“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.” - G B Shaw

December 2, 2011

I feel like I should file this under "be careful what you wish for."

If you read this blog, you know my ambivilant feelings about being a working parent. How I have trouble with the balance between working and mothering, and how I often wished I could spend less time working and more time with my child.

Well, I got my wish.

My job was eliminated at the end of September, just about three weeks after my son started school. So now I'm a stay-at-home mom whose child is gone all day. (If you'd like to savor the irony of that for a moment, go ahead - I certainly do on a daily basis. Especially since we can't pull him from aftercare or we risk not having it when we need it.)

My job right now, obviously, is to find another job. But also to keep the house clean, and do the laundry, and get things decorated for the holidays. To make lunches and walk my son to and from school on (increasingly rare) warm sunny days. To sew and tend some plants and make fancy holiday tags. And (oh how I try!) spend less time at the computer.

I'm not going to insult every stay-at-home mom in the universe by saying "wow, I didn't know this was so hard". What has surprised me, though, is how it continues to be hard for me to find the right balance in my life between my 'new job' (sitting at this computer, writing resumes and cover letters and hunting down interesting work posted on obscure corners of the web) and my 'mom job'. I assumed it would be simpler than this. Now I'm starting to see where failure to do the dishes was my real true lack of desire to do them, coupled with a very handy excuse (Oh, I worked all day, I'm tired, I need to spend time with E/have time for myself/do this fun thing). But I'm slowly learning. And the holidays are coming, giving me more household projects to manage and more things to balance.

I tend to think, actually, that it's likely that a new job will present itself right around the the time that I've found the right balance in my new life. Because that's the way these things go.

In the meantime, though, I'm going to bake cookies and make gift tags and enjoy this opportunity to make an extra-special holiday for my son at the very moment he's at an age to most fully enjoy it.

In search of adventure

August 30, 2011

In search of adventure
Originally uploaded by anastasiav
We are getting my son ready for his first day of Kindergarten, which is next week (Thursday the 8th).

He has new clothes, a new backpack, a lunchbox and a thermos and a water-bottle that all match.

This is his last week at his preschool, and every morning we talk about "this is your last Monday at preschool" "this is your last Tuesday at preschool". All the teachers there have been great about congratulating him for going to kindergarten, and he's starting to get that this is a significant milestone to be celebrated, not a transition to fear.

Tomorrow, he has his kindergarten "assessment" where they get to find out that he can count to 100 and knows all his letters and reads all the easy words (and some of the hard ones).

On Thursday night, we attend an orientation night at his new school - we'll meet his teachers, see his classroom, attend an all-school picnic.

Friday, his preschool has a graduation party for all the kids who are starting kindergarten.

Monday, of course, is a holiday. Tuesday, he's going to spend the day with his beloved Sarah, and her daughter Hannah, and his friend Maddie - the kids he used to be in care with. Sort of a last hurrah before they all head off to kindergarten and into their separate big kid lives.

Wednesday, I'm taking the day off and he and I are going to bum around. I think we might go to the beach, if it's nice.

Thursday morning at 8:24 am he gets on the bus and goes off to his first day at public school. A little kid no more.

"A city is a large community where people are lonesome together." - H.Prochnow

July 22, 2011

Splashing at the Park
Originally uploaded by anastasiav
You probably already know it's been amazingly hot here the last few days (likely it is where you are, too." Last night, when it was still in the high 90's at 5 pm, I gave up. I picked my son up from daycare, fed hm the leftover strawberries and carrots from his lunch as his dinner, got him a hot fudge sundae, and we went to the park.

We're very lucky, in that we have an amazing park close (but not walking-distance close) to our house. In that park is a huge pond with a spectacular fountain, and feeding that pond is a small stream, where the city has built a wading/splashing pool for kids to play in.
Yesterday, that pool was full of kids, many of whom were the children who live in the low-income neighborhoods which surround the park. For them, the park is their back yard, their playground, their urban oasis.

Some of the children my son played with last night began their lives on the other side of the world, in Somalia or other parts of Africa. He played with kids speaking Somali, French, Spanish, English, and an Eastern-European language. Together, they hurled water at each other, formed teams, splashed, kept an eye that the babies and toddlers in the pool weren't inadvertently getting hit with gouts of water.

On our way back to our car, we encountered an elderly man, sitting on a bench, feeding squirrels. My son is fascinated by the park's very (overly) friendly squirrels and the man immediately noticed this and offered E some bread so he, too, could feed them. It became clear that this gentleman had very little English - his first language was Russian or some other Eastern European language and I could easily picture him sitting on a bench in Moscow or Kiev feeding the squirrels in exactly the same way.

