The Summer of Dad

Boys and Dad

I should start this by giving credit where credit is due; my husband, Ian, is the main caregiver in our household.  It’s hard for me to acknowledge that, but it’s true. And he’s good at it.  If I’m being honest, I should also admit that he’s better at it than me.

Being a public school teacher has allowed my husband to care for our boys in ways that many parents wish they could.  He is home full time with them for holidays, spring breaks and summers. I remain in a constant state of gratitude for the gift of not panicking about summer camps, baby sitters or reduced work schedules when they are out of school.

Each year, the summer of Dad brings with it an exercise for me in releasing control and letting my husband run the household in the way that is best for him. We’re ten years into this, and I’ve come to notice a distinct cycle to our summer.


In the first weeks of summer, we see so much potential to accomplish a long list of dreams now that Ian is home full time. I am happy to be able to leave for work as early as I want and not be compromised by the bus being late or lunch boxes left behind. The weeks ahead seem full of possibility as I think of all the doctor and dentist appointments we can schedule that won’t require me to miss work.  Ian and the boys are also full of energy and dreaming up their summer plans. There’s a schedule, there are chores, and some years there’s even a binder with lesson plans and fun names of the week like “Make it Monday” where they build something and “Take a Trip Tuesday” where they go somewhere fun. And every summer, we are definitely going to make them math prodigies so that they go back to school a grade ahead.


There comes a point each summer when I realize I’ve been demoted. The boys want Dad.  All decisions come with “But Dad said we could!” I no longer have a say in the rules because Dad is in charge and the boys know how to work the system. But in the early stages of my demotion, I gladly hand over the torch and leave for work to enjoy my coffee and a quiet drive. I willingly play second fiddle and revel in a moment of less parenting pressure.


I’m not second fiddle material. By mid-summer, I start to get jealous as I sit at dinner and hear stories about their day. I fight the busy schedule by protesting that the boys should not be in two activities each. Why?  Because it doesn’t leave time for me. Because every day I come home from work and rush off to a baseball game or swim meet. I’m being cheated of a spontaneous summer because all the fun stuff happens while I’m at work. I’M FUN TOO YOU KNOW!!  No one seems to hear me.


Something flips and I go on summer vacation in my mind. The house is so quiet.  No one is getting up early anymore. Does anyone want to get up and have coffee with Mommy?  No?  Ok, I’ll wait a while to see if anyone wakes up. The clock edges past the time I usually leave and I find myself unloading the dishwasher. Fifteen minutes past my usual departure time and I’m making pancakes for the sleeping bunch hoping the sound of pots and pans will wake someone up. I’ve adopted their slow speed because I want a summer too. My habitually early self has turned into a chronically late product of the summer of Dad.


There’s only so much one household can take. By early August we are all starting to feel the effects of the summer. The binders are collecting dust, and the dreams of making the boys math prodigies have been crushed as we realize we are probably sending them back to school dumber than they left.  We still need to get them to the dentist but memories of how busy the school year feels encourages us to sleep in just that much longer. I start craving companions that have some urgency in their day and have somewhere to go. The boys start complaining about me going to work because they see me leaving every day. They used to leave before me, but now the fact that Mom leaves and Dad doesn’t is front and center. I’m an outlier to the summer of Dad and I want to get back to normal so I fit in again. We’ve all surrendered to the summer as we realize we cannot sustain this unstructured lifestyle. When does school start?

The dynamic of my husband being the main caregiver for our children has become the foundation of our family. His willingness to get them off the bus every day, start their homework, put dinner on the table and care for them full time on breaks has given me opportunities to develop my career in ways that would not have been possible otherwise. My friend pointed out the other day that I have the privilege of not feeling guilty for working because of the type of partner I have. She’s totally right.

Having a reliable partner in the caregiving of our children is a non-negotiable for working moms. A spouse, a family member, a friend – regardless of who it is, it’s a piece of the puzzle that needs to be in place in order to make life work. There is also power in the women around us who are trying to balance their lives around parenting. Our hope here at MotherBoard is that we can cultivate another channel of support so that every woman has the ability to thrive both personally and professionally…and make it through the summer.

