Wednesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

First, let’s wish our tjb22 a very happy birthday!

In other news: former First Lady Barbara Bush wrote a compelling column for the Houston Chronicle calling on parents to do their part to help their children’s schools and for those who drive by schools every day to go inside and help. Texas is facing some harsh budget cuts at a time when teacher salaries, SAT scores and high school graduation rates are all low, the former first lady said.

Glad to see it isn’t only women who suffer from “maternity leave envy.” Here is a dad’s letter to Carolyn Hax:

Silver Spring, MD. : Not to get too progressive on you, but I’m a new dad and I’m having maternity leave envy. I did not expect this at all, but I am jealous that my wife gets to spend this time at home with our gorgeous 6-week-old daughter. Looking back I kind of resent that she scheduled this leave without even considering an alternative arrangement–such as half her, half me. Am I just being a dope?

Carolyn Hax: If you nurture this into full-blown resentment, then, yes, you’re being a dope–especially since it doesn’t sound as if you considered an alternate arrangement, either. At least not until now, after the fact.

You are not being a dope if you are just nuts about your new kid, want to be more involved, and use this smitten energy to figure out some way to do that. Talk to your wife, look at your family-leave policies at work, check your account balances and see what you can do.

Two of the best things parents can do for their kids is to want to be with their kids, and to want to be together. Don’t make a lunge for one at the expense of the other.

Did you or your spouse suffer from maternity leave envy?


I love this quote by political commentator Mark Shields that landed on the PBS News Hour, Time magazine, and even my e-mail box as a forward:

We saw a white, Catholic, Republican federal judge murdered on his way to greet a Democratic (Jewish Congresswoman) woman. Her life was saved initially by a 20-year-old Mexican-American college student, and eventually by a Korean-American combat surgeon. And then it was all eulogized and explained by our African-American president…That’s a remarkable statement about the country.

Wow.

Anyone who thinks that President Obama is a socialist should read this Huffington Post story, which is actually an AP story. According to AP, the percentage of the nation’s economy that is taxes is at its lowest levels since 1950. For the third straight year, families and businesses in the U.S. will pay less in federal taxes than they did under former President George W. Bush. AP also does a good job of breaking down all the ways families are saving in federal taxes. Of course, they are paying for it in local tax increases, bond measures and less social services.

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?

146 thoughts on “Wednesday Morning Open Thread

    • you and me both sister

      I didn’t realize how I felt was considered “wrong” til I had to go to one meeting on my maternity leave and someone said “Is this the first time you’ve left her?  You must be dying”  and I said “no. and um. no.”  and there was this awkward silence….

      gah my maternity leave was hell

        • Me too!

          I was psyched to get back to work. I always say that my only “working mother guilt” stems from not feeling guilty about being a working mother.

          As far as maternity leave envy, we were really fortunate because my husband is a freelancer and he arranged to take six weeks off (unpaid, of course) when Ink Spot was born. It was great having all three of us at home together those first several weeks.

      • Heh.

        I stopped into work while I was on maternity leave with my son and an older coworker said, “Oh, you must be over the moon now!” I looked at her like she was crazy and said, “Uhhhh, no. He screams all day. I haven’t slept more than four hours in three months. I sort of feel like killing myself.” I was just surprised anyone could be happy being at home with an infant.

        • It is really, really tough

          but then I worked in an infant room as a care-giver and for some people it was really, really tough to leave their child there, especially when the kid was only a few weeks old.

          • That would’ve been me

            I would’ve had a terrible time leaving a tiny baby, especially since with DS, I was looking at having to leave him at six weeks. But I think if I would’ve had a job I enjoyed, I would have adjusted pretty quickly. My wish is that we could support everyone’s opportunity to do what’s best – work full-time, part-time, from home, stay home, work now & stay home later, or vice versa. Think of the stress we could allieviate if we could just agree to support more options.

            • Yes!

              I completely agree with this.  Children are the future of any society.  They should be treated like the precious gifts they are (not spoiled, mind you, but treated well).  

              • Do what works

                Sane parents = happy parents = good parents. Whoever wants to judge, needs to mind her own damn beeswax.

                Having said that, my DH really wanted to stay home w/the babies and would still love to do that. He earned twice what I did and had more responsibility/seniority/security in his career so I stayed home. I am not the world’s greatest at-home parent, but I preferred that to going back to work. Plus I really wanted to nurse on demand – honestly, we did most childcare on demand the first year or so. DH would’ve made a fabulous SAH parent.  

                • Same here.

                  Except my ADD husband would have had happy, well adjusted, decently fed kids….and a filthy house, unpaid bills, hungry pets, and no hope of ever scheduling doctor’s appointments or other such minor things. He just isn’t capable of doing the sort of multitasking that being a stay at home parent requires. Kids,yes. Food, okay. Anything else? Not a chance.

                  • Hey

                    We have the same spouse.  Weird.  

                    Every now and then DH daydreams about being a sahd. I indulge him because I don’t think he would ever do it, but really?  I shudder at the image of what you describe.  

