Kitty Time

Motherhood, babies, life, celebrities, politics…kitty’s claws come out when she’s in the mood.

How do you draw the line? April 30, 2007

Filed under: Motherhood,Nanny — Wired_Momma @ 4:15 pm

Hope you all had a lovely weekend. Ours was good, albeit a bit tiring. Sometimes the life and times of a busy toddler is not exactly in sync with the life and times of the tired working parents on a Saturday or Sunday morning.

But really, what I’d like to discuss today is the difficulties in striking a balance with your nanny. Because I think I’ve learned a lot over the course of the last 17 months but lord knows I still have a lot to learn.

The level headed, non-emotive person would think that the relationship with the nanny is like the relationship with the workplace. You are the employer, she is the employee. You pay her to use her skills and judgement all day long, as you are paid to use your skills and judgment all day long.

But see, I think it’s more complicated than that.

The very nature of her job is emotional whereas, let’s be honest, the very nature of my job is NOT emotional. Our nanny is paid to care for and tend to our child all day long. The end result of this is really emotional and well, a loving relationship, if the nanny is any good. I mean, what person wouldn’t fall in love with the baby they tend to five days a week?

And so – how do you strike a balance with your nanny? How do you care about her and let her know that she is a very important part of your family without getting too involved in her personal life? Because inevitably, it seems to happen.

She has a life and a family and things that happen to her outside of the work day that inevitably end up coming back to your house. They make their way in. Particularly with language barriers – I mean – why not ask someone who speaks English fluently what something means? Hell, I have a hard enough time understanding certain banking agreements, how can someone who doesn’t speak English as their first language understand them?

And so – how do you draw the line between being open and caring for your nanny but still being her employer? What do you do if she asks to borrow money? What do you do if she is very upset and having marital issues? What do you do if her in-laws don’t treat her well and they live together? Afterall, the nanny’s emotional state will also impact her day’s work.

I’m asking you, kittens. Because I struggle to strike a balance between being caring but also removed. Empathetic but not a problem solver, definitely not a bank, and most certainly not a marriage counselor (though some days I’d like to pretend I am).

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Lifting my self-imposed ban April 25, 2007

Filed under: Motherhood — Wired_Momma @ 2:05 pm

OK kittens. If you are a true KT friend and fan, you know that I make my own rules. I might have said a while back that I am banning all talk of stupid studies about moms and work and imposing judgment on all of us. I believe I even threatened to ban you from my blog if you sent me a link.

C’est vrai. I did. And I meant it at the time. But I am the queen of the land, the kitty of the blog, so I can lift self-imposed bans on a whim. I can even rewrite the rules. It’s fun being the supreme dictator of your own blog. And so today, I am going to rant about an op-ed in today’s NYT that a dear KT friend and beloved fan, emailed to me.

The title of this ridiculous piece is “Off to Work She Should Go”:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/25/opinion/25hirshman.html?_r=2&oref=slogin&oref=slogin

And Ms. Hirshman, in her infinite wisdom, attempts to wax poetic on all the reasons that women are “opting out” of the workforce when they have children, all the potential harms this brings to society and business, and how this trend is particularly true for those with husbands in the top 20% of earning power.

I’m really left wondering, why did the NYT even run this piece and what is new and original about anything she is saying? Far as I can tell, it’s the same old story, different day.

And what is my beef with it today?

One beef I have with this piece is this – the reasons that women “opt-out” of the workforce cannot be lumped together in one general category. Sure, I studied marketing. I put on my brave statistics hat and went off to graduate school and learned how to analyze data and create categories and name groups of people to target them with products. But see, running the data and understanding the emotions and REASONS why women make the decisions they do – are two different things.

There is no emotion in data.

There is more emotion than anything else in having a newborn and deciding to leave that baby in someone else’s care all day long while you go off to work.

Furthermore, what really gets me in this ridiculous op-ed piece is Hirshman’s assertion that the wealthiest women forgo returning to work because it’s the easiest decision. How is deciding NOT to return to work, the easiest decision?

