Cracking Pistachios

Welcome to the Tuesday guest blog. Every Tuesday "On Balance" features the views of a guest writer. It could be your neighbor, your boss, your most loved or hated poster from the blog, or you! Send me your entry (300 words or fewer) for consideration. Obviously, the topic should be something related to balancing your life.

by Sarah Earle

The other day my 4-year-old daughter abruptly abandoned her lunch and closed herself in the bathroom. After 10 minutes, I realized I hadn't heard that familiar refrain, "Mommy, wipe me!" So I peeked in to find Laura squirting hand soap on one of her sister's sandals.

I didn't even bother asking her what on Earth she was doing. After four years as a parent, I've learned that very few of the things children do make sense.

That same day, I had a mini revelation: I, too, needed to free myself from the restrictive delusion that things are supposed to make sense.

My status is somewhat unusual. My husband, a salesman, makes roughly four times what I do as a journalist. I have two preschool-age children. If I were to return to work full-time, I would bring home about $2 per hour after childcare and taxes.

It does not make sense for me to work.

And so I've been burying my ambition, doing a little writing between stints in the sandbox. But I'm starving for more. To hell with common sense, I need more.

Dessert doesn't make sense. The rules of baseball don't make sense. Having children doesn't make sense, unless maybe they sign a contract promising to care for us in our old age.

Last week, I told my husband I needed more time alone. We concocted a plan. He joined a gym with a childcare program. Three mornings a week he takes the girls with him, and I get two glorious hours to work.

Eventually, I got around to asking Laura what she was doing in the bathroom. She told me she was washing the shoe so she could use it to crack some pistachios she'd found in the pantry.

Sometimes our crazy ideas make more sense than we'd imagined.


Sarah Earle lives in Loudon, N.H., with her husband and two children.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  August 22, 2006; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Guest Blogs
Previous: Forks Along the Gold-Plated Street | Next: Slaves to Our Kids -- or Other Moms?


Add On Balance to Your Site
Keep up with the latest installments of On Balance with an easy-to-use widget. It's simple to add to your Web site, and it will update every time there's a new entry to On Balance.
Get This Widget >>


Comments

Please email us to report offensive comments.



I don't get it.

Hopefully, someone else will bring up an interesting topic on today's blog.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2006 7:50 AM

Sarah, we all need more crazy ideas! Thanks for the essay and the reminder that it's OK to keep writing, even if we're not going to get rich doing it!

http://punditmom1.blogspot.com

Posted by: PunditMom | August 22, 2006 7:51 AM

It made sense to me.

I never understood why people don't get kids. When I was about 17 or 18 and saw my brother (3.5 yrs younger) growing up with a few normal teenaged problems; everything became clear. Kids' actions don't make sense, and they will do whatever they want to do. Save your attempts to put the kibosh on their actions for when it's something really dangerous, otherwise let them play freely and have fun.

Posted by: Fo1 | August 22, 2006 7:55 AM

I don't get what this has to do with work/life balance, or why the writer is so clueless about herself. It doesn't "make sense" that she works and writes, when it's clearly important to her, because she has kids? It doesn't make sense to me why any person would totally give up something important to them just because they have kids. Where do people have the idea that you can ONLY be a mommy? It's bizarre to me that someone would think it DIDN'T make sense for a woman to want to spend a few hours away from her kids every week.

Posted by: I don't know if I get it either | August 22, 2006 8:00 AM

Having children
doesn't make sense, unless maybe they sign a contract promising to care for us in
our old age

Does anyone else not understand this comment? Why doesn't it make sense to have kids?

Posted by: scarry | August 22, 2006 8:01 AM

Kids and their crazy ideas.

A breath of fresh air when a child rattles the cage and shows that we are taking the daily grind a wee bit too seriously.

I took my youngest to the golf course Saturday evening with my son to play a twilight nine. Her first time on a golf course...well her first golf cart ride anyway. DS and I were quibbling over who was away on the 3rd hole and when we looked up DD was no longer in the cart. A frantic moment, then, "Here I am!" as a head popped up out of a green side bunker. "These sand boxes are great!" The remaining holes were alot more fun.

Posted by: Fo3 | August 22, 2006 8:02 AM

Doesn't 4 year old Laura know how to wipe herself?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2006 8:09 AM

"And so I've been burying my ambition, doing a little writing between stints in the sandbox. But I'm starving for more. To hell with common sense, I need more."

I too think this is a rather silly essay. Having kids doesn't mean you can't follow your passions. And some of us...gasp...work for more reasons than just the money.

And most 4 year olds don't have advanced enough motor skills to wipe themselves properly. Trust me, I work with children for a living.

Posted by: working mother | August 22, 2006 8:16 AM

"And most 4 year olds don't have advanced enough motor skills to wipe themselves properly. Trust me, I work with children for a living."

If true, this is disturbing. 4 year olds who attend nursery school in my area are expected to know how to wipe themselves and how to use the word PLEASE instead of barking orders at grownups!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2006 8:34 AM

Boy, a lot of criticism this early in the morning.

I don't think the author was saying that it doesn't make sense for her to need to work more. But it doesn't make financial sense. I think the standard way of looking at things from a financial standpoint is that it makes sense for both parents to work if it means bringing in more money. But if the smaller income is lost in expenses related to working (child care, dry cleaning, commute, etc.), then why do it? (Yes, this is gross oversimplification. It is taking away the whole SAH v WOH debate and the need to continue your career. But I'm sure almost every family has done the budget to determine whether they come out ahead or behind if both work as part of making the decision.) But once she freed herself from thinking that way, she was able to think of something that provided her with more of what she needed at a lower cost than child care - Dad watching the kids six hours a week. (Now why he had to join a gym with childcare rather than just taking them to the playground or otherwise just hang out with them is another question, but maybe he has no extra time beyond his workout time). Once she stopped following her preconceived notion of what made sense, she got to a better place with no large repercussions on family life.

I also get the whyit makes no sense to have children line. The point is that having children is done largely for emotional, irrational reasons. Many have just always wanted children. If you were to take out all the non-materialistic aspects (hugs, smiles, cute things, etc.) and just look at whether you would be better off or worse off financially down the road, I think most people would agree that having children is irrational by those standads. But those aren't the standards we use. Which is the whole point. We do a lot of things in life because of the intangible enjoyment we get from them. Dessert adds a few inches to my waist, but I sure as heck enjoy it while I'm scarfing it down.

Posted by: Sam | August 22, 2006 8:39 AM

"If true, this is disturbing. 4 year olds who attend nursery school in my area are expected to know how to wipe themselves and how to use the word PLEASE instead of barking orders at grownups!"

Just because a kid can go through the motions doesn't mean that they can do it with the skill of an older person. Plenty of girls get vaginitis because they do not wipe themselves properly. This is a skill that needs to be reinforced in the preschool age. And so I think a 4 year old asking for help is not unusual. There are plenty of stupid preschool rules--that doesn't prove that it's developmentally appropriate.

And what does "barking orders" and "saying please" have to do with this discussion? A bit of a non-sequitor (or what does that have to do with the price of tea in china?)

