Archive for February, 2007

Moms rising

February 24, 2007

I think every mom in the blogosphere has linked to the article from the New York Times about working mothers getting politically organized. It’s worth the link, but then I’m interested in the topic of workplace equality for mothers and flexibility for families.

laugh

Who wouldn’t want more time to laugh with this cutie?

I am very lucky to have a flexible work situation. While there are drawbacks to a part-time gig (less pay, feeling underappreciated by the supervisors who cut my hours so drastically, bitterness over the loss of more prestigious positions I know I could do well), there are definite pluses. In my situation, I have full benefits. I have work that I enjoy and that I do well. I have time for my husband and son and all of the myriad daily errands a child entails. I have quality daycare close to my office. I have understanding managers who don’t balk at the occasional long lunch or afternoon snack run for bananas because CW won’t eat the kiwi I packed for him. I can make and take personal calls as long as they don’t interfere with my work. I will not be fired because I take a sick day or a personal day (all part of my benefits package) or if I have to leave a bit early for a doctor’s appointment. I can’t say my company is spotless on the issue of working moms, but I know they are better than most.

For most companies, corporate culture (profit comes before all else) is so ingrained that employers find it ethical to fire men and women for picking up children from school or daycare, caring for sick children, or tending to the elderly. Can someone please tell me where social responsibility and simple empathy fit in here? Who is to raise and care for the next generation if both parents are chained to the factory floor (or the cubicle)? Who will make sure elderly parents get the medications and ministrations they need if adult children can’t help out in emergencies? How can any parent, or adult child, do a good job when they are worried about their family’s safety or welfare? And don’t get me started on the impossibility of maintaining the community involvement necessary to a healthy democracy when both parents are forced to work long hours for low pay and expensive health insurance.

I am not someone prone to activism. For me, there always seems to be good reasons for not getting involved, once all sides are heard. (And really, with starvation and distress around the world, how can you choose just one cause?) But I am an avid voter and someone passionate about the laws and provisions my representatives and my president put in place. I’d vote in a second for someone who had a realistic plan for providing universal health care; for implementing stringent day care policies; for finding a way to make that care affordable while paying daycare teachers what they deserve; for requiring paid maternity, paternity, and family leave. Essentially I want leaders who don’t just say ‘I’m for family values’ but actually put their power where their mouths are.

I was passionate about laws that favor work/life balance before I had children. The lack of these laws was a big factor in why I waited until my 30s to have a child. I knew I would have to choose between a good salary with benefits and time with my family. I knew that I would face discrimination (according to a Cornell University study, mothers are less likely to be hired and if they are hired they are paid less than childless women). Luckily, my choices and their drawbacks have not been as drastic as I’d imagined. Other people are not so lucky. Other mothers, especially non-white or single mothers, and fathers (boy, do men get the short end of the work/life balance stick) are in untenable situations, as reported by the University of California’s WorkLife Law Center. When I read One Sick Day Away from Being Fired, it got my blood boiling for justice. Now I find that there is an organization of women, Moms Rising, just as passionate as I am about equality and flexibility for mothers and fathers, sons and daughters? Sign me up.

Memories

February 22, 2007

Gung hay fat choy, or however you spell happy Chinese new year.

Jesse, Charlie and I went to the Chinatown flower market this past weekend for Chinese new year, with the snow from last weeks’ storm still on the ground. The crunching ice, the crowds, the fact that CW’s first birthday is next month…all of that took me back to this time last year.

CW wasn’t born yet, and I had no idea what being a parent was all about. (Some might say I still don’t.) The blizzard of ’06 hit just at Chinese new year.

newspaper stands

the blizzard of ’06 courtesy of webshots

 

Jesse and I braved the slush and wind to get to the Bo Law Kung Fu new year celebration where an eight-months-pregnant me accepted a first-degree black belt. And then, around the same time, I tiptoed over ice (like an elephant through tulips) into the bowels of Chinatown to buy moxibustion sticks, reputed to be able to turn a breech baby if placed near the pinky toe. Only one of the sales ladies spoke English and the others had to call her out from the back to help me. She didn’t tell me that moxibustion sticks, made out of mugwort, stink to high heaven when lit. That must have been why CW decided not to turn head-down by himself. Who would want to put their nose closer to the stench?

