Friday, September 30, 2005

Husband has the Mornings

My husband works as a consultant in computer programming which means he accepts projects that may last a couple of years or just a few months. In between assignments there can be several days, weeks or even months.

This year, the year we had our baby, he has been off work for four months.

My work, on the other hand, is every week throughout the year. Now with baby, I work part-time and have primary child care responsibilities. Somehow, the housework, managing the baby's MD appointment, laundry, houshold bills and so forth get shouldered by the stay-at-home (even if it's only part-time) parent.

When husband is working, wife handles all the duties listed. The funny part is when the husband is between assignments. Then, the work load is seriously skewed.

In any given day, my husband will watch the television news and a couple of news commentary programs, go for an heart-pumping bike ride, network with work collegues, you know, the single man's life.

My day resembles a long and varied list of activities that goes uninterupted from mid-morning till ten or eleven o'clock in the evening. Oh, did I mention that my lovely husband will get up with baby and let me sleep in an hour or two after being up a couple of times during the night. It truly is lovely...until that moment he breaks the spell and complains that he had the baby all morning.

All two hours of it. Sigh

Staying at home v. working

The article discussing the pros and cons of staying at home with your child v. working outside of the home was a very generalized read. No new information was garnered, for even the most modest reader.

I am missing the slant that was felt by my fellow blogger, e.g., wanting to work outside the home equals selfish parent. Could be an unresolved feeling about the decision to work outside the home?

Parenting is a skill and can be successful with many different styles. A parent at home with a child full-time may or may not be able to provide the best environment for physical, social, coginitve and emotional and development. Parenting requires an awareness of your own psyche, mindful behavior and the desire to provide the important elements for your child's optimal development. I would add that a parent must also understand the profound role he/she has as parent to this child and behave accordingly.

Being an at-home parent does not insure by default that your child will have these critical elements.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Staying at home with the baby vs. Returning to Work: a skewed perspective

http://www.babycenter.com/refcap/baby/babychildcare/6025.html?scid=momsbaby:20050926:2399:15672:6355

This is an article from babycenter.com that discusses the pros (great for baby) and cons (mom gets lonely) of staying at home with the baby. Nothing was mentioned about the benefits the children get from going to daycare. The unspoken message of the article is that moms who return to work are selfish.

It mentions a stay-at-home mom of 24 years and seven children who is on the board of a non-profit "Mothers at Home" - an organization encouraging women to stay home with their kids. Strangely enough, they didn't interview the president of "Abandon your child and go to work" organization.

I have only one question: When the board of "Mothers at Home" convenes, who watches the poor unloved abandoned children of its members?

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Young women turning to full-time motherhood, Or how I aspired to be a concert pianist

There is a NY Times article about young women in elite colleges planning to abandon career aspirations in favor of home-making. Here's the article:
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/20/national/20women.html?incamp=article_popular_1

My reaction to it is as follows:

On the one hand, I am disturbed by what seems to me as a regression to the 1950s: these women could have careers (as much as Title VII will protect from bumps on the career path), but they're choosing motherhood. However, several things are worth noting:

1. These women are in their late teens - at that age, I still thought I'd be a concert pianist (I was unusually dense for my age).

2. Maybe most of them will marry men who could support such a lifestyle, but some of them will realize that they have to work, or else they eat poorly. (I realized that when I married my husband, a former civil rights lawyer and currently a professor, that if we want Piper to have the kind of education Scott had, we both better work).

3. The way the choice is articulated ("working" vs. "staying home") means that these women clearly have no idea that raising children is more than walking to the park or baking cookies. I have had to take care of Piper for more than half a day only on a few occasions. Once, I called Scott and asked him to leave his meeting early, because I was exhausted and so inept that I could not figure out how to go to the bathroom while watching Piper. Taking care of Piper is more work than I've ever done in my life - and she is a fairly undemanding baby.

4. I love Piper more than I thought possible. But taking care of her all day bored me to tears, and I was sitting there feeling sorry for myself and holding a funeral for my dead neurons. Scott reports the same feeling. Feeling bored taking care of my beloved baby sends me into the pit of guilt, but honesty will prevail.

So, to summarize my long tirade: there is no telling where these women will end up. Right now it is all talk for them. As they say, "man plans, god laughs."