Posted by: To anonymous 8:34 | August 22, 2006 8:50 AM

Well, I don't know about all four-year-olds but mine doesn't do very well at wiping herself. I guess she'll learn though. She starts pre-K next week and I don't imagine the teachers in her class will be wiping 20+ kids several times a day. :)

Posted by: Rockville Mom | August 22, 2006 8:51 AM

just to rehash historical blog threads:

To rehash: (see: Old dog can learn!)
The author neglects to acknowledge that the net $2 per hour would also maintain an unbroken streak of employment, maintain business support network and experience level. The cost of exiting the workforce as the net $2 per hour "Doesnt make sense," doesnt quantify these intangibles.

The snappy snarking about 4 year old manners and fine motor skills is a classic. "My DD was a able to do the reverse vertical swipe front to back with a twist blinfolded by the time she was two! ...and .. and ... your kid is rude. Back in the day.... net net I am a better mother than you. QED."

Posted by: Fo3 | August 22, 2006 8:56 AM

Maybe I'm strange, but the essay makes sense to me.

Seems that Sarah made a choice to ignore what some could see as an unwise financial decision in favor of achieving more balance by having her time alone, which she happens to use to get some work done. Her career as a journalist is part of what defines her, and she's happy to break-even or even potentially lose a little money (daycare at the Gym may not be free) in order to achieve the balance.

Kudos to her.

(And Laura sounds like a fun, precocious kid!)

Posted by: Proud Papa | August 22, 2006 8:56 AM

Proud papa, she doesn't have a career as a journalist. She gave it up. And she seems to think that asking for 6 hours to week for herself is some kind of nonsensical decision. Is she just totally brainwashed?

Posted by: Did we read the same essay? | August 22, 2006 8:56 AM

Totally off-topic:

One of the more successful DC-area women in technology had to step down yesterday due to AOL's recent mis-step with privacy information. She was universally respected as a strong, super-bright CTO. A Stanford engineer.

No evidence that she is a Mom, but she definitely stands out as a shining example to those who question whether women can be top-notch technologists.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20060821/bs_nm/media_aol_dc_1

http://www.bizjournals.com/bizwomen/cincinnati/content/feature/item.html?item_id=429&feature_id=47

Posted by: Off Topic | August 22, 2006 9:02 AM

I never understand the financial math argued in the "stay at home" debate. Why do women break their salary out from their husbands? It is a combined family income. Why does child care come out of women's paychecks? So would it make better financial sense if your husband paid for daycare?

Also missing from the financial arguement, what happens if your husband leaves you (divorce or dies)? It is hard to get back into a career track once you leave the work force for kids.

Posted by: Alexandria Mom | August 22, 2006 9:06 AM

Sarah, thank you for your story. Children do increase the frequency and often hilarity of the unbidden but wonder-moments. When the inner workings of children reveal what is on their mine, well, we can simply enjoy.

That children will reveal themselves thusly disappears quickly and may be gone entirely by say about 7. :) Enjoy now.

Two from our family:

Which one is the WORK building?
Mommy, which of the buildings is where WORK is? (LC, pointing to a ten story, white box of a building. She thought that all people went to the same place called WORK.)


Beach observation.
"I don't know what all the fuss is about the UNDERTOAD. Sharks are much scarry-er."

As for pistachios, yummy. But I bet your daughter doesn't know the red-dye number 10 pistachio shells. Somehow I miss the ones dyed a lurid shade of hot pink.


Posted by: College Parking | August 22, 2006 9:10 AM

"Wipe me" can mean "Check me."

Posted by: Just me | August 22, 2006 9:12 AM

"Why do women break their salary out from their husbands? It is a combined family income."

That is technically correct, but it ignores that the income originates from (at least) two distinct paychecks. If one person stops working (Mom OR Dad) one of those checks disappears in its entirety. You don't get to take the overage (above the cost of daycare) and roll it into the other check. You HAVE to treat them as separate salaries.

Note that I am not advocating either spouse quitting. I am in the camp that says you might need to keep working to stay current in your field even if you aren't "making" money.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2006 9:14 AM

I guess my husband and I are strange. We have never separated out paychecks. All budgeting is based on a combined sum and then we deduct child care and other expenses. It just seems absurd to me that a family would justify quitting a job based solely on balancing child care with one spouse's income.

Another point: just because I carried the child doesn't mean I am responsible for child care costs.

Posted by: Alexandria Mom | August 22, 2006 9:26 AM

Alexandria Mom said "I never understand the financial math argued in the "stay at home" debate. Why do women break their salary out from their husbands? It is a combined family income. Why does child care come out of women's paychecks? So would it make better financial sense if your husband paid for daycare? "

It's is because you start with the assumption that husband is working. Therefore, he brings home net pay of X dollars. As a result, the daycare expenses are zero (well, sort of - you should consider trips to Chuck E. Cheese etc. but I digress).

If mom goes back to work, her take home pay will be Y dollars. However, you now need to pay for daycare (say Z dollars). The added family net income is Y-Z.

You aren't making mom pay for the day care. Just saying how much more will the family get when mom works. If Y-Z is negative, mom shouldn't work - financially.

Of course, the above can be reversed for the genders if mom is working and the question is should dad go back to work.

Posted by: Father of 2 | August 22, 2006 9:31 AM

>>That is technically correct, but it ignores that the income originates from (at least) two distinct paychecks. If one person stops working (Mom OR Dad) one of those checks disappears in its entirety. You don't get to take the overage (above the cost of daycare) and roll it into the other check. You HAVE to treat them as separate salaries.>>

But her argument was that she was only making $2 an hour once child care was deducted, and that wasn't enough to "justify" working. If the costs of child care were split between both parents, it would look like her hourly income was a lot higher and might make it easier to say (to herself, I guess) it is worth it to keep working.

If the family budget, overall, can afford day care and if you want to work, I don't understand why people go through these contortions to explain why they "can't afford" to work, but then complain that they have to "bury their ambition."

Posted by: Yeah, but | August 22, 2006 9:31 AM

"Why do women break their salary out from their husbands? It is a combined family income."
No, if one parent stays home, daycare costs often go away. So, daycare costs are indeed the cost of the SAHP going back to work.
I'm looking at going back to work this year and my income (okay, our family income) will go up by about $1000 this year. That's it. Daycare eats the rest. Doesn't matter if you call it my income or our income, the budget stays the same. My working basically doesn't affect our bottom line. The choice is on other factors - sanity, flexibility, what we want for our children, carrer track, etc.

And I loved the post - made lots of sense to me. Probably because I'm in the same boat.

Posted by: inBoston | August 22, 2006 9:33 AM

Far be it for me to advocate that a woman is responsible for child care costs, however, let's do some math:
If after taxes husband makes $50k, wife makes $15k and childcare is $20k - the family as a whole is less well off if the mother works, whether you combine the income or not. The same result occurs if it's the wife that makes more money. In this case I actually think it makes sense for one parent to stay home. On the other hand if the husband makes $200k (or any number that you feel is enough for the family to live comfortably on), wife makes $15k and childcare is $20k, if the wife really likes her career and wants to work she should and the $5k detriment will be like an investment in her. Again, vice versa if it's the wife that makes more.

