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  • Caron Levis

Mamas Making it Work! Mali Locke Raises a Reader

Hello Mali Locke!

Please describe a pair of your favorite work shoes and tell us what sound they make?

While our office requires business attire, I usually wear my Tom's most days since I don't always have client meetings and my feet are under the desk most of the time. They make a sort of scoot scoot sound as I walk on the carpet.

What’s your occupation? I'm a philanthropy advisor.

What age children do you have? I have one four year old boy.

What does your child think you do all day? (please ask them and tell us in their own words if you can!)

He said “computers” and “I don’t know” - he’s absolutely right!

How do you and your family benefit from your being a working mama? Other than earning an income that keeps us fed and clothed and housed, I have made some very dear friends through work - who have kids the same age and who my son really adores. He has relationships and experiences with them that are important.

What are some steps (pun intended!) you took that helped make the transition back to work, work for you and your family?

Hmm. Well, I had a nanny for the first few months that I was back at work and that flexibility with scheduling was great.

What is one of the challenges you face as a working mama? How do you navigate this?

I work long hours and have to travel for work. I'm a single mother so I have to figure out pick up and drop off and 10 different food options for each meal in advance when someone else takes care of him. I also feel terrible because he misses me and I hate upsetting him. That guilt can be very distracting as I am trying to excel at work so we can remain fed and clothed and housed.

In Mama’s Work Shoes, Perry shows some of the big feelings she is having about Mama’s return to work by clinging to her, pushing food off the table, and even hiding mama’s shoes! How did/does your child reveal any big feelings about separation?

My son will be extra clingy, crying, try to resist being dropped off, hide so we don't have to leave the house, ask to go to work with me or ask me to go to school with him.

In Mama’s Work Shoes, Mama and Perry establish some routines like putting each other’s shoes on in the morning, and pulling them off when they get home. Does your family have any ritual, phrases, objects, or other magic tricks that have helped your child navigate transitions or separation?

There is no specific thing we do... I used to sing "grown-ups come back" from the Daniel Tiger show sometimes. Now, I always make sure to get a kiss and tell him I love him when I drop him off at school. Even if I am in a rush or we have had a tough morning, I need him to know I love him always.

What has your child done or said which indicates that, despite challenges, they are doing mighty fine?

Whenever we are getting ready or he is waiting for me, he will often quietly go pick up a book and "read" or ask me to read it to him. The fact that he loves books the way he does makes me know I did SOMETHING right along the way!

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to future working mamas?

This is the hardest thing in the world, we are all struggling to make it work, no one's house is perfectly clean all the time and some days you are late to work or you snap at your kid and you feel like a failure... It feels hard because it IS hard. Try to remember that.

What’s one question you’d love to ask other working mamas?

How do you get your children to understand WHY you have to work? Or is that just something that developmentally, over time, he will understand?

Thank you so much for sharing your working mama story with us Mali!


Mama’s Work Shoes (Abrams) text by Caron Levis, art by Vanessa Brantley Newton

All about the adjustment a toddler makes when her mother returns to work, this humorous picture book takes on a big emotional milestone with a light hand.

Perry knows all of Mama’s shoes. She knows that the zip-zup shoes are for park. She knows that the pat-put shoes are for the rain. And she knows that no-shoes are for bath time and bedtime. But, one morning Mama puts on click-clack shoes, and Perry wonders what these new shoes are for. When Mama drops Perry at Nan’s house, and the click-clack shoes take Mama away for the whole day, Perry decides she hates these shoes! Perry later hides the click-clack shoes . . . and all of Mama’s shoes, just in case. Mama then explains that the click-clack shoes bring her to work in the morning, and they will also bring her home to Perry every single evening—clickety-clack fast!



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