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Archive for the ‘work’ Category

September is more than half gone, and yet it is still the first Monday all three of the children are off at school. It’s like that, Kindergarten. Your five your old goes off on the bus,  catches all the germs by licking the Legos, and then comes up and collapses in your arms on Friday afternoon.

He’s recovered now. So it is my first Monday of shipping them off. Were it not for my sister, I might have spent the day in my pajamas watching Mad Men on Netflix. Instead I am writing in a coffee shop with her. I have a coffee cup, a cell phone and a red netbook.  It turns out I look exactly like people who do this all the time.

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goodbyes and such

I notice on my google reader that I am not the only writer I know who is posting less frequently. One dear friend has said good-bye to her blog & others have not said so, but it is clear the posts are just not being pumped out at the same rate by most of us.

It may be that facebook or twitter are changing things – there are easier formats for the quick updates, the sharing of photos. It may be the branding & marketing of blogs has thinned the crowds. Maybe those of us with older kids have run out of time to share as much about them as we used to. Isaac, for example, is 11. He is lovely, but just not as constantly hysterical as he once was. This is for the best. People should not continue to misspeak in hilarious ways unless they plan to make a living at it. Perhaps, like many others I know, I’m starting to feel the need to transfer the ownership of his stories over to him.

I’ve made some changes myself. I have a work site & plan to consolidate all the birth blogging over there in the coming months. I will always have a link here for you, but everything feeds through reader, or Facebook, or Twitter, so I am often left with the feeling that people might be getting the notification 3 or 4 times for one post.

School’s out for summer. The kids are all mine. They are addicted to routine and schedules and plans & I plan to break the habit. They need poetry and homemade play houses, surprises and spontaneity mixed in with their little ingrained habit of bedtimes and reading times, snack times and planned stay home days. I’m not saying good-bye to this space, just acknowledging that it can’t be all it once was, when I was a stay-at-mother to very small children who swallowed marbles and painted my walls with diaper cream.

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Birth: I can help

I need to work more. I’m thinking so much about birth, where I can work, what services I can offer, how to help more women, and earn more money that my mind resembles this wordle. Click on it to see it bigger.

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Job Creep (n): the situation in which one’s employer slyly and slowly hands over ever more responsibilities and tasks without offering greater compensation.

For example:

After college I worked in a daycare center for a short time. My first task was to take care of 8 children ages 10-20 months. I was actually pretty good at that. I was able to keep them fed, changed, napped & even got everyone outside most days, read to most days and occasionally we managed to color. One day, I was asked to decorate the walls – you know, adorably, with whatever I had on hand. I didn’t have anything on hand, not to mention no time during my 9 hour work days. That was the first time I brought work home -from a daycare center paying me like $7 an hour. Job creep, but I didn’t know it then. I quit when I got pregnant and started coming home and falling asleep immediately and only waking for dinner then sleeping like 10 more hours before returning to work – no time for decorating the walls.

When Thinker was four months old I took a part time babysitting job. It was in the home of two working parents and the baby girl was a one month younger than Thinker. I went there twice a week for about 3 months. When the dad started hanging around in the mornings after the mom had left, I started to feel a little uncomfortable – was he spying on me, the nanny, b/c they thought I was doing a bad job? No, that wasn’t it. It took me a while to realize what I was uncomfortable with – he began going up to shower than hanging around in his dress slacks, wife beater and no shoes or socks with perfectly manicured toes. It occurred to me that as the nanny I represented a type of accessory that some men may feel entitled to enjoy. I was not prepared to accept that level of job creep so I gave short notice and went about my business. My next several stints in daycare were all at my house, which limited the job creep considerably, but it was tiring and not very financially rewarding.

