2

Imaginary Mean Mom

In my imaginary world where I’m perfect at everything, I am a mean mom.  Not gratuitously cruel, just very strict. And as a result, my child behaves impeccably.

In the real world, I’m a pushover. I never in a million years thought I’d turn out to be a pushover parent.  In those years before-child, I had a sharp tongue, quick to judge any parent who showed the slightest inclination to cave to the whining of their offspring.

Then life happened. A life in which I am quite literally paid to fight with people all day. All very long day as a matter of fact. And by the time I get home, for the love of Pete I just don’t want to fight with people any more, can we just let it go?

And consequently, I let my kid get away with a lot of nonsense. I feel like a lame parent about it, but we’re talking about me letting her slide for jumping on the couch when her dad’s not looking or letting her eat noodles with her fingers, it’s not like I’m letting her smoke crack in the closet.

Then, of course, Tuesday happened.

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Baby Beez was in quite a pathetic sickly state when I picked her up from daycare Monday. She was actually laying on the floor, moaning. She didn’t have a fever, but she clearly did not feel well. And then we went through Monday night. She kept me up almost all night, alternating between coughing her head off, whining to come into bed with me, me caving and saying “fine, just climb in my bed” and then after 20 minutes of her spinning around in the sheets like a whirling dervish, I snap “GO BACK TO YOUR BED, I NEED SOME REST.”

I kept the sicky child home on Tuesday.  She spent the morning resting calmly. As the day wore on, she was clearly feeling better, because she went from resting on the couch to climbing on the ceiling.  Before bedtime, I spent an hour with her playing “scaring simulator,” which involved putting a stuffed animal on the recliner, and then we snuck up and ROARED. Six hundred times.

Then it was bedtime, and she roared her terrible roars and showed her terrible claws and gnashed her terrible teeth. But I tossed her in the bed and said “SLEEP” because I was desperate to get some exercise in. And I went downstairs and plugged my earphones in my ears and hopped on the treadmill and jogged jogged jogged and then…..there is Baby Beez. Downstairs. Coloring at her easel. Because naturally, what else would she be doing when she didn’t feel like sleeping?

I feel like if Regulator Daddy were home she wouldn’t have dared sneak out of bed. But he’s not. And so she’s under the supervision of a sucker. And you know what I did…of course I said “Hey kid, I’ve got 20 minutes left in this workout. So enjoy the time while you’ve got it.”

SERIOUSLY, WHO DOES THAT.

Once my workout was over, I hauled her back upstairs, put her back in bed. And a few moments later, the door creaked open. I scolded her to get back in bed. She started the whining about “But I want yoooo” and dear lord I wanted to take a shower and I needed just one minute away from whining and I stirred up a deep roar of “GET. BACK. IN. YOUR. BED. NOW. AND. GO. TO. SLEEP.”

And that room was silent the rest of the night. I need to try this enforcer stuff more often.

1

Autumn Activities and Stubborn Like a Mule

Autumn Activities and Stubborn Like a Mule

Baby Beez and I had quite the weekend.  Sadly, Mr. Beez also had a lot of separate activities going on, so I feel like I haven’t seen my husband for ages.  And we’ve got a busy week, so it’s going to be a few more days until I see him again. It’s a good thing we’ve managed to fit in a couple of date nights in the previous couple weeks. Because Husbaaaand, where are you?

So this weekend Baby Beez and I lived up the weekend activities. We started things off by visiting Zoo Boo at the Pittsburgh Zoo with our pals Sandy and Elena.  We have gone the last couple years as well, but this is the first year that Baby Beez was big enough to really enjoy it.  Her favorite animal at the zoo is the shark, and we did get to see a few sharks, so she was very pleased.  Also this outing to the zoo involved candy, and she was able to show off her newly learned “Trick or treat! Smell my feet!. . .” Of which she was very proud. (I plead guilty to that one).

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Today we continued with the Halloween festivities with a visit to Trax Farms with more friends.  This too was an ideal outing, because Baby Beez is now big enough to really have fun.  Things were temporarily derailed for a few minutes when Baby Beez got the HANGRY but then I filled her with granola bars and it was all good. Baby Beez is infamous for begging to ride a pony and then we stand in a big stupid long line for the pony, and then when we finally get up to the stupid pony Baby Beez decides she is stupid scared and won’t get on the stupid pony.  This year however was SUCCESS and she climbed upon the gentle beast, Tonto, and was very proud to take a little ride.

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Carnie food! The best!

Carnie food! The best!