Not only does that claim undermine just how difficult and exhausting it is to stay home with your children full-time, it also suggests that these women are just flippantly turning their backs on the careers that they have spent a decade building up, not to mention all the years spent earning undergraduate and graduate degrees to help develop these careers.

Last time I spent an entire weekday alone with my child, instead of jetting off to work, the last thing I found myself thinking at the end of the day was “well, now that was an EASY and RELAXING day.”

And so, my advice to all these brilliant professors and statisticians and talking heads who have yet to provide any helpful advice to new mom’s out there, is this: spend a little more time TALKING to the very people you are writing about. Running the data isn’t giving you the full story. And furthermore, everyone’s story is different.

Sometime I’d like to read a piece on the emotion of having a child, the difficulty in not raising that baby fulltime because you have to go to work, or the complex set of reasons certain women decide to step out of the workforce.   We aren’t marketing categories, we aren’t making incredibly complicated and difficult decisions because they are easy, nor are we worried about carrying the weight of being business role-models for future generations on our shoulders when we have our own child at home that needs her mommy.

 

Ripped from the Headlines April 24, 2007

Filed under: Celebrities,Motherhood — Wired_Momma @ 2:20 pm

Pop quiz today, dear readers. So get out your pens and don’t cheat.  But if you do, be sure to snitch on someone else. I like whistle-blowers, it keeps things interesting.

Today’s pop quiz is dedicated to those who aren’t yet changing poopy diapers and trolling their hallways every 2 hours all night long, rocking a baby in their arms, whispering “shh” “shh” in miserable attempts to calm the little fussy sweet babe.

Yours truly is ripping from the headlines some things to NOT do as a new parent. Let’s test your celeb knowledge and see how many answers you can get right. There is no answer key, of course, your own knowledge and google are always your best friends.

1. When driving somewhere with your baby, do you keep the baby on your lap, behind the steering wheel? That seems particularly safe for the baby, doesn’t it?  

2. When feeling particularly enraged and bitter, do you leave your tween a nasty message calling them a fat pig and threatening to whip them into shape the next time you see them? Experts would surely consider this positive reinforcement and self-esteem building behavior.

3. After birthing a baby, do you begin to drink and party heavily for the first year of its life? Perhaps this is the new mechanism for surviving those sleepless nights and colicky cries? Ending in rehab is always good for the mommy-baby bonding experience.  

4. After having your own child, do you declare that infants are really just blobs and jet off to another under developed country, leaving your own flesh and blood behind, to instead adopt another more interesting and worldly toddler?

5. After parading your wife’s pregnancy around like a bizarre trophy winner proving that you are not, in fact, gay, do you then hide your newborn for months, generating rumors and conspiracy theories that the pregnancy never really happened to begin with, to then dramatically rollout the first photos of the Asian looking baby for all the world to see? Along the way don’t forget to insult new mommies and make a mockery of post-partum depression. That is sure to win you some friends that you’ll need once that fake baby is birthed.

In conclusion, what we’ve learned from some of our highest paid “role models” is this: car seats are for wussies and you don’t want no wussy baby, drinking heavily helps build relationships, insults build self-esteem, babies are boring blobs and men should definitely be mocking the existence of post-partum depression, after all the time they are spending on the delivery table pushing that baby out, they are definitely experts.

 

The Grass is Always Greener April 23, 2007

Filed under: Motherhood — Wired_Momma @ 2:33 pm

Happy Monday, spring kittens. Hopefully wherever you are it’s as sunny and warm as where I am sitting. Too bad I’m sitting behind my desk at work.

Which is today’s topic today, darlings. Work.

I know we’ve addressed this issue many-a-time here on KT but it’s just something that I still haven’t been able to get past. Every day, every week, I think about my work schedule. I think about whether I really want to work. I think about if, given the financial ability, I could quit and stay home full-time – would I really want to do it?

I mean, I can talk a big game when I know it’s not a reality, but if it were really a reality, would I really want to be home full-time?