                    If he stayed at home with the kids I’d have to earn twice as much to pay for all the household help to clean up after him being home 24-7.  

                    –R

                    • Totally.

                      I’m amazed at the fact that, on the weekends, with two adults home, the mess is ten fold what it is on a weekday. Co-incidence? I think not.

                    • heh

                      I have the same problem, but no ADD husband. Just one who doesn’t think it’s his job to clean up.

      • I had some hard days

        or even some hard months with both of my girls, but I am overall glad I got to stay home with them for the first year. No judgement on anyone else who would HATE that, no one judges men for going right back to work. Just different strokes for different folks.

        • second

          The experience with my first baby was, as I said, awesome. Second baby was harder. She wasn’t a harder baby, they were both easy babies, but it wasn’t as easy, obviously!

        • It might have

          It might have gotten better if your mat leave was longer. The first 6-12 weeks are HARD. Not saying it definitely would have or going back wasn’t better for you though.

            • And it depends on the kid too

              DS was a horror. DD was quiet and took long naps. There’s a good reason why mine are 5 years apart–it took me a long time to get over DS’s infancy.

              It would also be nice to have recurring flexible parental leave–additional time you could take throughout the child’s life, like to cover winter break or take a special vacation!

              • Exactly.

                #1 screamed bloody blue murder until she was 3 months old…#2 was happy and easygoing.   If I’d have had him first it would have been a much different experience.  

                • Ditto

                  I am not sure if it would have been better or worse to have them in the opposite order (easy first, then hard). I know someone who had them in the easy/then hard order and she said the three of them would just stare at the screaming infant in shock.

                  My DH took a month off when each of them was born, which was nice. He used saved vacation time to do it. We were fortunate in that we managed to time them to coordinate pretty well with his work schedule. If they had been born at certain other times of the year we’d have been lucky if he had managed to take a day off, let alone a week or a month.

                  • I think it’s better

                    If I’d had DS8 first I don’t think I’d have DS9 now.  I’d probably have simply concluded I was a failure as a parent, and not risked a second one.

                    • Makes sense

                      It’s the reason why my kids are 3.5 years apart.

                    • if

                      If I had my second delivery for my first delivery, we would be an only child family.

                    • this is why I have only

                      one child …

                      I was a horrible horrible parent… LOL

                    • also

                      Some children should only be tacked by experienced parents.  DS8 was/is not appropriate for beginners.  :-)

                    • Ha!

                      Amen, sister!!!

                      My sister’s child is a good beginner baby. My two were not (my second especially so!). And thank god I didn’t realize just how hard they were until later. I seriously got a raw deal!!!!

                    • yeah – kwym

                      but you’ve seen that. “NOWAY! Cherry Boom Boom!” Naked Zombie Warriors! I still think we’d make an excellent commune.

                    • Oh, if my first two, twins,

                      had been two of my first sons, I don’t know if I would have ever had more children.  

                    • Well

                      You may have been nuts like me and decided you had to roll the dice for a girl after that.  I was very, very lucky.  Boys two years apart are challenging.  I don’t know how people with boy twins or boys even closer in age than mine do it.  There was this mom of 8 (now) at church who stepped in and helped with my boys when they were 1 and 3 and I had to take them to my children’s choir rehearsal.  They were trying to swim in the baptismal font.  The other parents were scandalized by their behavior but she stepped right in with some of hers and distracted them for me.  Later she told me that she thought boys that close together are hard as she’d noticed that with her nephews.  She tended to have girls between her boys and thought that made things much easier.

                    • Dude.

                      If the church was hot, I can totally see swimming in the baptismal font. The baptist church that I went to as a child (there’s another long story) had a font that WAS a swimming pool, as far as I could tell.

                    • When my brother married his first

                      wife, they had the ceremony at a Church of Christ.  A church with a baptismal POOL.  Of course, my son, about 10 at the time, had to investigate.  And, of course, he fell in.  About 20 minutes before the wedding was to begin.

                    • That’s the thing

                      I’m pretty sure that it was winter or at least cold-weather season around here.  Mary Rose did the same thing last year at a rehearsal where I didn’t have childcare.  The sad thing was, we had an opera singer from out-of-state show up unexpectedly to rehearse with the children’s choir.  He fished her out.

                    • I have always been so grateful

                      that I had the advantage of having two younger brothers.  They are about 9 -10 years younger than me, and a year apart.  If I had not witnessed, at close hand, what little boys could actually be like, I probably would have thought there was something seriously wrong with mine.  Especially after three girls.  

                      My boys, in fact, all my kids, are two years apart.  Again, thankfully, I had the three older girls.  They often helped with the boys when we went out.  

                    • I sometimes do.

                      My husband and I have this recurring conversation:
                      Me: He’s a sociopath, isn’t he?!!!
                      Hubby: Nope. Just a boy.
                      Me: Really?!!!
                      Hubby: You should have seen me when I was a kid.
                      Me: This should have been disclosed earlier in the negotiating process.

