Category Archives: Blogging

What *do* I do with myself?

I am kid-free for a wee bit & so, I poured myself a beer (just about the only cold drink to be had in my very warm house… yay, summer?) & figured I’d do some “out-loud” strategizing about this blog & my writing life.

I’ve said it before: I love writing this blog. And there are so many interesting conversations going on right now about mothers & women & working & parenting & birth. And I have so many drafts floating around in various states of disarray (not to mention the many more ideas floating around in my head).

But I also have an busy family & a demanding day job & an active pro bono case & a long to-do list (I’m still going to write that will & finalize a budget so we can “snow ball” attack those law school loans…) & some semblance of a well-rounded life (though that last one is debatable these days…).

Which is to say that I don’t have much time for writing.

Which is sad.

It’s sad because I think it’s important that moms who work outside the home have a voice & speak up. (No, I don’t pretend to speak for all “working moms” but I think I can present at least one small slice of the experience.)

Look, I love writers. I married one. I have dear friends who are parents & writers. As in professional-with-published-books writers. I know how hard they work. I know how hard they work to juggle their writing & their families. But I don’t always feel represented by writerly writers who write about “working mothers.” (Ditto actors.) I know that’s unfair. I know that’s judgmental. Sorry.

So… I still keep my blog alive (though I realize it’s often barely on life support) because I think it’s important for moms with 9-to-5’s to be a part of the conversation. I suppose that’s why I (along with many others) get so giddy when someone like Anne-Marie Slaughter writes about what it’s like to participate in a grueling but fulfilling career while raising a family. Or why my law school’s local alum group hosted a discussion of Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In when it was first published.

All moms are busy. “Working moms” are a different type of busy. And that different type of busy makes it especially difficult for us to participate in discussions of motherhood & work & equality.

I do know that the fact that I don’t publish often or maintain my blog in a way to make it pretty or more public affects the number of folks I can reach. But for those of you who stick with me & still read my posts, what would you like to see me address here? More on sleep & attachment parenting? Breastfeeding & pumping? More on career & cultural issues affecting “working moms”? Book reviews? Biology? Travel with kids? Equitable parenting? Cooking & food? Miscarriage & loss? Anything else?

And now, I hear my lovely family returning, so, until next time!

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Screen-Free Week 2018

So, I’m writing this blog post on the first day of Screen-Free Week in an attempt to convince you to give up (or scale back) screen time for yourself & your family this week.

I’ve been participating in (& writing about) Screen-Free Week since at least 2012. I’ve been reading about screens & kids for even longer.

I’ve been honest when Screen Free Week hasn’t gone as planned. And I’ve been honest when my own use of tech has interfered with my parenting. Lately, I was reminded of how my kids are quietly paying attention to my use of my devices when my son asked if I read books! (I do & was able to list at least three recent books I had read… Phew!)

Lately, we’ve achieved (more or less) solid parameters for our son’s use of screens, while learning hard lessons about how our rules clash with those of his friends.

If you’re curious what a tech-lite house looks like, our current rules are:

  • No screens during the school week or when we have other things to do.
  • Our oldest can watch his own show for about 30 minutes each day Friday-Sunday.
  • He can watch more if it’s with a parent on a topic that’s more-or-less of interest to everyone (baseball instructional videos, music videos, documentaries, etc.)
  • If he wants to look something up on YouTube Kids, he does so with an adult present.
  • We indulge in family movie night & Star Wars & Marvel movies at the theaters!

We’re trying to make screen time more of a family activity than a babysitter. That has meant sitting down to watch Boss Baby episodes with him & cooking to the soundtrack of Voltron or reviews of Lego sets.

Some of his friends play video games & use tech with more freedom (& less adult supervision), which makes navigating acceptable limits more tricky. I don’t want him to be a social outcast because of our rules, but I want to give him tools for navigating the Internet, which can be unsafe territory for kids.

It’s a work in progress. And our rules will change as he grows& changes.

For Screen-Free Week this year, I’ve asked him to help police my use of screens. It’s going to be hard when life seems so tethered to devices (calendars, email, work, recipes, money management, etc.) We agreed to no iPad time for him this weekend. But I’m taking him to see Avengers: Infinity Wars on Sunday. Seems like a compromise but overall a win-win.

Signing off until I report back! (And so I can pay attention to a very important little league baseball game!)

I hope you’ll join in the fun (especially if the weather in your neck of the woods is as spring-like as mine)! Let me know in the comments if you do!

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Burnout

Feeling the burn

What does it say that I couldn’t get myself to attend a seminar I had signed up for called “Overcoming Burnout”?

Have I reached the depths of burnout? I don’t know. What I do know is that life right now borders on the chaotic. Sometimes it feels overwhelming. And I need more sleep.

I try to spin it by saying my life is full. It is. In many wonderful ways. I still need more sleep. And some time & space to call my own. (Can I get a body to call my own, too? Maybe for me burnout feels like being touched out… hmm…)

Speaking of sleep, I have a post about sleep that I’m really excited about, but all in good time.