So then I think about how much I would like to work part-time. How much I want to be home two days a week. I think about how much, by Friday, I miss my baby. How I feel dis-connected from her because it’s been so many days in a row where I’ve only seen her but for an hour or two a day.

And then I worry that she feels dis-connected from me and that she feels more attached to our nanny. By Friday morning, I’m super sensitive to how she responds when our nanny arrives and if she seems more excited and animated to see her, than she was before she arrived and she was just alone with me.

And I drive off to work and think about when or if I’ll ever be able to quit, or work part-time.

I am consumed. I think it’s normal. But who knows. Of my friends with kids, most work part-time or at least from home two days a week. And I am green with envy.

Last week, one dear friend pointed out the other side of that reality – she works part time, but in turn, her husband works long hours all week and the weekend – which is what gives her the financial freedom to take that pay cut. She wondered what I would prefer, seeing my husband or my baby.

I thought about it all weekend.

Naturally I want both. Who doesn’t.

So really – I’m left thinking that the grass is always greener.

With more financial freedom to be flexible in your hours, it could mean you don’t see your husband. Or, with working part-time, it could mean you are mommy track’d and not really given the best projects.

Now, you might not care, but you might.

I honestly don’t know what my answer is to her question – whether I’d take much less time with my husband for more time with my baby. My initial reaction is – for a time – yes, because my husband doesn’t need me in the ways my baby does. But my baby does need us to have a happy marriage in a happy home. And I don’t know what kind of constraints it would put on our relationship if I didn’t see him very much. I honestly have no idea.

So through all of this – I have no conclusions. I leave work a bit early every day. I come in a bit late, all of this to maximize what little time I have with my daughter during the week. Every time I feel so sad and feel disconnected from her, I remind myself that nothing is permanent anymore, and some day, I will probably not work full-time.

And I just sorta keep going. Everything really is more complicated when you have a baby. I’m not sure when this reality will stop surprising me.

 

A funny thing happened along the way……. April 20, 2007

Filed under: Motherhood — Wired_Momma @ 1:41 pm

It’s called life.

You got it spring kittens. Today we are going to talk about life. And even better, my life. We love to talk about moi here at KT. So let’s get started.

Young, doe-eyed KT used to live life according to a plan. Sure, sometimes it was a shell of a plan but most of the time it was a pretty detailed plan. I was that annoying upperclassmen with a job in my future “field” by my junior year of college (don’t worry, I spent all of high school and the first half of college, drinking too much and staying out too late, I’m not that much of a dork).

In my senior year, I was busy in the student center every evening on my word processor (that’s right…email was just starting…I basically had a typewriter.) banging out resumes that I MAILED (you got it, post office style, not emailed) to prospective employers in the hopes of landing a job interview.

I graduated (ahem…with honors). I got a job, I moved to the city, I got rid of one awful boyfriend and moved onto my future husband, got engaged, got into graduate school, got married, and my career kept blossoming.

Everything was going according to plan. I was going to keep making more money, keep advancing in my career, keep traveling, keep working hard, hell, someday, I hoped to run an entire corporate communications department. It was great. Really.

And then I had a baby.

And see, I was still pretty slow on the uptake.

I somehow made it through maternity leave in some kind of hazy, dream like fog, never really sure if this was really my life. Lots of days I found myself wondering when the real parents of this kid were going to come home because I was really ready for a nap.

I even laughed out loud when I said things like “I have a doctor’s appointment for my daughter at 11am.” – I mean – me? Daughter? Seriously? Think of Beavis and Butthead laughing, that was me laughing to myself upon hearing the words “my daughter” coming out of my mouth.

Seriously.

So what’s my point in all of this?

My point is this – there is no way to believe just how much a baby changes everything until you have one. A dear pregnant friend of mine commented earlier this week that her career must basically stay on the same upward track, despite the baby, and she’s really quite sure she can manage all the hours and the travel, that she can be that supermom.

