Kitty Time

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

An Inconvenient Pregnancy April 30, 2008

Filed under: Motherhood,Work — Wired_Momma @ 3:48 pm

About 10 days ago, the AP ran a piece with the very titillating headline of “An Inconvenient Pregnancy” – so naturally I read it. What wasn’t clear to me once I finished reading it, however, was who considered the pregnancy inconvenient? The pregnant women never said that? So her employer? Women’s groups who want women to behave in certain ways in the workforce after they have children? Who, exactly, is this pregnancy, inconvenient for?

Allow me to elaborate.

The jist of the piece is this – many women become pregnant as they are reaching a high point in their careers – and so the question is – should they take a long maternity leave or will that jeoporadize their career too much?

Two high profile examples are given – Spain’s Defense Minister Carme Chacon, who is nearing the end of her pregnancy and Elizabeth Vargas of ABC News, who left her high profile job as the co-anchor of the evening news after having her second child. The AP piece includes snippets of people wondering if Spain’s Defense Minister should really take all of the 16 weeks given to her for maternity leave (how generous of that country to be able to “afford” to fund the lazy needs of a new mother and her maternity leave). Some question if she should be absent for that long and can the Defense Ministry carry-on without her? (Give me a freaking break, is what I say. Let this woman go have her maternity leave and love her baby and let her body heal in peace and quiet.)

Then others are quoted regarding Vargas’ decision to leave her high-profile career at ABC to stay home with children, wondering if ABC pushed her out, despite her own statements that this was her decision because she wanted and needed to spend more time with her children. Why is that so hard for people to believe? Why must everyone be so cynical that a woman can reach the peak of her career – and still – on her own volition – decide that at home with her children is where she wants to be?

Though some of the undercurrents of this piece frustrated me – feeding into this notion of mommy guilt and worse – this idea that we can do it all (and part of that includes cutting maternity leave short to prove that you can do it all) – this piece underscores many important issues.

First, this quote on the reality of how managing motherhood with a career is treated in this country:

“There’s a clear penalty to motherhood and caregiving in this country,” says Eileen Appelbaum, director of the Center for Women and Work at Rutgers University. “Basically we’ve said to women, if you can conduct yourself in the workplace as if you were a man, without any other responsibilities, being available day and night, then (and only then) will your pay and opportunities will be similar.”

I am quite confident that many KT fans can attest to this reality. But the truth is – this isn’t how life works when you are a parent – because life happens. Children get sick, they need their parents, something happens at school, whatever the case may be – a line has to be drawn and something’s got to give. The question I am constantly left wondering is when will the workplace mentality catch up to the technological revolution? No one works just from 9-5pm when they are in the office, we have laptops, blackberries and cell phones – and so when can we all laugh and say “Face time is so 2004, virtual me is the new 2008.”

Because it’s happening anyway. But even though it’s happening, it doesn’t change the brand identity of the woman who leaves every day at 5pm. Face it, we’re a brand. It’s called Mommy Tracked. No matter the reason you leave precisely on time every day at work, no matter how much more efficiently you work now that you have the honed time-management skills of a new mom, it doesn’t matter – what matters is that you leave on time every day.  I’m still thinking over what we can do to overcome the Mommy Tracked brand identity problem – because every brand can be remade and rebuilt – it just takes time, so I’ll get back to you on that.

Until then, we’re back to one of our favorite hot button issues here on KT – the nerve of us to demand and ask for PAID MATERNITY LEAVE.

I’ve said it before, I will say it again and guess what, I will KEEP SAYING IT – it is a disgrace that the United States does not mandate paid maternity leave.  According to the AP, “The United States is one of a handful of countries with no guaranteed paid maternity leave policy, along with Swaziland, Papua New Guinea, Lesotho and Liberia, researchers found last year.”

Lesotho is news to me – but again – odds are most of you don’t even know where Lesotho is – and yet, we’re in good company with them on this one, aren’t we? We have so much in common, us and Lesotho. Don’t we?