Boys on the lake



Women We Admire: 10 Minutes With Karen Katz

MotherBoard is launching our Moms We Admire series where we spend 10 minutes chatting with professional mothers to get a glimpse into their interesting and energizing lives.


In Cleveland, the Katz name is synonymous with food. Good food. Karen Katz and her husband, Chef Douglas Katz, are the power couple behind some of Cleveland’s most popular food experiences such as fire food and drink, Provenance and Provenance Cafe at the Cleveland Museum of Art, Fire Spice Company and the Katz Club Pop Up Diner. With her husband in the role of CEO/Partner/Chef/Proprietor of these establishments, Karen has been busy cultivating a new reputation for the Katz name as the Exhibit Designer for the Cleveland Children’s Museum.

“Shortly before I started college, a friend asked me what my dream job was,” Karen reminisced as we sipped coffee during the busy brunch rush at fire food and drink. “I knew right away.  I had always visualized myself creating an exhibit for the Natural History Museum. That was my dream job.” It’s no surprise then that Karen earned her degree in Anthropology before going on to earn another degree in Museum Planning Exhibition and Design.

In 1999, Karen landed her ultimate job redesigning exhibits for the Cleveland Children’s Museum. Shortly thereafter, Karen left to join her husband and help with the 2001 launch of fire food and drink.  Her skills were put to use managing design elements for the restaurant including the space, the branding and the menu. By 2003, the Katz family had doubled with the arrival of twins Abe and Amelia. “It wasn’t a question,” Karen explained, “I knew the best thing for myself and my family was to stay home full time while Doug put his energy into growing the restaurant.” Their partnership had now expanded beyond the restaurant to encompass their growing family. Continue reading “Women We Admire: 10 Minutes With Karen Katz”

A little later baby: When motherhood comes mid-career

A guest blog by Erika McLaughlin, a strategic communications consultant, community advocate, and mom to Andrew, six months.

There are certain realities a woman faces when she has a baby in her late 30s. While as a society we have come a long way in recognizing that women are having babies later in life, this is not nearly as widespread as we would like to believe. The latest data on the average age of women having their first child indicates age 26.3. Not exactly over the hill. I had my son, Andrew, 6 months ago when I was 38.

What comes with having a baby close to 40 are challenges and opportunities that differ in 1the experiences of a woman having her first child at 26, or in her 20s in general. Besides being referred to as old…or as they call it AMA (advanced maternal age) at every prenatal appointment, we are further along in our careers. Most of us have a more solid financial situation than in our younger years, tend to be more educated, and have often focused on careers, education, volunteerism, or other family obligations before making the decision to have a child.

So when we have children a bit later in life, what happens to the lives we led before baby came along?

Continue reading “A little later baby: When motherhood comes mid-career”

It’s all in the shoes.

Just beyond the bright red door of our cozy little home, a giant pile of shoes tells the story of our days. On Sundays, after an early morning cleanup, the pile is a tidy row of velcro Nikes and ballet flats. By Thursday night, it is a undulating heap of rain boots, broken flip flops, an errant sock, random baseballs, someone’s crusty wet tennis shoe, and swim goggles.

The big, huge, shoe pile.

Each week, we start with the best of intentions and, each week, the shoe pile reflects what our lives are really like: colorful, scattered, adventurous, and nonstop.

Our house is now exactly one month into summer break. We’ve adjusted our schedules, rooted for our Cavs, given up on the one-popsicle-a-day rule, and shivered our way through early morning swim team practice. We have picked berries, hunted for sea glass, played a lot of baseball, and happily accepted Rice Krispies as dinner at least twice. Okay, maybe three times.

Part of me is frustrated – this summer was to be about continuing the momentum of my year, when the kids were in school eight hours a day when I could work and launch MotherBoard, and still be home for the bus every day.

But the truth is that this summer has already become something different.

Continue reading “It’s all in the shoes.”