              • yeah, totally

                Lily is so much more easy-going than Jess. She’s willful, don’t get me wrong, but without that pigheaded-for-the-sake-of-being-pigheaded. Plus, she sleeps much, much better and likes to eat.

                Having said that, some of it is parenting. We were much more relaxed about some things (eating and fretting about poor weight gain), more disciplined about others (sleep habits).

                I’m glad we had Jess first, though. I think if I’d had an easy-going baby first and then a hard nut, I would’ve freaked out. This way, I look at Lily and think either “whoa, this is easy” or “try harder, kid – your sister set a high benchmark.”

                • What’s odd is how they’ve reversed roles

                  DS has been easy going and calm since five months. DD turned into, well, herself at four months and is way more of a time/attention suck now!

                  • heh, I’m hoping/fearing that

                    I’d be nice if Jess mellows, but I’m more afraid that Lily will start amping up! I’m all plan for the worse, be pleasantly surprised with anything else!

            • Mat leave

              For the teenage years? Sounds like you’re really enjoying her now. So maybe what you need is childcare for the early years and to be home in the later years. After all, I had a very wise woman once say to me that kids need you even more in the teenage years than they do as babies. After all, anyone can cuddle them and feed them when they’re tiny. They know it’s YOU when they’re thirteen!

              Dunno…I don’t have teenagers. But that has always stuck with me. I’m prepared to work while my kids are in primary school and cut back later if I need to. In my happy, rosy ideal world where we don’t need the money, of course.

              • I absolutely agree!

                My little ones thrived in daycare.  They couldn’t have cared less who wiped their butts, and they were marginally more willing to try a new food when it was someone other than me offering.  My older one especially couldn’t wait for the weekend to be over; there was no place he’d rather be than a 100% toddler-focused world with lots of playmates.

                Now?  It’s way more complicated.  They’re no longer content to crawl around a carpet or rampage around a single large space, or tricycle around a play structure while I do what I need to do; now we juggle multiple activities, and they need to be specific places at specific times, and when they have time to hang with friends the two boys have separate friends, and one or the other always needs new shoes or homework supplies or something requiring yet another errand . . . And this is accelerating; I see a huge difference between the 9 year old and the 8 year old.

                My almost-10-but-thinks-he’s-almost-13 year old is beginning to strain at the leash, so it takes quite a bit more thought and effort to make sure he’s in the right place at the right time.  The adult they need is mom, or maybe dad.  They’re beginning to suspect they don’t really need us all that much, but of course we’re the ones who know when they do need us.  They don’t need our focused attention as much as they used to, but this part of parenting cannot be outsourced.

                • I totally agree

                  When I went back to work a few years ago, the child who had the tougher time with the adjustment was my Abbey, who was in 5th grade at the time.  William didn’t even blink.

                  Of course, given what I know now about Abbey, she was going to have a hard time no matter what I did, but I do think there is something to older kids needing a parent around.

          • agreed

            I feel like you go back RIGHT when it’s getting easier and Baby is more fun. Everyone sleeps more, there is alertness and all this great stuff that isnt’ there from week 1-12. I was envious of my husband’s summer vacation with Lily, she was 3-5 months and was all smiles and fun. I was like, WTF so unfair! With Gabe I will be jealous too, he’ll get daddy from 6-9 months!!!

      • I hated it at first

        But after the first couple of months, it was really fun.  

        I think my husband was a little envious but he also realized it wasn’t something he wanted to do every day so it wasn’t an issue.  For a while as the kids got older and easier, he started to get resentful of my light work schedule and time with the kids when his job sucked. He would pressure me to work more and whine when he had to travel.  Then, when work would get more interesting, suddenly the resentment magically disappeared.  To his credit, he figured out very quickly that his issue was not that he wanted more time at home – he just wanted a better work situation.  

        Carolyn’s response was spot on.  Instead of resenting the wife, the guy should just sit down with her and figure out whether there are alternatives.

      • Same

        In fact, it’s the only year since I was a teenager that I didn’t suffer from some degree of depression.  I would almost say that it was a reverse of postpartum depression, except that would make it sound like some sort of a bipolar mania, which it wasn’t–I was just really happy and healthy.  

  1. men should be envious!

    It’s not fair that so many employers offer paid maternity leave and not paid paternity leave. My employer offers neither, but at least women are allowed to use all their sick leave, while men are only allowed to use 3 days. This is completely unjust, but it’s certainly not his wife’s fault.  We should do everything we can to help couples be home together longer with their newborn…but as a society we don’t. There’s all kinds of evidence that more hands on experience is good for relationships between dads and kids AND good for marriages. But even when employers do offer paid paternity leave, men are often discouraged from taking it by their supervisors and coworkers. People who haven’t taken care of a newborn themselves imagine that new parents are lying around eating bonbons and getting an extra cushy vacation. Ha!

    I could go on all day about this, but I’ll shut my trap now.

    • My husband had sick days

      and vacation days he could use, plus an official work policy that allowed him to take a week off. HOWEVER there was certainly an unofficial but very real policy that he should NOT take that time off and that doing so would be seen in a very negative light.