When it was time for us to leave, he patted my son's head and said "He ist a good boy" and we were on our way.

I grew up in an extremely rural area, with the next closest house to ours over a mile away. My husband grew up in suburban military housing, where there was a certain homogeneity to the residents. I normally don't think much about it, but my son's childhood is really completely urban. He draws in chalk on the sidewalk and we can walk to the neighborhood playground, or a restaurant, or the bakery, or the drug store. My son's childhood is so different from ours, and a lot of the time I regret what he doesn't have - the unfettered access to nature, the gang of kids around - but on days like yesterday I am reminded of all the amazingly good things his urban childhood is bringing him.

“Normal is not something to aspire to, it's something to get away from.” - J Foster

July 21, 2011

Cute child is cute
Originally uploaded by anastasiav
Why I can't stop reading Mormon housewife blogs (via Slate)

I honestly thought it was just me.


June 20, 2011

Originally uploaded by anastasiav
There is a very interesting conversation going on at Slate (starting, actually, with this post on Babble) about a) who is buying the surprise internet best-seller Go the F**k to Sleep, and b) about how the book may have been less of a hit if the narrator were the mom rather than the dad.

As the parent of a sleep-challenged child, I'm right with KJ - I saw the original .pdf, laughed, posted it to Facebook, and moved on. I can't imagine actually paying cash for it and holding it in my hands.

But the real story here is her (dead on) points about gender roles. To quote the original article:

"While a mom who even thinks, “Go the fuck to sleep” is seen as morally lacking, unfit, unhinged, deranged, and hostile, a dad who thinks it is someone we want to have a beer with (or in my neighborhood, have on our bocce team)."

I can't really add anything pithy to her great analysis, so I encourage you to read the original post and the follow-ups at Slate as well.

“If you done it, it ain't bragging.” - Whitman

March 10, 2011

Fat Bat Hat Cat
Originally uploaded by anastasiav
Yes, this is me, the mommyblogger, just bragging about my child.

He loves to spell. He plays with his magnetic letters on a magnet board, with letters from an alphabet puzzle, with alphabet and spelling games on my phone, with any letters he can get his hands one. "Just let me spell one more word" is a frequent request before bed or a meal.

I'm just really proud of him, that's all.

Eight Hours for What We Will!

March 8, 2011

Driving home tonight (well after 7 pm) at the end of an eleven hour day I caught a little bit of an interview about the history of Unions on NPR's Fresh Air.

Not surprisingly, the history of the eight hour day caught my attention.

"ight Hours for Work, Eight Hours for Rest, Eight Hours for What We Will!" was the slogan. Overtime pay was designed, originally, to penalize employers for not hiring enough workers.

Interesing link with more on this.

Increasingly, being the breadwinner sucks. Does it make me a third-wave feminist to say that every family needs a stay at home mom, even if there are two working parents in it?

The Writing Is On The Cheese

February 22, 2011

These tiny letter-shaped cookie cutters are one of the best investments I've ever made. My son loves finding his name written in cheese as part of his lunch. (And "star cheese," too!)

I'm sorry I haven't been around much. Over the past several weeks my work-life balance has been out of whack and I've sort of turned into one of those 1950's dads who comes home late for dinner in time to give the kids a peck goodnight on the cheek.

I'm working on changing that, but I suspect that its part and parcel with the 21st century Mommy Track.

“One of the hardest things in life is having words in your heart that you can't utter.”

January 9, 2011

V Day Card 3
Originally uploaded by anastasiav
We're watching this Sesame Street video (Diane Schuur singing a song called From Your Head), which includes the lyric "The Song Came From My Head"

E shakes his head. "That's not right," he says, "songs come from your heart, not your head."

And so they do.

When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself. - W Dyer

January 6, 2011

E found some glasses....
Originally uploaded by anastasiav
Over the holidays, my Sister In Law announced that they are having a baby (the second grandchild! a cousin for E!) and the entire table fell into a conversation about the typical parenting things - cloth vs. disposable, breast vs. bottle, "back in my day" from the older ladies, and a short retelling of the story of E's very quick, birth center birth.

As we were talking, I found myself resisting the urge to tell my SIL "you should do this" or "you should read this" or "you must do that". I'm pretty sure our views on birth and baby-rearing are going to be very different (I was: birth-center, nursing w/formula supplement, no pain meds in childbirth, still co sleep with my 4 year old), and although I know she'll be a great, loving mom I found myself, almost automatically, judging her choices even though in a lot of cases she probably hasn't even made them yet.

