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Thursday, March 31, 2005

Getting censored

Writing is such a personal, almost private, thing. It's almost like talking to my therapist. I'm alone and I'm sharing deeply personal and intimate stuff. There have been many occasions where I have thought that I better not type that (like here, here, here, and here. What will my husband/mother/father/mother-in-law/father-in-law/editor think of me if they read that?

When they see those words and I reveal that about me, what will they think? Am I going to regret saying that out loud? Is my husband going to feel like I'm blaming him for something? Is my editor not going to hire me for another story? Will my in-laws think I'm unsavory? I need to censor my thoughts.

So far I have not succumbed to that urge. I've come close and have hesitated on certain words, phrases, topics. Hopefully those hesitations will come out soon enough. But it's scary to put yourself out there, to reveal an inner part of yourself that most people--yet alone strangers--do not know about you. It's stuff that is sometimes hard to say to friends, to admit to myself. That's probably the hardest part--being honest with myself about how I feel about some stuff.

- I hate working on other people's terms.
- I sometimes don't like being a parent.
- Sometimes I wish I wasn't a parent.
- Sometimes I wish I worked full-time, so that I wasn't a parent all the time.
- Sometimes I wish I wasn't married.
- Sometimes I wish I was 20 all over again, completely unattached.
- I probably just need to get laid more often.
- Maybe I just like having something to complain about.

Writing about finding a balance between work and career really is about finding a satisfying life. It's about finding a balance between marriage, parenthood, free time, alone time, family time, time for intimacy with my spouse. It's about being able to live with myself, my family, my conscience. And maybe writing about it, and not censoring my thoughts, forces me to be honest with myself and what I need. And that is the hardest part of all.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

What's on tap?

Having been traveling for the better part of five weeks for funerals and family obligations, I'm excited to be in my own office at my own computer. While I managed a few thoughts while connected to dial-up at my mom's place, I'm ready to read, breathe, and blog. In the spirit of getting connected and caught up, here are some posts that I've found insightful:

Pitting women against women
Why talk about giant wage discrepancies between men and women, when we can nit pick wages among different types of women? That seems to be what mainstream media is doing with some Census information that was released Monday. Pinko Feminist Hellcat did a good job summing up this skewed news item. (Thanks to for pointing me to it.)

Avoid the Mommy wars
Let's stop fighting with other women about what is the best thing to do with our kids... Work, don't work, in-home childcare, nanny. Whatever. We all just need to get along. Bitch PhD has a great post that explores what we really need to be worrying about--our social security or lack there of for at-home moms.

Women missing from the commentary pages
There was an interesting discussion on women's roles in America and how the ebbs and flows of the feminist movement shapes the women of this country. KQED's Michael Krasny talked with Gail Collins today about her new book America's Women: Four Hundred Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates and Heroines. You can listen to the discussion here.

Be as self-absorbed as you want!
Meagan Francis writes for the Langston State Journal about mommy blogs and the heat they've been taking in the mainstream press recently. And I like the way she summed it up: "I reserve the right to be as self-absorbed as I want to be after-hours. My kids get 90 percent of my attention, and the moments I manage to claim here and there as my own -- usually squeezed in after bedtime -- are mine, mine, MINE. Am I a narcissist? Sure, when I've got the time. Who isn't?" (Thanks to Ann Douglas over at The Mother of All Blogs for pointing me to that column.)

More on the Mommy Wars
As if there isn't enough stress in regular everyday life, we have television helping us see the "real" world. Mirium over at Playground Revolution had an interesting post about how shows like Wife Swap are making things more difficult for women. "There was no mommy war in real life, yet that didn't stop the show's producers from creating it. Thanks guys. All us moms and dads in America love you for that one."

Where are the women?
Larry Summers might say that there aren't many women in the advanced sciences of academia because of some sort of hardwiring impairment, but Kathy at Creating Passionate Users has some thoughts about why women are not prevalent at technology conferences. She says it's not the stereotypical reasons that most people think, ie: tech conferences are somehow female-unfriendly. (Thanks to at for pointing me to this read.)

Another mothering myth
This was a couple of weeks ago (admittedly I'm very behind because of all the travel), but it's a good read, and so worth reading. Instead of pointing fingers at women and mothers everywhere, let's take comfort in each other and lean on each other. We're all in this together. Andi over at Mother Shock had some uplifting comments about the Warner book, in response to a Slate article.