Again, we are the only economic power, out of 173 countries studied by Harvard and McGill Unversities last year – that fail to provide women with paid maternity leave. And as it turns out, 40 percent of the workforce is ineligible for the paltry 12 weeks time off UNPAID mandated under FMLA, because they work for companies with fewer than 50 employees. Also, the employee has to work there for at least a year to qualify for FMLA.

I think that is a really important distinction to also make because what does it do – it paralyzes pregnant women from moving to a new job. I’d call that discrimination too, wouldn’t you?  Yes, I know plenty of pregnant women get hired for new jobs and are able to negotiate maternity leave and job security, but those options are most likely there for the most educated of women out there. What about the rest of women who might be working in hostile enviroments for abusive bosses but they are forced to stay in the job they have because to switch jobs as a pregnant woman gives them no protection or job security?

More to come on this topic kittens. I’m thinking of learning a bit more about the other four countries that we are in bed with, in this whole no paid maternity leave debacle, and seeing what else we have in common with Swaziland, Lesotho, Papua New Guinea and Liberia – that would be quite interesting, don’t you think?

Here’s a link to the AP Piece:

http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5jbuLaht8-hgTvfLLqJ3w63J_bEkQD904HHK80

And for the record, my pregnancy was never inconvenient…the only thing inconvenient about pregnancy and balancing motherhood with a career is inflexible work environments and unpaid maternity leave.

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BPA is Everywhere April 28, 2008

Filed under: Motherhood — Wired_Momma @ 2:14 pm

OK, it seems I’ve really been asleep at the wheel for the past few months or so. The drama around this compound, BPA, found in plastics all around us – and the possible dangers it poses to infants in the womb, infants, toddlers, and well, all of us, really managed to escape me entirely until I settled into the front page story of yesterday’s Washington Post:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04/26/AR2008042602126.html

How did I miss all of this? Was I really so busy day dreaming about spring fashion and why Pamela Anderson was a guest at Saturday’s White House Correspondent’s Dinner? What might she have to talk about with any member of the Administration? Or Heidi Montag? Why was she there? Why is she even famous?

Anyhoo, I digress. In case you’ve been hibernating in a cave all winter, right along with me, most of you likely already know that BPA is a synthetic sex hormone that mimics estrogen and it is used in plastics to help keep the plastic hard. BPA is widespread, is found in 95% of Americans tested and it is linked with diabetes, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and early onset of puberty in little girls, among other not-great things. It seems that BPA is found in 95% of baby bottles that were tested and it leaches from the bottle when it’s warm. It is also found in toddler sippy cups, in the lining of canned foods, in canned baby formula, I mean the list is long and scary.

As someone who works in public affairs in Washington, I can be skeptical of sudden scary findings like this, but I will admitt that the Post’s analysis yesterday pointed out that the ONLY studies that did not find harm in BPA were the two studies funded by the Plastics Industry. Again, I try to avoid the sky is falling kind of thinking – I am sure I still have plenty of Chinese-made lead-laden toys lurking around my DD’s playroom that she chewed on for months – but this particular scare has really struck a chord with me and motivated me to make some changes in the house hold.

We don’t have a baby or bottles to deal with, too late on that one, but we do have sippy cups and our own Nalgene bottles to get rid of. So, here is a link to a site that gives you credible information on which bottles and sippy cups are safe:

http://safemama.com/2007/11/22/bpa-free-bottle-and-sippy-cup-cheat-sheet/

Being an action-oriented kind of gal, I also found this site where you can sign a petition that is being sent to manufacturers of baby bottles to demand they remove BPA from baby bottles:

http://www.chej.org/BPA_Website.htm

And finally, just in case your child LOVES Popsicles as much as mine does, here’s a link to learn more about making Popsicles at home that are BPA Free (it’s easy, it’s called shopping at Crate & Barrel):

http://greenmomfinds.com/2008/04/28/popscicles-sans-bpa/

Go forth kittens….and live a BPA free live.

