Monthly Archives: April 2007

the first time

by kristin

over the last few days, i’ve been watching as tiny little freckles emerge one by one across my girl’s face, reminding me of the times i’ve watched stars do the same as night was coming on.

what firsts are you noticing lately?

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Filed under child development, family life, kids, love

I get no respect

by Stacey

I used to have a job. I loved it. I miss it. I wish I still got paid. I wish I had colleagues who said witty things instead of the ubiquitous “why?” I get from my three-year old son with whom I spend the bulk of my day. I wish I had a desk and work that was manageable. I wish someone said, “Good job!” to me every once in awhile. There. I said it.

So now that I’ve admitted that leaving the workforce has it’s drawbacks, I have one more wish. It is this: I wish that people like Linda Hirshman, who wrote this op-ed in the NY Times yesterday, insisting that mothers shouldn’t leave their jobs to stay home with their kids, would at least acknowledge that what I do is still work, just a different kind. It’s work that I choose because I believe it has value even if no one is paying me for it.

Hirshman, is commenting on this study by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, which found a decline in the rate of married women with infants and toddlers who work, from 59 percent to 53 percent between 1997 and 2000. (The study also showed a smaller decrease for married women of school-age children. The rate dropped from 77 percent to 75 percent in that time frame.)

According to Hirshman, married women who are not poor “also have more freedom to leave their jobs. But why do they take the option? It’s easier in the short term, sure, but it’s easier to forgo lots of things, like going to college or having children at all. People don’t — nor should they — always do the easier thing.”

I think she means it’s easier because women who work tend to have hectic schedules and child care is expensive. I do not agree with her though, that less running around is necessarily easier. It’s just less busy.

Then she offers this explanation:

The pressure to increase mothering is enormous. For years, women have been on the receiving end of negative messages about parenting and working. One conservative commentator said the lives of working women added up to “just a pile of pay stubs.”

Sorry, Linda, but I don’t buy into this either. I get that work outside the home is good for me, for women, for everyone. Hey, it’s one of the reasons I send my little one to preschool. Not working outside my home is a sacrifice I am making right now so I can work inside my home. This is my choice. I don’t have issues with parents who make different choices. I don’t think that daycare is evil. I just want to be with my kids more than a full-time job will allow.

Here’s Hirshman’s reasoning for why I’ve made the wrong choice.

Should we care if women leave the work force? Yes, because participation in public life allows women to use their talents and to powerfully affect society. And once they leave, they usually cannot regain the income or status they had.

I am using my talents. And by raising healthy, respectful children, I am powerfully affecting society. Perhaps more than I was when I wrote articles for a national news magazine. It’s thanks to people like Hirshman that I have little status in society. And as for money? I hope I’ll make some again in the future. It sure would be nice. But for now, we’ll live on less.

Hirshman ends with an economic analysis of the trend.

In most American marriages, wives earn less than their husbands. Since the tax code encourages joint filing (by making taxes lower for those who do), many couples figure that the “extra” dollars the wife brings in will be piled on top of the husband’s income and taxed at the highest rates, close to 50 percent, according to estimates made by Ed McCaffery, a tax professor at the University of Southern California. Considering the cost of child care, couples often conclude that her working adds nothing to the family treasury.

I really feel there is a voice missing in this kind of thinking. It is mine. It is the calculation of what it means not only to birth children, but to raise them in the way that feels right to me. It isn’t perfect, but it’s my choice. I’d like a little respect please.

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Filed under family life, mommy wars, politics, work

somebody around here wants to be a rat city rollergirl

by Kristin

last night, i took the girls to cupcake royale in ballard where we found a pack of rat city rollergirls enjoying some delicious cupcakes. sadie, my three year old, was completely entranced by all this girl power. she left our table and slipped into their circle near the door, staring up in awe. she was especially taken by the lady with the mohawk and tattoo on her skull and followed her back to her seat. after a very nice conversation, the woman left to join her friends. sadie watched her go and then breathlessly turned to me and asked, “can that girl be our babysitter?”

i see my future and it has lots of black eyeliner, super-annoying music, sulking, maybe a rat or two. i see it coming and there’s nothing i can do to stop it. thankfully, i have these early years to get some brainwashing in, to teach her how to make safe decisions and to know what to do when she’s getting in over her head. but one of my biggest lessons so far from this motherhood thing is that our kids just are who they are from the very beginning. i can’t change her. i just have to get on that skateboard she asks for all the time and tag along for the ride.

