Monday, May 30, 2011
Thursday, May 26, 2011
For those of you who don't follow Mary Worth, here's the backstory: the younger man is Dr. Drew Cory, son of the older man (who is Dr. Jeff Cory, Mary's beau). Dr. Cory the younger hooked up with a nurse who is not only bad at her job but who has a serious issue with that river in Egypt and just doesn't get that Drew broke up with her.
Dr. Cory the elder has just flunked Listening 101.
Sunday, May 22, 2011
The most consistent search string, though, brings people to this post from 2007. Since then people have found us by looking for "My husband won't let me....
...have any money/spend any money/look at the checkbook/know how much he makes
...get a paying job
...stay home with the kids
...go back to school
...talk to my family
...go out with my friends
...turn on the air conditioning
...wear nail polish
...go to church
...get a cellphone
...say no to sex
...have another baby
...have a Facebook account"
Each one of those tugs on my heart. I hope they all find their voice, and a safe place.
In my own house, the ‘sorry, is our struggle’ problems that I outlined in that post have been corrected to some degree by Bill working a day a week from home while I am at work in the city. Having one day a week where we have switched responsibilities entirely for pick-ups and drop-offs, as well as primary care of the toddler has really improved things, though, we still have some terrible days. I can see from this experience that you kinda need to be totally removed from the equation for real change to happen – for me to get better at switching off and him to get better at switching on. Or maybe that’s just us? But it certainly broke through some ‘but, it can’t be changed’ thinking.I don't think that's just you. Several other women said the same thing - that having him take full responsibility was the only thing that changed the dynamic in their households. Some people need to fly without a net.
I think it is also probably easier for women doing paid work to tackle this whole issue. I honestly don’t know where or how I would draw lines about domestic work if I were a SAHM. And I should clarify, I believe I would be right to draw lines, but I am not sure how I would negotiate them. I am very interested to hear how SAHMs have done so.It's certainly true that my brief, unintended time at home made this all much more difficult. I remember telling my therapist I felt like a cliché - my husband just doesn't understand what I do all day. I remember arguing with Sam, who felt it was inappropriate for me to expect him to be on baby duty as soon as he walked in, every night. We'd had challenges before that (Eve was 8 months old when I left my job; I started working again 10 months later) but everything was exponentially worse because I didn't have anything else I was "supposed" to be doing.
MPJ, who is a SAHM, pointed out in her comment that even when her work is seen and valued within her household, by her husband and kids, it is not valued by the outside world. She can't get disability insurance, but would be able to if she did the exact same work for someone else's kids. We are simultaneously told that mothering is the most important job we'll ever have, and that's it's not a "job" at all, because of course we do it out of love for our children, so if we don't do it all we fail at womanhood. I have less mama-guilt than most women I know but I still have my moments.
I think you need a few key ingredients before women fight against inequality in their relationships with their partners – you need to know it is unjust, and that information won’t be readily available to you so it has to be sought out; it helps to know that other women are fighting against it also; you benefit greatly from knowing how other women have fought against it and what arrangements they’ve replaced traditional roles with in their relationships; you need energy, because you will have to fight it continually; you will need some head-space in order to think through things, particularly where you meet with strong resistance to change; you need some safety – it is no good if the children are literally held to ransom against you and it is no good if you will lose your job on account of a housework-strike.Safety. Yes. It is a privilege, in every sense of the word, to trust that even if we choose not to "do it all", our children will have food and clothing and shelter and even many luxuries. And you hit so many other truths here: that it is a continual battle, and that it helps to see how other women have thrived, and that we need space and time.
