This week, the Cut presents stories about the complex bonds of parenthood.
daughter of Pum Lefebure, co-founder and chief creative officer, Design Army
She tells everybody their daily schedule and then she sits at her desk looking at emails, checking emails, dealing with clients. If you don’t like being bossed around, then you probably wouldn’t like working for her. But if you can take things seriously and know how to do the job then you probably will like working with her. I’m on her good side because I’m her child! I’ve been on her bad side. I got a bad grade in English and she got mad. But I kind of zoned out after a couple of minutes. She will usually come home and say, “Sophie! I’m so stressed out,” and then I will give her a big hug. Then she’ll be, like, “Sophie did you finish your homework?” And I’ll be, like,“Yes,” and I hug her again and she will go upstairs, get a shower, eat dinner, complain, and then go to bed. She’s the head of the house. If she wants to do something … it happens. If something doesn’t happen her way and the way that it is supposed to happen then she will tell them off.
I think now there are more businesswomen than -men. Every so often you see some man in a suit and khakis carrying a briefcase down the street, but more often you see a woman with high heels in a pant suit. My mom doesn’t wear high heels and a pant suit, but she’s still a boss. Sometimes she doesn’t seem to like it. She will have work and I will be, like, “Mommy don’t stay up too late!” and then you’ll hear her at 1 a.m. walk into her room, and she will just stay up and push through it. I’m very proud of her for that.
I want to be a boss like my mom because someone will be, like, “Go make me a salad!” and I’ll be, like, “No! You make me a salad!” I’d rather give directions than follow them. Being a boss looks like fun. You have more freedom. But I guess you have to worry about keeping everyone else under control. I’m pretty sure it is as stressful as being a teacher.
son of Stephanie Klein Wassink, principal, admissionscheckup.com
I think Mom has two or three employees, and I think they do the same thing as her but she instructs them and pays them less. I don’t like doing work for my mom, but other people might. I think she’s a pretty reasonable person and many people would not have an issue with her. My dad is also at work a lot, but he does help at home. He does dishes, coaches sports, and watches our sports. Mom asserts dominance over me. I wouldn’t say she’s bossy, cause that sounds bad … but I might be thinking it.
She has a book club, and when her friends come over everything has to be perfect and she is the nicest person in the world. At home she can be mean, but at work she probably makes it so her co-workers look up to her. She’s probably nicer to them, because it is not socially acceptable to be mean to them. I’m proud of my mother because she is an entrepreneur, which is pretty cool. Once, Mom went golfing with my dad so I would not have to go. She has four children and hasn’t gone insane, and I think that’s pretty significant. But sometimes she forgets things, like when she asked me to talk to you she forgot how old I am.
I’m not sure how she got to be boss, but she must have had a pretty cool idea, like on Shark Tank. I guess I’d want to be the boss; I like being president of my middle school. She has an office and I have been there. It’s quaint, it has a small-town vibe.
daughter of Barbara Goldberg, co-founder and CEO, O’Connell & Goldberg Public Relations
I think people love working for my mom — if they get hired, that is. She’s a total boss at work but she does get stressed. The solution? A jar of peanut butter, one pint of ice cream, and two dogs (she plays with the dogs, she doesn’t eat them). Mom either knows every detail about everyone’s lives in her home or completely forgets why she’s standing in front of the fridge, but as soon as she remembers she rolls right back into boss mode. She’s bold and confident — I wouldn’t want to openly miss cultural references in front of her. But she got to be a boss through her relentless ambition, extroverted personality, and willingness to experiment at a young age. She fell sick before her junior high cheerleading tryouts, and she did then what she’d do now: Take two Advil and push through the discomfort. She’s a boss. She runs a company, supports the community, and is the foundation of a total boss family.
son of Karen Hough, founder and CEO, ImprovEdge, LLC
My mother fits the description of Boss Mom quite literally — to my chagrin, she’s applied delegation skills to giving us kids chores. Most of the time, I return from school to an itemized list labeled “Timothy darling!” in beautiful cursive, carefully placed atop my laptop or running shoes to make sure I’ll notice it. But there’s a great side to all this, too. It’s taught me to keep track of my schedule, keep things tidy, and work hard — and since Mom also makes these lists for herself, she always keeps track of everything and can tell just when we kids need attention and when we’ve got things under control.