Posted by: fabworkingmom | August 22, 2006 9:33 AM

To Alexandria Mom:

When it comes to our budget, now that the decision that we both work has been made, we also combine our salaries and take everything out from the combined salary.

But IF the reason that you are both working is because you think you are better off financially that way, then it would make no sense not to at least see whether that is true. And one way to do it is to separate your salaries and see how much is left of the lowest one of them (or, if it's a given which spouse would defnitely keep working, how much is left of the income of the spouse that would stay at home) once day care, commute, and whatever other "costs of working" are deducted from it. And no one is saying that because you carried the child you're responsible for child care costs. It's just that in getting a full financial picture you need to know how much you household is actually bringing home from both parents working. Please note that this is a gender-neutral exercise I'm describing here, although granted in individual situations the couple may decide it makes more or less sense for the mom or dad to stay home. In my case I would have stayed home, because my husband is on the old government retirement plan and would be crazy to give up his pension and health insurance for life. I have a 401(K)and considerably less attractive pension, so do not feel bound to stay with the same employer, since I can take my 401(K) with me.

Posted by: Sam | August 22, 2006 9:33 AM

"It just seems absurd to me that a family would justify quitting a job based solely on balancing child care with one spouse's income. "

Alexandria Mom, if we're talking finances ONLY, then this should be considered.

For example, let's say Parent 1 nets $50,000 per year and Parent 2 nets $20,000 per year. The which parent is which is irrelevant. Let's assume daycare costs $22,000 per year.

Financially, it costs the family $2,000 per year (at a minimum) for Parent 2 to work. I say at a minimum because you should consider commuting costs and wardrobe costs (if any) for Parent 2 to go to work. If you decide things on the financial side, Parent 2 should become a stay at home parent.

Of course, if you can afford the negative cash flow AND Parent 2 is happier/saner/etc. by working, then both parents should work.

Posted by: Father of 2 | August 22, 2006 9:34 AM

But even using the combined family income, Sarah's family income would have increased by just $2 (while household would have increased as well). The equation for many families would be the same. Combining incomes doesn't change the math realities, what it does change is how the issue is framed and discussed.

Btw, I don't think the issue should be framed strictly in terms of money at all. I just don't this idea of family accounting accomlishes the point.

Posted by: Math | August 22, 2006 9:35 AM

The last one should have read "while household stress would have increased."

Anyway, I think Father of 2 made the point a whole lot better. The family bottom line ends up the same regardless of "who" pays for childcare.

Posted by: Math | August 22, 2006 9:38 AM

At least Laura washed the shore before using it to crack open the nuts, that's something to be proud of right there.

Onto the childcare-pay issue. I don't have children, but I am a journalist and know how little reporters make, so I don't fault the mom for leaving her job and staying home with her daughter. Maybe she originaly thought she could get some work done from home and as Laura got older realized it wasn't possible. Hey, it was her decision to make, her life, we can't fault her for it.

Posted by: Melissa | August 22, 2006 9:41 AM

Father of 2 - it's seems that we are on the same wavelength even down to the salary assumptions!

Posted by: fabworkingmom | August 22, 2006 9:42 AM

But nobody is addressing Alexandriamom's comment about SAHP fending for her/himself due to abandonment/death/disability?

Posted by: AnotherRockvilleMom | August 22, 2006 9:45 AM

I'm with Father of 2. You are essentially paying for the privilege of working if the cost of childcare is greater than one of the spouse's incomes. A family may decide that it is worth it to maintain contacts, etc. or that spouse does not want to stay home. But the financial calculations should still be taken into consideration.

My husband the SAHP is able to maintain his contacts through occasional part-time work with his old company. While I'm sure that he will not make as much later as he could have without taking 3 years off, we already make enough to live at what we consider a level of comfort-- and have enough for retirement. So the foregone income/ future income is OK with us.

Posted by: Ms L | August 22, 2006 9:46 AM

That's $2 an *hour,* or several thousand dollars a year MORE. It's not costing them (money, anyhow) to have the kids in day care. I agree, that should be the first thing to look at--lower paid spouse's salary versus costs of child care. But once you know you are coming out ahead, I think you don't need to continue to apply those costs to one or the other, becuase doing so can make it look like the lower-paid spouse makes very little.

Posted by: to Math | August 22, 2006 9:46 AM

fabworkingmom, I guess great minds think alike.

I think using gender-neutral Parent 1 and 2 (or A and B) makes it easier to swallow for some here. We're not saying "Mom, you must stay home" or "Mom, you're paying daycare".

Generally, it does tend to be the woman making less and therefore the financial choice to stay home.

Posted by: Father of 2 | August 22, 2006 9:48 AM

"Having children doesn't make sense, unless maybe they sign a contract promising to care for us in our old age."

How true! From a purely financial standpoint, children are a huge drain on cashflow that most parents can never hope to recoup. Good thing for kids that most parents view childrearing as an emotional endeavor rather than a financial enterprise. That doesn't stop me, though, from occasionally teasing my three children that they are my ultimate retirement plan, especially if I've just spent a bunch of money on them for new clothes, activities fees, et. al.

Posted by: MP | August 22, 2006 9:52 AM

In response to "Posted by: to Math | August 22, 2006 09:46 AM "

Yes, $2 per hour over a regular working year of 2,080 hours is $4,160, we don't know all of the assumptions used.

She said "I would bring home about $2 per hour after childcare and taxes." I'm making the assumption (and I could be wrong) that this does NOT include other working expenses (i.e. commuting, lunching out regularly, subscription fees needed by journalists, etc.). Maybe the $4,000 will be quickly eaten away. Maybe Sarah and her husband feel the $4,000 isn't worth the time not spent with her child.

Hey, it's a personal decision by them. They can afford it and they are happy.

Posted by: Father of 2 | August 22, 2006 9:54 AM

Since I don't have children, I can't relate to whether a 4-year-old can wipe herself. But, discovering what you like and balancing life/work in general is hard. My husband's salary has always been enough for us to live on, and for a while I stayed home. After graduate school, then several simultaneous part-time jobs, it was nice to breathe.

But I got bored restoring an historic home (tired too, it's hard work), plus talking to myself. So I headed back to lab managerial work. Then administrative work.

Now I am making goo-goo eyes at the potential of getting a telecommuting job. Back to isolation? Or getting away from office nonsense? Sigh.

Posted by: Life in general (LIG) | August 22, 2006 9:54 AM

Father of 2 said: I think using gender-neutral Parent 1 and 2 (or A and B) makes it easier to swallow for some here. We're not saying "Mom, you must stay home" or "Mom, you're paying daycare".

I agree F of 2, and that's why I said in my post that it works in reverse. But I hear you - Parent and Parent 2 works better.

About being better off in case something happens to the working parent - isn't that what life insurance and savings are for? It is foolhardy for a SAHP not to make sure that he/she will be well catered for incase something happens to the working spouse. In fact it is foolhardy not to make provisions even if you are working - anything can happen - an accident could render one paralyzed, one could get downsized, etc

Posted by: fabworkingmom | August 22, 2006 9:55 AM

Great blog entry today. I'm not in Sarah's shoes, but I think getting caught up in the "shoulds" and "oughts" and "musts" and "logical" choices is a pretty universal thing. It's nice to be reminded that sometimes it's ok to break out of the box of our own expectations (or others' expectations of us) and do something that fills our own needs -- or, heck, just have fun. Luckily, there's nothing like having small kids to remind you (daily) of the limits of logic and order.

