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Career Mama ep. 1 – Jaclyn Strauss

Jaclyn Strauss and Lisa Virtue Career Mama Stories
Jaclyn Strauss, CEO of My Macro Memoir
Jaclyn Strauss, CEO of My Macro Memoir

She almost lost her own life while giving birth to her daughter. Due to modern medicine, most expecting moms and families don’t even consider the possibility that Mom won’t come home from the hospital when looking forward to their child’s birth day. It is an unimaginable tragedy we rarely discuss as a society or even within families. Her family was not prepared for that possibility and with her second lease on life, Jaclyn Strauss vowed to make the most of it and help families be prepared. She is the founder of “My Macro Memoir”, mom of 2, wife, and daughter of aging parents. She lives in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Read on to see how she is working hard to help other families be prepared for anything life may throw at them and shows her strong example of women supporting women. 
For more about my Career Mama series, click here.

I experienced a life-threatening post-delivery hemorrhage after the birth of my daughter. The doctors even informed my parents and husband that I might not make it out of the hospital alive.

Tell us a little about yourself

My name is Jaclyn Strauss. I live in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I am a working mom to two elementary-age children. My son, Jordan is 10, and my daughter, Leah is six years old. I am a CPA working mom licensed in the state of Florida for 19 years. I have 17 years of mid-level executive experience in the healthcare industry. Also, I just launched my own venture, a passion project created out of need, which is called My Macro Memoir.

My Macro Memoir your digital vault logo

I experienced a life-threatening post-delivery hemorrhage after the birth of my daughter. The doctors even informed my parents and husband that I might not make it out of the hospital alive. I was given a second chance. And with that second chance, I said, “There is no way that I am not going to take advantage of it. I will do whatever I can to move forward for the greater good of everybody.” That experience and my drive to help others sparked my passion project and product launch: My Macro Memoir.

What is Macro Memoir?

It is a digital organizational tool. Here is an example of how to use it: we’re all now back having to fill out school forms, right? They ask for the same thing, the birth certificate, your immunization record, proof of your address. So, you know, you can go to that public school. At least that’s how it works here. And I was always reaching from different places in the office, whether it was my computer, my drawer, my here, my there. I now have in my memoir for each of my children, their stuff. It is one PDF document for each and I am done. It creates efficiencies. Like I’ve never had before. Here is another example: My dog. I’ve been out of town and my husband texted me and been like, “Oh my God, the dog, something happened to the dog.” I, you know, do we have, who is the vet? And I’m like, seriously, I’m in the middle of a meeting! Like I have to stop now and get all of this?? Now I can just log in, send them a PDF. It got to the vet. If he wants to, for some reason, get the dog groomed when I’m gone, he’s got that in there. And the pet insurance information, because I knew he would take the vet somewhere that didn’t cover our insurance and spend like $2,000 at the vet. And I would literally almost kill him. So, you know, just these little situations that come up, we have to get better at being more efficient. 

What was the pandemic and first lockdown like for you?

The pandemic was the worst place I’ve ever been mentally as a mom. I was juggling between my responsibilities as an employee and as a mother of two. I had to sit with my pre-K four-year-old daughter on screen while I was trying to get my company off the ground and ready for launch. So there it was, nearly impossible for me to do both. My husband was still going to the office and I was just trying to survive, there was no such thing as thriving at that point. I was at home with them each and every single day.

The pandemic was the worst place I’ve ever been mentally as a mom.

It was heart-breaking when my elderly childcare support (70+) was unable to come in the COVID time. She had been with our family for so many years, and I was always dreading the conversation because she’s been here for me and supported me for those years. That was the way we had to part ways, but it was made easier by the fact that my kids were growing up. My parents were unable to help and I was on my own.

I wanted my husband to go to the office. The place is not big enough and that would have contributed to the stress if he was here.

I know it was all over the news during lockdown that “Florida’s open, Florida’s open!” But that was not quite it. When we were approaching the new school year, I knew that I was not going to embark on yet another school year with my kids at home. The public school system here in Broward county resisted opening face to face at all. I pulled them out of the public school system and put them in a private school. As it was a transition they were resilient. I explained that mommy will be better for it. I’ll stop yelling at you and it’ll be a great day. So we did that. I did become a huge advocate for choice last summer and attended school board meetings, asking for solutions. I did get pegged as “the concerned mom” but I was not afraid to use my voice and go to those school board meetings.

What do working moms need to feel supported?

Mothers and caregivers do not get enough support. Period. I think the data speaks for itself and children were harmed more than they were helped. I think that working parents and working moms, especially as we are always an afterthought. My kids being home on lockdown was not good for them. And it wasn’t good for me as far as mental and wellness. It was a very bad and dark place that I had never found myself in before. And it paralyzed me in many ways as far as moving forward and being able to thrive in the other aspects of my life, especially in my work, which brings me great joy and pride.