son of Rachel Gary, director of media strategies and communications, ONE World Sports
A boss is someone who controls other people and tells them what to do. She’s enjoyable to work with and she brings in chocolate-covered pretzels during the holidays. Sometimes when she gets stressed out she takes it out on us. Sometimes she requests a glass of wine at the end of the day. She bosses us around at home, too, and she says the Gary household is a dictatorship. I know she’s just kidding, though.
daughter of Amy Baxter, MD, CEO, MMJ Labs LLC
Occasionally, my mom will have to tell people off when they do something really stupid, but she has a heart of gold and, like, the unicorns who fly above as our leaders, she will do what she has to do to keep the balance of humanity right. I think women are more willing to give out raises when they are worthy, and realize when someone is trying to overthrow them — generally, they have a bigger connection to their workers, which helps productivity. Once she had to fire her friend, which I would think would be very hard.
I personally would enjoy being in the upper layers of management but not a full-on boss, due to the amounts of pressure. My mom probably became a boss because she had an idea no one else had and was willing to see it through.
Maggie, 8, and Murphy, 5
children of Kelley Kitley, LCSW, owner, Serendipitous Psychotherapy
Maggie: Mom is a psychotherapist, she’s in charge of four kids and Jenna [her associate]. She says, “make your beds and get more clients.” People like working with her because sometimes she’s nice. But men are better at being the boss because they are more manlier.
Once my mom jumped off a diving board and went on a roller coaster. Once she smoked a cigarette! (I read about it on her blog; she did it when she felt frustrated.) Once, she didn’t let me have dinner because I was acting up. She works really hard and writes a lot of articles, and that’s annoying.
Murphy: She works at the big building. Sometimes after school I go with her, and I get to ride her spinning bike and eat.
Chloe, 5, and Zachary, 3
children of Lori Salkin, senior matchmaker and dating coach, Saw You at Sinai
Chloe: A boss is someone who tells everyone what to do. She helps people get married, she’s a matchmaker. She is in charge of the people that work for her and our babysitters. She tells them to watch us so she can work. She tells the people that work for her to text people. She gets mad when she gets stressed, so she takes breaks from work and comes to play with us because her clients are being annoying. Mom wants Dad to help out at home more, but he watches sports on TV. I get to see her work because she works in our house. She talks on the phone all day. She even talks on the phone when she takes us to the kiddie pool.
She has to tell people who they should marry and if they are not being nice to the people they want to marry. But she’s not scary! One thing I don’t like is that sometimes she doesn’t come up to put me to bed because she is on the phone and I fall asleep. I don’t want to be a boss because they are like teachers and not everyone wants to listen to them. But it’s normal for women to be the boss, Hello Kitty is a boss of the Kitties and she is a girl.
Zachary: Mom is the boss of the kids and Daddy, and my mom is the boss at work.
son of Bobbie Carlton, founder, Innovation Nights
When I was little, my mom worked with big software companies and I didn’t have a clear idea of what she did, other than it was in an office and she had a computer and a telephone. There was typing, and sending things to people, and printing things. There was a set of In- and Out-boxes that stuff just kind of magically ported between, and then money came in because business was happening!
When I was a little older, she got a new job with a company that made books and a website for kids, and I was a bit of a class hero because some of my friends got invited into her office. She started her first company when I was 11. It seemed like fun because her company threw a big party every month and it was cool that it was my mom’s “thing.” She’s like the mom for a lot of start-ups. She doesn’t sleep much. Usually she’ll go to bed after me, and I’m usually up until the middle of the night, so I guess that’s worrying. She just tends to schlump around if she’s strung out about something. Together my parents decided that Mom would work and Dad would stay home with the kids. Mom was farther along in her career and was doing something she loved. Dad wanted to spend more time with his music. So, Dad’s always been the person who takes care of us. He cooks dinner and picks us up and takes us to the doctor and dentist. I’m so proud of her because she’s making it possible for for my brother and I to go to college. I don’t want to be a boss; I would lose my mind. I don’t think I would be able to deal with the stress very well. Being boss seems like a lot of stress and work. She does everything, and then some. If someone’s not doing something, she probably is.