Take care of yourselves, dear readers! (And if you think of it, please share in the comments the most important thing you do to take care of yourself… I need some help in that department!)

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So many drafts, so little time…

I have started so many draft posts during the past year, mostly since I started commuting to work again about 7 months ago. It’s frustrating to feel like I never finish my posts or don’t post enough, but you know what else is frustrating? Typos! Realizing post hoc that you’ve been a poor editor. My first order of (blogging non-) business is to fix my recent post on the “Science vs.” AP podcast. Yikes! It’s all over the place & typos galore. 

When I started this blog, I spent a lot more time at an actual computer. Now, I mostly write on my phone during my commute or sometimes on my tablet at home. I’m not sure either is conducive to my best writing self, so I may have to be (even) more intentional about my writing in the future & find some time with an actual keyboard.(Ao old fashioned, I know!) 

In any case, I have posts in the works (& in various stages of completeness) about cultural appropriation, sleep, AP myths, attachment theory (& the “strange situation” experiment) & a review of the recent book Being There.

What should I publish first? Or what else would you like me to write about on this blog?

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We’ve had a baby!

Little Mom, JD, Jr. (aka “M”) is here & has actually been here for about 2 months now! 

Yikes, life is busy with 2 kiddos! Whereas with T, I started this blog in the early days of his life… with M and T, I haven’t found much time to do any writing. 

Little Baby M has been a joy & I’ve waited so long for her to join us that I find myself just staring at her most of the day in wonderment at the miracle that she is. Nursing time has been (a) meditative, (b) restful, (c) time to jot down ideas for the blog, or (d) wasted on Facebook. 

And when she’s not eating or sleeping (usually on someone), I’ve been trying to engage with T (who is the most amazing big brother) or take care of household stuff (which means managing various states of chaos, if I’m honest…).

I have managed to stay off of my work email (aside from purging emails so that I don’t get locked out of my email system entirely), though I may start working remotely for a few hours a week one day soon.

I have so many thoughts about motherhood in the early newborn days, postpartum living, birth after miscarriages, parenting, maternity leave, work-life divides, and living radically… But mostly these thoughts are just swirling in my sleep-deprived brain. I hope to get some of them out of there one day soon.

So, yay, she’s here! And she’s waking up, so that’s all for now…

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Mother Birthday(s)… Blah, blah, blah…

   
Since starting this blog, I have written yearly on the anniversary of T’s due date, which happened to be exactly 2 weeks before he arrived into my arms. Well, I missed not only his due date this year but his actual birthday, too. (On this blog anyway … I missed writing about his birthday because we were busy planning & celebrating his birthday, so no time to write about it!)

To be honest, I didn’t even notice his due date anniversary this year (which I’ve treated as my own mother anniversary here & here & here & etc.). Partly because I was traveling for work & expending all of my mental energy on that. But I also think I missed it for a couple of other reasons, the first & biggest being the passage of time.

T turned 7 this year. S-E-V-E-N! 

It has always been his birthday, but in the past I’ve also felt like his birthing was a moment of becoming for me, too. Being a mother has changed me in so many ways, and I’ve wanted an outlet for celebrating that. The anniversary of his due date has been that outlet for me. A moment to reflect on how far I’ve come as a parent & a woman. A time to nod at my entrée into motherhood, and wonder at how much has happened in & to my inner life. 

But now T is an honest to goodness individual. With interests & friendships & struggles & triumphs all his own. His independence is growing exponentially. As is his personality & inner life.

This season is so much less about me than it is about him. That pregnancy, labor & birth are starting to fade in my mind’s ever-shifting landscape.

He will still hold my hand across the seats in the car. He will still (sometimes) fall asleep in my arms. 

But the seeds of separation are there. He doesn’t always want me as his playmate. He sometimes asks to be left alone. He is more interested in trying out activities outside the house. 

In short, he’s dipping his toes in the world of independence. 

In my heart, we will always be intertwined, but I know that I have to get used to the idea that our paths will slowly part in the future. I just hope that he will always know how to find his way back to me when he needs to. (Great… there I go making myself cry as I write this on the train…)

So as my parenting goals shift, so do my feelings around T’s birthday. I’m just grateful for every new year I get to spend with him, physically & in spirit. It’s still nice to be able to reflect on the journey of motherhood, but sometimes it’s more delicious to simply step back & reflect on the young life taking shape before me. 

I mentioned there’s at least one more reason I missed T’s due date anniversary this year & that’s because I have another due date on my mind. Another small person will (hopefully) be joining our family this summer. That’s right! Mom, JD & MFA Dad have finally hit the “sperm meets egg” jackpot & the tiny one seems to be aiming to stick around this time. I still have my doubts, but there will always be doubts. For now, I’m looking forward to this new due date! Of course, even this pregnancyhasn’t been easy, but that’s a post for another day. 