 

 

Republicans Sabotage Parents, Part Two April 18, 2008

Filed under: Motherhood,Politics,Work — Wired_Momma @ 4:36 pm

Kittens –

We’ve all participated in a really interesting dialogue over the past day regarding federally mandated paid maternity leave for employees of the federal government. I think many of us were surprised by the views of one commenter. Frankly, I’m still reeling from this idea that what constitutes true family values is one parent quitting their job all together and staying home full-time with their child once the child is born. It seems that this is a convenient way to side-step paid maternity leave, in the view of some, by instead just accusing parents of outsourcing the care and raising of their child by daring to return to work.

Of the many flaws in this argument, KT readers commented on some of the most important. The reasons we parents, and frankly most readers of KT are women, so let’s just keep it simple and say women – return to work after having a child vary. For some, we have no choice financially. For others, we need the health care, for others we have worked for a dozen years, earned many degrees and going to work is an outlet that helps us be better parents because we, too, deserve to challenge our brains in a way that a child cannot. For others, it’s because they need the financial security if they aren’t sure of their marriage.

The point is – in this day and age – most women return to work after they have a child. Deciding to bring a child into the world is the most amazing, life altering decision that one can make. And frankly, only those who have not yet known the joys and true love that comes with being a parent, could simplify an argument against federally mandated paid maternity leave to this: it costs an employer too much money.

What has our society come too if the added expense to an employer of paid maternity leave outweighs the importance of  a skilled and diverse workforce?  What has our society come too if the added expense to an employer outweighs the importance of the critical weeks post-birth for a mother to learn to breastfeed and care for her child, on top of the time the body needs to physically recover from the trauma of birth (and trust me, it’s trauma), and for the child to learn to bond and feel loved by his/her mother – if the added expense to a business is more important than that?

And what does it say about how much value our country places on the importance of family if we do not make paid maternity leave mandated?

Like it or not, women are the only ones that can give birth and breastfeed a new baby. Women are the ones that need to physically recover from a pregnancy and a birth. And women make-up half of our nation’s workforce. More girls than boys are going on to college, and women are keeping pace with men in medical school, law school and business schools. And yet, to not offer women federally mandated pay for maternity leave – just tells us that we still are not as important as men.

That is what this is about. Let’s not make this about family values = stay-at-home moms. Or lack of family values = not picking Nordstrom shoes over tending to your child all day. Or the worst one I read so far is this – forced paid maternity leave means more women will lose their jobs and more children will not be fed by their parents because a business can’t take on the added expense.

Scare tactics and intimidation doesn’t work any more. Is any one really going to buy that? Or better yet, we don’t care.

Yes, small businesses will be faced with challenges greater than larger businesses if this country mandates paid maternity leave. But guess what – that’s what happens in an open and free society where life happens outside of work.

And so, to anyone who is still following this trail – I will say this – we need to keep up the fight. There is a reason why every other developed nation in the world values and funds paid maternity leave – it’s because women are valued and important in those countries.

Meanwhile, over here in the good old US, where we HAVE SPENT BILLIONS on a war in Iraq against an enemy that we essentially created by going in there to begin with – over here – we can argue that the added expense of funding paid maternity leave outweighs the benefits – and those people can wake up and still face themselves in the morning.

I can wake up and face myself each morning because I understand family values, I am instilling  them in my child even though I go to work every day and because I intend to teach her that women are just as important as men, which is why I will keep blogging my face off about the national disgrace of no federally mandated paid maternity leave.

So stay tuned kittens, we’re not done with this subject until we get what we deserve – at least 8 weeks paid.

And then we move on to state funded child care and universal health care.

Or we can just move to really any other developed country and receive what we deserve- but then America wouldn’t be so great without us. Now would it?

I think that come Election Day, this must be a critically important issue to all of us, which is another reason why I am an Obama Mamma.

 

Republicans Sabotage Parents…..Again April 16, 2008

Filed under: Motherhood,Politics — Wired_Momma @ 5:39 pm

Kittens –

I am seeing red and I can barely contain myself. Once again, the party that claims to stand for family values has voted AGAINST families in favor of business. In case there are any Republicans out there reading my blog, shame on you – and especially if you are parents – I hope you think long and hard before casting that vote in November. This is a party and an Administration that sickens me.

