dare to care

Go over to the Nation.com and read this article. Go on, I’ll wait.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the emphasis–or lack of it–that our society places on caregiving, and remembering an experience I had after the birth of the Bee, when I was still a pretty new mom.

I first got involved in parenting & the internet when I was pregnant with the Bee, joining a listserv for other women who were due in September of 1999. After she was born, I joined hipmama, and spent hours on their forums, trying to find a community of people who wanted to think differently about parenting. Some of those hours were ones I spent at work, reading online while I pumped breastmilk in my office, or nursed the Bee.

One day, I got an email from a reporter who was writing a story commissioned by one of the women’s policy organizations in DC–maybe Institute for Women’s Policy Research? She wanted to know if I was interested in being interviewed about my experience of going back to work fairly soon after the birth of my daughter. I hemmed and hawed a bit–because I didn’t feel like I had had that tough a time with the transition, but eventually, I agreed to do the interview, and sent her my phone number.

She called me, and we had a long conversation about my (to me) extremely accommodating boss, & my overall experience becoming a working mom. I had gotten this job while I was pregnant, and through a phone interview, and I went from working for a mid-sized organization to a fairly small non-profit that had fewer than 10 staff. I did disclose to my then-prospective employer that I was pregnant, and when he asked me if I intended to come back to work after the baby was born, I told him I didn’t know–that I intended to, but I also knew I couldn’t predict how I would feel about it once the baby was there.  He hired me anyway, knowing that I might only work there for five months.

When the Bee was born, I took three months off (one paid, two unpaid), and then I went back to work. Landisdad took paternity leave for another two months, but almost from the beginning, I took the Bee to work with me a day or two a week.  I continued to bring her to work with me until she was 18 months old, and never heard a peep about it from my boss–in fact, I still see him at work-related events, and he never fails to ask how she is doing.

You can see why, when I started the conversation with the reporter, I didn’t feel like I had a terrible story to tell, and after I got through it, I said something like, “so you see, I don’t really think my situation could have been much better.” And then she said something that shocked me. She said, “You don’t? ”

And it struck me, suddenly and almost astonishingly, that I had immersed myself so deeply in the myriad problems that other U.S. mothers I knew were going through in wrestling with their choices to stay home or return to work, that I was only measuring my own experience against theirs. I had stopped even hoping for a society that would provide real family support, the way that some other countries do. I had stopped hoping for a society that would pay a parent to stay home for the first year of a child’s life, for example. And stopped hoping that at some point, our government would be convinced that providing safe, high quality daycare was as important as acquiring the latest fighter jet.

I’m getting closer to that care-giver sandwich myself. While I’m not quite at the point of having to figure out elder care, I have quite a few older colleagues and co-workers who are. I’m hoping that by the time I get there, I’m not content to be one of the lucky few, who has a flexible work situation that lets me deal with my care-giving responsibilities too. I’m hoping that instead, we’ll all make it a priority.


March 7, 2007. family life, politically motivated, thoughtful parenting. 5 comments.

trouble commenting

Is anyone else having trouble commenting on Blogger? I have lost the ability to comment on half of the blogs I read, because for some reason, the visual verification isn’t working. Instead of having the string of nonsense letters & numbers, I just see the words “visual verification.” I’ve tried just putting in some random letters & numbers of my own, but that doesn’t seem to work.

This just started happening at the end of last week. I’ve emailed a couple of comments to folks, but not everyone has an email address on their blog–if anyone has suggestions as to how I might fix this, I’d appreciate it. I’m using Firefox, btw.

March 5, 2007. meta. 8 comments.

I guess we might be doing something right. Once in a while.

We’re at the end of a very successful weekend at chez landis. The sibling relations flared into sniping a few times, but there was no serious squabbling. In fact, I think this is the first weekend in something like forever in which no child experienced the time-out.

Let me repeat that. Not. One. Time-out.

I realize that may seem trivial to some of you, but trust me, over here it’s cause to break out the Cristal.

In addition to the lack of fighting and general unpleasantness, my children surprised me in the following ways:

    1. The Bee volunteered to help clean the bathroom.
    2. The Potato volunteered to clean his own room (with help). {a side note–are all pre-schoolers the enemy of the book dust jacket, or is it just mine?}
    3. Landisdad was sick yesterday, so I took the Potato grocery shopping, where he actually sat in the cart for the entire shopping trip. A boy who can’t sit still for twenty seconds–sitting still for over an hour.
    4. The Bee spent over 11 hours reading. Her school is having a contest to see which class can read a total of 3,000 minutes in a month. She did at least 660 minutes (and is doing more as I write this) in two days. I think the second grade might be winning this pizza party.
    5. Last night, with landisdad still ailing, I took the kids out to dinner. Where they sat next to each other in a booth. And did not argue or fight. And shared crayons. And bites of each other’s food. And ice cream.

      Okay, who’s got the pod in their basement? And what have you done with my real children?

      March 4, 2007. family life. 10 comments.

      wanna be on my ticket?

      I don’t know what I was thinking when I agreed to be the PTA president. I’ve had a fairly easy ride as vice-president these last two years, but now that it’s time to pick my cabinet, I’m befuddled and bewildered. For one thing, there are very few people willing to run as vice-president, when they know it means they turn into the president two years from now. For another thing, the current PTA officers keep wandering around during school events saying, “next year, this will all be yours!” and then cackling evilly.

      Yeah, thanks, could you say that a little louder next to the kindergarten parents? I don’t think you’ve scared them off enough yet.

      So I decided to put together my dream PTA ticket from the parenting blogosphere. We might not live in the same zip code (or even the same country), we might not bake for the bake sale or direct the talent show, but a girl’s gotta have a dream. Here’s my dream team.

      For Treasurer: Penguin from penguinunearthed. I mean, she wrote a post about being an actuary–she must be good with money, right? And, she’s got working mom guilt. I can’t have any PTA allies without working mom guilt–how could I relate to them?

      For Recording Secretary: Kimberly from Sanity & the Solo Mom. Blogger (other than me) most likely to have given birth to my daughter. The one thing I would really worry about is how landisdad would handle having her girls as well as our kids when my cabinet and I went out drinking together to plan back-to-school night.

      For Corresponding Secretary: Vicki from Procrastamom, because I think she can actually type. Plus, her kids are older than mine, and she’ll be able to tell me how to avoid various tweener pitfalls (or at least laugh ruefully when I encounter them). And, she makes delightful cards!

      And for Vice President: my good blog friend and the monster of all daddybloggers, Metrodad. First, because I really want a man on the ticket (subverting the dominant paradigm one old-school principal at a time). Second, because I like to do spit-takes during meetings, and I’m sure with Pierre around I’d be doing that at every PTA get-together. Emma Goldman famously said, “if I can’t dance, I don’t want to be in your revolution.” I feel the same way about sarcasm, and I’m almost positive that sarcasm will be the centerpiece of the Metrodad revolution.

      Who would you pick to run your fantasy PTA?

      March 1, 2007. memes, meta. 6 comments.

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