Inhale, exhale. I almost feel caught up. Now if I could only unpack my suitcase, sort the laundry, and go grocery shopping.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

A struggle for past, present, and future generations

With every choice we make--whether it's to be at home or work part time or work full time--we give something up. And no matter what we choose, there will always be questions about those choices we did not make. And we'll wonder how our lives/career/children/families/marriages would be different if we had made different choices. We'll never know.

Many friends have shared this blog with their moms and I usually hear back though those friends that their moms can't believe our generation of women is still struggling with the same issues they dealt with when they were raising their families. (Now if only these experienced moms would be brave enough to post their comments here so that everyone could read them).

My mother-in-law sends her thoughts via email occasionally, and I hope she doesn't mind that I'm posting one of her recent comments here:

I just read your recent blog article and it is great. I realize how much harder it is on women today to be at home then in the 70's when I was. Although with the new women's lib we were pitied and ostracized. Anyhoo, I just want to say that 25-30 years later (can it really be that long?) I do not regret being home especially as I work with these kids whose parents are gone all the time, or they are so tired after a 10 hour or more day and the stresses to even notice if their little one says "BUS". I also know how hard it is to want to contribute and feel accomplished and I felt that way often with my was not enough to just sing with the toddler or play Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star on the piano, although today those are precious memories. So, all I am saying is I am proud of you and happy you are finding an outlet for that need to journalize and at the same time helping other women who have no voice nor support. The encouragement you are obviously giving as a costruggler is priceless.

They say that the only thing that is permanent is change. I think that's probably true for nearly everything except the guilt, uncertainty, and lack of choices that go hand and hand with parenting. That seems to have been going on for decades, generations even.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Traditional roles undermine fathers too

Frustration is a given for at-home parents. There's frustation because there isn't enough time in the day. There's frustation because we're exhausted and often don’t have any help. We're frustrated because our partners work too much. We're frustrated because we wish we could have more qualilty time together.

But often, women are frustrated because we were thurst into the role of Chief Operating Officer of the house, when we signed up to be a Parent, first and foremots. But what often happens, which is a HUGE source of frustration, is that the role of parent becomes second to the role of COO. As a result there is resentment, guilt, and an overall unsettling feeling that things aren't the way they were supposed to be. Because, after all, we were too smart to get stuck in the rut of traditional domesticity.

But it happened anyway.

What's interesting—and I'm not surprised; it's just not my experience because I'm a woman—is that dads feel unsettled and disappointed with their traditional role as primary breadwinner. Chip commented that his experience was oppressive, but that his feelings could have been exacerbated by the fact that he had been an at-home parent for a while.

I agree that the traditional division, mom at home full-time and dad at work, tends to push both toward tradition roles in an oppressive way -- both moms and dads -- even if we that's exactly what we don't want…I felt shut out in a way, pushed toward a more traditional male role that I did not want, though it was not conscious or intentional on her part.

He wrote an extentsive post about how it was difficult when he was working and his wife was at home with the kids. Because he had previoulsy been the primary caretaker, he felt shut out of the relationship with his kids. Not because he didn't make the effort to be an integral part of their lives, but kids tend to gravitate towards the person who is with them most of the time.

But when I was at home full-time, the balance seemed better. I never felt trapped or "desperate" when I was the one at home with our daughter, running the household, while my wife brought in the income. I actually liked the balance that that role reversal brought. Ideally we'd both work part-time and full-time parent part-time, but that's hard to arrange. Interesting how gender roles and expectations can undermine the best of intentions and plans...

So it seems that finding a balance between family live and family chores is just as important as finding a balance between family and work.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

There is no free zone

Having dinner at my dad's house seems like a neutral, stress-free place to enjoy a meal. But I just wasn't able to escape the Judith Warner interview with Terry Gross on NPR's Fresh Air today. I’m 2,000 miles away from my regular life, and I'm still in the middle of an ongoing internal battle that is prevalent no matter where I am.

I pretend that I'm on vacation. I'm visiting family and relishing my fantasy that a simpler life exists here swaddled in the comfort of family and familiarity. But even though there are family members around to help with Riley and that there is something reassuring about meandering through the small town I grew up in, I am still Riley's primary caretaker. And I know that this temporary breeze isn't really my life. So as my dad and I debated the finer points about whether or not ordering a meat-free pizza is really vegetarian*, Judith Warner was in the background and the foreground.