Something I really don’t like about the individualism evident in so many of the comments on the Motherlode site is the idea that women bring this upon themselves – No, no, no, you know many institutional barriers keep women in these roles, it is such a cop-out to simply point fingers at women and say, well, you *chose* this. Another thing I hate, that came up in those comments? You hear this woman describing the fight she is taking on in trying to address the inequality in her relationship with her partner and then some dick comes along and says either – if you’re fighting like that then there must be some serious problems in your relationship that you’re not telling us about OR thank goodness we don’t fight like that, my partner respects me and we have such a great relationship. First, bully for you, and second, maybe this woman is just more honest than you or even braver or has higher standards of equality than you.YES. This. Both of these. I'm not fond of the "choice" rhetoric around SAHMs, either, because it makes all the work-related bullshit invisible. It's not that we're trapped in jobs that suck us dry and demand so much that it's intolerable for both adults to participate in that toxic culture - oh, no, that's not it, it's just that women CHOOSE to stay home. Which is not to say that it's not a choice, but that it's not a choice made in a vacuum. None of our choices are made in a vacuum. I don't want to undermine or dismiss agency. I know women do choose to stay home and many do so happily, but they are also set up to be the lower wage-earner so it makes "sense" for them to stay home. And then, of course, if they're not perfectly happy with every tiny little aspect of SAHM-hood (or doing it all while working for pay), well, that's their own fault because it was a choice. Bullshit.
Yes, as well, to your second point. Sometimes there are serious problems in the relationship, and sometimes (probably often) people struggle to build the kind of communication skills that help us manage conflict productively, and some people are partnered with assholes, but it is also true that sometimes the non-arguers are avoiding the whole subject.
Anyway, I think my basic conclusion is that this stuff just has to be talked about and talked about – people want to talk about it.Clearly you and I do, anyway (and yes, I'd far prefer to have this conversation in person on an Australian holiday!).
Friday, May 20, 2011
Even allowing for its probable date of purchase (they moved into this house in 1952 after they'd been married five years), and the other cutesy sayings tacked up all around, I can't imagine facing that over my kitchen door every day of my life.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Apparently the government of Florida does not believe that free speech applies to doctors. Doctors in Florida now face arrest if they ask about the presence of guns or ammunition in the home. After negotiation with medical lobbyists, the bill "allows a good-faith exception for concerns about the safety of the patient or of others". That implies, of course, that there are times when a physician would ask a question for some other reason than concern about safety of the patient and others.
So this is Republican logic: They have to prevent us sneaky clinicians from using some of the 10-15 minutes we have with each patient to promote our own political agenda. We're not professionals who think for ourselves; we're just robots programmed by the American Academy of Pediatrics to advance their radical socialist agenda. But drug reps are FINE. They don't influence us AT ALL. Because we're professionals who can think for ourselves, and, unlike the AAP, Merck and its ilk are entirely altruistic organizations with only the best interests of the country at heart.
My head hurts.
And one more thing: You know those Netizens who get all bent out of shape when a blogger deletes their comments because of FREE SPEECH!!!eleventyone!!!? I know I'm climbing the ladder of inference, but I just bet they think this law is AOK.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
That must be why I found myself in the midst of utter chaos this afternoon - while I was on a conference call with Medicare appeals judge - trying to figure out if it was OK for Eve to walk home with a friend. After a ridiculous number of phone calls and texts and a recreation of the crime scene, it became clear that Sam had a conversation with Friend's mother last night, agreed to this plan - and promptly forgot about it. The plan was dependent on Friend's successful completion of a task and thus was not finalized until 3:00 this afternoon (just as the conference call began) and I, of course, knew nothing about it until Eve called to tell me she was going. So I said "no", and hung up without listening to Eve's explanation; Eve went to child care and then left (because Friend's mom told her to); the child care manager called me, frantic, and I didn't answer (conference call!) and we were off and running.
And yes, it's true that if I'd continued to plan Eve's entire social life, as I did until about a year ago, this wouldn't have happened. Some people would take this episode as a sign that the parents need to exert more control. I think the opposite is true for us (and I know this wouldn't be true for everyone) - if Eve had blanket permission to go to Friend's house as long as she told us she was going, she would have texted me with that info, I would have smiled and turned off my phone, and life would have gone on.
I'm still not going to do it all because I can't do it all, and I still believe that this is what's in Eve's best interests.
by Sheila Packa
I learned to ride
the two wheel bicycle
with my father.
He oiled the chain
clothes-pinned playing cards
to the spokes, put on the basket
to carry my lunch.
By his side, I learned balance
and took on speed
centered behind the wide
handlebars, my hands
on the white grips
my feet pedaling.
One moment he was
holding me up
and the next moment
although I didn't know it
he had let go.