Posted by: Laura | August 22, 2006 9:55 AM

He gets to join a gym and come out as a great father and husband? Well done, Mr. Earle!

That's another example of things that don't make sense actually making sense in parentworld. Thank you Sarah Earle, for such a charming post!

Posted by: Arlington Dad | August 22, 2006 9:55 AM

Arlington Dad brings up a good point. One of the problems I see with one parent staying at home is that the SAHP invariably becomes the one with the sole role of childraising which I believe should be a joint role. Children fare better when they see both parents are actively involved in raising them. Not to start a SAH vs WOH war but it is easier for working parents to model the joint child raising role because both parents are more likely to share childcare since they both work.

Posted by: fabworkingmom | August 22, 2006 9:59 AM

fabworkingmom said "It is foolhardy for a SAHP not to make sure that he/she will be well catered for incase something happens to the working spouse"

I agree. But it is also foolhardy for working at office parent to not make sure he/she will have money to pay for daycare/nanny/etc. if something happens to SAHP. Could the working at office parent be able to afford daycare without a change in lifestyle?

Posted by: Father of 2 | August 22, 2006 10:00 AM

Thanks AnotherRockvilleMom for pointing out the other half of my argument. It is the part that everyone leaves out of the SAH debate.

Also, I, too, believe the debate should never come down to daycare money but it typically seems to be the deciding factor in this blog. That's why I entered the death/divorce/disability issue.

LIG wrote, "Now I am making goo-goo eyes at the potential of getting a telecommuting job. Back to isolation? Or getting away from office nonsense? Sigh."

I actually have the option to telecommute. I prefer to mix it up and spend part of the week telecommuting. You have to decide if you want to move up the chain or not. Telecommuting makes it more difficult to be promoted (if that's your goal). Also if you have children, I feel daycare or in house babysitter is a necessity to stay focused and get the work done.

Posted by: Alexandria Mom | August 22, 2006 10:04 AM

Hi Laura,

I both liked and "got" your post, and it seems like an excellent way to find some balance for yourself. I work part-time from home and just have one daughter (who still takes naps), so I work a couple hours during the day and also from 8-11 most nights. When I have a second child and/or no more naps, I might borrow your idea and send my husband off to the gym with the little ones!

Thanks for sharing.

Posted by: VAMom | August 22, 2006 10:04 AM

"One of the problems I see with one parent staying at home is that the SAHP invariably becomes the one with the sole role of childraising which I believe should be a joint role."

I had a conversation once with my mother-in-law in which she was saying how wonderful it was that her husband had stayed with the kids (when they were young) one night a week when she had choir practice. He didn't put them to bed, maybe didn't even feed them, nothing special. He was just physically there. She was a SAHM and they had very traditional roles. I thought it odd (and did point it out) that even if you want to say each parent had their main "job," his out in the world, hers at home with the kids, his job was not 24/7 so neither should hers be. It seems that there should still be a balance of parenting when both parents are home. Just because one parent is SAH doesn't mean s/he should be the only one doing the parenting.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | August 22, 2006 10:10 AM

Wouldn't it be nice if the dad didn't just drop the kids in his gym's child care room, but used some of those 6 hours to spend time with them?

Posted by: alexva | August 22, 2006 10:13 AM

One fun thing about being a parent is seeing little minds cranking away. She needed something to smash those nuts with, and knew it should be clean.

We can learn a lot from our kids.

Working while hubby has the kids at the gym is a win-win situation. Sometimes we get so tied up in bounds of our own making we lose sight of simple solutions.

Posted by: RoseG | August 22, 2006 10:21 AM

"Wouldn't it be nice if the dad didn't just drop the kids in his gym's child care room, but used some of those 6 hours to spend time with them?"

Hey alexva. Let's pile on the father for not being perfect (or doing what YOU want him to do). If Sarah is happy, if the kids are happy, if dad is happy - butt out.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2006 10:22 AM

Maybe the Dad is using his time at the gym as his alone time also, so they can all spend time together as a family later?

Posted by: Mychildhasfur | August 22, 2006 10:23 AM

Sarah, thanks for the wonderful essay. Children and silliness, they just go together, and it's one of the reasons my wife and I decided to make a batch of kids. The humor and silliness never ends, and parenting a 4 year old is better than having a self contained, interactive, home entertainment center... that plays you.

Maybe us regular posters can follow Fo3's lead and share cute little stories about how kids just make life more enjoyable. Here's my small contribution:

Very rarely does a door ever get shut at our house, except for the bathroom door on the rare occasion when somebody is using it, and even then, it's seldom. Then suddenly, I noticed that the bathroom door was almost always closed. It was strange because usually when the bathroom door is shut, it means that somebody is using it. (We have 6 sharing the same bathroom) I thought to myself that maybe the kids were maturing and decided to excersize a little modesty for a change. However, this was not the case. When I walked by, the bathroom was always empty when the door was shut. Not a big deal, just something I noticed. Strange.

So I asked the family at the dinner table. "Does anybody here keep shutting the bathroom door all the time for some reason?" No answer.

Red flag! When something is definately happening, and nobody owns up to it even if there is nothing bad about it. It's one thing asking "Who ate all the cookies?" and not getting a response. It's another thing asking who the kid is who keeps closing the bathroom door. Something fishy going on here and it didn't make sense.

That evening, I opened the bathroom door and kicked back in the Master's Chair which is about 20 feet or so from the bathroom down a half flight of stairs... and waited. The Master's Chair faced the opposite direction of the bathroom, so I carefully listened for the latch to click.

And I waited some more. I sent a few kids to the fridge to get me a beer.

And I waited some more... My oldest son read me Calvin and Hobbs....

And I waited some more... My oldest daughter actually used the bathroom... and washed her hands... the door never shut.

And I waited some more... It got dark outside.

Then I announced the beginning of the bedtime routine, "OK kids! It's getting time for bed! You know what to do! Let's go". Which means to them it's time to start stalling.

My kids procrastinate, all except for my favorite daughter, which is one of the reasons she's my favorite. As I faced away from the stairs in the Master's Chair, I heard her light footsteps pad very slowly and quietly up the stairs. Very spooky I thought. Why would my favorite daughter try to sneak up the stairs? I listened... Quietly...

Click! I heard it! It was my favorite!

I turned around and shouted, "AH HA! BUSTED! IT'S YOU!"

She let out a blood curdling, ear-piercing scream that put a shiver down my spine as she jumped down the steps into my arms. She was shaking with fear.

It didn't make sense until I got the explanation: She would hold onto the bathroom door knob and slowly lower herself to peer into her bedroom through the open door. Do you know what she was looking for? Of course, monsters under the bed.

Now it all makes sense!

Posted by: Father of 4 | August 22, 2006 10:23 AM

Pile on Alexa!