So let's break it down. What do I want? Choice: more choices when it comes to work, more affordable and readily available childcare providers. Freedom: freedom to go out with friends, freedom to take a break from parenting, freedom from feelings of guilt that go along with wanting a break. Equality: equality in my marriage, equality in the division of household tasks. Romance: even though I'm a parent, I'm still a sexual being. More family time: enough said.

One of the things that Warner talked about with Terry Gross was the dissatisfaction women feel that comes from not just being a mother, but the burden that often gets heaved onto that role. Because parenting is perceived to be a role that is cushioned with lots of extra time in the day for additional errands and tasks, more and more non-parenting items are added to the to-do lists of the at-home parent.

That is a tough one to handle. Before Baby in Chief came along--when both of us were working--we went to Safeway together, we went to Costco together, we went to the Laundromat together. Our weekends were filled with tasks that we did as a couple. They were chores, but we were together and we made the most of it. After I became an at-home parent, I took on the tasks that we used to do together. I felt that if I could get those things out of the way, we would have more time together as a family. So instead of parenting, I'm running errands.

Part of me knows that's the reality of running a household. Part of me feels totally bitchy saying that. Part of me says fuck it because I signed up to be a parent, not an errand-runner, and my kid doesn’t get much out of getting lugged in and out of the car seat all day. Mostly what happens, and it's one of the things that Warner writes about in her book Perfect Madness, is that women feel that they are no longer part of a 50/50 relationship. We aren't contributing financially, we are in charge of running the household, and basically we have become the June Cleavers of 2005.

It's sickening because it's everything we never wanted. It's everything we fought against and it happened anyway. We are in stereotypical roles and marriages. And it feels like the longer this goes on the more we become our mothers or grandmothers. The more we are being put in our place. The gender division between husband and wife becomes more prominent, more traditional. And that is so hard for us to swallow because it's not what so many of us educated, strong-willed and strong-minded, feminist women anticipated and worked towards.

*Dad says veggie pizzas are probably not really vegetarian because the same cutter is used on all pizzas. That may be true, but I need to let it go. As a vegetarian, I have to be able to function in society; I can’t control everything.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Paycheck and pregnant

As if looking for a job isn't hard enough on its own, searching while you're pregnant adds a whole extra layer of frustration and anxiety.

While it is illegal for a potential employer to ask about your current fertility status or future reproductive plans, it inevitably creeps into the interview process. Knowing what to say or not say and when to say it, is a debated issue. And the New York Times published some guidelines for the pregnant job-seeker (thanks to for pointing me to it).

I've written about this issue a bit in the past with three points of view: PR Friend worries that her growing belly will hurt business, a Hiring Manager's perspective, and Attorney Friend's dilemma.

With or without the anti-discrimination laws, the pregnancy-job search dilemma will continue, as women feel guilty about their rights. The NY Times article offers tips on how to break the news and when, as well as things to keep in mind, such as how your healthcare benefits might be affected if your new employer considers pregnancy as a pre-existing condition.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Getting to be carefree and "single"

Ah, to regress. It's wonderful and highly underrated. And I'm not talking about my son. I'm staying with my mom in her apartment on the east coast and I am enjoying every minute of it.

Yes, Father in Chief is all alone with the house and the dogs and the grown up responsibilities of running a household, and I am here in my mom's house getting to go out with my friends and someone else is doing laundry and buying groceries. Yes, the boy is with me, but willing watchers abound.

I miss my bed, FIC, and it is darn cold here, but I am not aching for my responsibilities as the primary childcare taker of my son, dealing with the dogs and their muddy paws, etc., etc. I guess I'm aching for that simpler time when I was 14 years old and I was my only responsibility. There was homework and curfew, but other than that, I worried about which friends I was spending time with, who I had a crush on, and if my lips would ever be de-virginized.

I've been home many times, but I don't remember ever seeing so many people from my impressionable formative years. Or maybe just so much time has passed—I moved away from the Western New York area 14 years ago—that there are no longer those cliques that let you talk to some people and not others. If I recognize someone, I go up to them and say hello. Doesn't matter if we were friends or not way back when. But since I've been here, I've seen so many people from my past who left positive and memorable imprints on my life: my first kiss, a HUGE crush, best friends.

Reality will return soon enough. In the meantime, I'm going out every chance I get while the boy is being cared for by willing family members. One foot is firmly planted in my parenting reality, and the other is staying out late with friends while getting a glimpse of my old life.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Parenting isn't a tell-me-more kind of job

I like the idea of work, but when it comes to actually working? Not so much.