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And since it is late October, and since for the last six years November has insisted on being the most absolutely insane month for work in the entire year, this weekend of course brought with it a ridonkulous amount of work that needed to be done.  The well-rested, conservatively scheduled, and possibly more prudent me would have called off the plans, spent my weekend mornings in the office, and squared away those things.  Over the last several years, and in particular as Baby Beez has gotten bigger and has exclaimed in her cute little voice “Mama, you’re my best friend!” I simply cannot bring myself to call off social events for this purpose. Oh yes, the work gets done. That point is non-negotiable. And thank goodness for good remote access and the ability to work on things on the couch while Baby Beez watches Monsters, Inc. for the 9,000th time. What I’ve found over the last several years is that in order to keep my family and personal life healthy, the work gets done at odd hours, whether that means getting up stupid early on a Saturday or spending that Sunday evening wind-down time not winding down at all, but rather getting work done.  Lawyers work on weekends. It’s in the job description. It’s nothing special or new. But I’m stubborn and have gotten stubborner about making sure I make that quality family time on the weekend (with work squeezed in before the kid wakes up, or while she naps, or while she watches TV, etc), because lord knows that QT during the week is minimal.

If you have work obligations on the weekends, how do you balance out family time and work time?

PS– Upon reviewing this post, I have no right to wonder where Baby Beez learned the word “stupid.”

16

A Working Woman’s Paradox (this time with the comments issue fixed…)

So I posted this same entry below, but somehow disabled the comments and the only way I can figure to fix it is to re-post it. I think this is a topic that merits discussion, and I’m not a fan of comment disabled posts generally, so I welcome your feedback (yes, I even welcome disagreement)

I think and talk so much about being a “working mom” and “work/life balance” that I’m bored of it. Mr. Beez and I had the rare opportunity to grab a workday lunch together on Monday, and I asked him “you’re working all the time, and bouncing around with things at home, how are you not complaining about being burned out?” It turns out he is. Just as much as me. He just keeps his big mouth shut.

I admit it—sometimes I’m jealous of stay at home moms. You can chat my ear off all day about how hard it is to be a parent and keep a house, but it still demands minimal accountability. You don’t get fired for being a mediocre parent or having mountains of unwashed laundry. There’s a lot of stuff to do in keeping a house, but you can spend a day on the couch if you want to. Working involves external accountability. It involves risk. It involves prioritizing and balancing and playing politics. It is hard. Maybe not with all jobs, not every job is hard. But being a litigator is hard. It involves all those things at rapid pace and in an unpredictable environment.

I am thrilled that issues of work-life balance have come to the forefront, and employers and employees alike are focusing on how workers can thrive in the office while also being satisfied in their personal lives. We’re talking about this struggle, and it shows me that I’m not a special snowflake after all. I’m tired of my pity party about how hard it is to do the juggle. And every time I read a new response to something Ann-Marie Slaughter or Sheryl Sandberg or Marissa Mayer has said or done, I realize that the work-life struggle is not unique. Not in the least. And if everyone is having the same difficult time, well there really isn’t much to whine there about is there?

Today on Hello Ladies, I read through this infographic.

As I scrolled down, more and more things rang true. Yes, I agree that women often are less likely to take breaks during the workday (It took years for me to convince myself that, as the guys in the office have demonstrated, it really IS ok to go to the gym for a bit during the workday).

But then I hit the bottom portion:
47% of working moms say they would be happier if they didn’t work.
36% of working moms say they resent their partner for not making enough money for them to stay home with the baby/kids.

I’m sickened by the idea of an entitlement to stay home. If we are to achieve any real balance between the sexes, we need to stop this farcical argument that keeping a house is equally demanding (and beneficial to the family unit) as staying home. Not every person needs to work—income and family responsibilities can be divided in all kinds of different ways. But the idea that women resent their partner for not making enough money for them to stay home is abhorrent.

So I’m saying it: The idea that women have some birthright to not work and tend to the children and home is absurd and antiquated. And buying into the idea that women somehow deserve to not work undermines the value of those in the workplace who do.

Dear ladies: GET A JOB.
And quit complaining.

Off

A Working Woman’s Paradox

I think and talk so much about being a “working mom” and “work/life balance” that I’m bored of it. Mr. Beez and I had the rare opportunity to grab a workday lunch together on Monday, and I asked him “you’re working all the time, and bouncing around with things at home, how are you not complaining about being burned out?” It turns out he is. Just as much as me. He just keeps his big mouth shut.

