It's Working Project

"I just kept thinking, 'Madonna has birthed two children, and she got through it. You can manage your much smaller career and one child.'"

Storyteller, comedian, writer and former Jersey girl, Margot Leitman, talks to IWP about motherhood, manuscripts, and Madonna–oh my!

Tell us about which facet of your professional personality you were channeling when you decided to start your family, and a little about what the arrival of your child looked like as you juggled personal and professional obligations.

I had just moved to LA when I decided to have a child and the move had caused a little setback in my career as I had to start over here after 11 years in NYC. I thought, “It’s slow for work right now, why not take this time to start your family?” I got pregnant in January and by March I had sold a book and a screenplay. My writing career took off as soon as I decided to embrace things being slow. My first draft of my book was due Oct. 1, my screenplay due Oct. 8, my son due  Oct. 14. Luckily he arrived on the 23rd. It was an insane time, but secretly I loved the excitement of it.

What does “maternity leave” look like in your industries? Are there any accommodations made for care, feeding, unbearable sleep deprivation? Mentors?

There is no maternity leave, or accommodations made for freelance writers and performers. It was really hard to set limitations and boundaries and if/when I have another I will really be working on that. In terms of feeding, I have pumped in every parking garage/side street across Los Angeles. I had a refrigerated bag of breast milk in my car for about a year of my life. I just kept thinking, “Madonna has birthed two children, and she got through it. You can manage your much smaller career and one child.”

What, if any, advice do you have for other parents in your industries when it comes to getting the working and the parenting things to jive? For leaders in your industries?

I think I had to let go of the unrealistic standard of doing it all on my own. I had to hire help– I had a book manuscript that needed to be fully edited about a month after I had my son. I started out with a nanny coming one full day a week and I would leave and go work all day. That got upped eventually. When my son was 15 months old he went to daycare and I struggled with that decision. Ultimately it was best, I had to let go of being able to do it all. Once he went to daycare I found I was more present when working and more present when parenting. Before that I was just half-working because I was very consumed with my new baby. I also found after he went to daycare I was done with work when I picked up my son, no need to check email etc. while being with him, and that felt great.

A good day is when:

I remained completely patient and calm with my son.

I wish I had known that:

When you have the baby it just begins! So many people focus on the pregnancy and birth. That’s a drop in the bucket. Less focus on having the baby, and more focus on simply raising a child.