During international women’s month, I gave a few lectures and I was doing a lot of research on this, and yes, we have made great strides in corporate America and gender equality, right in the boardroom. Women are breaking those glass ceilings by holding higher-level positions.

However, there hasn’t been any progress in supporting women at home. And so until the two kinds meet and there’s a focus on both, I don’t really see how we can make huge strides forward in this space.

And there were some numbers that I came across; women today are doing more in the household than what they were doing in the 1960s. So we’re the Jack (or Jill) of all trades, and we wear a million hats, as the household CFO, the house manager, the chef, the dog mom, the activities camp director.

There should be a focus on supporting us at home and an intersection of the supporting offices, caretakers at home, and gender equality in the workplace.

I’m a 41-year-old daughter. My parents are aging. As they age I’ve got to make sure that they’re going to be taken care of. I have everything organized for them and I am doing the best I can for them while at the same time performing my daily tasks. There should be a focus on supporting us at home and an intersection of the supporting offices, caretakers at home, and gender equality in the workplace.

How do you relate to the title “Career Mama”?

I never ever signed up to be a stay-at-home mom. If I was in an interview with you right now, Lisa, for the role of stay-at-home, full-time mom, I would tell you not to hire me. I don’t even know why we’re taking the time to sit here and have this interview because I don’t even want the job. My hats off to all of those moms that are full-time stay-at-home moms. I do believe it’s the hardest job and I have such admiration.

I am a better mom for going to work and for extending my strengths, my mind, and facing work challenges every single day. I’m better to my kids when they get home after school. I am completely present for them before bedtime.

The Career Mama book is a reminder that women empowering women begins at home. Even with the hype of women’s empowerment and women supporting women, we cannot take it for granted and need to work at it. What are your thoughts on this?

I totally agree and call them women haters. I actually have an article that I published. It’s pretty raw out there. Do people on social media really mean, do women really mean what they say as far as supporting other women? And the answer is no. Females that really want to see each other, do great things, and help them get there without taking credit for it are the ones actually supporting each other. And it’s unfortunate because I think so much of what we see on social media is not real. And we have to be able to distinguish who is truly authentic and means what they say by actually showing it. Talk the talk and walk the walk. Don’t just say you’re something and not do anything about it or do the exact, exact opposite because I will totally blow your cover. And I have no problem with that.

I don’t want my daughter to carry the weight of the world on her shoulders.

So, no matter what my passion is, I will always ask how do we make life simpler, easier, and more efficient for everybody because we cannot sustain what we have been doing as women, especially in the workplace.

Out of these images from the Career Mama – COVID edition book, which one do you relate to the most?

Career Mama - COVID edition book illustrations - kidlit - children's book

So #2 really resonated with me because I put both my daughter and my son to bed separately, as they have different bedtimes because of their age. Every night, after work until bedtime, I try to be present and focused on making memories that matter with my children. It’s very important to me that I put my children to bed every night.

I started this tradition with my daughter to go back and forth telling each other what we love most about each other. I’ll say, “I love your smile”, and she’ll say back to me, “I love the way you make me laugh” and we’ll go back and forth several times until she’s about to go off into dreamland.

Every night, after work until bedtime, I try to be present and focused on making memories that matter with my children.

And that is the way that our tradition kind of started and remains. We get into phases. It used to be when she was smaller, we would play this game, along the lines of Snow White and eating the poisonous apple and having to give each other three magic kisses to come back alive and be so grateful for waking us up, for waking me up with those kisses. And then of course I had to do it to her and it was this whole thing. 

With my son, we reflect on our days and the things that went great and what are our day’s highs, what are our lows? He’s definitely a 40-year-old trapped in a 9-year-old body. It’s kind of crazy, but he’s my best friend. Not that my daughter’s not, but I mean, he is really my best friend. And we talk about that every day. He understands my challenges, wants to hear about them, wants to hear about my progress, what I’m working on, why something was challenging. And I try and drive home to him that I don’t want anyone to ever, ever steal his joy from the day. And I remember back to the Sandy Hook catastrophe many years ago, he was an infant and I was rocking him to bed. I just couldn’t even imagine what those parents had experienced. I remember one of them shared a story that that morning they had their daughter in bed with them before school. And they were talking about the mom’s advice to that child of “don’t let anyone ever steal your joy”. And that really, really had an impact on me. It’s now something that I have moved forward and shared with my son because people are going to try and steal it. So, I tell him “don’t let anyone ever steal your joy”.

We have to take care of ourselves because nobody else is going to take care of us. That is just why that picture resonated most.

mom falling asleep while reading to daughter at bedtime illustration in Career Mama Book

Contributing Editors: Ayushi Goel, Lisa Virtue

Get your copy of the Career Mama – COVID edition book here.

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August 18, 2021

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