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iPad vs. child

For years now I’ve been exploring, questioning & writing about children & screens, especially around the time of Screen Free Week. Again, Screen Free Week is upon us (it actually started today–we’ll start tomorrow, promise)! What a better way to welcome the (slowly) improving weather than by putting down our devices for a bit & exploring life beyond our screens! In celebration (& hopefully to offer some inspiration), I thought I’d reflect on how my family’s interaction with technology has changed over the years & share a parenting fail that provided me with a wake-up call…

Things have drastically changed in my house since T’s arrival in this world. When T was born, we had a desktop computer & I had a laptop for law school. We had a TV. We did not have cable. We did not have smartphones. We did not have handheld devices aside from our not-so-smart, basic mobile phones.

So as I started learning about babies & screen time, it was an easy enough parenting choice. The TV stayed mostly shut up in its cabinet. There were no apps to tempt us.

When we moved halfway across the country, we ditched our old tube TV. (No, this was not the 90’s… this was 2011!) The old desktop stopped more or less working.

But what we lost in size I gained in handheld power. We had recently upgraded the laptop so I could avoid having to take the bar exam on paper… Seriously, terrifying thought! With law school & the bar exam behind me, MFA Dad took over. I acquired an iPhone. Eventually I got an iPad, too.

T was older, and as he exited the toddler years, we loosened up a bit. We now allow some videos: a mix of Netflix cartoons, documentaries, a few movies (everything from Frozen to Lego Movie to Episode IV of Star Wars to Sponge Bob in 3D, which is a story unto itself).

We haven’t yet had to set time limits. When T was younger & we were more strict, he never saw a screen he didn’t like, no matter what was on it. Now that the mystery is gone, it’s a bit easier to quietly manage his access. I don’t anticipate this will last, though… We haven’t yet entered the world of video games…

What I’ve learned is that my use of technology will prove to be heavily influential in how T views & uses technology in the future… And let’s just say I have a lot of room for improvement…

T & I had a quiet night together while MFA Dad had a rare Friday night out with one of his best buddies. I was looking forward to spending the evening with T. I meditated on the train ride home & prepared myself for parenting with awareness & compassion (as opposed to parenting under duress, which is how parenting after work sometimes oftentimes feels…). I was feeling relaxed, focused & ready for an enjoyable evening with my energetic little guy. 

And things were going well. We had a lovely dinner together. He sat mostly still & ate all of the chicken taco salad I had quickly thrown together (with the help of some tortilla chips). T then made himself dessert: a mash-up of frozen blueberries, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, raisins, plain yogurt & cinnamon. We were chatting & laughing. It was one of those (rare) magical parenting moments.

He was so cooperative. I thought, why not get get a jump on the weekend chores & get his help planning meals for the week ahead. (I like trying to include him in the planning as a way to get him invested in this family activity, hoping we’ll be able to more easily cajole home into helping with food prep & eating. It sometimes works, but usually it makes no difference. Oh well, I keep at it…)

We use Plan to Eat for meal planning, so I grabbed my iPad. Things continue to go swimmingly & I get some input for meals & snacks.

But then things start to turn…

T asks me (very sincerely), “Why are you such buddies with your iPad?”

Shit…

But he doesn’t stop there… Oh, no…

“I think you’re better buddies with your iPad than with me.”

Heart, in pieces.

Young children are astute. T recognizes that I have a relationship with my iPad. He also recognizes (& painfully pointed out) that my interactions with my device interfere with my relationship with him.

If I’m completely honest, I use my iPad a lot. It’s the way I connect with people (via email, messaging, Facebook, FaceTime, etc.). It’s the way I connect with myself (through meditation timer & apps, yoga videos, journaling & blogging). It’s the way I take care of household chores (meal planning, cooking, finances, shopping). And it provides entertainment (Netflix, PBS, etc.).

T, who can’t yet read, has no idea what I’m doing on my iPad unless it involves looking up a Jangbricks Lego review for him to watch. (Strangely entertaining, by the way.) Our lives are so intertwined with technology & it is so difficult to create & keep to boundaries when, really, we use our devices to manage everything from birthday parties to grocery lists. Not to mention our jobs! 

Since that fateful Friday night when T schooled me, I’ve meal planned in his presence again. I told myself I’d do it on pencil & paper, but, nope, iPad… It’s just so darn efficient when time is at such a premium.

So what is the appropriate way for us to use technology in the presence of our children? I don’t have an answer & I fail daily. I think eye contact is a start. I’m trying really hard to put down the device & make eye contact when T (or anyone) is talking. It’s kinda lame that I have to remind myself of that, but it’s the hard truth. 

This Screen-Free Week, I’m aiming low… Take my cue from T, who likes to do stuff with his hands, like IRL. Maybe play Uno. Make eye contact with my boy.

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Filed under Blogging, Gentle Discipline, Mothering, Parenting, Screens, Simplicity, Working