But I like the satisfaction of seeing my name in print. I like the prestige of telling people I'm a writer. Even back when I was a scribe at a technology news site, I'd tell people that I was a journalist, and they'd think the NBC Nightly News. And telling people I'm a writer has been especially enjoyable these past couple of days when I've been to the funeral equivalent to a high-school reunion. Sure I mention that I'm a parent, but that seems to come after, "I'm a writer for a parenting magazine." Ooohs and aaah, follow. I never disclose that I have only written one article for this magazine and that it hasn't even been published yet. It's an ego-thing.

Even though I'm a parent 96 percent of the time and a writer four percent of the time, I start with the writer part. Telling? It gets back to that whole identity thing. We are what we eat. We are what we do for a living. And what we do for a living, as a parent, isn't readily recognized as a glamorous, tell-me-more kind of job.

I've been thinking about jobs and work recently, especially since my magazine piece is in the final editing phase. That means it is mostly off my plate with just a few strings to tighten here and there. I actually can't wait to be done with it. It hasn't been a super time-intensive thing over the past month, but it has been a part of my daily routine, even if it's just talking with people about it or gathering telephone numbers of people to contact. It has been work. My days haven't been totally my own.

My editor has even started asking me about my next project, which is great news. I had pitched a bunch of story ideas to this publication way back when, and she is waiting for me to do some more reporting to see if another idea is worth pursuing. I know it is. I just need to do more work. Maybe it's because I'm traveling again on the east coast (funerals always come in threes, right?). I haven't been in my space working on my own terms, and that makes getting work done an extra effort on my part.

A former editor once told me: if you like "having written," then that's that best you can hope for. His point was that no writer (and I'm sure this goes for many professions) finds the whole process enjoyable. It's called work, after all. But if at the end of it all, you feel good about what you've accomplished, then it's all worth it.

For me, getting to share my glamorous life with others just might keep pushing me to share my time with my work.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Going solo

This past Saturday I found out that two of my women friends have become single. One friend split with her partner. The other friend lost her partner to a tragedy.

Mostly, as I think about these women, I think about their babies. Both have babies that are less than one year old. One is an at-home mom. The other works off hours so that she can be with her baby a good chunk of the day. And now both of these women are going to be looking for ways to keep afloat, emotionally and financially.

I'm also reminded that being here in the first place--writing this blog about parenting and work--is a luxury. I am fortunate to be in a stable relationship that grants me the flexibility to be at home with our son. I am fortunate to pursue writing that interests me; I'm not be driven by what stories pay the most per word or by how many I can pump out in the least amount of time. Being here in the first place says a lot.

Many women don't get to sit back and wonder how to make the most of their free time. Many women don't get to ponder how to mold their careers to fit into their parenting schedules. Many don't struggle with their professional identities being chipped away because they never gave up their work-identity in the first place.

People raise kids and work all the time. People raise kids without partners all the time. It happens and I doubt it's easy. Sacrifices are down every road, every path, and in every decision.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Is parenting a grown-up task?

Why doesn't parenting seem like a grown-up task to me? Could there be anything more grown-up than parenting? This is a follow up to my post Friday when I was (almost) basking in the satisfaction of filing my magazine piece.

At the end of the post I commented that even though I know I'll have a bit of editing clean-up to do on my story, "it sure feels good to have accomplished a grown-up task." Maybe completing a story feels more grown up because it's "real" work that involves people that I'm not related to or personally connected with. Maybe it feels "real" because there will be a small financial token of their appreciation when it's published in May. Maybe it feels real because it's a glimpse of my former, non-parenting grown-up self.

So why doesn't parenting feel grown up to me? Maybe it's because it involves a lot of things that I did when I was living with my parents. Most of the tasks associated with parenting really don't require any knowledge that I didn't have when I was 16 years old. I did lots of laundry then, and I do lots now. I cooked then, and I cook now. I washed dishes then (It was my chore on the even days of the month and my brother's chore on the odd days), and I wash dishes now. Maybe it's because it feels like babysitting? Hmm...I watched little kids when I was a teenager, and now I'm watching my own son.

I'm sure I'm a little more organized and a little more patient than I was when I was 16. And I'm sure I'm much more satisfied with my son's accomplishments than I was with the kids I watched when I was in high school. But really, I'm just older and the person I'm watching is related to me. Those seem to be the biggest differences. Another difference: I get excited when school buses and fire engines go by. And if Riley isn't in the car hollering "BUS," then I do it in his honor.

