Moms and the City Proves That Mothers Know Best
By Lyndsay McGregor
FROM LEFT: Raina Seitel Gittlin, Melissa Musen Gerstein and Denise Albert
When three mothers with three very different outlooks on parenting came together to write a newspaper column, they had no idea what they were getting into—or how quickly it would take off. But media mavens Denise Albert, Melissa Musen Gerstein and Raina Seitel Gittlin recognized a need for an honest voice of modern motherhood, and in the fall of 2009, Moms and the City was born.
What started as a weekly column in Metro on the trials and triumphs of working mothers moved to nydailynews.com the following June. The moms partnered with NBC Local Media New York last summer, airing full shows on NY Nonstop and showing segments on WNBC, in cabs, on PATH train platforms and online. The trio of TV producers have found themselves in the spotlight. “I struggle with the me, me, me piece of the equation,” admits Seitel Gittlin, an Emmy Award-winning journalist who worked on Good Morning America. “As a producer and reporter, I was used to asking other people questions and telling their stories. I rarely gave my opinion or turned the focus toward myself.”
From tales of breast-feeding and jealousy toward their husbands to discussions of leaving the workforce to raise kids full-time, these moms don’t hold back. Their inability to agree with each other on anything ultimately makes the column so popular. One thing they do agree on is how much motherhood has changed them.
“Once my son arrived, something within me shifted,” says Seitel Gittlin. “He was my sole focus and little else mattered. I had no idea I would feel this way. Up until that point, my work defined me.” Musen Gerstein, a mother of three, agrees. “Motherhood has made me realize that I need to be the CEO of my situation,” she says. “I had to have autonomy in my career, and that is another reason why I wanted to start this company—because I needed control over my days and work as much as possible.”
“We live in the best city in the world,” says Albert. “If we can’t find new opportunities because we are working moms and we have kids, then that would be a problem.”
They say a mother’s job is never done, but New York-based Seedlings Group is trying to make it a little easier. Consisting of three child-development psychologists, the group provides research-based information that all parents can rely on. “If you know what to expect, you’ll feel more comfortable when it happens,” says cofounder Aliza Pressman. “Our main goal is to help parents feel confi dent and calm.”
Seedlings Group started in 2007, when Pressman and her partners, Dr. Bronwyn Charlton and Dr. Alex Barzvi, found that after years of academic research, they were turning to each other for parenting support and advice. “We were inundated with [information] from in-laws, friends and family, and not all of it was helpful. We felt we could trust each other.”
Now the trio meets with moms in groups, counsels parents individually and also offers seminars—even before the birth of a child—advising them on everything from sleeping routines and potty training to speech development and play. Support groups are organized by neighborhood and age of child, so that Seedlings parents can continue to meet with each other for information sharing, kids’ play group or even grown-up socializing. Now that’s support. Seedlings Group, 212-966-7273; seedlingsgroup.com
PHOTOGRAPH BY SARI GOODFRIEND AT THE INTREPID SEA, AIR & SPACE MUSEUM; HAIR BY MIKE ELRIZ FOR SAM & CHRIS SALON; MAKEUP BY LAURA KOSKI AT DOLL COSMETICS; JEWELRY BY JO NAYOR, JONAYOR.COM (MOMS)