By Estelle Sobel Erasmus
In her best-selling book, This is Not How I Thought It Would Be: Remodeling Motherhood to Get the Lives We Want Today (Penguin Group, 2009), Kristin Maschka, past Board President of the National non-profit organization Mothers & More (of which I’m a Board member) shares her own story of how she needed to reinvent herself–and her relationship with her husband–after they became parents. She also offers specific actions any woman can take to live their best lives.
On a personal note, reading Kristin’s book and getting angry about the disempowerment of women financially–and emotionally–after becoming mothers catalyzed me to become more of an activist on mothers’ and women’s issues, and to fight to change public and government policy.
I asked Kristin some questions about her business, her motivation and her plans for the future, and her answers provided me with even greater epiphanies.
Tell me about your book, Remodeling Motherhood?
The book was branded for mothers but was also a story of my husband and the changing world around us. Once I realized that the motivator for my husband to share the family work, and paid work, was the relationship with his daughter, I saw that the conversation needed to shift to one about parenting instead of just mothering. You can’t remodel the situation without having both men and women at the table.
What else are you working on these days?
I own a consulting practice, *Maschka Enterprises, and offer services in three areas: speaking, executive coaching and consulting for organizations with leadership teams. We show how to make change today for women and men and the organizations they are a part of and connect to. Also, I have a passion for higher education. I work with organizations such as the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education, and I’m the co-founder and former Board Chair of the Pasadena Education Network, a community non-profit promoting parent participation in parent education. I also have a sweet spot for high tech businesses.
Do you want to write another book?
Yes, I’m thinking about it. A lot of Generation X women and men are looking for tools to make a change in their own lives and organizations. At this point in history we’re eighty-ninety years out from the Great Depression, so in terms of a generational cycle, almost every aspect of society needs to be remodeled. Particularly, because with all the changes in technology, we have bumped up against the limit of outdated structures.
How can we help make the cultural shift that is necessary for positive change?
Every person needs to ask him or herself “what’s my role in remodeling the workplace and public policy? By changing the language we use we can train our brains to think differently (for example, talk about fathers doing “co-parenting” instead of “babysitting”). Its one of the ways we can challenge sub-conscious beliefs that trap us in lives we don’t want. In addition, the size and scope of the reaction to Anne-Marie Slaughter’s article “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All”, is an indication that we’ve hit a critical mass of men and women who experience the constricting current nature of the workforce when it comes to parenting and don’t know what to do about it, nor do they have a forum for it.
If you combine this with women and men caretaking for children at the same time that they are caring for older parents, its clear that the conversation we must be having is how are we really supporting families and how do we remodel the structures to get the proper support. Its an issue that hits all income levels; and my hope is if you push on this conversastion you can leverage it to talk about people at all levels of income in society.
How do you think the government and/or corporate america should support parenting?
Again, I think we need to shift the conversation to how can the government and corporate america provide support for families and make room for the fact that everyone has the need to care for everyone else, and that people must have the ability to care for a family and put food on the table. I’m a big believer that we have to push on the cultural shift to challenge assumptions and ultimately create the kind of pressure that will result in change.
*Through her firm, Maschka Enterprises, Kristin Maschka catalyzes people and teams towards organizational development and to achieve their aspirations. She has authored related articles and commentary for publications such as USA Today Magazine, Womens eNews and the Huffington Post, and has shared her expertise with USA Today, Money, The Christian Science Monitor, NPR, Marketplace, and BBC London.