      So yeah, if you want to take time off to welcome a new child into your life, male or female we need to make that a reality.

      I stayed home with both of my kids for a year, but only because we had very supportive family and friends helping us out. I would love a system more like Canada’s maternity leave.

      • agree

        Yeah, you really need a year to enjoy a mat leave, like Canada. Or even six months.

        I can see why people don’t like their mat leaves if they are only 6 or 12 weeks, that’s still the really hard part, you’re physically recovering, etc. Things get better after that.

        • That’s true

          although my first mat leave was 6 months (it was before they changed it to one year) and it was enough time for me.    With #2 and #3 I was home full time anyway but by the time they came along #1 had beaten any sense that I was in control of my life out of me and I was better able to go with the flow.   And they were very different babies as well.  

          When I want to think that it would have been better to have them in a different order I think again because having the difficult baby first was probably better than people who have an easygoing baby first and then get their wild child.  

    • I worked for the state

      there was no “maternity leave” per se, it was just sick leave and then you could take vacation days or leave without pay for up to the FMLA limit. Of course, I was quitting so it didn’t matter to me.

      DH, on the other hand, took 2 weeks off [which was probably vacation but I don't remember for sure].  I think he was fine with going back to work at that point — it was not all snuggling and roses around here with DD who would cry anytime someone put her down if she was awake.  Thankfully, DS would very laid back — not sure I could have stood it if both of them were high-maintenance at the same time.

    • It’s pretty disgusting

      how family-unfriendly our whole society is.  I’m not saying that a good, solid block of time as a family right after a baby is born isn’t important, but we need time all our lives.  Few of us should be living to work–almost everyone should be working fewer hours, really.  And there needs to be time to deal with ill family members, troubled teens, etc…..honestly, there needs to be time for us to sit around and eat bonbons (although we probably don’t need 12 weeks leave for that particular project;-).  Really, I think the crux of the problem is that employers are perfectly free to use salary to buy an indentured servants.

      We’re fortunate that my DH got pat. leave when Milo was born, and even though he had a different job when Simone was born I still remember it like a hazy dream of us gazing in wonder at our infant for long periods of time.  My BIL got pat. leave too–I’ve known a lot of guys who have.  

    • Oh :-(

      Have you figured out his triggers?  I have migraines and  over the years figured out my triggers.  I still get them but less often.

      Fwiw, for me – a combination of stress, dehydration, MSG, & eye strain seems to do it.

      • no triggers

        According to his neurologist, small children don’t have triggers the same way adults do. We just try to get through it and hope it isn’t a cycle starting. (Thankfully, he hasn’t been in a short cycle for three years.) The worst part is the vomiting–I can’t give him any pain medicines, because he just vomits it back up, so he has no choice but to suffer through it. He’s calmer now at least, as the worst has passed.

        • Really?

          I forget how young your DS is but I didn’t believe that to be the case (no triggers for kids).  I realize migraines can’t always be controlled by decreasing triggers but I do think it can help.

          The Mayo Clinic, which is well respected here, mentions lack of sleep as a trigger for kids – http://www.mayoclinic.org/

          Regardless, I really hope he feels better.  I had migraines as a kid and it was really tough.  On the plus side I get very few now and manage them without meds.

          • I wondered at first

            and sure, there are some obvious ones. If he doesn’t eat (which really does happen), then he bonks, and that sometimes causes a migraine (and sometimes not). Sometimes too much sun, sometimes being overtired. This morning the only thing that was different was that he slept on the couch briefly after he got up from bed, with his head cocked awkwardly on the arm of the couch. But he’s never done that before, so who knows? It’s kind of hard to monitor his every move for possible future headaches.

            The only thing I can do is give him ibuprofen if he so much as suggests that he might be feeling a little off, in the hope of heading off a headache. The downside of that (other than the possibility that he will grow up to be a hypochondriac) is that I can’t really tell if something does or does not lead to a headache. I’m sure I dose him sometimes when he doesn’t need it. I’m also sure we’ve prevented a few migraines. But how can I know which is which?

            • Don’t worry too much about not knowing

              You sound very on top of things.  I never kept a diary or anything about triggers, rather over time we found out things that seemed to help, some of the time.  We were never super picky either.  I cut out MSG entirely but later realized that more often than not, as long as I’m feeling generally fine and drink enough fluids, small amounts of MSG aren’t a problem.

              I hope he feels better soon!

      • the shower

        He probably spent a total of around three hours in the shower today. And yes, we’re sort of in a drought too, but how I could I tell him to turn it off when it was the only thing that made it a little easier?

  2. Hurumph

    That’s all well and good for Mrs. Bush to suggest these things, but I can’t help but think of Sgt. Renault saying “I’m shocked to find gambling here.” Uh, lady, do you think your husband’s & your son’s and your political party’s policies might have ANYTHING to do with the mess education is in, particularly in Texas? Afterall, we are talking about a woman who thought Katrina refugees transported to live in a Texas sports stadium were so much better off now that they shouldn’t be complaining. Out of touch much? Sorry, but I can’t seem to get past my cynicism to applaud her efforts.