So maybe the routine of working feels grown up (If my dad does it, and he's a grown up, then going to work makes me a grown up too). The alarm clock woke me up each morning, I headed to the gym, showered, got on the bus with all the other working slobs, arrived at the office and started plugging away. Every other week, I'd get my paycheck. But what about my mom? She raised us and surely she was a grown up too. My therapist will have to help me sort that one out.

Anyway, I'm not sure I was happier when I was on the routine train. Probably then I couldn't wait to not be working. I'm sure I dreamed of being a parent and getting to take care of my baby. Either way, I do have fond memories. Even if I hated my job (and we all do at times), it was MY job and I earned it. I earned my sources. I earned my business trips to New York City, Napa, and Fernley, Nevada. I earned my salary. I earned my raises. I earned my stock options (even if they never amounted to much). I earned my reputation. It was all mine and I'm proud of it.

So maybe that's it. Because there was really no prerequisite or interview or story pitch associated with my current job as parent, it doesn't feel like a grown up job. But it's a hugely important job that I take very seriously. Maybe it there were annual reviews, and quarterly reports, etc., it would feel like a grown-up task. But I guess in a way there are; I just look at my kid know he's thriving.

Friday, March 11, 2005

(Almost) pure satisfaction

I don't think I mentioned that I met my deadline for the magazine piece, despite technical difficulties while traveling and an extended east-coast stay.

It feels pretty good, but there is this little nagging feeling in the back of my head that my editor is going to read the piece, be totally disappointed, and decide that they can't run it. I know that is just my own self-conscious anxiety, but I'm a little rusty. I have not published a story that had nothing to do with technology or the stock market since I wrote about a college fling who ended up as a cast member in the first season of Survivor way back in September 2000.

I'm sure there will be edits, but it sure feels good to have accomplished a grown-up task.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Bell-shaped stress

Last week Geeky Mom had a post called, "Self-indulgent whining, or figuring out the meaning of life." I personally think that she was being a bit hard on herself in that title because really she's struggling with managing work stresses and how to be a good, functioning parent.

I don't really think there was much whining, more like venting. But mostly, as I read that post, I was reminded of a theory that I have that I look to every now and again as a comfort. I probably need to remind myself of this theory a little more often as I struggle with being the best parent to my son, the best wife to my husband, the best cook, the best (or at least a productive) writer. I call my theory the "bell-shaped curve of anxiety and stress."

Basically the theory is: all of the anxiety and stress in our lives falls somewhere on a bell-shaped curve. No matter how great and on track life is, there will always be something out there on the far end of that curve pushing our buttons and making us crazy. Most everything else will fall into the fat middle section of the curve, and then there will be a couple of things that really don't give us much grief at the other end.

For Geeky, she was writing about work/frazzled-mom issues, which I can relate to. That would be the thing stressing her on the far end of the curve. Let's say that then something worse than work/frazzled-mom issues come up. Then work/frazzled things get pushed down a notch and fall into the bubble part of the curve. They basically have become less significant (at least temporarily more manageable) because New Issue has come along. Or say she magically resolved the work/frazzled-mom stuff, same thing. It would move away from end of curve and something else would be thrust into that far end of the curve making her just as crazy.

I picture it as a fluid curve. Things move in and out of certain parts based on what's going on now in our lives. I'm pretty much convinced that no matter what's going on, we essentially prioritize our anxiety into manageable (or not so manageable) chunks of stress. We deal with what we can and then move on to the next thing. Even when things are pretty good, there will always be something out there on the fringe driving us crazy. Can anyone say overanalyze?

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Getting flexible

Telecommuting is an obvious way for companies to make themselves more family-friendly. And some are learning that it is also a way to attract top talent from around the country.

No matter where companies are based, they are often limited to the local talent pool. That is, unless they are able to convince prospective employees to uproot themselves and relocate to be near the office. Companies know that can be a hard sell, especially when they are trying to hire experienced individuals. Often, the most qualified people are a bit older, which often means that they will have to move the whole family. That can be a hard decision for families with kids or when a spouse or partner has a job they like.

Fortunately, some companies are realizing that telecommuting can be a way to attract top talent without forcing them to relocate. Over the weekend, the Boston Globe published an article called, "Aided by laptops, Internet, telework gains in popularity." If more companies can see the benefits, this could be great news for parents who don't want to leave the workforce entirely.