Wouldnt it be nice if the kids werent plopped in front of the TV as the SAHP types on a blog!

snark.

Posted by: Fo3 | August 22, 2006 10:25 AM

PLEASE!!! NO MORE CUTE STORIES!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2006 10:29 AM

Sarah,I totally get what you're saying. Leaving the political discussion out of it (IE, living in the REAL WORLD); it can be hard to justify spending as much as you make on daycare and working expenses. I'm glad you found a way to make some balance for yourself--and your family.

(I don't work there, but must say that my $50 a month to LifeTime Fitness is about the best bargain out there with two hours of childcare and free wifi in the cafe!)

Posted by: PTJobFTMom | August 22, 2006 10:33 AM

PLEASE!!! NO MORE CUTE STORIES!!!

Don't read them then

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2006 10:42 AM

I like the cute stories! Keep 'em coming!

Posted by: Nice change of pace | August 22, 2006 10:42 AM

Wonderful essay!! As you can tell, we obviously need more humor in this space!

Posted by: Kirkpatrick | August 22, 2006 10:58 AM

"One of the problems I see with one parent staying at home is that the SAHP invariably becomes the one with the sole role of childraising which I believe should be a joint role. Children fare better when they see both parents are actively involved in raising them."

I'm a SAHM. My husband is the sole breadwinner. While I am the primary caregiver for our child during the day, my husband is the primary caregiver during the evenings, on weekends, and on holidays. We are both very actively involved in raising our child.

I grew up in a home with parents who did things the same way. My mother, a SAHM, took care of me and my four siblings during the day and my father was the primary caregiver during the evenings and whenever he was not at the office.

Is my experience unusual?

Posted by: MBA Mom | August 22, 2006 11:05 AM

She said "I would bring home about $2 per hour after childcare and taxes." I'm making the assumption (and I could be wrong) that this does NOT include other working expenses (i.e. commuting, lunching out regularly, subscription fees needed by journalists, etc.). Maybe the $4,000 will be quickly eaten away. Maybe Sarah and her husband feel the $4,000 isn't worth the time not spent with her child.

Oh but it's more complicated than that on the income side of the equation as well! Your pay isn't just your net pay. It also includes contributions to your retirement fund and other benefits. When you keep working, you also tend to get steady raises.

I'm expecting my first child in a few months. As the lower-income partner in my marriage, it appears on paper that we don't come out much ahead by having a nanny care for our child instead of me staying home full time. But if I were to quit, I would give up not just my $75K salary, but also the opportunity to make about $10K a year in contributions to my 401(k), a company match of about $2K a year, credits to my pension, nearly free insurance (health, life, disability), and other benefits.

Fast-forward five years when the kiddo hits school age, and the child care costs plummet.

If I tried to return to the workforce after a five-year hiatus, I would earn only about half what I had been making before I left, assuming I could even get a job. That would be the new base upon which my future raises would be calculated. So the hit to my income wouldn't just be short term.

If I stay, my salary would likely be about $10K more. The balance on my 401(k) would be about $60K higher.

In other words, there's money, and there is Money. You have to look past each two week pay period to see what it really costs you to stay out of the workforce.

Posted by: Brookland | August 22, 2006 11:11 AM

Well, maybe the providers of cute stories could start their posts with 'WARNING, CUTE STORY ALERT!' so those who don't want cute stories can quickly scan by.

Posted by: Sam | August 22, 2006 11:11 AM

Good points Brookland. I assumed the $2 net was NOT after 401k/retirement contributions since it was not listed. Since some jobs don't offer those benefits, I figured they weren't part of the outflow.

Posted by: Father of 2 | August 22, 2006 11:13 AM

Brookland, perfect example of why staying in the workforce is valuable. Even if you don't make $75k a year, it is a short term situation since children go to school. But I know Americans rarely plan for the long term.

Posted by: Alexandria Mom | August 22, 2006 11:16 AM

I have a great job and a great employer, I realize. But I think the logic still holds for most professional women. If you're working a low-paying, deadend job, though, I could see how it would pay to just stay home.

And, of course, if you really *want* to stay home, the financial part doesn't matter as much. It just makes me sad to see smart women drop out of careers they love because they think it doesn't pay for them to work, when it's really not true.

Posted by: Brookland | August 22, 2006 11:20 AM

Well, I, for one, would like to keep the cute stories coming. Wasn't that the point of the WP post -- that it's watching them think, and learn (those cute stories) that keeps parents going?

No, you're right, of course. Ditch the cute stories and we'll all get out our calculators and argue over that $2 some more. . .

Posted by: wenholdra | August 22, 2006 11:23 AM

Child Ghost Stories.

For years we though we either had a ghost or somebody was sleepwalking. We live in an antique house that has a curious symphony of indigenous noises. Creaks a little in the wind, the plumbing rumbles from the dishwasher or the sprinkler system, doors swing closed, or open, since not one doorframe seems square.

Every now and then DW and I though we heard footsteps in the middle of the night. I would be sent to check. Nothing, all asleep. "Two o'clock and all's well."

You have to understand that I weight >200lbs, so as I get up to search the house creaks and thumps as I blunder out to look. Ergo ghosts and devious children can hear me coming from a distance. DW was freaking so - I had to go stealth. Took me like ten minutes to get up the stairs. Five to get across the hall. Peered through old keyhole - and there was our ghost. Pretzels, Legos and all. He hit the ceiling when I opened the door. "Hi Dad, What are you doing up?"

Posted by: Fo3 | August 22, 2006 11:25 AM

Needing privacy, that makes perfect sense to me since it sounds like staying home is what you wanted to do anyway. That's not the situation I'm talking about, though. I'm talking about professional women who want to keep working but are under pressure to quit because it "doesn't pay" for them to work.

Posted by: Brookland | August 22, 2006 11:26 AM

I'll be bold. I understand the logos of the arguments about MONEY being more than salary. I understand, by lived experience, about the retirement/slary growth/standard of living risk about death and divorce.

I part-timed by free lance for 23 years. Now I am single with one minor child at home and two young adults finishing college.

Taking huge hit, financially, as even decent soon-to-be-ex dear husband makes out better.

I would still do the same in my life about work/home/balance.

Those how disagree, fine. Just don't castigate me.

Let's honor each other's choices.

Posted by: Needing privacy | August 22, 2006 11:27 AM

%@#&%# spell checker! though=thought

Posted by: Fo3 | August 22, 2006 11:28 AM

Another take on the long term work-life balance: I think that we focus so much on money that we sometimes forget to focus on the other long-term intangibles - mental and physical health, for example. I'm not a mom yet, so I don't know what my schedule will look like with children and kids, but I already find it somewhat of a challenge to work full-time, exercise 1 hour per day, eat mostly non-processed and home cooked food, and maintain a strong social and spiritual network. These are all things that I think are as essential for my long-term well-being as contributing to my 401k, and they're things that I tended to skimp on when I was trying to work full-time while in school full-time, which was less responsibility and probably less exhausting than raising children.....this chat seems to focus so much on the monetary aspects of work life balance, and I'm curious to hear how people manage to balance the more intangible aspects, since I think that they're just as important in the long term as where I am in my career 20 years from now.

