Meet Samantha DeGrasse, an Atlanta mom and children's book author. A transplant from New York, she's been living in Atlanta for nearly six years, along with her eight year old son and three year old daughter.
Her first book titled, "Jordan and the Red Silk Scarf," (Trafford 2006) is the story of a boy who tries to test the limits of his mother's love by not telling the truth about using her red silk scarf. Her newest book titled, "Taber is Beautiful," (Trafford, 2011) is the story of a horse who struggles with a facial flaw; a mole on her nose. With an encouraging mother and friends who would never leave her side, Taber learns a valuable lesson of inner beauty and inner strength. At a time like this, when students are constantly being bullied for looking and being different, this book fits right in.
Here's what she has to say about being a working mother and balancing both.
1. What do you enjoy best about being a working mother?
I love playing the part of both a mom and a working mother. Because I work part time, my hours are flexible. Therefore I can say “I’m a working Mom who takes her son to school and picks him up every day!” I love how it keeps me on my toes and always in constant motion. Each day I meet new people and find common ground with working mothers, stay at home mothers, single parents and married women. What we all have in common is being a mom; and there’s no greater job!
2. How have you balanced work and raising a family?
Balancing work and raising a family is a challenge. However with the help and support of close friends and family, I’ve relied on my stability and their flexibility. Also, because I do work part time, I am able to have the afternoons with my children. And, since I’m able to take my work home, I can finish up my work once the children are asleep.
3. What do you wish you would have known about being a working mother?
I didn’t know how much of a challenge it would be to juggle parenthood and working. The main thing is the planning. Before I had children, I would come and go as I pleased and everything was always about me. Once I had children, I realized my priorities had to change and that I had to do a lot of planning in advance to make it all work. Being a working mother is an awesome responsibility and a lot of hard work.
4. As a writer, what do you think of how working mothers are portrayed today versus just a few years ago? Do we seem to be portrayed as guilt-ridden, stressed, or maybe just normal?
I think there is sometimes a stigma that working moms are selfish and self-absorbed. Many critics think it is selfish if a mom wants to go back to work, especially if the children are young. Others feel that staying home is boring and that a woman is not using her full potential. There are different reasons why moms choose to go back to work; everything from finances to fulfillment. Years ago, it was the norm for mothers to stay home and raise their children. I think that the decisive factors are whether the children are happy and well taken care of and the mother feels fulfilled. That can happen whether the mother stays at home or works, and that is what makes a successful family.
5. How do you think employers can better support working mothers?
Two key ways that employers can help working mothers are flexible hours and the opportunity to work from home. The bottom line for the employer is production. If hours can be flexible so that a mother can take her children to school and/or pick them up, she will be less stressed. This translates to more work completed and a better attitude in the workplace. If it’s not necessary for the mom to be physically present in her workspace eight hours a day, she works from home on some days; increasing the likelihood of a better quality of work.
6. What advice do you have for soon-to-be mothers considering going back to work after family leave?
I would counsel mothers returning to work to have an honest talk with their employers. Ask about flexible scheduling and offer to take work home. You’d be surprise what you can accomplish in that hour while you wait for your child at gymnastics practice.
7. What is the greatest part about being a working mother in Atlanta?
On any given evening or weekend in Atlanta, parents can find free or low-cost activities for their children that are also enjoyable for the adults. This is a family-friendly big city with a small town feel. There is the sense here that children are valued and the family unit is respected.
DeGrasse's latest book, Taber is Beautiful, will soon be available online at Amazon, BarnesandNoble.com and Abebooks.com. For every book sold, DeGrasse is donating $1 to the Aflac Cancer Center at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. Website: www.samanthadegrasse.com.