    • amen

      The Bushes live in a blissful state lacking any self awareness or sense of irony.

      I’m also sick of political families who have their cake and eat it too.  Call me a cynic; I know these families send out their softer members to distract from their wack policy.  (think: Marriage Equality Act, abortion).  

      Every campaign has a moment where some newsie breathlessly notes that “Wife is quietly disagreeing with Husband” as though it might make a policy difference (and the disagreement is always quiet, deferential, Edith Bunker style).  This is part of a strategy.  I see this crap and wonder if Jeb is running or if she’s been sent to rewrite history.

    • No kidding

      Do you suppose Barbara Bush spent her time volunteering at her kids’ schools? Certainly not at Andover (snort). In any case, school volunteering is great, but funding the schools might be an additional way to make sure they are good.

      • Yeah

        And another thing: we all love to volunteer, but at some point, don’t we make it easier for politicians to de-fund schools?  We’re such a bunch of enablers!

        They talk about reducing ‘waste, fraud, and abuse’ all while assuming FREE (socialist!) labor from parents when they make some random determination about what schools should spend.  Grrrrrr

        • stance

          That’s the stance of the teachers union here. There are no volunteers allowed in the classrooms, library, lunchroom, etc in many towns, as per the union contract. You can volunteer but it’s restricted to “extras” like planting flowers outside or stocking the teachers lounge with bagels on Fridays.

          • Mixed feelings on that

            For the record, I think overall it’s better to allow families in class, especially in the younger grades, but I’ll play devil’s advocate.

            There are parents who use information inappropriately (many more than you would believe).  Sometimes I work in schools, classroom and clinics, and parents will ask for personal information about other kids (even just pop their heads in with a well meaning, “is so-and-so OK?  do they need a ride? or worse, addressing the child directly. Classroom examples include, “how is your mom/dad/brother? where does she live these days?”).  Sometimes they don’t even realize that they are doing it, or where an answer might lead (death, divorce, incarceration, rehab..), or that having some conversations necessarily require disclosure of private info.  And the teacher is ultimately responsible for that.  It’s a big deal.  (Example: hard righties who insist on coming in to read  religious stuff and loosely promote youth group during story time).  

            I can understand why some teachers would hate it.  It can be hard to keep all the IEP and 504 info private, teach 20 kids and run interference on a nosey, mean, or just plain stupid adult.  Sometimes managing volunteers is a large job all by itself.  

            I rarely work for pay, and enjoy my time as volunteer, but it often angers me that local GOP politicians expect professional work for free (and I’m the socialist?!)

            • volunteers

              Ugh.  The well meaning cluelessness can do some real damage that is difficult to undo.  DH went to the parent meeting for my son’s little league team last night, and the manager handed out printouts of the player roster to everyone.  DH was one of the last to get a copy.  And see that it had our son’s confidential medical info on it.  He’s really steamed.  We don’t keep this a secret, but it is absolutely inappropriate for all the parents to be taking this home on their printout and keeping it by the phone.

              • Oh, that’s awful!

                I’d be angry, too.

                I know what you mean; it doesn’t have to be a big-bad ‘secret’ to be private!  For the love of all things holy, why don’t some people understand ‘private’?

                FYI (if you haven’t already been down this road), privacy issues can be exacerbated when the kids overhear the parents giving each other information, often faulty, and the kids repeat it (in the dugout in this case).  Hopefully you have a coach that listens to what’s going on behind him as well as in front of him.  

                Inappropriate at the very least.

                • OK, just got another email from the coach

                  He sent out an email to all the parents saying there were “errors” in the roster and apologizing; he included a “corrected” roster and asks parents to discard the erroneous one.  Privately to DH he apologized saying he didn’t realize that info was on there.  Since that’s about the best he could do, I’m cool with it.  

                  We’re already a conspicuous family due to the transracial thing, so I’m fairly desensitized to privacy issues.  But I don’t want families going home and googling the name of my son’s disorder to pull up some of the more dramatic info.  I prefer to manage the way they perceive my son; I usually just tell people it’s a metabolic disorder, “kind of like diabetes” though different, treatable though with some symptoms remaining, and leave it at that.  

                  • Nice to know he handled it

                    As you say, it’s the best he could do after the horse left the barn.  At least he did something, right?  Some people don’t, so it says something that he tried to correct that error.  

            • Yeah

              My mom still remembers a “friend” of hers who volunteered in my cousin’s class coming to her regularly to report “Colleen can’t do this; Colleen can’t do that,” until my mom told her that if she ever mentioned Colleen to her again she would call the school and tell them that she shouldn’t be allowed to volunteer at all.  

              Last year I volunteered in my daughter’s class, and this year her teacher seems to want to keep parental presence in her classroom at a minimum.  Since volunteers are there to make her job easier, if she says they don’t do that, well, she’s the professional and it’s her classroom.  If I’m going to volunteer somewhere, I see it as my job to accept what that facility tells me they need or want done–I’m free to say no if I don’t want to do it.  I know that parental involvement is a big predictor in the success of a school, but I have to wonder if that’s a result of socio-economics (parents with the time, inclination and ability to volunteer might just have more successful students in general).  