Posted by: notyetamom | August 22, 2006 11:29 AM

As Art Linkletter/Bill Cosby said, "Kids say the darndest things." They make nonsense make sense. Check it out at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kids_Say_the_Darndest_Things

Posted by: Daddy Mike | August 22, 2006 11:29 AM

Some Americans are so entrenched in the capitalistic way of seeing the world that they can only make sense of things using financial arguments. Working makes no sense if you don't make money. Kids are more of a financial liability than a financial asset, so they don't make sense. From a humanistic point of view, children and working for little pay make lots of sense. People enjoy life when they have loving, fulfilling relationships. What is more important? Matters of the heart or money?

Posted by: Stacy | August 22, 2006 11:31 AM

Working Mother- YOU work with children for a living? (shudder)

What exactly do you do?

More importantly, what are the children that you supposedly "work with" doing while you spend your days posting to this blog? Learning to be bitter and judgmental, perhaps?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2006 11:34 AM

I thought the point of the story was that we each have to find our own balance. What makes sense to some might not make sense to us, and vice versa.

"Last week, I told my husband I needed more time alone. We concocted a plan. He joined a gym with a childcare program."

Give the dad a break - Note "we" in the second sentence.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2006 11:36 AM

Dear Needing Privacy,

The concern about the financial status of SAHP post death/disability/divorce of/by the working spouse is valid, atleast to me. The early years of my marriage was stormy to say the least. I had just moved across continents and had no support system here. And could not work due to the visa status. After a stint as a PT employee, I became a SAHM for over 3 yrs. If during that period, we had decided to end our marriage, what could I do? Planning and saving is always a good idea, but sometimes life does not follow our plans.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2006 11:42 AM

Excellent point notyetamom. There are definitely other things apart from money that imapact the work/no work decision. It is hard to do all the things you like and work and raise kids at the same time. But it's doable if you WANT to. I believe at the end of the day it boils down to what you WANT and what you BELIEVE is best. If you want to SAH/WOH and believe that is best for your family - good for you! The sad part is when people really don't want to stop working but feel they have to or when people really want to stop working but feel they have to. I think most people feel both emotions at different times and that's why this blog tends to get testy sometimes because those of us who work sometimes wish we didn't and those of us who SAH sometimes wish we worked.

Posted by: fabworkingmom | August 22, 2006 11:43 AM

"Btw, I don't think the issue should be framed strictly in terms of money at all. I just don't this idea of family accounting accomlishes the point."

Exactly. There's opportunity cost on both sides (quitting job = lost career, keeping job = lost time with children) that should technically have far more to do with the decision than money.

However - even if one parent is left with "just $2/hour" (let's assume $4000 a year) after daycare, I think you could make an argument that $4000 a year in additional income is hardly worth it financially, assuming that the other spouse is making enough to earn a comfortable living. I don't think the opportunity cost of 2000+ hours away from your young children is equal to, say, a one week WDW vacation.

Now - I "got" the blog today, but I don't "get" what we're supposed to be talking about.

Posted by: So what's the question? | August 22, 2006 11:47 AM

I am not sure I understand the argument that parents should both work if even if the bottom line is not improved or even lessened because there could be a tragedy. As far as death and disability there is insurance for that. I am surprised how many of you assume that families with a stay at home parent would not think of this.

There is also the tax implication of working adding my salary put us into a high tax bracket. Taking away my income increased my husband's take home pay, freed us from childcare costs and allowed us to get by with one car for a few extra years. Now that my husband's salary has increased this in not such a part of the calculation. I have always worked part-time which has enabled me to put money into an IRA. When I researched this years ago one had to earn 2,000 per year to have an IRA. This may have changed.

Posted by: Raising One of Each | August 22, 2006 11:48 AM

Working Mother- YOU work with children for a living? (shudder)

What exactly do you do?

More importantly, what are the children that you supposedly "work with" doing while you spend your days posting to this blog? Learning to be bitter and judgmental, perhaps?

Exactly, I don't know what's happened to her in the last couple of weeks, she's become mean!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2006 11:50 AM

WARNING CUTE STORY ALERT

One day when my son was two or three years old, he, my daughter (who was four or five), and I were eating lunch, and my son started to put a green grape in his water. I shook my hand, gave him a stern "Mommy" look, and told him that grapes do not get put in water. He looked at me with a puzzled expression and said "But Grandpa do." I was about to tell him that no, Grandpa does NOT put grapes in his water when my daughter chimed in with "No, Grandpa puts OLIVES in his water."

My parents each drink a martini before dinner every night.

Posted by: Sam | August 22, 2006 11:52 AM

Great points NYAM, I find that having balnce comes with a sense of proportion and relative value. We Americans, or G-7 economy participants, are raised without much of a economic compass since we have and expect to have plenty. We expect same seats for our kids too.

I credit my study and work experience abroad for giving me an understanding as to what is truly important in life. I like nice things, but time richly lived is far more valuable to me than any item.

Priorities shift, but dont have to be expensive. Playing cards with a three year old can be a real trip. (teaches number recognition too!)

Posted by: Fo3 | August 22, 2006 11:56 AM

"Well, I, for one, would like to keep the cute stories coming. Wasn't that the point of the WP post -- that it's watching them think, and learn (those cute stories) that keeps parents going?

No, you're right, of course. Ditch the cute stories and we'll all get out our calculators and argue over that $2 some more. . . "

Wenholdra, thank you! I mean, good gravy!

No more lawyer jokes, because a lot of you running that $2 analysis into the hole sound like anal attys!

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | August 22, 2006 11:56 AM


Great post from Not Yet a Mom. I too would be interested to hear how parents balance time and the intangibles.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2006 12:02 PM

No more lawyer jokes, because a lot of you running that $2 analysis into the hole sound like anal attys!

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | August 22, 2006 11:56 AM


What a compliment! Everyone knows that attorneys can't do math.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2006 12:04 PM

I think most people feel both emotions at different times and that's why this blog tends to get testy sometimes because those of us who work sometimes wish we didn't and those of us who SAH sometimes wish we worked. --Posted by: fabworkingmom
--
Thanks, Fabwm (whhoo. Reads as Fabulous Woman. wOOT!)

What you observe as one trigger for the testy-ness may be true. In my years of knowing all kinds of moms in the work/home equation, never did we analyze each other's choices. Instead, we carpooled to soccer, cheered at swim meets, made dinner for the two families visited by cancer in the 'hood, did stints with various notable hours for PTA, churchy/synagogy thingies, etc.

Our critiques were largely left unsaid. Why throw stones? Everybody has windows.

Blog land seems to unlease powerful forces in us, especially the taking off of gloves.

Culture and society are relatively civilized about divorce and family, now.

How about we borrow that set of manners and largesse about families where, yes, work happens.

---
I still find ideas here about balance, filtering for the yuck-stuff, IWAAN (if when and as needed!)

