(Eleanor and Isla, 3 Weeks)
After becoming a mother and entering into the most challenging job of my life, it became apparent to me that single parents are truly the heroes of this world. Turns out, some people agree - as I recently discovered, there's a Single Parent's Day dedicated to these brave and unflinchingly strong individuals.
While at Skechers, I befriended one such hero; possibly the smartest lady I've been lucky to know, with a heart of gold. She's going it alone as a mom, and has a critical position at Skechers (Executive Admin. to the COO & CFO) where she kicks butt. She's traveled the world on amazing adventures and is even a certified dive instructor. Today, I'd like to honor Eleanor Chandler (and her precocious little genius of a daughter, Isla Sophie...)
(Eleanor and Isla, 18 months)
Eleanor, you’ve had a fascinating life…tell me a bit about your career in Germany…
After years working in Germany, transfers to the Netherlands, Israel, a sub of the Federal Bank, hundreds of flights... I was hired as executive assistant for US media investor Haim Saban when he purchased television giant ProSiebenSat.1 Media AG in Munich in 2003. It was high-pressure day and night responsibility, but so hands-on politics, current affairs, culture... I admired and respected the people I worked with and felt challenged every day. There were days I cursed it, nights when two blinking Blackberries on the nightstand made me crazy, but I loved every second of that job.
How did you come to have Isla?
Isla is the miracle of the first relationship I had in years. She came along by some kind of divine intervention a few weeks shy of my forty-third birthday. And while her dad and I tried our very best, and separated when she was six months old, we respect and support each other’s role in Isla’s life. I am floored in gratitude to him for being her dad. She is loved beyond words. And I feel that maybe I had to hit rock bottom once or twice so I could be a more mature and patient mommy just for her.
Did you always know you wanted to be a mom?
It had never occured to me that I wouldn’t be a mom until about my mid-30’s. At about that time, still or newly single, I slowly came to terms with the fact that it wasn‘t meant to be. I shook it off and lived around that particular void in my life. Time brought acceptance. I mean, I was 42 by this point! I never thought about being a mom anymore. And that‘s when Isla almost effortlessly came to life. Do I want to be raising her alone? No. I would like for her to grow up in a traditional family structure. But being her mommy is the most precious gift to me, and we are enough for each other.
We all know how tough parenthood is, what’s one thing that surprised you about motherhood?
I can line up four new divers with all sorts of unforeseen freakout potential and show them sharks in foreign waters at nighttime ... but I have to call emergency services and all of my relatives to be able to administer a drop of Tylenol to a feverish baby I am certain will perish if I get it wrong.
It’s getting easier, but fear is what surprises me about parenthood most. Fear for her safety, fear for my health, fear of pesticides in our apples and plastic in the oceans.
I need the world to be safe for her.
When times are toughest, what gets you through?
My long-distance boyfriend makes me realize that both the joy and the burden of child-rearing is meant to be shared. He puts me on a pedestal when I’m the worst mom on the planet one moment and humours me indulgently when I boast of Isla’s Nobel Prize worthy intelligence the next.
My mom. A few good girlfriends. Chardonnay. J
If future you could come give you a piece of advice, what would she say?
Don’t hover so much, let her be the adventurer that you were allowed to be.
What is one thing you wish for your daughter?
I hope that she has friends like I do. And that she’ll dive with me.