              • good question

                I know that parental involvement is a big predictor in the success of a school, but I have to wonder if that’s a result of socio-economics (parents with the time, inclination and ability to volunteer might just have more successful students in general).  

                I think it’s correlation, not causation. SES plays in for sure.

                Of course, it also depends what the definition of involvement is. I think you can be very involved in your children’s school and education without being in the school all day, or ever other than special occasions.

                • exactly

                  been involved can mean asking them about their day, reading with them at night, checking over their homework, scheduling teacher conferences when appropriate, etc.

                  Being involved does not have to mean “volunteering.”

                  • Good point

                    I think when I hear “parental involvement”, I think of involvement with the school rather than one’s own child.  But being involved with your own child is really probably the more important thing.

              • yes

                Jess’s school encourages parental involvement, but I personally am leaning away from being in the classroom. I feel like the classroom is Jess’s space to be and learn without my presence. I’d rather get involved with school council, or fundraising, or afterschool activities or the like.

                But it confirms your point – I have the time and the means to plan unpaid involvement in Jess’s school. I can afford to be engaged; is it a surprise that Jess is also engaged in school?

              • I think it is both

                Having parents with time and interest benefits the school, but it is also the case that having parents around gives them insight into what needs fixing.

            • Oh yeah

              We had one mother at the Catholic school where I used to teach who was in the school constantly.  She volunteered for everything and also had a nasty habit of picking on one teacher and one student to bully every year.  Eventually she was banned from the building except for concerts etc and a restraining order was involved.  I was on maternity leave for the incident that triggered the restraining order but my goodness.  If you have enough people like that I can see where it would sour a school on volunteers.  We also had some run of the mill, queen-bee type nosy moms.  My son’s school has some volunteer opportunities but they are very specific probably due to privacy concerns as well as room parents who help out with parties.  The nursery school only asks for volunteers with specific activities and field trips as well as parties.

    • I have an idea

      Let’s apply this “thousand points of light” ethos to everything we used to pay taxes for. I’ve always wanted to drive one a them stealth bombers. I volunteer! And I bet I could do a pretty good job testing air quality, too. How hard can it be? I breathe, don’t I?

      • can you design a new highway for me?

        I’m sure a volunteer can do that as well as a trained engineer. I think I will teach physics next year. I mean, sure, I never took any science higher than introductory chemistry, but why should that stop me?

    • Damn right

      She has neither a clue nor an interest in what goes on in real life, so please don’t bother to drop in and tell us how to conduct it.  

  3. Interviews…

    DH is on part II of an interview today.  The interview was split into two parts when the storm hit last week…  I think this would be his dream job but adds more complexity for me…  Regardless, I hope he gets it!  After today he’ll have had 2 interviews and has 2 more scheduled.  The ambiguity is driving me slightly crazy :-)  

    I’m supposed to be working on reviews but have a splitting headache.  Hoping the meds hit soon.

    DH never had maternity leave envy.  I think he’s more against having a 3rd because of how hard he finds the first 12 weeks!  I’ll always remember one night when Mira was about 3 weeks old that was terrible.  At around 2 am I made up a shopping list to send him to the store because he was going crazy with her screaming.  The next morning he got up and left for work (grad school) relatively early.  When he came home at 5, and I looked at him it was hilarious.  He was in these horrid sweats and an old flannel.  Unshaven.  Just looked like crap.  And I go, “You went in like that?” And he goes, “Yeah.  D (his advisor) came in to talk to me, took one look at me, and goes ‘Oh, I remember those nights. I’ll talk to you another day’ and then left.”  I don’t know what DH would have done if he had had to stay home.  Now he would be great as a stay at home Dad.  I think he’s better with the kids for full days than I am at this stage.  He’s very good at the goofy, make-believe play.  

    Hope everyone is well!

  4. I don’t know about ‘half-her, half-me”

    The “half her/half me” think doesn’t take into account any physical needs she might have such as recovering from, oh…say, childbirth?  Is he thinking she should have planned on returning sooner so he could take some time off?  I think he’s experiencing the one thing nobody plans for and that’s how you’ll feel after the fact.  I’ve seen the most strident people change their plans after a child is born.

    I would also add that adoption can take it out of you, too, and might require some recovery.  I was exhausted when we returned from our adoption trip (and it was only 6 days) because I got a super-nasty-tummy-bug, we had a flight from hell and 2 babies that were fed and diapered around the clock.  DH was mostly on his own on the flight back (sleeping baby on my chest/eating baby in his arms), but flew back to an apt in another state 3 days later (we were in the middle of a big move when we got ‘the call’).

    • Amen!

      I was thinking about that too.  Mr. Envious Dad did not either push a human being out of his nether-regions possibly resulting in tears there etc or have a surgical procedure to get his beautiful daughter out of his body.  He also can’t breastfeed.  It’s not like maternity leave is all cooing at the baby.  Mom’s generally need some recovery time and breastfeeding (if she’s doing it)  while wonderful, is work.