Shockingly enough, I actually bit my tongue because what I found myself thinking was this:

I feel like supermom when I make it out the door in a presentable outfit and actually just get to work.

And even more so – I am now that person that doesn’t want any more responsibility at work. I don’t want a promotion, I don’t want to travel, and I sure as hell don’t want to run an entire department every day. I just want to get done what I need to get done, take some pride in a good day’s work, and go home to the responsibility that matters most to me now.

So her “supermom” comment really struck me. Mainly because through my maternity leave, I still failed to recognize just how difficult it was going to be to leave my baby and go to work. I still failed to realize just how much I’d changed. And that I was ok with it. I was aware that change was occurring and that my feelings were different but it was so dramatic and so unexpected. I didn’t see it coming at all. I really didn’t.

It still amazes me, 17 months later. I built up expectations for myself and my plan for so many years, and I was so sure of it. I was so sure of myself and my ambition and my career goals – only to have it all change.

I really think this is one of the most remarkable things about becoming a parent. The self-transformation. I’m not saying that every mother has this same change, or that it makes you a better or worse mom, I’m just saying that we all change.

The way we handle it, accept it, and digest it is different. But it happens, one way or the other. Because along the way – you go from loving your husband but still having many selfish desires and feelings, to loving your child more than anything in the world.

I mean hell. When I hear a love song on the radio, I think of my baby now! Not my husband.

Seriously.

I’m that much of a dork.

Anyway, one KT friend said that she thinks my entries are streams of consciousness. I’m well aware that today’s is very much a stream of consciousness.

I have been thinking about my friend’s “Supermom” comment all week. I have two other dear friends who are due to have their babies within a month. Babies babies everywhere. And I must admit, watching your friends become Moms is amazing. I can’t wait to see it happen. I can’t wait to see how they change, I can’t wait to meet their babies.

And I will be the first to say – being a supermom just means loving your baby as best you can. Anything more than that, if you can find the time, is just like adding a few sprinkles to your ice cream.

 

Queen of the Land April 18, 2007

Filed under: Celebrities — Wired_Momma @ 3:22 pm

Dear Prince William…or shall I call you future King:

It has come to my attention that there is a position open in your kingdom. While I was saddened to see the press coverage over the weekend that you dumped your pretty girlfriend, I must admit, I know someone else who would make a fabulous queen.

MOI!

That is right. I got to thinking that I should apply to be your future queen. I am quite sure I meet all the right criterion. Allow me to begin.

1. I am very pretty and would make for a luminous princess and elegant queen.

2. I have a proven track record of fertility and could provide future princesses and princes to the kingdom.

3. I am very well spoken, media trained, and can certainly handle the media deluge on a daily basis with dignity and composure. Moi? I never lose my cool. C’est vrai.

4. I have a great sense of style and with the correct budget (read: limitless), I could certainly wear a fabulous outfit for every occasion and I love accessories, so I have no trouble wearing hats, even if it’s kind of 1850ish.

5. I have a great fake posh British accent and am willing to be addressed “M’Lady.”

6. I will never write a tell-all book when you divorce me, nor will I spread lies and rumors about the Queen amongst the hungry British press. I also will never speak of Prince Harry’s bad habits and obvious drinking problem.

7. I like tea and I love clotted cream on my crumpets, so I could really get used to that tradition as part of each afternoon.

8. I have an Irish Passport, so I could help mend fences from the age old struggle between England and Ireland. Perhaps my daughter could be princess of Ireland? She has red hair. Surely that’s enough.  

9. I like attention and love to ski and vacation, so I promise to smile and show my pearly whites for every vacation photo-op, even if drab Prince Charles is there.

10. I can be very bossy and will happily let the people know that I am their queen, and have no problems with threatening to off heads or let them eat cake.

Have your people call my people if you’d like to discuss further. I am most definitely the most qualified candidate.

