Photographs by David Bravo
RECENTLY, YAHOO’S NEW CEO AND PRESIDENT, MARISSA MAYER – who got the nod when she was four months pregnant – caused quite a stir when she announced she would be taking only one to two weeks maternity leave before returning to work.
On the other side of the spectrum is Greenwich resident Abby Ritman, who makes no apologies about her decision to stay home with her children.
“I always thought I’d want to be a stay-at-home mom, but it wasn’t until I actually did it that I realized how much I enjoyed it,” says Abby, with a smile that lights up her face.
She and husband Jimmy – parents of Pierce, 3, and Charlotte, 1½ years old – are expecting their third child in January. The couple met in the Hamptons where they both had summer time-shares.
But it wasn’t always changing diapers and nursing babies for the Southern Methodist University graduate. After college, Abby moved from her native Dallas to New York and soon began working in television as a casting director for reality shows like “Trading Spouses” and “Fashionista Diaries.” She also freelanced for HBO and counts working with director Morgan Spurlock, who created the documentaries “Super Size Me” and “30 Days,” as one of her fondest professional moments.
Is it a privilege to stay home with your kids?
“I have lots of friends who are moms and have wonderful jobs who seem to be really happy to do that. The privilege,” she says, “is being able to choose what you want to do, whether that means staying home with your kids or going to work.”
For her, staying home was important, because she knew she could create a safe, loving, happy environment for her kids.
“I feel like I can provide consistency and security. Women who work can provide that as well, but they’ve got to work harder at finding someone who can do that,” she says as son Pierce climbs onto her lap after just waking up from his afternoon nap to give his mommy a hug.
Even though she’s a stay-at-home mom, she acknowledges having a lot of people helping. As Hillary Clinton famously wrote, “It takes a village.” Indeed.
“My son has an amazing teacher (he attends Putnam Indian Field School); I have three sisters-in-law in the area who are such great aunts; my parents come visit from Dallas often; and I have Patricia (her housekeeper and sometime babysitter), who’s here a lot and helps out.”
Explaining why she thinks it’s important for her children to be surrounded by a lot of people who love them, she says, “I don’t want them to think they can only depend on mommy. I want them to have relationships with people outside of me.”
What she misses most about working is the adult interaction. That is why she makes it a point to carve out time to do things that are important to her, such as her work with the Junior League of Greenwich and the Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, a cause near and dear to her heart, especially since becoming a mom. Abby and Jimmy are on the committee for the annual fundraiser, help raise money and awareness and are involved with a number of their other events.
“I don’t have to have a job to be a good role model for my children,” she says about her volunteer work.
Abby admits it’s hard to think about going back to work right now, but if the timing was right and it was a good opportunity, she says she would consider it. But at this point in her life, there’s nothing she’d rather be doing.
“Today my daughter had a music class, but I was having so much fun with her that we didn’t even go to the class. Charlotte and I were having a little tea party. She was pouring the tea, and I didn’t want to interrupt her to put her in a car and go to class,” Abby says.
Then she flashes a huge smile and adds, “But then there are other days when I can’t wait to get to the class.”