There’s No Blueprint
Pamela Reeves
14613

How Do You Do It?

Advice from Women Who Lead

I am the executive producer of Frontline, and I’m standing like this [adopts Amy Cuddy’s “superwoman” pose]. I love it! Thank you.

So tonight I’m going to talk about bravery. It’s pretty brave to take over Frontline from the founder, David Fanning, after 33 years, yes. I could talk about professional bravery, but actually what I want to talk about is emotional bravery.

I wanted to talk about the question that I get constantly from younger women. How do you do it? How do you have a big job? How do you have children? I have a six and nine year old. And how do you actually do it?

When I was a younger mother and my kids were younger, I would just smile and almost demur. I didn’t know how to answer it. Because it was so messy to do what I was doing. Really, right? Anyone who’s a mother — any working mother knows the truth of what it’s like. But then a year ago, and this is just by pure chance, I met Ai-jen Poo.

She’s right there, and it’s kind of remarkable that she’s here tonight, because we started a conversation that actually changed my life — I started to tell her about my nanny, Ray Ingram.

Ray has been the most remarkable partner to me for almost five years, and Ai-jen, you’re there fighting for the rights of my nanny and so many other incredible domestic workers. And I realized, as I told her this story about how I actually do it — I have a great husband, but I also have a phenomenal nanny.

I had to say those words. And as a woman, it was complicated for me to talk about another woman who is taking care of my children with me. I’ll just share one story with you because:

I think it’s so important that we talk honestly about how we do juggle. And we allow for our conversation about the realities.

So the story goes like this. My son is a year old, and he is so cute, and I work so hard. You can imagine, to become the executive producer of Frontline, I have worked hard. So, my very first nanny Frederika is holding my son, and she says to me, “Look at him looking at me. He loves me.”

I had this complete shock. My son loves my nanny. Right, that’s hard to hear! But over time I started to realize, of course, she is a person too, and she’s trying to show me that she is important and that she’s successful in her job. The way that she showed me this is by saying those simple words, “Your son loves me.” And that’s okay.

I would just say to all of you who are in leadership positions, who do have these important people in your lives helping take care of your children, talk about them and include them in the story about how we’re doing this. And you’ll feel better. I feel a lot better. They certainly will feel incredibly valued, and you’ll give younger women hope that they can do this. This is okay, it’s messy, but you can do it. Thank you.