Working from home can also give the gift of time to parents. That allows them to be with their kids, instead of commuting to and from work. It also allows parents to be a more integrated part of their kids lives. "I take the kids to school in the morning and I see them at lunch," said (Lee) Maxey (Pathlore Software's chief learning officer). And when a parent is home, it also can make unexpected child care issues, like snow days or sick days, easier to handle.

The downside is that there is a lot of travel likely to be connected to the telecommuting deal. "Teleworking executives are not tied to their homes," according to the Globe article. " frequently, logging thousands of air miles per year. From Tuesday through Thursday, for example, Maxey visits clients around the country."

It's not perfect, but it's good to see companies being more flexible.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Severe withdrawal

Picture this without experiencing psychosomatic affects. I dare you.

You go out of town. You're not on vacation and have work to do. You find yourself at a hotel/motel/condo without Internet access. Yes, there is a phone, and you have your laptop, but you cannot find a local dial-up number. The telephone does not allow you to make long-distance calls. There are no AOL discs or 800 numbers of any kind. You have a password to connect to your spouse's dial-up iPass account. However, spouse's employer recently changed dial-up providers without letting anyone know.

Are you sweating yet? Do you feel the pangs of Withdrawlia working its way through your system?

The most common side effects with Withdrawlia include:
  • excessive fidgeting
  • the shakes
  • paranoia
It's not common, but Withdrawlia can cause a serious condition that stimulates an uncontrollable desire to blog. If the desire that lasts longer than 48 hours, seek immediate medical attention. Some people experience vision changes while experiencing Withdrawlia. Most common are either a blue tinge to objects or trouble telling the difference between blue and green. If any of these side effects become bothersome, or any other unexpected effects occur, be sure to contact a doctor. Other less common side affects include nausea, dry mouth, and vomiting.

To end the discomfort associated with Withdrawlia, find Internet access and blog immediately. But beware, regaining Internet after this kind of dry spell will be overwhelming. There are 982 unread posts in my "favorites" feed. I'm not even sure where to begin.

Monday, March 07, 2005

In good company

I've mentioned this before, and I'll mention it again: I will never cease to be amazed at how people find my blog. And not only are people finding it, they are writing about it. This blog was mentioned in the Ottawa Citizen, along with 27 other mommy bloggers. The reporter never let any of the moms know that they were being mentioned in an article, so I'd like to thank Dani at Postcards from the Mothership for letting me know.

The article called, "New Kids on the Blog," was published on March 5, and you must be a subscriber to read it at their Web site. But thanks to Dani, she published the article in its entirety on her site. It's a pretty cool idea. Twenty eight days of blogging; a snippet from a different blog every day for the whole month of February.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Working on someone else’s terms

Our trip to the east coat has been extended due to a family emergency, and my deadline for my magazine piece is Monday.

Figuring out time to interview people (especially since there’s a three-hour time difference between me and the people I’m interviewing) and write coherent thoughts when I’m surrounded by kids and exhausted has been a challenge. Thankfully the main story is nearly complete, but I haven’t started writing the sidebar. I have lots of notes, but no real cohesion or outline for what I’m going to write. I know it will come together somehow.

Writing on someone else’s terms has its pros and cons. I’m counting on the magic of deadline pressure.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Hanging onto myself

I've been thinking more and more about my previous post. And the more I think about it, the more I have been thinking about hanging onto my former self through writing. And those thoughts led me to a breakfast I had a couple of weeks ago with a guy friend and former co-worker from Bay Area Backroads. He moved to Southern California before Riley was born, so I hardly see him anymore. He was passing through town and I met him at a local pancake house with my son. It was an atypical morning where I had actually showered and styled my hair. I hadn't seen him in nearly a year, and he was visably and pleasantly surprised that I still looked like the old, pre-baby me.

Why is it assumed that a woman becomes a totally different person--physically, intellectually, emotionally--just because she pushed a baby out of her vagina? Give up work, forget about a career; transform into an asexual person in extra large children's clothing? (I think Judith Warner said something about the clothing bit in her controversial Newsweek piece.)

For nearly two years, my full-time job has been parenting, and my skillset has expanded indeed, but I'm still Suzanne. It was a huge boost to feel attractive. Former Co-worker Friend then commented about other women he knew who had babies and how they had let themselves go a bit with the mom haircut, frumpy clothes, complete with the Saturday Night Live-spoofed mom jeans: "She'll love the eight-inch zipper!"

Feeling pleased with myself, I declared: "I'm going to hang onto whatever I've got as long as I've got it." That goes for my physical appearance as well as my intellectual life.