Please describe a pair of your favorite work shoes and tell us what sound they make?
My favorite work shoes are floral Toms. I’m a floral devotee and they make me feel a little special and fun even when I’m un-showered and in leggings and a t-shirt with hair piled on top of my head. They are soft and canvas and make a pat-pat-pat sound.
What’s your occupation? Author
Ahem, Caron must add that...Corey is the author of so many amazing books for young adult and middle grade readers, including: OCD Love story, Rules for Stealing Stars, Someday Suitcase, Eventown, and watch out for her upcoming chapter book, hand Me Down Love Story and a new YA, Ever Cursed, in 2020!
What age children do you have? I have an 18 month old daughter.
What does your child think you do all day?
Fia spends most of the day asking me to read various books, listening to a few pages, and then asking me to read other books, in an endless cycle. She also likes to hug her mermaid and follow our dog around the house, sometimes inexplicably telling him no no no even when he’s just minding his own business.
How do you and your family benefit from your being a working mama?
With every decision I make, I try to think—what decision would I want grown-up Fia to make? And I make that decision. We benefit financially from me being a working mama of course, and everyone benefits from my happiness, because I love my work. And I hope that Fia benefits from seeing me give attention to all the different things I want from life—family and work and friends and good food and city living and taking time off to chill out.
What are some steps (pun intended!) you took that helped make the transition back to work, work for you and your family?
Finding a daycare we loved when Fia was a tiny baby and a new one we love now that she’s a toddler were key of course. But when I started taking long work trips to teach, the best thing I did was make a book for Fia called The Story of Fia and Mama, that has photos of us together and reminds her that even when we’re not together we’re still connected in our hearts.
What is one of the challenges you face as a working mama? How do you navigate this?
Something hard about being a freelance working mama is that it feels like I am never allowed to stop. If Fia’s awake and home, I should be with her fully. If she’s at daycare or napping, I have to be working. It doesn’t leave a lot of space for taking a breath. I’m working on this, trying to give myself permission to take advantage of deadline-less moments, working in time to go to yoga, waking up early to make my favorite breakfast to enjoy with a magazine or a podcast before Fia gets up.
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?
Fia just started a new nursery school, and she clings to me—hugs my legs all the time. Sometimes she’ll refuse to take a nap and just want to cuddle in the dark instead.
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?
The book I made for Fia helped. She has a mermaid stuffed animal that she brings to nursery school (and everywhere else) that helps a lot. We make sure to kiss and hug Mermaid a lot, and kiss and hug each other a lot, too. Otherwise I try to just be honest about how long I’ll be gone and when I’ll be back.
What has your child done or said which indicates that, despite challenges, they are doing mighty fine?
When I pick Fia up from nursery school she comes over to say hello and then immediately runs back to whatever toy she was playing with. When I see photos of her throughout the day she is grinning from ear to ear.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to future working mamas?
Give yourself a break. Forgive yourself often. Try to have fun in both universes.
What’s one question you’d love to ask other working mamas?
What do you do to make work travel—especially long trips—work for you and your kid? How do you manage the guilt and their big feelings?
Thank you for sharing your working mama story, Corey!
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!