Stops, starts, and stalls: Finding my working mom path

Welcome to our first official MotherBoard guest blog post by Pam Turos: founder of, entrepreneur, writer, social worker, and mother of three.  We met Pam as part of the Cleveland Leadership Center‘s #AccelerateNEO civic pitch competition earlier this year. Pam’s practical, honest approach to working motherhood – and our shared love of our awesome city – made us fast friends.

Sometimes by choice, often by necessity, my career journey has been a winding road of stops, starts and stalls over the last twelve years. One summer, my babysitter took home more of my paycheck than I did. Thankfully, she was worth every penny. But the kids and I walked dogs together in the afternoons and evenings to balance out the cost of child care, so I could continue working part-time in the mornings. There have been stretches of time when the balance sheet (or schedule) was so off kilter, that it just seemed easier to stay home. And as much as I love my family, I spent more time than I’d like to admit crying in the sandbox (or the laundry room) during that phase of life. So I always assumed that as soon as all of my kids were in school, I would go back to work full-time.

We’ve all read articles about the stay-at-home mom who tried to get back into the workforce after ten years and the working mom who tried to do it all at her ow2n expense.  But those articles didn’t apply to me – I have always worked in some capacity, though my availability may have been dependent on night-time feedings and preschool schedules. So once kindergarten registration was complete for my youngest, I reached out to my professional contacts and started asking about full-time jobs. Seems easy enough, right? Except that nothing in life is as simple as we’d like it to be and working motherhood is no exception.

That first year trying to get “back to work” was full of unexpected lessons and introspection, some of which I’m still processing. First and foremost, I realize now that when I was negotiating professional positions, I fell into a trap of believing that
my own time was less valuable than other people’s – think dollar figures here. Because “We have my husband’s insurance” or “I need to have flexibility for the kids” – I was willing to accept any position that met our most basic needs. What I didn’t realize at the time is that I stopped growing professionally as a result, and the women who stayed fully committed to professional development had skills, relationships and experience that I just wasn’t getting on “almost full time” diaper duty. If you take a lower paying job that happens to meet the needs of your family, chances are, you will get treated like an entry level employee.

In my mind I was ready to move forward professionally, and I even offered to take on more hours and responsibility at work. But in my colleagues’ mind, I continued to be “just part-time” and this was most evident when it came to projects and leadership. More than once, an idea I presented at a meeting would be implemented by full-time staff members. When I discussed my desire to do more with my manager, I will never forget her telling me that her own professional goal when her children were young was to just have a job that would let her manage her family. I don’t want to “manage my family” – I want to be fully present in their lives. Women shouldn’t have to choose between having a rewarding career and being an engaged parent, but we each have to decide what that means to us and then surround ourselves with people who have the same beliefs.

family beach
Pam Turos is MotherBoard’s first guest blogger, a working mom of three, and the founder of

When it became increasingly clear that my employer and I had different ideas about the meaning of “potential to grow” – I took a leap of faith and decided to create my own full-time job. I’m now working more than I ever have as a freelance writer (at a professional rate I deserve), and I’m managing other professionals who also freelance on my client’s web development and video projects. This summer I can afford to pay the babysitter and also enjoy an afternoon at the pool with my kids once in a while. And with the upcoming launch of, I’m in the position to offer other women opportunities to contribute in ways that are flexible and meaningful to them. It’s the best of both worlds. My family, my clients and my colleagues all get to know the best version of me – a busy, happy, fulfilled, and capable mom.


Enough. Or maybe just one more…

Post by Sarah.

“I love my job, but I want to have a baby.” Have you said this before? You worry that if you have a child, it will affect your career, professional growth and sanity. Despite the immediate “what ifs” that enter your mind, the aching desire to have a baby won’t go away.

These thoughts caused me many sleepless nights. I spent years in college and law school getting my degrees and becoming a professional. I got a great job, worked hard, and earned the respect of my peers. I had charted a very traditional professional course to put in the time, develop my skills, and advance. About the same time, I married a man, also a lawyer, and we soon began a family.1

We had our first child and the needs of our
home life immediately changed. We had child care expenses, diapers, and music classes. I wanted to be home more with our son. Simultaneously, the demands of our careers grew. Projects at work became larger with higher stakes and more time requirements.