On the off chance that you missed the front section of today’s Washington Post Business page, the House took up a bill that would have federally mandated 8 weeks of PAID LEAVE for the birth of a child or an adoption. Note – the inclusion of the adoption is equally as important.

I know that I should be happy that it wasn’t killed all together but that it was cut from 8 weeks to 4 weeks.

All KT readers should first give a shout out to Rep. Carolyn Maloney from NY who has fought for paid leave for the past 8 years. She took the high road in the Post’s piece and managed to sound positive and upbeat that SOMETHING is moving forward on this front – as embarrassing at it is that we are the only industrialized nation in the world that doesn’t offer parents paid leave.

But really, it’s the Republicans that we parents – every single one of us – should have a bone to pick with. If we cannot rely upon our Federal Government to occasionally set the protocol and force businesses to make positive decisions on behalf of families – then how can we expect businesses to do it on their own? Sure, some are – but most are not. And until the Federal Government steps forward and is the leader – then we will remain woefully behind and in the Dark Ages when it comes to advocating the rights of working parents in this country. Before I even remind everyone that for women birthing a child, our uterus has not even yet returned back to its normal size by four god damn weeks post partum.

And yet, yet, the party of family values, claims that in this economic downturn, now is not the time to afford people more paid time off. It would, in fact, be setting the WRONG example for anyone paying attention, and according to the good old hideous and Cave Manish Bush Administration, federal employees are already given enough vacation, so why would they need more?

Yes Mr. President, tell us, why would a new mother who has just endured 10 months of pregnancy and the ordeal of giving birth, need to be home AT ALL with her child? How dare she want ANY paid time off!

Women today – we are so f’ing lazy and greedy, aren’t we?

And so, this man who is authorizing spending what – like one billion dollars A DAY – on the war in Iraq that we entered under false pretenses, and thousands of families have lost their soldiers over – yet he doesn’t want the federal government to eat the $95 million in the first year – that it would cost – to authorize 6 weeks of paid paternity leave, as estimated back in 2000 when they last talked about this.

And so 8 years have passed since they last talked about this, 8 horrible years of Republican regime, we have MOVED FORWARD 8 years in time – and yet – we have MOVED BACKWARDS even further than we were 8 years ago – from considering 6 weeks of paid time off – which was rejected – to now 4 weeks of paid time off.

You better believe I’ll be paying careful attention to when this legislation comes up to the House floor for a vote.

And again – why would you vote Republican?  Shame shame shame.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04/15/AR2008041502979_2.html

 

Toddler Tantrums, part 2,431.431 April 14, 2008

Filed under: Husbands,Motherhood — Wired_Momma @ 6:05 pm

Ahh kittens…..

How many times have we discussed the wily and inappropriate behavior of the toddler set already here on KT? Probably not enough. Or maybe I just haven’t gotten enough words of wisdom from those of you who have been there, done that, but in the daily struggle to show who’s the boss chez moi, the only thing I know for certain on any given day is that, well, it’s not my darling husband.  Whether it’s me or DD, just depends on the day.

I always wondered when I would know my child was ready for time-outs. How would I know she’s old enough to understand? How would I know when the behavior was egregious enough to warrant a time out, I worried?

Fret not, is the answer, when the time comes, it is abundantly clear. A few weeks ago, my DD spontaneously landed in time-out. I certainly didn’t wake up that day knowing that it was the day, and I certainly didn’t come home from work, anticipating this would be the outcome, but well, it was. A word of caution – if you haven’t yet instituted a time-out in your house – you might plan ahead and know WHERE the time-out chair is before you cast your child off to a time-out.

Otherwise you’ll be like me – all brooding and serious and Ms. Disciplinarian, secretly thinking “Shit, where the hell am I going to put her?”

