AUTHOR Q&A: Lucy Kaylin

The Perfect Stranger

When MC'S executive editor, Lucy Kaylin, holds forth, the heels of her black boots point at you from where they're resting atop her desk. If she weren't surrounded by manuscripts, you'd almost think you were in her living room-she's that at home at work. On her bookshelf, two apple-cheeked faces peep out from a leather frame, reminding you that in her other life, Kaylin is a wife and mother of two. And while she's hardly a pioneer as a working mother, she is among the first to candidly discuss how she does it, in her new book, The Perfect Stranger: The Truth About Mothers and Nannies (Bloomsbury USA).

MC: You worked for 14 years before having kids. Did you ever think of going part-time?

LK: When I had my first child, I was at home a fair amount because I had some job flexibility-and it was terrible. My daughter would get confused and upset when I was around but unavailable to her. I quickly learned that it's better for everybody if mommy's got her place to go and the kids have their place to go.

MC: You talk a lot about the guilt you sometimes feel for making that choice.

LK: Sure. When your kid's teacher comes to you and says there are only two field trips left and you haven't been on any, it's one of those terrible moments when you realize full-time moms have been contributing, and you haven't. That can be painful.

MC: Do you think women can ever really have it all?

LK: No, I really don't. When you have a busy career and kids, it's going to mean disappointing somebody. A lot of times that's going to be your boss-on those nights when you simply have to go home and help your kids with their homework. Equality between the sexes is a nice notion, but there is still this hard-to-shake idea that the better part of childcare, long past breast-feeding, resides with the mother.

MC: Sounds like breast--feeding was tricky when you were at the men's mag GQ...

LK: Yeah, I had to stick a do-not-disturb sign up on my frosted-glass office door to pump, and I could literally hear guys tossing the football in the hall right outside. That was an anxious-making way to express breast milk.

Click here to purchase The Perfect Stranger by Lucy Kaylin.