I admit it—sometimes I’m jealous of stay at home moms. You can chat my ear off all day about how hard it is to be a parent and keep a house, but it still demands minimal accountability. You don’t get fired for being a mediocre parent or having mountains of unwashed laundry. There’s a lot of stuff to do in keeping a house, but you can spend a day on the couch if you want to. Working involves external accountability. It involves risk. It involves prioritizing and balancing and playing politics. It is hard. Maybe not with all jobs, not every job is hard. But being a litigator is hard. It involves all those things at rapid pace and in an unpredictable environment.

I am thrilled that issues of work-life balance have come to the forefront, and employers and employees alike are focusing on how workers can thrive in the office while also being satisfied in their personal lives. We’re talking about this struggle, and it shows me that I’m not a special snowflake after all. I’m tired of my pity party about how hard it is to do the juggle. And every time I read a new response to something Ann-Marie Slaughter or Sheryl Sandberg or Marissa Mayer has said or done, I realize that the work-life struggle is not unique. Not in the least. And if everyone is having the same difficult time, well there really isn’t much to whine there about is there?

Today on Hello Ladies, I read through this infographic.

As I scrolled down, more and more things rang true. Yes, I agree that women often are less likely to take breaks during the workday (It took years for me to convince myself that, as the guys in the office have demonstrated, it really IS ok to go to the gym for a bit during the workday).

But then I hit the bottom portion:
47% of working moms say they would be happier if they didn’t work.
36% of working moms say they resent their partner for not making enough money for them to stay home with the baby/kids.

I’m sickened by the idea of an entitlement to stay home. If we are to achieve any real balance between the sexes, we need to stop this farcical argument that keeping a house is equally demanding (and beneficial to the family unit) as staying home. Not every person needs to work—income and family responsibilities can be divided in all kinds of different ways. But the idea that women resent their partner for not making enough money for them to stay home is abhorrent.

So I’m saying it: The idea that women have some birthright to not work and tend to the children and home is absurd and antiquated. And buying into the idea that women somehow deserve to not work undermines the value of those in the workplace who do.

Dear ladies: GET A JOB.
And quit complaining.

0

Marissa Mayer and the Yahoo! Culture Change

I can’t stand Marissa Mayer’s smug little face, which fueled my immediate outrage at her unexpected kibosh on working remotely at Yahoo! (read more about my disdain for her in my earlier post about her squandered opportunity to set a good example for maternity leave policies for working women)

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After a few hours of, you know, working and minding my own business, my disgust at this news somewhat subsided.  I learned that there was a bit more to the situation than the earliest reactionary headlines suggested.  In particular, Yahoo!’s policy change is designed to target employees who have been working solely from home, as opposed to working most of the time in an office environment, but with the flexibility to work from home when needed for family or personal reasons.

As much as I love to hate on Marissa, I can get behind spending the bulk of work time in an office environment when your job duties involve creativity and collaboration.  So it appears that the policy change is not so much about eliminating flexibility options for working families, as to change the work culture of the company.  I only hope that Yahoo! doesn’t eliminate the potential for occasional telecommuting when the need arises.  Because that would be a true jerk move.

Andlthough I haven’t seen nearly as much confirmation on this, I did hear whispers that she has also eliminated flex schedules.  That, my friends, I see as an unnecessary thumb-of-the-nose to working parents.  If true, elimination of flex time is inexcusable.  That deserves true scorn.

Working parents and their supporters so frequently demand, and praise, “flexibility” in the workplace.  But “flexibility” is so ill defined as to practically be meaningless. Similarly with “support” for working families.  We want the work environment to change to “support” working families, but what does that mean?

To me, a “supportive” work environment for working families means:

-The flexibility to work remotely when the need arises.

-Paid parental leave for a reasonable duration at the birth/adoption of a child.

-A workplace culture that trusts you to be a professional and accomplish your work (whether it’s at 3pm or 2am), without hovering over you and tying you to outdated notions of face time.

-Most importantly, a culture of flexibility. That means coworkers and superiors accepting that maybe you’ll be out for an afternoon here or there or sometimes you have to unexpectedly deal with illness or whatever, but not penalizing you for that.

-In an ideal world, employers would offer stopgap “Get Well” childcare.  Heck, it doesn’t even have to be paid for by the employer. I’d be happy to pay for it out of pocket. Just if the employer could have a service in place to provide emergency childcare when your kid’s got the flu but you’ve got a deposition that took four reschedulings to find a date where eight attorneys could all show up.

-A change in perspective that these flexible measures are not just for parents/kids.  Everyone can benefit from this kind of supportive work environment.  Everyone needs a little flexibility, whether it’s to care for a child, a parent, your beloved Fido, or a mental health break for yourself.  Flexibility is not a women’s issue, it’s an everybody issue, and it can benefit everybody.

What do workplace “flexibility” and “support” mean for you?