P.S. Here is Slate's critique of the article.
http://www.slate.com/id/2126636/

To summarize it in one sentence, the article's references to "many" women are misleading, the NYT author did a sloppy job, and her "studies" are fatally flawed.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Toddlers love babies!

Last Sunday, Scott, Piper and I attended a barbeque at a friend's house. Present were many of Scott's collegues and their children. This is an e-mail Scott received from his collegue Rebecca the day after the barbeque. Rebecca's daughter, Kate, is adorable and energetic. I hope Piper displays Kate's maturity when she is Kate's age (a mature two).

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My 2-yr-old has never had the slightest interest in baby dolls, but she has one or two that people have given her as gifts. When we got home from Andrea’s party last night, Kate pulled out a doll and told us it was “Baby Piper.” All night Kate kept saying she loves Baby Piper, and Kate took Baby Piper to bed with her. Your daughter made quite an impression on my daughter! I’m glad we got to meet Piper. She’s beautiful!

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To answer the obvious question, no, I would not have posted Rebecca's e-mail if Kate said "that Piper is a brat, I hope we do not see her again."

The dog is dead; long live the dog!

First, I wanted to welcome Cameron Danes to the blog. Her (or is it his?) arrival has been much anticipated.

Second, husbands can, admittedly, be a pain in the neck. Everyone who is married can attest to that. My husband, for example, only does the laundry and cooks, but refuses to do the dishes (so I do them, or more accurately, put the dishes in the dishwasher - sometimes, I break a nail). So, I make no bones about the husband part.

But what, pray tell, did the dog do to the poor woman that she's glad the dog is dead?

Saturday, September 17, 2005

The dog is dead

It occurred to me on the way to work that I was in an emotional state that was "lifted" from my husband. He knew he was in a state, but apparently is content to just be in it without much reflection. Me, on the other hand...not so happy to be in an emotional state without figuring the damn thing out. It took me some time to sort out the fact that it was my husband's grumblings that were creating havoc in my mind, not my own. Happy at my revelation, I shared it with my co-worker. She replied, boy am I glad I'm divorced, the kids are grown and the dog is dead.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Mother's guilt; child's guilt

The topic is supposed to be a play on the title "Rich man, poor man." Problem is, I am not very good at this, so I thought I should make clear what I am trying to do. Everyone please comment on how clever I am.

The Greene Machine talked about feeling guilty about leaving her son for a week to go on vacation. I bet this isn't the only time she felt guilty about her mothering. Mothers, like Jews, feel guilty all the time. It's in the blood.

When our children grow up enough to understand emotions, mothers start guilting the children into doing as told. This probably works well for a while (not sure, Piper isn't old enough to try it), but eventually it stops working (that I know for sure, because I've been on the receiving end of guilt trips). I wonder, however, if we (1) guilt our children because it seems the easiest way to make them do what we want; or (2) resent the feelings of guilt they inflicted on us, and subconsciously try to pay them back for the turmoil we felt.

All thoughts are welcome.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

First day of work - great for mom; horror for dad

My first day at work went great. I started by driving my car over a huge rock and could not get the car off the rock - it was stuck. It would've been a disaster if a neighbor weren't walking by at the exact moment I drove over the afore-mentioned huge rock. He (1) knew what to do (jack up the car and put a ramp under a wheel so I could drive off), and (2) had the right instruments to get my car off the rock.

Then, Scott called me at work to say that Piper was kicked out of daycare because she had thrush. He had to teach that day, so the question is what to do with baby while dad is teaching. Luckily, my boss the judge said that I could have her in chambers while Scott was teaching - now that's a model employer. Also, as a general matter, I can have her with me after 5 pm any time.

Piper did not cooperate much that day. She refused to take the bottle, so Scott had to drive her to the courthouse to nurse. She hadn't eaten in 5 hours, but curiously enough, she was ok and not crying much. That means babies are born manipulators. With me, she barely lasts 2 hours, but when breast milk is nowhere in sight, she's perfectly fine - what a weasel (albeit a cute one).

My first day on the job was hell for Scott (he went from home to daycare to drop off Piper, then to work, then back to daycare to pick her up, then to the doctor, then to the courthouse, then back to daycare, then finally, back to work). My day, on the other hand, went great. Go girlpower!