Mom Interviews

Lisa Takeuchi Cullen

Staff writer and blogger for Time magazine

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You write about workplace, business, and societal trends. Have you noticed any trends that have to do with working moms in particular?

Of course. Flex time is a big topic of discussion among the working moms who read my blog, which I venture to guess is about 80 percent of the readership (or at least of those who comment). So is telecommuting. One trend I wrote about for the magazine is that, for my generation, the issues of working moms look a lot like the issues of working dads. We're all struggling to lead fulfilling family lives while maintaining satisfying and productive careers.

How is blogging different than the more-traditional writing you've done for Time or other newspapers and magazines?

The gap was far greater even a year ago. Under its new editor, Rick Stengel, the style of writing in Time has changed dramatically. We write far more like we blog: more first person, more casual, more accessible, more funny. Which we hope equals more eyeballs.

Do you have a personal blog? Why or why not?

Yes; I started it in connection with the publication of my book. But I haven't kept it up. I post two to four times a day on my blog, and that's separate from my paying job, which is writing and reporting articles for the magazine and website. A human has limits.

Did writing a book about death change your outlook on life?

Not as much as having a child while writing a book about death. I approached the project initially as nothing more than a trained reporter: as a chance to deep-report the curious world of the American funeral industry. But I wound up spending a lot of time with ordinary people who had lost loved ones and wanted to tell me about the fabulous ways they'd memorialized them. I never found death or writing about death creepy or uncomfortable, and I won't say anything so trite as writing about death made me appreciate life. But the experience became intensely personal in a way I hadn't expected, in part because I had become a mother and therefore life took on a different meaning, and in part because during the reporting my own mother nearly died. Her cancer has advanced since then, but somehow she struggles on.

In early May, you posed a few questions about maternity leave to your blog readers: What's an appropriate length for maternity leave? Should the government force all employers to offer some paid leave? How long did you take off, and why? Now that you're coming up on your due date, would you share your own answers with us?

I think the decision is deeply personal, so I can only answer for myself. I took off nearly a year after the birth of my first child. My company holds our positions for that length, though of course they don't pay for that whole stretch. I opted to take that time because I also was working on a book. I don't know how long I'll take this time (I am due June 12). My personal considerations differ now from four years ago: my mother is even sicker and therefore I want to spend some time with her in Japan; I have an older child as well; and though I don't have a book contract looming, I do want to take the time to give my career a good think.

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