Happy Birthday, Mommy Track!

March 31, 2010

Slate Reports that the term Mommy Track is turning 21, and the author writes in a very personal voice about her unexpected detour from high-powered attorney to "just a mom of three boys".

Its a good article, and I recommend you read it. Given the fact that the life of an elite attorney is, at best, hectic (more likely crazy stressful) I wish she'd done a similar survey of the men in her class. How many of them have stuck with it, and how many have prioritized the 'balance' part of work-life balance?

"mother is one to whom you hurry when you are troubled." - E Dickinson

March 30, 2010

Preschool Colors
Originally uploaded by barnabywasson
Heather Armstrong (the author of Dooce) announced yesterday via her Twitter feed that she's been invited to attend The White House Forum on Workplace Flexibility.

I want to state up-front that I'm a big fan of Heather Armstrong, and a big fan of the current White House. (So much so that I'm strongly considering standing outside all night in the rain tonight to get tickets for the President's visit to Portland on Thursday.) In particular, I think her voice has done a lot to educate people about the need for healthcare reform in the US, not to mention how she's raised awareness of post-partum depression. However.... (you knew that was coming, right?)

But Heather Armstrong is also the object of envy of every working mother I know. She is one of the few people I can say honestly "has it all" -- she's doing something she loves and has become very famous for it. She and her husband both work from home, on whatever schedule works for their family. You could easily say that she, almost uniquely, has built a career for herself that is the ultimate in family flexibility. But her very unique set of circumstances are not, I think, replicable by a large number of people in the world.

One of the things that makes me proud to have the Obama family in a leadership position in this country is that they are a real, working family. I do strongly believe that they get it, that they do really think they "understand the challenges" of balancing work and parenting, to use the phrasing from their press release.

But, even before he went to the Senate, they were also highly-educated professionals in leadership careers, who had family and paid in-home caregivers available to them. I doubt Sasha and Malia were ever in daycare (although I don't know that for sure). I think its more likely that they were cared for in their own home, either by their Grandmother or by someone else (a nanny, perhaps) who became, more or less, a part of the family. I know they mean well. But the experience is so different for working mothers who are a bit farther down the pay scale.

The press release says they've invited "labor leaders, CEOs, small business owners, and policy experts" to this forum. I wonder if there will be actual working mothers there? Women who hand their child over to a facility at 7:45 am and pick them up at 5:45 pm, who work blue collar jobs, who work service jobs, the low-income women and families for whom workplace flexibility is most needed. There is a cynical voice in my mind who says that the mothers who most need to have a voice at this summit won't be able to attend, and will, in fact, not ever even realize that anyone was having the conversation.

Every morning, I send my son off to be raised by a woman whom I don't know well and who doesn't really share my personal values. And I count myself lucky, because she's warm and loving, because my son spends his days in a mostly unstructured way, because he gets to run in a pasture and play outside for hours ever day, and (to be frank) because she's very inexpensive. And then I go to work and spend a large part of the day watching other, more fortunate parents as they come into my workplace and share experiences with their own children.

I have to wonder if my voice and experience will be represented?

One interesting note: in searching Flickr for an appropriate photo to add to this post, I noted this: if you search on the word "daycare" you get page after page of child care facilities in third world countries. To get middle-class American images, you have to search on the phrase "preschool". I wonder why that is?

“Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark.” - R Tagore

March 25, 2010

Winters Morning

Once a month I have to attend a 7 am board meeting, which means I need to be in the office by 6. I hate getting up early, leaving the warmth of our shared bed, but there is a moment as I leave the house when I walk down my steps, hear the birds, see the glow of the morning over the cove, hear the ever-present crows calling as they move from tree to tree, there is just a moment before I get in my car and drive away that I actually enjoy the morning.

6 am Meeting

(This is all a fancy way of saying "I haven't forgotten you" and I might be writing more here in a bit.)

"He who limps is still walking." -Stanislaw J. Lec

March 19, 2010

Originally uploaded by Chris Daniel
I so very much wish I had a photo of my own to show you with this.

Last night, after supper, we decided to go for a walk because it was such a nice night. We normally have a little path around the neighborhood we take, nothing too strenuous, but with lots of rock walls to climb on and a few places to stop and play tag. Well, after a bit, E asked if we could go on "a long walk". So we walked down to the Back Cove trail and headed out. And we walked farther. And farther. And somewhere down by the Hannaford, I made the silly suggestion that it was now as far to walk around the cove as it was to just turn around and walk home.

So, the three of us walked the entire 3 1/2 mile trail around Back Cove last night. It took about two hours and we stopped to look at a lot of stuff on the way. E was a trouper through all of it, but we think his actual walking limit is right around two miles. He bravely trudged on for a bit, slower and slower, until finally Josh carried E on his shoulders the last part of the way. He seemed to have a good time, but I don't think this is an adventure we'll be repeating (at that distance) anytime soon - although we did discuss getting the bikes tuned up.

I'm very pleased that this morning my knee neither hurts nor is swollen. The balls of both feet hurt (I didn't really have on appropriate shoes for this adventure) and my hips are sore, but otherwise I feel pretty good. Of course, I may feel differently tomorrow....

... and although he was pretty pooped at the end, I think he had a really good time. He loved looking at the cove from the bridge, and we talked a lot about how "my friend the moon" was up in the sky and you could see the moon reflected in the water.... So, a testing night, but a good one all the same.

"Tomorrow to fresh woods, and pastures new" - J Milton

March 17, 2010

This morning, E was still soundly soundly asleep when it came to be the time that he should be dressed and heading downstairs with his father. It so happened that I had to pick up some booklets and deliver them to our branch in Freeport, so I told Josh to go on without him and I would take E to daycare.

He slept until 8:30 am, and awoke confused. I got him dressed, and we got out the door without much trouble - the one bump being that he wanted to take both the book and the movie of The Sneeches to Sarah's with him, but the movie only exists as a .tivo file on the computer - not something we can transport.

We stopped at the printer, where he was charming and helpful, then drove up to our branch in Freeport. Each Y branch has a "Prime Time" room, where your child can play (supervised) while you work out, so I let E stay at Prime Time for about an hour while I did some work, then we got back in the car, and, with a brief stop for a kiss from Daddy, drove out to Sarah's.

When I got there, everyone was outside. She and her mother were cleaning up the yard and hanging a clothesline. The two girls who are there with him came up to the car to greet us, and once E was out of the car and divested of his coat (and I got a kiss) each girl took a hand and the three of them went running as fast as they could go across the pasture.

I have such mixed feelings about E being at Sarah's, but in that moment any doubts I might have had washed away (for a few minutes). I'm sure they'll come back (after all, my real issue is my overwhelming envy that she gets to spend all day with my son while I'm at work) but its clear he's joyful there, and that's the most important thing.