Mother's Day with Ellen Henick
Happy International Mother’s Day LFC Community
I’d have to be living under a rock not to feel the force of the new feminist movement surging through the wifi-o-sphere of our www and social media mashup. It compels me. In a way even more tangible than the feminism of our fore sisters. Perhaps because it is with me every day, with such immediacy, in the writings and images of women all over the world. Especially from communities like LFC. But, what was life like before, for my generation coming of age in the 70s, not consciously aware but trying hard to become an #entrefemmeur?
Career Back Then
In high school, I loved both science and literature, but found no role models in STEM. Yes, I have friends who became doctors; but, from my worldview in Queens where I volunteered at a hospital, the only medical opportunity I saw was as a candy striper in a uniform that definitely was not me. Fortunately, I loved language and literature, and knew I needed to use my love for those two things in my work. After graduate school, where I read and wrote and read and wrote, I joined the ranks of Mad Men as a writer. It was after the golden age of drinking, but prime in the age of sexism. Yes, all the nasties you hear about are true, but I was fortunate enough to have a few male bosses who were kind and respectful of talent, even daresay in a woman. Although I was successful at an early age, winning awards like Andy and One Show, I was not compelled by writing commercials too often for brands that did little for the good of our well being. I finally hit my stride and married my love of craft with my interest in science and learning when I segued into pharmaceutical advertising. Here, I am continually learning about disease states, best practices, and prevention, while writing to physicians and patients often about products that can genuinely help save lives.
Career and Children
“The city makes you not love us.” This was the chant I would hear nightly when I returned from work having missed dinner with my children. After a year of commuting from New Jersey to New York City, I was lucky to have a choice, and made the choice to work in a small office close to home. Of course, I lost opportunities to become a creative leader in my field. But what did I gain? For me this meant I could be an integral part of home life, which was truly important to me. It meant I could drive my kids nuts pointing out every forsythia and daffy in bloom on the drive to school. But I could also lead by quiet example. While we lived in a 1% town, my amazing husband and I made sure to open the eyes and hearts of our children to others much less fortunate. Our house became a mini UN: we had babysitters who didn’t speak a word of English, one who walked her way from El Salvador to California to find political asylum as a citizen of our country; we had a physician from India who lived with us while his family moved to another state for medical treatment for their son’s rare condition; we had a young African American man from Harlem who never knew his father but became our family member through the Big Brother program before my children were even born. What religions were we and what did we eat? Jewish, my matzo ball soup, Catholic, arroz con pollo, Hindu, chicken tikka, and Protestant, anything goes.
The best part of my work today is the mixup of talent. I work as a freelancer, most often on long-term assignments where I am an integral part of a team, most of who are your age not mine. And that’s the greatest part. They respect me, and I respect them. We are all learning from each other, and it’s brilliant. On the best of teams, I deliver creative insight along with lengthy websites, commercials, iDetails, even SEO submission documents for the FDA. They deliver beautiful graphics, motivational strategy, and sometimes, sane deadlines (ok, this one is more of a fantasy than a reality).
To the mothers of the LFC Team, I wish to give special thanks because, faced with the daunting task of raising children, you accomplished the wonderful.
To Janice, Jenna’s mom: Thank you for a raising a woman who not only kills it at work, but then goes home and fosters puppies saving them from slaughter and finding them loving homes.
To Anne, Taylor’s mom: Thank you for raising a woman of genuine original talent, whose digital art is not only ingeniously topical, but more importantly has the rare ability to actually make me happy every time I look at her creations.
To Sharon, Marissa’s mom: Thank you for raising a woman of family and community, whose social media postings are filled with journeys but always return to the values of her home. I feel like I know Kentucky through you.
To Diana, Claire’s mom: Thank you for raising a woman of nature and numbers, whose love of the outdoors matches my own. And, I will never forget when the LFC Team was meeting in person for the first time: even though they were in daily video chats, when Claire booked her flight to New York, she told Nora “Now is the time I find out you are actually a 70-year-old man.” I’m still laughing.
To Anne, Gemma’s mum: Thank you for raising a woman of soulfulness, who so genuinely marvels at the beauty of small things even in the throes of celebrity status, capturing uniquely fresh perspectives in her own writing. PS: What a joy it was to have Gemma over from London to share with us her first American Thanksgiving, and in her honour we included mashed potatoes for our first time along with yams.
If you follow the muses of family, ethics, culture, arts, sciences, and nature, you will surely bless our world and find your way to becoming the best generation of citizens and #entrefemmeurs yet, along paths still unimaginable. Happy International Mother’s Day to you and yours!