Monday, July 23, 2012

An Open Letter to Marissa Mayer and While We're At It My Now 17 Year Old Daughter

***This is a continuation in a series of letters I've been writing to my now 17 year old daughter, Mary Kate, about living and figuring out the world we are a part of as women and as mothers.  It also happens to include an impassioned plea for Marissa Mayer to rethink her decision to be the CEO of Yahoo weeks before giving birth to her first child.***

"Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children." 
-- Charles R. Swindoll

Dear Marissa,  

I hear congratulations are in order for not just one fantastic opportunity but two: CEO of a Fortune 500 company, Yahoo, and the upcoming birth of your first child.

Sincere congrats -- you are blessed.  

You are clearly one smart cookie.  But I'm here to tell you you've done something dumb, really dumb.  
You have believed the myth of motherhood.  The load of crap that Johnson and Johnson and Ford Motor Company and Apple, Inc., and pretty much all of commercial America wants to sell you as a new mom:  You can be everything to everyone.
You can "have it all".

Well, perhaps, Marissa, with your gobs of money and your esteemed education and your fantastic locale, perhaps you can have it all...but I'm afraid your child can't.

When you choose, intentionally, mindfully, knowingly choose a giant job just weeks before giving birth, guess who loses? 
Your baby.

Having a baby, especially your first baby, is a huge physical, emotional, spiritual, mental transition...HUGE.  No longer are you first.  No longer are your needs, wants or desires, first.  You have chosen to have a child and the child is supposed to come first.

How can your child come first, when Yahoo is there...pestering you, nudging you, bothering you during those first weeks of motherhood?

How can you attend to your own healing and adjustment, let alone your tiny infant's, when a giant monolithic publicly traded, flailing company is begging for attention?

Babies need advocates.  Babies need someone to be their voice.  Babies need love and attention --  most especially from their moms.

Here's a dirty little secret: NO ONE, honestly, no one will care for and love your baby in the way you will...not even your husband or your own mother. 

Yes, of course, you can find fantastic nannies.  You can hire loving and experienced people...but nobody can care give and love like the mother.  Marissa, only you can fill that role.


I know you don't want to hear this.  I can only imagine what you would have said to your own mother if she were telling you these things: "Mom, I can't believe you're not happy for me."  "I can't believe you're doing this to me some kind of guilt trip."  "Mom, I can afford only the best; I will get only the best to take care of the baby."

I'm telling you what no one else will.  The one person who is going to lose in all this is your sweet baby boy.  If he doesn't deserve to be the center of your world at his birth, when does he?

Corporate America is going to greedily steal any and all of your free time.  It will suck away the enjoyment of just lingering over your baby's precious presence.  It will take every single bit you have to give and ask for more.  Your baby on the other hand, gets the crappy is that?


I know it's hard to imagine.  Truly it is inconceivable, but your precious baby will fill your heart and soul and change your world view.  You will be a different person.  And you will look back at this giant job and thought that was important.  You thought that was something to be proud of.  Get a load of that baby he's the one thing that matters most.

If you let your heart speak to you and try and drown out all the people who need you to step it up and save Yahoo, you will know the answer.  You won't want to sit in on any will biologically, physically and emotionally want to be one place, and one place only: right next to your sweet baby boy, and without any distractions.

Marissa...I know what I'm talking about.  
I'm the mom to four children.  My oldest is turning 20 this year.  I've been at this for a while.  I'm sure not perfect but I know that I never regret a single moment I spend with my kids.  There is no place I'd rather place.  And trust me, the big office at Yahoo, is one of the last places I'd pick to hang out in without my kids.  

I also happen to be married to a CEO of a publicly traded company.  And yes, he works his you know what off.  He's a big wig but guess where he'd rather be...with his kids.  Ask him what his greatest joy has been and it will have nothing to do with work.  Check out the film footage of all those people helplessly trapped in the Twin Towers on 9/11.  Do you think they were wishing for one more day at work?  Hell no.  They were begging for another moment with their families.

Life is full of choices.  Some of them are no-brainers.  This is one.
The precious, never-to-return early-years with your first child vs. a company that is teetering on the brink of failure.  
Love + Family > Money + Prestige

Trust me.  Yahoo is not "evolved" in their thinking.  No one in that room who had children wanted you to know what you were trading in with this agreement.  No one wanted to say out loud that you will be placing the company ahead of your child over and over again without even knowing it.  No one wanted to acknowledge the privilege and joy of motherhood that you will miss by not being present during your tiny baby's first weeks, months, or years. 

What are the chances that you can be a CEO again?  
Pretty high.  
What are the chances that you can get back your child's first years? 

I know it is frightening.  I know that it feels so normal now that you can't imagine not being your super organized, very clever, totally together self. I'm here to tell you that it's all going to change.  Believe it or not, being pregnant is the easy part.  It's going to get a lot more complicated very quickly.

I wish for you a joy-filled last few months of pregnancy and a real chance to prepare both mentally and spiritually for this amazing gift you are being given in your first child.

I wish for you an easy labor and delivery, a healthy baby boy and moments of deep and fulfilling love like you've never known.

Mostly, I wish for you the courage to choose your baby over this ballyhoo called Yahoo.  I wish for you the freedom to just be.  Just be a new mom delighted in her new child.  Just be smitten, enraptured and hypnotized by your tiny bundle.  Just be a person all wrapped up in their child.  

The world could use a few more people putting their children first.

"The secret to world peace is to go home and love your babies." 
-- Mother Teresa