      • yes, but…

        I think we need to be careful with that line of argument. If it’s all about physical recovery from childbirth, then adoptive parents shouldn’t get it. And if it’s about breastfeeding, people who formula feed shouldn’t get it. Of course there is some physical recovery (that women can often take sick leave or disability to cover), but I think the main arguments for leave need to be about bonding with and taking care of a newborn so it’s inclusive of adoptive parents, domestic partners, and dads. I think it’s much better for women if we support men taking as much leave as they can. It doesn’t have to be us vs. them. More help in those early weeks is better, and when the non-birthing parent can really build their relationship with the baby everybody wins.

        • Having done both,

          I think it’s OK to acknowledge the differences (after all, no two families, infants and experiences are the same) while advocating for similar treatment in family leave policy.

          So, while it might not be ‘all’ about physical recovery, I don’t think we can negate it or ignore it’s effects.  For example, I’ve heard of parents who experience PPD in either case, but it is fair to say that the physical changes in hormones after birth might create a greater risk.

          We simply need better policies in place for families of all stripes!

          I was mostly responding to how the guy phrased his question, which I thought sounded woefully unaware of his surroundings and situation:)

      • I also don’t

        quite get why he can’t just use some vacation time if he has it, and take leave either right now, or at the time that his wife goes back to work. She can take her X weeks, and he can take a week or two or three if he wants as well. It’s not an either/or.

        • right

          surely it’s not as if some window of opportunity has closed and he can never take vacation days again during the child’s infancy.

  5. I guess I get to look forward to this….

    ….DH and I are trying to figure out our plan for his leave. I’m taking 6 weeks, and hoping to not have to start my leave until the day I go into labor (I know, I know, I’m a little delusional, wait until you hear that I want my labor to go at least an extra week so I can get through Easter!!).

    DH will take at least a week, of which I think it’s mostly vacation/sick leave time. If he has a solid bank of time by then (I think he’s around 3 weeks at the moment), he may take 2 weeks, and if he would ever check to see what the paternity leave policy is, he could tack some of that on, too.

    I plan to return to work after 6 weeks but definitely plan to bring the baby with me to the office, work more from home, and of course bring the baby to pastoral visits. I’ve told the church to expect me to work differently upon my return, and I’ve been training them to call my cell so they can reach me wherever I am.

    We are hoping to not need day care for at least 6 months, though we may indeed take advantage of baby-sitting before that time. DH also only works 4 days/week so I can try to schedule visits and other “non-baby-friendly” meetings when he’s home. And since I live so close to the church, I can go home and breastfeed on those days.

    We’ll see. I have a feeling reality is not going to be nearly so neat and tidy. :)

      • Even if that baby were crying and cranky?

        Ha ha! No, I’ll do my visits when baby Ralph is on his/her best behavior. I’ve had several people tell me they are expecting those sorts of visits. Which is really, really nice.

        • word to the wise

          don’t plan on any ‘best behavior’ –  better to do that and be pleasantly surprised that imagine that your child will actually you know… cooperate.  

          like. ever.

          • LOL

            Yeah, I’m not actually planning for “best behavior,” but I figure that once we got our feet sort of back under us, we’ll have a sense of “better” and “worse” times, generally speaking, to take the kiddo around.

            Fortunately, we have a very grace-filled church so even if I have to reschedule due to squalling or bring over a less-than-perfectly-behaved baby, I anticipate most folk will be pretty wonderful about it.

        • Sure!

          It’s always better when it’s someone else’s kid and you know they are going home soon! When DD was just a few months old, I took her to a few speaking engagements I had (left DS with the neighbor). I did it because I was speaking at senior centers & churches, and there were no end of “grandmas” who wanted the baby carrier right at their feet so they could coo at her & pay absolutely no attention to my talk. It was pretty fun to see.

          • LOL

            My first hated his baby carrier seat.  It would have been impossible to do that.  The next three had better seats although Josh outgrew his by 2 months.  We wisely picked up a bigger one for Mary Rose as I realized that I had to leave her in her seat to chase after Josh who was a wild man when I was dropping Joey off at nursery school and doing stuff like that.  Sammy is in the same seat although he is on Josh’s growth trajectory so I don’t know if I’ll be able to stretch it out until he’s about a year old like I did with Mary Rose.  Luckily she is crazy in a totally different way than Josh and I may be OK holding Sammy when she starts nursery school in the fall, as long as my back holds out.  This boy is a chunker.

  6. Need motivation

    I’m in my pajamas and haven’t begun the morning routine.  Today’s one of my mellow days, thank goodness – only DD to kindergarten vs all 3 kids to school.

    I think I’m going to try to push the kids in a stroller for a walk.  I could really use some exercise…

    • Oh, do that!

      If it wasn’t -20 with the wind, I would LOVE a long walk outside with the kids right about now. Walking through the Mall of Ameica just does not do it for me.

      • Do you ever snow shoe?