When I went to become a house parent at a boarding school I interviewed in the winter and started training in August. The school had just instituted – that week – a policy on students not keeping any medications or vitamins in their rooms – good policy, I truly believe- but this proved to be job creep on a level no one expected. The first few weeks of school I was woken at all hours by students requesting very medicines, vitamins and herbal remedies that up until that year they had had 24 hour access to. It did not help that I had 31 students, only 6 of whom were new and I was new. Most of them thought I had taken their medication away and then complained about having to give it out to them. One cannot reason with a teenager. The concept that this was not my evil plan was really developmentally beyond most of them. Even the ones capable of grasping that just went along for the ride because it made for good drama. When I interviewed and took the job, this particular responsibility – which proved to be both time-consuming, tedious and a source of great contention with students- was no where on the job description. Houseparents who had been there for years previous took this on with no pay raise whatsoever. I took it on at the rate I had previously agreed to work for & with the dreading feeling like those hard first few weeks would not be easy to get back. Instead of getting to know students and making brownies I was arguing over extra-strength tylenol and meeting students in the foyer bleary-eyed at 6:45 am with vitamins before breakfast. I had been promised my mornings by the administration and it took weeks to get them back – weeks of being up til midnight putting students to sleep, nursing a sick baby overnight and then the doorbell would start at 6:45. That tired me out, until like a week ago I was catching up on sleep from that those first weeks, which were 3 1/2 years ago now. The job creep was fairly consistent & as I had two babies in two years while there, I made a pretty fast exit all things considered – I fast as I was able anyway.

I was thinking of all this in the car on the way to occupational therapy today. It occurred to me that LP’s use for me – to process his senses and make sense of all the language tossed his way that he doesn’t understand – is some unavoidable motherhood job creep that is really not good for either of us. All kids would prefer to forever have mom do the laundry. We all make our own boundaries there. I’m learning with Thinker – letting him take responsibilities for remembering to do his homework, return his library books, bring his Friday folder for me to sign. I’m turning over baskets of laundry for him to fold and small chores for him to accomplish. These things instill responsibility in him, ease the burdens of mothering on me & it is a win-win-win across the board for a nearly nine year old to know how to replace toilet paper on the roll. (sadly, I had to get that idea from Sarah, cause I’m not that bright)

I’m having a much harder time knowing how to turn over the reins to the far more dependent LP. I know he needs me, but he also needs to do some of this stuff himself. He has to try & I have to leave some gap there for him to realize that he wants to try, that he had better try or some of the things he & I want for him just won’t happen. Often my attempts at allowing him to become frustrated are me with screaming or tears. Occasionally they are met with “I’m too little,” or “I’m in time-out,” or “I’m sleeping now.” I don’t want him to be that discouraged, but he is. I’m not sure how to let him sit with that. I’m not sure how to sit with it myself. It is a fine line between rescuing and helping him succeed, between challenging him and frustrating him. I want him to perceive himself as capable – big enough that all things are worth his best effort.

In the meantime, this job creep is getting me down.

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to see me in a play about birth! This is a play, sponsored by BOLD, with the purpose of making maternity care mother-friendly – because although dogs can birth – and indeed all mammals can, often they are treated with more respect as they birth their young than women are. That was not at all my personal experience, but if you speak with enough women, you’ll find it is so. BOLD is a global initiative because mothers all over the world matter.

This is a rather long video, but watching two minutes of it will show you what’s up with BOLD and why making maternity care mother friendly matters to all of us.

What I love about this play is that 8 very different women are portrayed along with all the variety of their experiences, feelings and perceptions – hospital birth, medicated birth, home -birth and cesarean birth are all represented, as well as varying degrees of agency. A character whose perception of birth began during childhood as she watched the family dog birth, recalls her family cheering their beloved dog on, giving her plenty of space and not messing with the dogs instincts or puppies…the play ends with a lovingly supported women birthing a baby and the characters asking, hopefully, can I really get what my dog got?

So, Bill Maher, celebrity spokesperson for PETA, please don’t stop by. The births of both women and dogs will be celebrated; I’m completely comfortable with the comparison, but I’m pretty sure you aren’t.

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