********* time passes *********

my husband read this post and wonders if i am projecting my own unlived life out on sadie. that bugs me, which probably means there’s some truth to it. c.g. jung said, “nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on [one’s] environment and especially on their children than the unlived life of the parent.” he also said, “if there is anything we wish to change in the child, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could better be changed in ourselves.” my husband and i are both recovering suburbanites and felt a lot of pressure to conform to the neighborhood. we want our kids to have the freedom to be whoever it is that they really are. but i can also see the ways that we are projecting our own unlived childhoods onto our kids. the husband loves it when sadie rocks out to motorhead and AC/DC and i love it when she dives into mudpuddles wearing a swim mask and moon boots.

so maybe both are true. our kids are innately, distinctly themselves with tendencies and temperaments all their own. and at the same time, they want our love. they are always watching, molding, bending, expressing our secret (and not so secret) dreams.

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Filed under child development, dreams, kids, psychology

Supreme politics

by Stacey

It’s a sad day for those of us in favor of abortion rights. The Supreme Court today upheld a 2003 federal law banning so-called partial-birth abortion procedures. This despite the fact that the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the premier association of OB’s in this country, argued that in certain cases the procedure is safest for women seeking an abortion after 12 weeks gestation. Planned Parenthood and ACOG are saying this decision potentially threatens most abortions after 12 weeks, although there is another procedure that remains legal. The law does allow the procedure if the mother’s life is threatened, but not if her health is in jeopardy.

This issue has me thinking about prenatal testing and the fact that a pregnant woman doesn’t learn of the health of her fetus until after 12 weeks. While it is true that often a woman can decide whether or not she wants to keep a pregnancy before 12 weeks, for many of us there is a second round of decision-making that comes into play when we undergo prenatal testing. Having just experienced this myself, I can say that even the most wanted pregnancies can be called into question if those tests results indicate serious physical or mental problems with the fetus. We were lucky when we learned our baby was healthy, but I’ll tell you, I cried I was so relieved when I got the results.

For some, the prospect of caring for a severely disabled child and adult itself feels life threatening. It’s infuriating to think of these old men who probably never changed a f-ing diaper in their lives imposing their opinions about whose life matters more on all of us. This kind of decision is never easy. But women and their doctors should be the ones to make it.

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Filed under family life, politics, pregnancy

mt.nasty

by Kristin

there is a literal mountain of dirty laundry in our basement (see photo once i get around to taking it). it’s reaching critical mass down there. yet, i would rather wear that ugly, faded stretched-out shirt with the big grease stain across my chest (socks? who needs socks?) than slog down there and stick my head into our latest batch of festering laundry liquor. today, after yet another chaotic morning spent tearing through the house looking for “clean” clothes, i went to fred meyer and bought a gallon of laundry detergent and a two-week supply of new socks and underwear for all. and now the problem is solved. apparently denial is the way i roll.

i’m wondering what miserable domestic project you hate from the very depths of your soul and the lengths you’ll go to avoid doing it. photos are always welcome, will make me feel better.

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Filed under burnout, discipline, family life

Because I said so

by Stacey

Parents of our generation bribe their kids more than in years past, according to this AP story I read yesterday. The gist of the piece was that we all are too chicken to tell our kids to behave a certain way with the explanation “because I said so,” and as a result we beg and bribe our kids to do things like wait a sec while we change the baby’s diaper or go to bed without pitching a fit.

The experts in the article said we should assert our authority because we are in charge and also we should teach our kids that doing the right thing feels good without throwing in a toy or some candy to ruin the moment.

When I potty trained Sage I started with the idea that he would learn it because it represented growing up and being more like mommy and daddy. That worked for a few weeks. Then he promptly decided that potty training was boring and went back to wearing diapers. A couple months later I decided to try it again, only this time I told him we would going to play the candy game. Each time he used the potty he got an M&M. It worked like a charm. He’d stand at the toilet peeing and yelling, “Piece of candy!!!” Eventually we stopped having to give him candy every time he went to the bathroom and he stopped wearing diapers. Win, win as far as I’m concerned. This was in contrast to my mother’s way of potty training me which consisted of her deciding it was time and essentially locking me in the bathroom until I agreed. Much more of a “because I said so” approach!

We also tell him things like he can’t watch his favorite TV show unless he eats his dinner. I don’t love it that we do this, but we seem to have fallen into a pattern. What do you all think about bribery? Do you do it or is it “because you said so” in your house?

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Filed under discipline, family life, food, parenting, potty training, television