And then yesterday, yet another remembrance: I saw some photos of my cousin Niki and her baby, Jonah, on Jonah’s picture page. He’s wearing a suit that Charlie used to wear, one with an alien in the pocket that the grandmas bought for CW when he didn’t have enough clothes to wear. CW wore that suit when he was about 8 pounds, and, as Jesse would say, he was little enough to ride on our thumbs. I took him to a mother’s meeting in that suit, one of my first trips out of the house alone, with a baby I was still getting to know. All the ladies thought he was adorable, especially when he put on the hat. Jonah does the alien justice.
Jonah

Jonah in the alien suit. I’m guessing not long ago, which would make him almost 4 months old.

alien

 

Charlie in the alien suit, when he was almost two months old.

With CW’s big ONE coming up soon, I’ll probably be posting more walks down, and photos of, memory lane. (At least I’ll get to share them, since it’s taken this long to get the blog up and running. Ah, parenthood.)

Look, Ma, no hands!

February 18, 2007

Hands on

Getting ready…

Hands off

Hands off!

CW managed to stand alone for at least 30 seconds. What a balancing pro.

Where we were

February 13, 2007

bear

bear 2

Wondering where we were last week? Charlie has been practicing standing on his own. Saturday, he stood for at least half a minute. Jesse and I were so excited we cheered and clapped and scared the dickens out of the little guy. He burst into tears, and we had to apologize. Now, we just whisper, “Look, look, he’s doing it!”

On Thursday, between taking part in an NYU infant study (CW and I love those, me for the academia, him for the toys in the waiting room) and swimming lessons, I practiced my mama super powers. I took Charlie to a real, live, adult NYC restaurant for lunch, just me and him. He sat in the high chair while I fed him his squash and carrots, and then he chewed spoons while I ate a sandwich and fries. We almost made it through the whole process without an incident (no crying and just a few funny looks—people in NYC don’t like babies.) At the very end, he slipped under the front bar of the high chair and when I unbuckled him he got stuck. I had to ask the lady next to us to hold the chair while I extracted him. Lunch was mostly smooth and painless. (Building on that heady sense of success, we took Charlie to see some kids’ short movies on Saturday, at the hoity-toity Walter Reade Theatre of Lincoln Centre. He loved them, and did not cry once!)

As for me, I’ve been working full-time, temporarily, while another editor is out on maternity leave. I get one work-at-home day, so CW and I don’t have to trudge to the office every day of the week, but it’s a heck of a lot different from free Tuesdays and Thursdays.

As you might remember from my previous post, my first encounter with part-time work was not positive. It was forced on me, and I don’t take forcing well. (Just ask my mother.) But after a little time, I got used to those days off. CW and I filled the hours with fun games, gallivanting around the city, and crossing chores off of our list. (Things like filling and refilling prescriptions, buying groceries and toiletries, and doing doctor’s visits.) Oh, how soon I adapted to a shorter work week!

Getting back into the full-time groove has been hectic. First, I was behind on everything, still, due to CW’s hospital stay. Second, I was writing a guest blog for one of my authors and it ate up all of my writing energy. Third, it was frickin’ cold, so CW had to wear his adorable bunting. (Doesn’t he look just like a teddy bear? He’s cute, but he hates getting in the thing because he can’t move, not even to roll over. I try not to laugh when I watch his futile efforts. That would just be mean.) Finally, we had to actually grocery shop during prime after-work hours and fill our prescriptions on the weekend. Laundry will have to wait until who knows when.

The money for this full-time gig is good, and I’m hoping it will be enough to make the down payment on a cheaper apartment (you know: first, last and security). But when May rolls around and the part-time hours are back in effect, I’ll be cutting coupons with a smile.

In the bath

February 12, 2007

in the bath

Charlie’s splishin’ and splashin’! Except for the red devil eyes, the kid is totally cute. (Thank you, Aunt Kylie for the bathtub water trick. He’s had tons of fun playing with letters and animals now that I’ve figured out how to keep him from drowning when he’s in the big people tub.)

Photos!