Though a split second decision, the bottom stair in our hallway seemed just as good a place as any to me. I’ve seen enough Super Nanny episodes to know the time-outs can’t take place in an interesting spot. So really, what’s interesting about a boring empty hallway?

A few weeks have passed and DD has only landed in time-out a handful of times. I don’t believe in abusing this disciplinarian tactic. I figured, less is more and she’ll come to realize that when she’s there, it’s for a very real and serious reason.

Frankly, what she quickly surmised is that to cry and say in her sweetest voice “I’m sorry mommy” as she hugs me, is one way to get off the bottom stair pretty quickly.

All is not lost, though, because until Saturday night, the time-outs were abruptly stopping the offensive behavior. After one time in time-out, that particular behavior –  hasn’t resurfaced since. Of course, variations of it have taken shape and well, for the enterprising young toddler, there’s always some other trouble rounding the corner, so it’s not like my work here is any where near done.  A toddler is to trouble what Angie Jolie is to babies….apparently there is never enough…..

What I didn’t expect was how quickly, after just a few times using this technique, my daughter would mock it. Recall – she’s just 2.5 years old in a month.

Saturday night she found herself in time-out before her bath. I’d been going back and forth in my mind over handling the bad behavior right around bath time. I know she’s acting out because she’s tired and just wants to go to bed, so I’d been trying to manage it as best I could without letting the situation escalate to a time-out. By Saturday night, I concluded that swift action, no matter how tired said child might be, was the only way to nip the pre-bath tantrums.

So off to our time-out spot on the bottom stair we went.

And you know what happened?
She gave me a long, cold, hard stare, walked up two more stairs, and put her back to me, then turned around and smirked at me – like “You put me in time-out? Is that really the best you can do? Because I raise you one time-out with two stairs and mocking you!”

Again. She’s barely 2.5 years old.

What in the world is coming my way in the future?

So kind of like that spontaneous moment a few weeks ago when I declared time-out for the first time and then wondered where in the hell I was going to put her, this time I found myself wondering – well what the hell am I going to do now that she’s mocking her punishment? Clearly this one isn’t working.

The outcome was this – no stories and music before bed time – just bed time. It felt awful to end the day with her like that, crying her eyes out in her crib, apologizing, but what is a gal to do? It seems that we’ve reached the point where taking away something that she enjoys is the real way to punish her. Though now I have a greater appreciation that our parents might actually have meant it when they used to tell us that the punishment hurt them more than us.

I did assure her that I love her and if she’s good the next night during bath time, then we will read stories together again.

For those of you at the edge of your seat, she was good last night and we revitalized story time.

The question is – what’s next? Is it too early in parenthood for me to be running out of tricks and being outwitted by my child? I think so….

 

When You Grow Up April 9, 2008

Filed under: Motherhood,Work — Wired_Momma @ 7:00 pm

Many of us spend much of our younger years sweating over what we’re going to do or be when we grow up. It’s all focused on our work. As if our work is a testament to our life and who we are as a person. I often wonder if this is a very American thing. When children in France or Italy are growing up, are they sweating over what they’re going to be? Do they have crises in college if they haven’t yet declared a major? Are they panicking when they graduate if they don’t know how their major will apply to their work?

And what does this say about us, that we put so much weight into our identity associated with our work?

Regardless of what it says, I think this is such a big reason why I, and many KT BFFs have had such an identity crisis since becoming moms. All of a sudden, work matters a whole lot less. That’s not to say we don’t take pride in our work but what used to seem so important and life shattering seems to pale in comparison to the importance of raising a child and teaching them to be a good person. After years of being identified with what we’ve accomplished professionally, suddenly it comes to a screeching halt and we are most consumed with what we’re accomplishing personally…this job that never ends….raising this little one.

A KT friend just emailed me and told me about this fabulous luncheon she had yesterday with Dee Dee Myers and many other professional women. Dee Dee Myers is personal working hero of mine considering she was the first female White House press secretary…and for Clinton, nonetheless. She has a new book out “Why Women Should Rule The World” and I saw her on Colbert and knew I had to have this book. I mean, doesn’t that title say enough?