Although I didn't write about it (and won't link to it here), I suspect if you're reading a mommy blog you're at least passingly familiar with the family whose 3 year old son was so upset about getting books for Christmas last year. My Brother In Law felt he had to (jokingly) shout "Books for Christmas????!!???" every time a book was opened.

i know I'm often judged as a parent, just because I work (or because I had to feed my son formula, or because we co-sleep, or because he's still in nighttime diapers at four, or ..., or...., or ...., or.....). And of course I hate it. I'm a pretty harsh judge of myself as well. So much of the time I think we, as parents, lose sight of the fact that we should be supporting each other, not competing. We worry about kids bullying other kids, but more and more often I wonder why its ok for parents to essentially bully other parents about their choices.

So, for the New Year, even though I'm not much on resolutions, here's my goal: to judge less. Is your child loved? Does your child feel safe? Is your child in active, immediate danger? (Not theoretical danger, but actual, call child protective services right now type danger.) That's what I will judge you on. The rest -- well, the rest is just choices.

"Even as an adult I find it difficult to sleep on Christmas Eve." ~Carrie Latet

December 28, 2010

Christmas Morning
Originally uploaded by anastasiav
I have had a week and a bit at home, vacation extended by a Monday snowstorm that kept us all in the house and in our PJs for the entire day.

I have had a week of travel, of late nights and early mornings, of working side by side with my husband, of wrapping, of baking, of cooking, of greeting guests and being hosted. I have had, in short, a week of hard work.

And yet, for whatever reason, it didn't really feel like Christmas. Not even at the very end.

E was pleased. He came downstairs on Christmas morning, paused in the doorway and said, again and again "I don't believe it". He got his heart's desire and then some, tangible proof that Santa is real and he was, after all, a boy on the good and not the naughty list.

Last year, we had very little, but we made do with what we had. This year, the possibilities were endless, and yet I didn't feel at all as though I got "just the right thing" for anyone. This holiday season has strengthened my resolve to make more, to plan ahead more, and to think more about what we can do as a family to give fewer gifts and instead grant more wishes.

I was, officially, on vacation, but of course I worked from home (to a greater or lesser extent) every single day. Most days it was just reading and responding to a few emails. One day it was an emergency change to an almost-to-press document that kept me away from a lovely lunch with my brother and sister-in-law. I've learned to take this 24/7 working life in stride, but my poor husband has not. He was, I think, angry and indignant on my behalf when I was sitting at the kitchen table typing away. Its those moments when it strikes me most that somehow its ok for a father to be shut away in his den or study working, but when its the Mamma its a whole different set of cultural expectations.

Anyhow, despite it not really feeling like Christmas it was, in the end, a good and joyful holiday. I hope yours was as well.

"This is the message of Christmas: We are never alone." - T Caldwell

December 17, 2010

Wrapping Bliss
Originally uploaded by anastasiav
Here's a photo "from the archives" for you (E playing in the ripped up wrapping paper, Christmas 2007), and a few links.

Have a great weekend!

Dr. Mom "An Ivy-League-educated stay-at-home mom tells the truth about "the mommy track"

You need to know a little bit about MBTI personality types to get this, but its an interesting article about personality types and parenting styles. Be sure to read the comments, too.

Armageddon Mama
"Parenting toward the Apocalypse. Are we raising our kids to cope with a radically revised future?"
Not as bleak as it sounds.

I've been following the woman who writes Free Range Kids on Twitter, which has reminded me how terrific her blog is. (Or maybe its just recently gotten better?)

TED Talks: Gever Tulley: 5 dangerous things you should let your kids do
Video, about ten minutes. (If you're not watching the TED talks, you should.)

Design Mom

Late Add: Corbyn Hightower's Blog
Achingly well written site about raising a family during this recession we're in. A great reminder that -- as hard as it is sometimes to balance work and family, it would be far harder to be involuntarily unemployed.

"Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony. " T Merton

December 16, 2010

Christmas 2010
Originally uploaded by anastasiav
My boss said to me this morning “I think I’m more excited for your Christmas than I am for my own.” You see, this year, for the first time as a working adult, I’m taking the week before Christmas totally off. I’m going to bake cookies and go shopping (and continue to send E to preschool at least three days that week, so I can actually get things done). Most of you know that, until this past January, I worked part-time for a Giant Catalog Retailer while also working full time at a “real” day job. Prior to that, I had worked full time for that same Giant Catalog Retailer, where, although my primary job was not customer facing, at the holiday we all became customer facing and worked 6 days a week to make sure that our customer’s holiday experience was a great as we could make it. What got left behind was making my families’ holiday experience as great as I could make it.

