Rita on the greatness of her great aunt
I was probably in grade school when I met my great aunt Marion who lived in New York City. She was a psychiatrist and she was one of the first women in her field. She never married. She never had any kids. She had her dogs and her cats and a menagerie of plants and then her patients. She had such an aura about her. I admired her—she was a tremendous influence on me over the years.
I can remember at one point, having a conversation with her at dinner and she said, ‘I’m just so amazed by you.’ That just stunned me. ‘What do you mean?’
She goes, ‘Well, you have a profession and a child and a husband—you manage it all. It was all I could ever do to feel as though I was giving my life to my career.’ She was just so amazed by me, that I could balance multiple things. That was touching.
I think I tried to be the superwoman and I figured out that doesn’t work. It was more of my husband and I working through it. At one point, it just became so stressful to try to keep up with both of our careers. We had to sit down. For him, it was a job. For me, it was a career.
We collectively decided he would become a stay-at-home dad. That took a tremendous amount of pressure off of me, also the tendency to want to do it all, to control and manage it all. For me, it was learning to let go.
He took on cooking and he was not a cook, but he learned! He does a marvelous job cooking. He took it seriously, even though it wasn’t his first nature at all. It was really a partnership.
There is a lot of focus on women supporting women and I think that’s necessary, but there is a balance there too. I think you’ve got to have that collaboration and partnership with men.
Whether it’s your spouse or even in the work environment. How do you get those dynamics flowing that is a very diverse group? That is where the power and the creativity comes from—it’s really having those diverse perspectives.