February 4, 2007

Jesse, as promised, adjusted our computer so I can play around with the photos. So here are a few from recent weeks:

in the box again

in the box 3

in the box 4

 

in the box
Charlie’s Christmas toys came from Georgia and he loved playing in the UPS box almost as much as did playing with his new walker.

at the zoo

Charlie posing as a bunny on his first visit to the Central Park Zoo. He was fascinated by the rabbits. I’m not sure if it was because he could stand up next to them by holding on to the fence or because we kept saying, “Look, bunnies! Just like in Pat the Bunny.” Of course, I wasn’t very good company because this was the day my wisdom tooth became infected and I was in the same sort of mood as the Abominable Snow Monster in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Charlie must have been responding to my grumpiness when he gave us his bulldog face for this picture.

 

 

in daddy's hat

Wearing Daddy’s winter hat.

 

 

 

swimming lessons

In his swimming briefs (and the mandatory swimming cap, which I still can’t believe he let me put on him). This was at our first set of swimming classes. He liked swirling and jumping in the water, but the teacher, who yelled and was a little too vigorous a stranger for him, freaked him out.

 

 

 

Mavis's sweater

My co-worker Mavis made this sweater for Charlie. He looks quite dapper in it, I think.

Separation anxiety

February 1, 2007

This month has been so medically insane (first my cold, then Charlie’s pneumonia and hospital stay, then over the weekend my wisdom tooth got infected and I had it removed on Tuesday) that I haven’t fleshed out nearly as many stories for the blog as I have jotted down. In fact, there were several little tales I was planning to tell today. I almost convinced myself to write about those instead of what happened yesterday. But I need to write about this. Even though I know that anyone who reads it will have their own ideas, maybe even not so nice ones, I must share honestly. Because that’s what I promised myself when I started this blog. (How else will I ever hear from others that maybe I’m not alone in all this parenting uncertainty?)

Yesterday morning, Treshia and Lisa (Charlie’s primary daycare teacher and his classroom’s head teacher, respectively) shared pictures of him playing on a wooden tricycle in the gym. (His face was aglow. I can’t wait until the walker and rocking horse that Santa left for him in Georgia make their way up here.) I love that the daycare teachers tell me stories about what Charlie has done in class. (I hang out at the center enough each day–for a while in the morning, an hour or so at lunch and then a while in the evening before we go home–that I get to hear all the dramatic details of Charlie’s day, as well as the drama of the other under-ones in his class.) We talked about his latest finger food exploits (he tried pasta with tomato sauce and loved it, but he’s still not putting food to fingers to mouth), his latest attempts to escape the playroom via crawling and his recent exponential growth in vocalization (he ‘bah bah bah’s on the train, in the playroom, in the playpen… you name it; a word will pop out soon, I’m sure). We talked about the good mood he’s been in this last week, now that he’s back on his schedule and getting out and about every day. And then Lisa mentioned the separation anxiety.

I know Charlie is at that stage. He’s begun to cry sometimes when I leave him at daycare, or cling to my legs for one more hug, or crawl as fast as he can to keep up with me as I head out the gate. But Lisa said Charlie now cries when Treshia leaves the room. Luckily, Treshia is a wonderful caregiver. (She even resorted to taking Charlie to lunch with her so he wouldn’t cry.) I love that Charlie cares so much for his teachers. In my mind, it means he’s getting good care. But I also couldn’t help feeling a little jealous. He doesn’t cry inconsolably when I leave the playroom. Granted, he knows that when I leave Treshia will be there to take care of him. When Treshia leaves, his two main adults are MIA. In no way do I want him to cry about anything, missing me included. It breaks my heart when he’s sad. But, I guess, if he has to cry over anyone, I’d like it to be me.

My first thought after hearing what Lisa had to say (because Jesse says I have a guilt/punishment complex) is that Charlie’s reaction is what I get for leaving him with someone else while I work. If I stayed home with him every day, I’d certainly be the only one he’d cry for–but he’d probably be crying for other reasons. I am not naturally a patient, self-sacrificing person. My biggest fear, upon learning that I was pregnant, was that I would not be able to hold back my anger and frustration when my baby inevitably did something I didn’t prefer. And while I adore spending time with CW, I also cherish my “break” at work. Those days of employment are a chance to wrap my mind around other puzzles and obligations. A chance to renew my intellectual and adult-focused energy so that when I am with him I have more compassion, more patience and less tendency to become frustrated and short-tempered. In all, my career has made me the parent I wasn’t sure I could ever be: one who is able to put Charlie first, even when I’m not with him.

So, if the price I have to pay for being a good mother is sharing him with other amazing women, then I’ll gladly pay it. After all, separation anxiety is just a phase, for both of us.