:)

Posted by: College Parkian | August 22, 2006 12:06 PM

OK, to all you math people. If she makes $2 an hour after taxes and child care, she is bringing in a postive net gain to her family budget. But for most people in the professional sector, you have to say how much of a net gain is worth the trade off of spending more time with my child. In my case, after day care, taxes, and work related expenses, I bring in about 65,000/year net gain to my family. That does not include matched 401K contributions, defined benefit contributions in my future retirement, holding my job, years of experience, generous benefit packages. So for me the net gain is far greater then 4,160/year this journalist makes. Of course the two most obvious questions that SAHP don't consider is future promotions, retirement plans and other benefits (life insurance). It seems as if people look at a very narrow spectrum of net salary and health insurance and ignore the other aspects of employment benefits. My 401K over a 30 year career should net a million dollars. That is quite a reason to work. The other obvious point is regardless of the net gain in the second spouse working is do you need that extra money just to get by. If spouse #1 makes 30K/year and spouse #2 has a net gain of 4,160/year it still makes sense for spouse #2 to work. Why? Because it is darn hard to raise a family of 4 on 30K a year. But if spouse #1 makes 100K/year and spouse #2 has a net gain of 60K a year, it may not be work spouse #2 to work. Why? Because you can still live a fairly comfortable living on 100K a year. As far as kids not making sense unless they pay for your retirement, think of this: My father always said, " Children are the quick road to poverty but the best emotional investment you can make in a lifetime." We don't have kids in the US, to make money. We have them because we want them.

Posted by: Lieu | August 22, 2006 12:11 PM

Gee, I hate math, but I've only got one income to consider, so it's a moot point for me!

But yeah, it's a light-hearted topic, so have fun with it!

Posted by: single western mom | August 22, 2006 12:17 PM

To fabworkginmom

Great observation. Sometimes I suspect that the most adamant SAHMs and WOHMs are those that question their own decisions and are trying to justify why what they are doing is the right thing. I don't understand why this one friend of mine has to constantly throw it into my face the many ways in which her home life is better for her kids because she stays home. If she's happy with it, be happy with it. But don't be hurtful to me because you're trying to justify it.

I even find myself doing the same thing. I very much wanted to stay at home, and have started finding myself being catty about my SIL, who has older kids and hasn't worked since she got married (she got pregnant three months into the marriage so couldn't see the point). They have no money saved for college, and it seems to me she could at least substitute at her youngest child's school four or five times a month and pull some money in. But the reality is that I'm jealous. And it makes me feel better about working if I can at least tell myself that our children will have more choices - that they won't have to go to the place that offers them the most money. It's a shame we often have to put down other people to feel better about ourselves. At least I catch myself before I say anything to her, but it bothers me to realize that I'm really no better than my SAH friend.

Posted by: Sam | August 22, 2006 12:18 PM

SAm, you are so right. But then again, we are still working because our DHs want us too. Not because we decided after all the financial analysis, we wanted or needed to work. I don't tend to pick on other people's decisions. I am OK with it. But I do recognize the pros and cons of working. To Leslie: I would like to see a blog on the number of children and balance. I saw some wacky show with a two income family and four kids. It looked like all the kids were starved for attention. Just thought it would be an interesting topic.

Posted by: Lieu | August 22, 2006 12:25 PM

What makes "financial sense" varies from couple to couple.

We all are familiar with the couples who are separately worth millions of dollars and each partner continues working.

They obviously don't need the money nor are concerned about the opinions of others.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2006 12:35 PM

Is it only mommies who are selfish materialistic people when they consider the impact of their decision to keep working on the long-term finances of the family, instead of just the warm fuzzies? Or does this harsh judgment apply to daddies who work, too?

I very keenly feel my obligation to support my daughter, financially as well as emotionally. Doing my best to make sure she will have a roof over her head, food on the table, and the opportunity to pursue her education is part of my obligation as a parent as well as one way I show I love her. Surely this doesn't make me that much of a weirdo.

Posted by: Brookland | August 22, 2006 12:43 PM

I agree with the poster who said that there is more to working (for most people) than the paycheck. The obvious stuff includes health insurance and 401K, but there's also the satisfaction you derive from your professional accomplishments. While the balance can be tricky, I think my life is actually easier since I started working. I'm definitely more sane. I was a SAHM for 5 years until this February, and words cannot express how much happier I am being back at work. I love my children, but being an officer in the Moms' Club and a room mom at the preschool just wasn't cutting it for me. I didn't realize how bored out of my skull I was until I got back to work.

I understand that not all SAHMs feel this way, and some are completely content to be at home forever. In fact, one of my friends is in a crisis right now in her marriage because her third starts first grade in a few weeks and her husband wants her to find a part-time job. She is literally making lists of reasons why she shouldn't get any job (the list includes things like the need to be available if one of the kids is sick or needs to be picked up early). All valid, but there are plenty of working moms who manage these things. There is an insistent voice in my head that keeps repeating "LAZY".

Posted by: ConstantComment | August 22, 2006 1:00 PM

Why do benefits so often get left out of the equation--e.g., possible 401K contributions, social security contributions, health insurance, life insurance, short and long term diability insurance? Such benefits have real value, particularly if something goes wrong in the future.

Also, even if a woman only brings in $2 net a hour, that is still money that can be put away towards the kids' education. Money earned and saved is MONEY SAVED, which adds up over time and compounding.

Also, as others have said, putting aside here and now finances, I work (80%) because it keeps me in the work force, moving forward in my career, which may pay off in the future, in terms of promotions, better positions, etc.

And then there are the non-financial benefits of working--my work is part of who I am. If a woman can say that, then she needs to factor in how much keeping that part of herself is worth to her--not to mention to her husband and kids.

Posted by: ORMom | August 22, 2006 1:05 PM

Spouses benefit from a working partner because then all the financial burden isn't solely placed on one individual. For example, my husband and I both have more freedom to switch jobs and to survive a layoff. Thus providing a pretty stable environment for the family and a certain level of freedom from the financial issues of the modern world. And although we are a two income family, we only live on one income and save the other. Not every family in which both parents work spend money on vulgar luxury items, SUVs or McMansions. We spend a lot of time with the kids too.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2006 1:08 PM

And although we are a two income family, we only live on one income and save the other.

Yep, this is what we do, too.

Posted by: Brookland | August 22, 2006 1:10 PM

"And then there are the non-financial benefits of working--my work is part of who I am."

There are also an equal number of non-financial reasons to not work.

Posted by: toORMom | August 22, 2006 1:15 PM

"vulgar luxury items"

Judgement phrase of the day. Now, we don't want you SAHM judging us working parents, but us working parents can judge other working parents. ???

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2006 1:17 PM

"vulgar luxury items"

I love it! Let's use it all the time. Let's give it an aconymn! And remember, SAHMs get plenty of VLIs too.

Posted by: Arlington Dad | August 22, 2006 1:18 PM

College Parkian - thanks for pointing out the dual interpretaion of my signon name - cool!
Sam - I also found myself getting overly critical of SAHPs but on closer reflection realized some of it was due to my own insecurities. Again, I think it's ideal when everyone does what they believe is best for their families and refuse to bow to court of public opinion. Of course as Lieu mentioned, DH's or DW's opinion on the matter is crucial to making the decision.