When E was born, I promised myself that Christmas would be magical for him. We work hard at instilling belief in Santa in him, and we’ve also worked hard to make sure that Santa brings him his heart’s desire each year, without totally overwhelming him with gifts. We took him to see Santa, and Santa came by his preschool as well (E told me later that he thought Santa “came back” to see him because he – E – had been so shy when he first met Santa. He became tongue tied and forgot to ask for the one gift I know he wants most in the world.)

Our tree has been up for over a week now. There are still totes of decorations sitting in the front hall, but hopefully I’ll be able to finish off the bulk of the decorating tonight. (Monday’s tooth injury set me back a couple of days.) My shopping is almost done (thanks, internet!) but I still have stocking stuff to shop for. I haven’t done any fabulous crafts yet (I still don’t quite get how working moms seem to find the time to also do amazing crafts after bedtime. I’m lucky if I’m awake after 9 pm.) but they’re in the plan. I did make matching stockings for us last year, and it gives me a little thrill to see them hanging from the mantle.

Still, for some reason, it doesn’t feel much like Christmas. Maybe it’s just the lack of snow. Maybe it’s the big pile of plastic totes that remains in my front hall. Or, maybe, as I mentioned to Josh the other night, maybe it’s that over the years I’ve come to associate a terrible feeling of stress (both financial and time) with the holiday season, and this year that stress just isn’t there.

Lets hope that a good round of cookie baking, holiday specials on DVD, and house cleaning will help me find a “new normal” feeling of what the holidays are all about.

"Empathy is the most radical of human emotions." - G Steinem

December 15, 2010

Anyone who tells you that all children naturally have empathy is lying.

E frequently injures me. Perhaps it is because he is a bouncy boy and I am a short-sighted adult with slow reflexes, but whatever the reason, its not at all unusual for his head to connect with my nose or face in such a way as to cause me searing, searing pain. While I was working at my former place of employment, my facial injuries were so frequent that one of the project managers became convinced that I was being abused. E has broken about four pairs of my glasses, and I'm pretty sure that at least once he's caused permanent damage to my nose.

Now, we can add, I think, a damaged front upper tooth to the list.

E was bouncing on the bed, as we've asked him not to do a million times. And this time, somehow, as I was putting my hands on his shoulders to get the bouncing to stop, his head connected with my front teeth and nose during an upward bounce. Everything went white. Searing pain. I became aware that I was leaning over his bureau, making this sort of half groaning, half strangled bleating noise, as I tried not to scream. And I became aware of another sound as well. I could hear E laughing. As hurt as I was, and as mad at him as I was for inflicting yet another facial injury on me, the thing that made me maddest was the laughing.

I shouted at him. "E, you really hurt me!" He laughed harder. I took a moment and composed myself, and tried as much as I could to get firm and steely with him. "Its time to get ready for bed" I said.


"Did you just tell me no?"

"Yes" He started laughing again.

I have to say this pushed me over the edge, into the land of "as angry as I have ever been." I informed him that he'd just lost all his bedtime stories, which led to a little fake crying that quickly turned into giggling. I told him again to get ready for bed, and he continued to be basically completely defiant. I changed his clothes, since he'd made it quite clear that he wasn't getting into his PJs voluntarily, and marched him into the bathroom to brush his teeth. Finally, in the bathroom, he figured out that something was, in fact, wrong -- that maybe I was mad -- but he decided to try and make me smile by pushing on my mouth, which was absolutely the wrong thing for him to do.

"Don't touch my face."

"But I want to make you smile."

"Don't touch my face, E, it hurts when you do that. From where you hit me with your head."

I sent him back to his room, and got him settled in the bed. Then, I sat down on the edge of the bed to try and talk with him, as it became increasingly clear that he had no idea why I was suddenly so mad at him. Our conversation started off ok, but quickly degenerated into him giggling and giggling as I tried to explain to him that he'd hurt my face very badly.

"E, what is so funny?"

"Mamma, you talk funny."

And with that I said good night, warned him not to get out of bed, and came downstairs. My front tooth is still throbbing, and I suspect its actually been damaged and will require a dentist visit. But even more, I'm in quite a lot of pain at the thought of seeing him laugh and laugh and laugh at me as I was in agonizing pain. I know, rationally, that he won't grow up to be a serial killer, but there are nights like tonight when I really fear he will.