        That was one of my favorite things to do when the weather was really lousy in Vermont.  You’re not in danger of falling and cracking your head open on the ice because you have the snowshoes on.  I suppose kids could be pulled in a sled if you were in the right place but that sounds tricky.

        All right, thanks for the encouragement.  I’m thin but getting exercise would be good cardiovascular-wise and for my mood.

        • I have

          And I’d love to do it again. I think DS might be old enough to try it on his own, and we could tote DD since she’s still light as a feather. I’m not a hard-core cold-weather person (despite 40 years in the upper midwest), so personally I don’t feel comfortable outside for long periods of time unless it’s about 10 or 15 degrees. We might get that this weekend…maybe we should look into renting some shoes and giving it a try.

  7. Kindergarten sign up

    I am already a parent who does thing LATE! sob Apparently, the paperwork for Kindergarten was due on January 28th! I have been checking the website for months, even telling my own friends “make sure you don’t miss it!” and then I do!!!! Ugh. At least the lady was nice when I called and got her situated.

    Round up is March 24th. When did I get this old???

    • um……

      didn’t you just have a baby? Cut yourself some slack on missing out on stuff [see capasb's comment, above, about what her husband wore to grad school]

      I am sure she won’t miss the first day of school. And remember, there are those folks who show up 2 days before school starts to register their kids for school. You are WAY ahead of them!

      (last but not least…..I’m turning 50 in 6 mos. so you are most certainly NOT old)

      • Yeah, I was one of those

        William was placed with us only a month before school started and it took me a week or two before I got him registered and they had room for him in 4K.  

        They want this stuff early for planning but they also know there will be add-ons later.  You’re all good.

  8. Today

    has kicked my ass.  And it’s not over yet.  My dad’s surgery, my grandma, the kids, the screening, prepping a meeting for Monday that I just CAN”T get my head around…

    and I’m out of coffee.

  9. Question from the

    10 year old this morning, upon reading about Christina Aguilera and the Super Bowl in the paper:

    “Now, is it ‘Oh say can you see,’ or is it ‘José, can you see’?”

    • That’s an old joke…

      about the guy who goes to a ballgame and thinks everyone is so kind to ask how his seat is…of course, his name is Jose.

  10. Shudder

    I’m finding this pain-numbing underwear for wearing before a bikini-wax very disturbing.  But maybe the disturbing part is that I’m more put off by it than by bikini waxes themselves.

    Simone started Campfire yesterday, and there was a little girl from church that she’s gotten to be friends with there.  The girl is Deaf and her mom signs so beautifully.  I finally asked if she’d only been signing since her daughter was born, because she signs so well–it’s hard to believe there was ever a time when she couldn’t do it.  She said that actually, her daughter wasn’t identified as Deaf until she was 15-months-old–WOW!  

    It dawned on me last night, though, how isolating it must be for this woman–at church she has to go with her (delightful) daughter everywhere to interpret, so she never gets much time to have her own conversations.  She has to pay a lot more attention than most parents, because she has to be there to translate if her daughter wants to say something.  Her husband seems like a really nice guy, but maybe he just hasn’t picked it up as quickly as she has.  I wish I could offer to take over sometimes, but while I sign better than your average hearing Joe I can’t do it nearly well enough to interpret, even informally.  I barely know her anyway, but does anyone know the best kind of support to offer for this kind of thing?  

    • If she and Simone

      are friends, you could just invite them over or go to the park. It’s not the same as taking the daughter, but the girls could play and you could get to know the mom better. It might be nice to go someplace where her daughter is occupied with a friend, and she can have adult conversation. And, you could have her teach you and Simone some basic signs to talk to her daughter.

      • Good idea

        I’ll have to make more of an effort to get to know them, but they seem like such lovely people.  And Simone and I can improve upon our signing, because at least I have a foundation to work with.  

    • Would the church consider

      having an interpreter at things like Sunday school or children’s church (I don’t know how y’all run things)? This seems to me like such an important way to accommodate the spiritual needs of both the mom and the kid.

      Yes, it’s expensive, but as word gets out that this church has an interpreter, you’d be amazed how many in the Deaf community might start showing up.

      I also think that signing to the little girl, just as you would talk to any other kid at church, would be a great gift to the family. It would identify you as a compassionate church member and one who’s willing to risk communicating imperfectly in order to build community. And I would think everyone would appreciate that. Plus, it would give the kid one more person to be able to directly communicate with.

      • Yes!

        I barely remember any of the signs I was taught (I took it for 2 years), but I know a few basic greetings and please and thank you things and deaf people always tell me they appreciate the effort.

      • You know

        that’s a great idea.  Even if they did it half the time, or only once a month, it would give her mom a break and wouldn’t be that expensive–once a month would be $150 tops, I would think.  

        Of course I guess I’d have to get to know them better–I don’t want to be too much of a busybody–maybe she doesn’t want another interpreter and doesn’t even feel as isolated as I peg her to feel.

  11. Lady MacBush

    Wonder if she’s encouraging the institution of a state income tax? Perhaps that could help the TX budget.
    Oh, no, looks like she just wants middle-class parents to do the work.

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