 

Breaking the rules April 16, 2007

Filed under: Motherhood — Wired_Momma @ 5:39 pm

One of the most overwhelming things about being a new parent is learning all the rules. There are lots of experts out there – and they will put the fear of God in you over the slightest, smallest thing. Everyone learns in baby care class to put your baby BACK to sleep for fear of SIDS, we learn that bumper pads should be removed because your child could move up against them and suffocate to death, and we learn of all the allergy dangers in feeding your baby too soon.

Now, if you have parents like mine, picture them on the opposite side of this experts ring, getting their boxing gloves on, shouting out how you were put to sleep on your tummy and it’s the best thing to stave off gas, and how you had bumper pads and with the exception of any mental idiosyncrasies you might have, you survived just fine, and finally, the food. All of us born at least 30 years ago were likely fed food by week 3-4 of life..and parents are quick to point out that we were all sleeping through the night much faster.

Some parents claim they were feeding us not just rice cereal but full blown meals, including meat, by one month old. Yes, many KT friends hail from the Midwest. I am left wondering about revisionist history sometimes, but still, this is what I’ve heard.

And, there are no more magical words to a new parent that “sleeping through the night.” So, food certainly becomes the low hanging fruit of temptation for the sleep deprived.

But really – what rules do you follow and what rules do you break as a parent?

Any true KT fan knows that, well, I’m pretty willing to break the rules and challenge authority because I’m pretty certain I know better for my own kid. Don’t think I didn’t challenge our pediatrician at every turn and told him as much, along the way, until he turned out to be right, or I just sorta ignored him and did my own thing.

The genes I inherited from my mother come into play with all of this, along with her opinions and shouting over in that boxing match I just alluded too.

So back to all the rules. I can tell you that I think the best way to parent is to trust your instincts. Sure, the American Academy of Pediatrics are a bunch of doctors who specialize in babies. But no one specializes in YOUR baby. And no one has to deal with your baby screaming all night, except you.

Before my darling daughter was even out of the womb, I knew I was ignoring the drama and warnings around bumper pads. Give me a break. Babies nestle up into warm, cozy corners, what is warm and cozy about cold wood or iron slots on the edge of a crib? NOTHING. But a bumper pad – now that is warm and cozy. And plus, we all survived just fine with them. So I threw caution to the wind on that one and well, it turned out just fine. There is a point to everything.

Now, the SIDS issue and putting your baby BACK to sleep, took me a bit longer to break the rules on. They really do put the fear of God in you over that one. And so, I dutifully put my baby BACK to sleep each night…but bended the rules during the day. Find me a baby that isn’t gassy and find me a parent that isn’t convinced by around week 4-6 that their baby has the dreaded colic. Guess what? Your kid, more than likely, does NOT have colic – they’re just gassy and being on their backs makes it worse.

Enter the side sleeping position in the stroller..enter the swing or the bouncy seat…even the infant car seat..anything that can keep baby at an angle – can help mommy and daddy sleep more at night. By around 5 months, I was putting our darling daughter to bed on her tummy every night. She could move her head around by then and well, she screamed bloody murder if you tried to put her on her back at all….so the American Academy of Pediatrics and their recommendations were tossed out with the bath water because, well, they weren’t sleeping in my house. If my pediatrician needed to believe we put her BACK to sleep and she flipped over on her own, well, then that’s what he needed to believe.

As for food, that one was a rockier path chez moi. The magical words of “sleeping through the night” were not just being whispered, they were being shouted into my ears by my mom and my dad from a very early point in my darling daughter’s life. My dad rarely chimes in, so it became even more tempting to start feeding her. On this one, however, my husband was adamantly opposed to feeding her much before 5 months because of the threat of allergies. So, in a rare moment, I acquiesed and doubted him and the doctor the entire time….until 16 weeks when darling daughter was sleeping through the night on just formula.

Apparently SOMETIMES the doctors and experts are right.

So what is my point in all of this? My point is – learn your baby, not just what the experts say, because there are so many extreme views out there. There are paranoid people out there.  And personally, I am never sure how many of them actually have babies at home, instead of just studying them in research.