As it happened, six weeks turned into eight successful years! No longer was Beth just a working mom. Instead, she was a telecommuting dynamo at the forefront of a new era, a woman following her professional passions AND raising a family she adored. Beth was becoming a Role Mommy!
Even though Beth wasn’t “at the office” on her telecommuting days, it was extremely important to her that she remain challenged and continue to advance in her career. As she grew with the company and her family expanded to include another child, she was promoted all the way up to Vice President, charged with handling four divisions of the company. Sure, promotions may have been quicker had she have been in the office fulltime, but Beth was happy juggling her family and her career. What mattered to her was that the advancements had happened at all. “I wanted to set out to prove it can be done. Had I been a five-day-a-week employee I probably would have advanced quicker. But I knew in my heart I was going to get there.”
Beth was proud of the fact that her actions paved the way for several other mothers at CBS who were given the opportunity to work from home because of her success. She loved her work, she loved her life, and she was becoming really fascinated by the working women she met who were at the top of their game, those women who juggled mothering and CEO positions or things of that nature—talented working moms who understood that you don’t have to give up your own dreams just because you are raising your children to achieve theirs. Her life as a working mom was filled with humorous episodes, like her experience of giving birth to her son three weeks early. In the television world, EVERYTHING happens in May. Her son had been due at the end of May. Lo and behold, he decided to pop out a wee bit early. Beth spent labor clutching at the wall with her hands, using her cell phone to juggle the cast of "CSI," the finale of "The Amazing Race" and an "Extra" feature story with Jerry Stiller from "The King of Queens,” rattling off every single thing she had to do dumped in her poor assistant’s lap.
After having the baby, she lay in bed laughing as she watched all the things she was supposed to be doing that week float by on the TV screen in her hospital room. As Beth was learning, sometimes life comes in the way of your career, and that’s quite all right! Musing on all of her funny working mom tales, Beth jotted down interesting ideas about the powerful working women she was coming into contact with and some anecdotes about her own life as a working mom. Somehow, someday, she knew it would be good fodder for something extraordinary.
“Beth spent labor clutching at the wall with her hands, using her cell phone to juggle the cast of ‘CSI,’ the finale of ‘The Amazing Race’ and an ‘Extra’ feature story with Jerry Stiller from ‘The King of Queens,’ rattling off every single thing she had to do dumped in her poor assistant’s lap.”
One day, Beth and another mom who worked in the entertainment industry, Yvette Corporon, began talking about how they’d both like to write a book about the light, funny side of what it takes to pursue your passion while raising a family. Sitting down together one summer they did just that. The book, Peeing in Peace: Tales and Tips for Type A Moms, soon found an agent and was ready for the publishing market. There was just one problem. In the publishing world the manuscript was met with a halting question: “But, who are they?” Neither Beth nor Yvette was schooled in child psychology. They weren’t industry-standard parenting experts. Apparently, just being two successful working moms wasn’t enough! Nobody wanted to take a chance on them. So, they wound up self-publishing, and the experience served them well.
While working through their book issues, Beth and Yvette formulated a platform for Role Mommy (http://www.rolemommy.com/), an online community and events company meant to entertain and inspire today’s busy moms. As part of Role Mommy, they began doing live speaking events featuring women at the top of their game who successfully balance work and family. Beth enjoyed tapping into women who she thought were interesting and found that the women in the crowd were truly inspired by the speakers. “The idea, to me, is that you really shouldn’t be losing a part of yourself when you become a mom. You want to have a great time with your kids but also have something you are doing that’s fulfilling.” Through their stories, the speakers she chose imparted that idea and the women in the crowd whole-heartedly embraced them.
Things were evolving and Yvette wanted to keep writing. However, Beth found she was really getting into this creative, sharing aspect of the live events. She’d met so many inspiring female entrepreneurs—it was time to join them! With the support and encouragement of her husband, Beth left her job at CBS behind and started her own PR firm, BeyondPR, while continuing to grow Role Mommy. Now officially a mom blogger, Beth wrote content and edited videos for her expanding web site. And, she loved it. “I love to find out about new things, especially in the area of technology that will help your life get easier. I always love to pick up on things, almost like looking into the future. While at CBS I knew blogging was going to be very big. But, I didn’t really know about the world of mom bloggers until I became one.”
As Role Mommy expanded Beth realized she couldn’t possibly serve as the expert in all the areas of interest that busy moms have. But, with all the business, networking, and PR skills she honed at CBS, she could pull all those experts in under the same roof. “Initially my site was about my voice, but now it’s about sharing the voices of these other women who are also working from home and tapping into their expertise. I’ve become central casting for mom experts! I used to do PR for all these celebrities and in this new world, I’ve found there are so many moms who are incredible writers, with valuable information and incredible stories to tell. I’m in a world now where I feel privileged to have befriended some of the best writers I’ve ever met.”
Over the course of a few years, Beth has now become something of a celebrity in the blogging world; something she hasn’t quite gotten wrapped her head around after working with so many “real” celebrities for so many years. Still, whether she believes herself a celebrity or not, it’s been a lot of fun to attend events and conventions and see people who are excited to meet her and she feels honored by all the attention. Yet, being famous isn’t what it’s all about for Beth. Becoming a Role Mommy and promoting the talents of other Role Mommies gives Beth a way to show her own children that you can reach that pot of gold when you work hard and are really good at something. She wants them to understand how exciting it is to do what you love, and to appreciate how rare it is that people actually follow their dreams. “As women a lot of times we are afraid to ask—for permission, a raise, afraid to take a chance and do what we love. I pride myself on making my passion to do what I love my career. Hopefully my children will see that as well.”
In an ironic twist of fate, things have come practically full circle for Beth. When publishers turned her first book away it was because she was not deemed a child expert. Out of that experience sprang the vision for Role Mommy. Now, three years later, media outlets come knocking on Beth’s door all the time! While she does not want to overstep her bounds and be seen as a child expert, she is widely known as a “mom blogging expert” or “working mother expert” and has appeared on several TV shows as exactly that. But, it is the queen-for-a-day aspect of her job that she loves the most. “My boss at CBS used to call me ‘the knitter’ because I have a knack for connecting people. Over the last two years, I’ve really been immersed in the whole mom blogging world and I work from a PR standpoint to promote moms. I can have these different relationships online, through my PR work, et cetera, and knit people together. I have a book coming out in November called See Mom Run and it’s an anthology featuring humor stories written by women I’ve met over the last two years, a lot of them online. From the book tour perspective I’m actually going to be doing events in different cities with my different contributors so I can showcase them. Because of the attention these writer-moms are getting, you’ve got these little mini-Oprahs popping up out of their own living rooms!”
To add to the vision, Beth has recently created new workshops for busy moms she calls Role Mommy University. Through Role Mommy University people can take teleseminar courses on all sorts of things, from how to spearhead your own public relations campaign to how to turn your passion into a paycheck and more. “For busy women, I think the obstacle a lot of times is carrying something through. They come up with an idea and can’t follow it through because they don’t have the experience or the connections. With Role Mommy University, I connect them with the people who can make things happen.”
Her career may be a lot of work, but it’s also a lot of fun and Beth wouldn’t have it any other way. Beth has found a way to share funny stories without embarrassing her family and friends. She has found a way to do what she loves. And, most importantly, she has found a way to share the voices of those often overlooked household celebrities with the rest of the world—our moms!
Thank you Beth, for sharing your Story with us.
Our Stories and pictures are the sole copyright of their Authors and may not be reprinted or used without their permission.© 2009 by Tamar Burris and Story of My Life