My husband and I decided that the best thing for our family was for me to scale back at work. Less days in the office, work more at home and, thus, have more time with our son.

A couple of years went by and we had a second child. We continued to balance family and work obligations. I scaled back a bit more from the office and increased my time telecommuting. I was worried because I was spending less hours in the office working with colleagues and my career path was changing. I feared it may never recover.

One day, I found myself standing at a crossroads where I wanted to have another child, but I wanted to keep working and advancing my career. I thought I couldn’t do both – stay professionally relevant and have a third child. How could I maintain a meaningful presence in the legal field and meet the needs of my family with three young kids?

I tried to ignore my desire to have another baby. I had two kids, both happy and healthy. The work life – family life tug and pull was challenging, but we were making it work with the help of a nanny, grandparents, and babysitters. Why add another child to our precariously balanced life? Continue reading “Enough. Or maybe just one more…”

5 Tips to Manage the Summer Conundrum


Growing up, my summers were packed with swim lessons, backyard tag, and family road trips. They felt carefree and relaxing, completely facilitated by my amazing mom who, at the time, was at home with us full-time.

1.jpgI want the same summers for my kids – lazy, sunny, barefoot days. But managing to be low-key and ready for whatever the day brings can be tricky as a working mom. A client calls and suddenly the front yard tag game feels like impossible background noise. Swim lessons starting at the same time as a downtown meeting? Yikes. Sitter cancelled? Holy cow.

Check out my five best tips to help ensure that our summers are as fun and seamless as possible: Continue reading “5 Tips to Manage the Summer Conundrum”

Survey time! Get on {Mother}Board.

Get on {mother}board.-2.jpg

It’s survey time! We have been researching, meeting, talking, presenting… doing everything we can to ensure MotherBoard works for our target user: smart, professional moms who want to have balance in their work and family life. Now we are going to the masses with a quick survey to help us make some important decisions on how best to build MotherBoard.

Help a Mother out and take five minutes to share more about you and how you might use MotherBoard. As always, leave comments below if you have more to share with our team.

Here it is!

Do What You Do: A Fresh Perspective on Work


Picture it.  A neighborhood cocktail party and you bring your A game to embark on a night of the requisite small talk.  Have you ever stopped to take notice of how many times you are asked, “So, what do you do”?

Our society is obsessed with what people do and it has become the ultimate conversation starter.

For a woman who has opted out of the workforce, this can be a complicated question to answer because there is what she does NOW, what she USED to do, and many times, what she WANTS to do.

But not right now, because life is complicated.  Why is it complicated you ask?  Because I’m a woman and I already had a steeper ladder to climb which means a faster fall to the bottom when I stepped out of the workforce.  And I grow humans.  Humans are expensive and hard.  And daycare is expensive too.  And though not on my resume, this mothering skill is really important and my children think I’m great at it. It’s not that I do nothing – I actually do a lot.  But I want to remind you that I had a real job before I had kids, I was good at that too.  Wait, raising kids IS a real job.  I digress…  Continue reading “Do What You Do: A Fresh Perspective on Work”

Welcome to MotherBoard

Follow along as one small group of mom entrepreneurs with one great idea launch a game-changing startup.

The day I became a mom, it was as if the universe picked me up, moved me over an inch, and dropped me back to Earth. Everything around me was the same but I felt just a little bit different about the world around me.

Some parts of motherhood came easily to me, from my ninja diapering skills to the deep, unwavering love I developed for my son. Other parts were not so easy: the lack of sleep, the extra worrying, the fact that it took me 40 minutes to get out the door to make a Target run.

But the hardest part of all was where to put the career I loved and nurtured for more
AUTOMOTIVEthan a decade. If my son was my true north, where did my trusty old true north – the one that wore pinstriped pant suits – where did she go?

I went back to work after a fleeting maternity leave. I needed to work financially and I needed to work because I was not sure who I was without the career that had become an integral part of my being.
Continue reading “Welcome to MotherBoard”