When Carol Brodie's alarm clock goes off in her New York City bedroom, she reaches for her cell and sends her first text of the day: "Are you up? Dressed? Teeth Brushed?" If her 12-year-old son doesn't respond, she keeps texting until he does. "The kid is almost a teenager," says Brodie. "He sleeps with his laptop and cell phone. He's wired 24-7."
The reason Brodie is texting her son instead of pulling the covers off of his still-sleeping body is because she's in Manhattan and her son is in Fairfield, Conn. After launching a jewelry line, Rarities, for HSN in June 2009, Brodie has lived apart from her family for the past five months, trading in a two-hour commute for five-day stretches before returning home for the weekend.
While the recession has seen the number of couples living apart for economic reasons rise, some working women have opted to live and work away from their families during the week for much more ambitious reasons. Whether it's to launch a brand, better the world or launch into space, the three women profiled here are passionate about both their careers and their families, and physical distance is a necessary price to pay to have them both.
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Exhaustion and expense drove Brodie's decision to take up weekday residence in the city. After spending 12 years as a publicist for jewelry greats such as Harry Winston, she embarked on an entrepreneurial path that involved seemingly endless meetings and appointments. With no permanent office in the city, her long days--and nights--became arduous, not to mention expensive.
"If a client canceled on me and I was left with an hour to kill, I'd find myself in Bergdorf Goodman," she says. So when she had finally had enough of what she calls a "gypsy" lifestyle, she approached her husband and two sons, now 9 and 12. "My husband was supportive 100%. They knew it would have an impact on our relationship and change things, but we both knew it was the best choice for me."
Naomi Rutenberg, vice president of the HIV and AIDS Program at The Population Council, a public health NGO, shuttles between offices in New York and her home in and second office in Washington, D.C. Three years ago the organization restructured, and that resulted in a new position that required Rutenberg to oversee operations in both cities.
"It was a great opportunity to expand what I do, and I joined a senior management team of people I really respect and admire," she says. "The commute is the cost of having the best of both worlds for me, for The Population Council and for my family."
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