Anyhow, apparently one of the women at this luncheon made a comment that really struck me – even though I wasn’t in the room. She said:

“We (women) are told that we need to grow up,  go to college and get a good job.  But then once we have children,  no one tells us what to do after that.”

 

Amen sister. Let me add to that and say – we are met with criticism and constant media banter and judgement over whatever it is we do decide to do after that – working too much? putting your child in childcare too early? not working and disappointing future generations of women? Need I go on?

 

I guess my job is to teach my daughter that when she grows up, the whole picture matters, not just the financial and professional one. Beyond that, all I can say is I plan to read Dee Dee’s book.

 

 

 

Potty Training…it’s a jungle out there April 7, 2008

Filed under: Motherhood,Uncategorized — Wired_Momma @ 2:10 pm

For those of you who have experienced the peaks and valleys of potty training a toddler, you know it is a world rife with drama, unpredictability and surprises.

One of the biggest surprises for me, personally, is that it seems they don’t actually pee as much as you think they do. Recall all those crazy amounts of diapers you were changing when your little one was a baby? I think it’s a branding thing – you never really realize how much that changes as they age until you start potty training and realizing – they pee less than we do – you’re just still caught up in what they were like as babies.

But see, potty training is not for the weak at heart. As you might guess, the little ones, though not peeing as frequently as one would think, do not have the ability to just – well – hold it. So with the beautiful new world of not needing diapers comes a deep fear and anxiety over – what’s going to happen if/when they have to pee somewhere and we aren’t anywhere near a toilet?

And so, you venture off on each new trip on a wing and a prayer, hoping for the best, dreading the worst, praying that you did really remember to pack an extra pair of pants and socks and underware before you dashed out the door with said toddler.

One of the most hilarious stories I’ve heard recently about potty training is from a friend whose daughter also attends my DD’s school. They were busy shopping at Buy Buy Baby one weekend at the onset of potty training, my friend turned her head for one second, only to look back and realize her DD whipped down her pants, sat down on one of the training potties in BBB and was peeing in that potty.

OK – HILARIOUS. This is one of the things I love most about little ones – they are so literal. There is a potty, I have to go pee pee, ok then – perfect! No filter. Just all practicality. Everything is black and white to them. Love it.

On the flip side of less successful potty training stories, I will tell you what happened to us this weekend. My DD has been potty trained since January and despite my anxiety, we really haven’t had any accidents…until…..Saturday.

Enter a child just recovering from being sick…on top of missing her morning nap….on top of being totally preoccupied. See – when the toddler gets distracted and busy doing something totally fun and exciting – they do not have time to worry about going potty, eating, or drinking. If only I could get this consumed with something other than shoes or celebrity gossip.

Anyhow – we had to take DD to get special sneakers and inserts to correct her foot-turning in/tumbling a lot issue. We left the shoe store and went into a toy store very quickly for a birthday present. DD was in her brand new practical (and boring) white $80 tennis shoes not five full minutes, I was paying at the registered, glanced up at DD and noticed “the stance.”

In other words – she was one step away from putting her hands over her crotch like little kids are prone to doing. My stomach filled with dread and then my husband made eye contact with me – in a look of horror – as we both realized that DD has just peed all through her pants, her brand new shoes and on the carpet of this toy store.

He looked at me frozen in time. He was a man immobilized.

Me, being an action-oriented kind of gal, I mouthed “Get out of here! Go to my car!”

And he swooped her up and literally ran out without a look back.

I stood there, feeling so relieved that no one in the store could identify me as the parent to the child who was so busy playing trains that she completely pissed all over the place.

This was new territory to me.
Do I tell the store that my child just urinated everywhere like a zoo animal?

Or do I run out after I sign the credit card receipt – just as quickly as my husband did, after quickly noticing that said carpet is very absorbent and a dark shade anyway – so no one would even notice unless they stood in that spot barefoot?

You decide what I did.

And kittens – don’t ever say I didn’t warn you – it’s a jungle out there with potty training.