When I wobbled, suddenly
afraid, he yelled keep going—
Beneath the trees in the driveway
the distance increasing between us
I eventually rode until he was out of sight.
I counted on him.
That he could hold me was a given
that he could release me was a gift.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Monday, May 16, 2011
This was Dance Recital Weekend. Eve decided to stop ballet and jazz this year and stuck with her beloved hip-hop class. Sam and I were a bit startled in December when she told us the thumping we were hearing was "me jumping over a chair". Why? Because that was her "trick" in the dance - standing on a chair and leaping over the back of the chair on to the floor. She did it, too, along with a whole bunch of other moves, looking confident and gorgeous and oh-so-cool. We're not the only ones who thought it was pretty cool - her class won the pizza party in the last week, when all the teachers watch each routine and score them on technique and professionalism. After Saturday's show Sam went to thank the teacher, who is also the director of the program, and she said "Eve is really good. I mean really good. She needs to take more classes, and I want her in the Performance Company next year".
But that wasn't the best part.
This morning we had an end-of-year brunch at synagogue, and the religious school students made cards to thank the congregants who helped them with their project (an oral history of the congregation). My daughter - the one who has refused to talk to adults she knows, the one who would not take a speaking part in any school play or presentation, the one who never wants to read when it's her turn at services - marched up to the microphone and spoke for the school. She also took the cards to individual adults and thanked them in person.
We didn't know she was going to do that. When she came to the front of the room, I started to cry, and only Sam knew why. It was a vision of her future - gorgeous, calm, self-assured, poised, articulate and smart - and able to overcome her fears. I can't wait to see what she does next.
Sunday, May 15, 2011
Sunday, May 8, 2011
I struggle when I see posts like this, because my immediate answer is similar to PattyCake's: just don't do it. Just - don't. Angie responds:
If only it were that simple. When you are acting in the best interests of your child, there are many times when ‘not doing it all’ is not an option that you will consider.I don't want to write another chapter in the Mommy Wars. I really don't. I get that in some partnerships it's like this and it sucks, and I respect whatever people need to do to get them through the day - but I keep wondering why. I'm sure there are some people who are truly incompetent and unsafe and who can't be trusted to take a child to school, but I don't think Angie is talking about an abusive parent - so why? What's the risk when you hand your child over to your partner or spouse? What could go wrong?
That's a serious question. I would really like to understand.
Sam and I don't always agree about parenting. I wish he'd ease up about some things, and he wishes I'd pay more attention (and yes, I recognize this is yet another area in which we upend the gender norms). The house is not as clean or tidy as I would like it to be, and he doesn't have as much freedom to spread out as he'd prefer. But none of that puts Eve in danger. Her best interests are served when she has her parents create a home in which everyone's work is valued, and everyone's voice is heard - and her best interests are also served when she does some of the work herself, now that she's old enough.
It's not easy to get there. I guess we got here because I was more willing to force the issue and risk conflict with Sam than I was willing to allow the household work to be invisible and unappreciated (and I had a head start because my mother-in-law felt the same way and raised her sons with a full set of housework skills). Is that it? Is it just overwhelmingly difficult to keep talking about it? If that's the case then OK, I can understand throwing up your hands - but don't say you're doing it for your kids.
There are comments on Lisa's post about moms who "quit" and are now resented by their grown children, who were left to fend for themselves without the wherewithal to do so, but also comments from adults who benefited when mom abdicated total responsibility. It's so hard to figure out the balance, and it's not just mom's job to make it work. If Dad is around, it's also his job. Doing it all is letting him off the hook. I expect more.
L: Happy Mother's Day.
J: Same to you!
L: Thanks. I loved that last picture you posted.
J: Oh, I'm glad. I have some more I'll send to you later today.
L: You're doing a great job with Eve.
J: Thank you. That means a lot to me. She's a great kid, and I want her to be happy.
L: I can see how happy she is when I look at the pics. She has two pretty moms: you and me.
J: :-) Thanks. She sure does.
L: I hope you don't mind that I still call Eve my daughter.
J: She is your daughter. She calls you her mom. I don't mind at all. She's our daughter, together.
Eve will help solder.
I do love that man.