“Oh yes, and by the way you might want to be a wife and mother too.”

April 19, 2010

An interesting read for your Monday morning:

Learning to be Left on the Shelf

“Men do not quit playing because they grow old; they grow old because they quit playing.” - O W Holmes

April 3, 2010

Saturday. My day of rest. We started our day at 6:30 am this morning, when E came clambering up in our bed, and we've been on the go ever since. Josh is out tonight with a friend, so E and I will be dying Easter Eggs after supper (I hope). (Yeah, nothing like waiting until the last minute!)

A few snapshots from our day:


Photo Session


Its days like these that I like the best.

"The marathon can humble you" - Bill Rodgers

April 2, 2010

Daily Reports
Originally uploaded by anastasiav
Every day, when E gets home from daycare, I get a yellow sheet of paper that tells me about his day. At the top is a list of what he's had to eat that day. At the bottom, an outline of his potty habits - at one time, just a list of when she'd changed him and when he'd pooped; more recently its been a small celebration of his new-found ability to go to the potty independently (along with the occasional reminder that he hasn't quite mastered it yet).

The middle is the important part. In the middle of the page is a short list of his activities for the day. Today's reads:

outside 9:30 to 11
outside 12:30 - 4
visited Papa and Mimi (my caregiver's parents)

Yesterday's reads:

picnic set
nap 2 to 3:30 pm

I cling to the middle section. Its as much as I know about how my son spends the majority of his day. As often as I can, I use what Sarah wrote as a way to start a conversation over dinner. Asking him "what did you do today" almost never elicits a response. Being able to say "so you played outside today" or "did you play superheroes with Hannah today" will sometimes at least start a conversation. Sometimes he'll share a story or two about his day. Sometimes they make sense. Other times, the things he says are puzzling or inexplicable, but there isn't much we can do to find out the background to the tales he tells us.

A couple of days ago, I wrote a little bit about blogger Heather Armstrong being invited to the White House Forum on Workplace Flexibility. (I also made a comment on a post over on Daddy Types). Today, she published a long post about the flack she's gotten for this invitation. Reading it (and reading it again just now), I guess I have to admit that I'm probably lumped in with the people she's railing against. I've done a bit of Googling to try and figure out what made her so upset, and if there has been a big backlash on the web, I can't seem to find it. This recap is the closest I can find.

I'm not flattering my self here that Heather Armstrong reads my blog, or even knows I exist. That's not my point here. Tonight as I was putting E to bed I was thinking about my day. How I too hit the ground running at 6 am and don't stop until my head hits the pillow at night - often when I fall asleep fully clothed next to my son as he falls asleep. But a lot of what Ms. Armstrong is describing in today's post - the long hours, the pressure of never being able to take a day off -- that's not about being a working mother. Its just about being a mother. The simple and sometimes impulsive act of deciding to have a child puts you into this high pressure world.

I understand her anger at being second guessed, I really do. But even now I've not seen an answer to the original question I posed: who else was there? Was there anyone like me sitting at that table ... someone who reads about her child's day on a yellow sheet of paper instead of experiencing it? Because that is the key difference between the Armstrong workplace and mine. She gets to experience the daily routine of her children. I get to read a recap of my son's day on a yellow sheet of paper.

"Nothing is really work unless you would rather be doing something else." - J M Barrie

April 1, 2010

Burning the midnight oil.
Originally uploaded by grapesmc
About six months ago I started a new job. It was a significant step up for me in terms of pay and responsibility, and its hard, challenging, fun work. I actually sort of love it. Except for this unexpected part:

I'm on call all the time. For the past three or so weeks I've had work to take home on the weekend, I've sat down to work (at home) at 7:30 am as soon as Josh and E leave, worked for a couple of hours at home, gone in to the office and been there until 7 at night. Although I know that many people work this way, its a big change for me, and an adjustment for my family.

From a certain point of view, you could say that I'm actually filling the traditional "Dad" role in our family. I'm the main breadwinner in my family, and my husband is the person in our house who ends up doing most of the cooking, the laundry, the pickups and drop offs from daycare, bath time, and so on. (He also works outside the home. Much of my angst about parenting would be relieved, I think, if only he were able to leave his job. Financially, we could do it, but his company offers really stellar health insurance while my employer offers none. So he continues to work.)

I get home from work to find supper on the table, and have just about enough time to eat, perhaps play a little after dinner, then take E upstairs for PJs and tooth brushing and stories - our bedtime routine. Over the past couple of weeks, though, even the bedtime part has been handed over to Daddy, partly because I was sick and partly because I was working every available minute to get a certain project off the ground.

A few nights ago, for the first time ever that I can recall, E woke up in the middle of the night and called for father rather from me. I was the one who woke up anyhow, and went into his room to see what he needed. "Go away," he said. "I don't want you. I want my Daddy."

Even the next morning, as I snuggled up with him at sunrise, my son pushed me away. "I don't need you," he said.

"Well, I need you. Are you mad at me?"



"I just am." He burrowed deeply under the covers.

"Are you mad because I couldn't do bedtime last night?"


"I'm sorry, buddy. But sometimes Daddy has to have a turn too. You know I love you wherever I am."

It didn't take much convincing for me to lure him out from under the covers. We read some (The Sneetches are a current favorite) and after the book was over he gave me a tight hug and told me he loved me and we started our day without much more fuss. Somehow, though, I thought he'd be older than three and a half the first time he told me he didn't need me.

We have friends who raised two daughters while the mom worked as a nurse and the dad was a stay-at-home dad. Throughout their childhoods, the girls looked to their father for their daily needs, much to the chagrin of their mother, who would often say things like "Its almost like I'm not their mother anymore."

Feminism taught us that gender roles could be more fluid. But biology holds more sway over us sometimes than we'd like to admit. I'm comfortable in my role as the breadwinner, the career woman, but at 2 am when my son cries out in the night I still also want to be the Mamma. For a child, though, the idea of "mother" is a different thing - the nurturer and caregiver is the person they cleave to, no matter gender or biological relationship. So as I work to identify the causes of my ongoing inner turmoil about parenting, I have to try and resolve this tug of war: biology wants be to be the Mamma, but our life as it is now puts me squarely in the Daddy role.