Posted by: fabworkingmom AKA Fabulous Woman | August 22, 2006 1:19 PM

it wasn't a judgement on other working parents. it was more a comment to SAHP who tend to think that all dual income couples with children are driving around in SUVs and are shallow & materialistic, instead of providing a stable environment for their children.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2006 1:25 PM

now hold on right there. My household is SAH and we're shallow and materialistic!

The nerve of some people.

Posted by: Fo3 | August 22, 2006 1:35 PM

Paraphrased from M.Night S.....'s movie _The Sixth Sense_. Cue Haley Joel Osmant and Bruce Willis.

Cole Sear: I see rude people.
Malcolm Crowe: In your dreams?
[Cole shakes his head no]
Malcolm Crowe: While you're awake?
[Cole nods]
Malcolm Crowe: Rude people like, in graves? In coffins?
Cole Sear: Walking around like regular people. They don't see each other. They only see what they want to see. They don't know they're rude.
Malcolm Crowe: How often do you see them?
Cole Sear: All the time. They're everywhere.
Cole Sear: They see only what they want to see.

-----
I mean this as humor. In our family, we substitute words like "jerky" "clueless" "dumb."

We re-write this about ourselves. Lots of dummi-ness to go around in life.

The point is, as FABWMOM, SAM and others note, we should make our choices, do our best, not take the bait, enjoy our better moments, let others live.

This means: sometimes, say nothing. Wave. Smile. Let the other car in.

And, try funny. Works wonders.

Posted by: College Parkian | August 22, 2006 1:35 PM

Constant Comment, I can list pages of extremely valid reasons why I didn't return to work even after my children were in school full time. Someone still has to do the housework, shop for groceries, be available for the children's appointments and sick days, do small jobs around the house, and countless other life maintenance things. It is a full time job taking care of a family, even when the kids are in school. I don't have a lazy bone in my body -- I just want to make a nice life for my kids and my husband. What's wrong with that?

Posted by: #1SAHM | August 22, 2006 1:39 PM

Something else to think about is that mcmansions, hey I love anything that uses the word Mc in it as long as it's not directed at me, are cheaper in other parts of the country. I just bought a house in the Midwest for 270,000 that would probably cost about a gazillion dollars in DC.

Posted by: scarry | August 22, 2006 1:41 PM

I think the only problem is the two income trap that some people are in. It means they need or perceive they need both incomes to survive. So if the "think" they need to two incomes to survive, I am not sure they have any more or a lot more flexibility to survive a lay off a career change. MY BIL is in the mortgage industry. My guess is he makes 100K on a good year. SIL works in some other kind policy planning job. I am only guessing here, I think she makes 60-80K a year. They are clearly used to living on 160-180K/year. Now interest rates are rising. BIL is afraid he might loose a lot of his salary ( a fair % is based on commission). Now they are in panic. Not because they can't live on 100K-120 K( salary minus commission) but because they can't "believe" they can exist on less. Just because they had it doesn't mean they saved it. I think Brookland has an excellent point, they live on one income and save another. I love VLI's- I might have a few of those-not a McMansion or SUv but maybe travel counts as a VLI.

Posted by: Lieu | August 22, 2006 1:42 PM

Having a one-income lifestyle on two incomes - that's the way to do it. Not that we do.

The 401(k) I had with my former employer was with Vanguard. They used to send you these mailings with financial information, tips, and the like. One of them said that there is actually more security with a one-income household than a two-income one. The reason was that two-income households tended to live off and use both incomes. So if one person lost their job, there would still be financial stress even though the other person was still working. If the working spouse lost his or her job in the one-income family, however, there was the possibility that the up-to-then non-working spouse could get a job to make up the difference. And since they were already living within the means of one income, they would be better off than the two-income family.

One reason why I wish I'd been able to stay home a few years is that part and parcel of that would have been downsizing out of our single-family home to a townhome and, now that my kids are at an age where I'd be wanting to go back in the work force, everything I'd be bringing in would be gravy. I would make less money because of having been out for seven years, but we wouldn't need as much money because we would have made the hard adjustments. So I could take a lower-paying job with less of a commute, for example, or work more of a part-time schedule than I am now. But the hard adjustments is part of why my husband didn't want me to quit. (Before you think of him as materialistic, however, he also just plain didn't want the stress of us all depending on him, and was concerned that the lifestyle changes would get to me over time.)

Posted by: Sam | August 22, 2006 1:46 PM

To #1SAHM-There is nothing wrong with staying home to take care of your kids. Public schools are notorious for 1/2 days, inconvenient schedules and snow days (in DC no less). I think it is great that you stay at home. You are there for your kids when they need you most. Besides, I am not sure what kind of job you can get that works around school and activity schedules too well. Unless you went back full time, you could not afford to hire the nanny to cart little Suzie to ballet and little Joey to Karate class.

Posted by: Lieu | August 22, 2006 1:48 PM

let's not forget that elderly women are more likely to be poor than elderly men. why? they live longer and receive lower social security benefits. your social security payments are calucalated based on your salary so even if you were only making $2/hour with all your expenses, social security will see the entire picture and not just the $2/hour.

i will also add that a friend of mine works a job he loathes because he is the sole breadwinner since his wife is too traditional to work now that they had their children. she actually would make more money if they both were willing to buck their families and adopt non traditional gender roles but they both don't seem willing to do that. however, she is going to start working more hours now that the kids are starting school and that gives him the freedom to change jobs.

Posted by: quark | August 22, 2006 1:51 PM

To Lieu

Other than the fact that you're a statistician who claims she can't write, and I think I write well but that 2 + 2 =5, we seem to think alike. After I made my post on people depending on two incomes, I submitted it and saw that you had made almost the same point in a different way.

Posted by: Sam | August 22, 2006 1:51 PM

Let's face it, many people are mortage to the teeth to afford their McMansion and vulgar luxury items (VLIs), which in the end causes a lot of stress on a family. As does some of the crazy commutes you have to make to these McMansion McCommunities! (This is a DC/NoVa/MD specific comment. It may not be the case in other cities/states.)

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2006 1:53 PM

I just wanted to point out that there are "costs of staying home" as well as "Costs of working". I don't just mean in the damage to the SAH parent's career. I also mean that when one parent is home, the electricity is on all day, for at least some lights, the tv, or whatever, that more trash is used (meaning more consumables are consumed, such as paper towels etc), and that kids' activities must be paid for, e.g. painting, crafts, playdoh, sports equipment etc. The kids aren't just going to sit around staring at the walls (hopefully). You have to give them things to do. We assumed we would save almost $1000/year on gas when I stopped working (1 hour commute each way) but now I drive the kids to more places to find ways to occupy them.

Posted by: m | August 22, 2006 1:53 PM

OK, here is a little light hearted exercise. What counts as a VLI? We all agree SUVs, sports cars, BMWs, Mercedes and the like, Mc Mansions count as VLIs. But what else?
For my family vices I would add:
1) forgein travel
2) Disney cruise-we leave in 2 weeks
3) my daughters doll collection-she has 13 American Girl Dolls and she is 2 1/2 year old.

Posted by: Lieu | August 22, 2006 1:54 PM

To SAm- brilliant minds think a like!

Posted by: Lieu | August 22, 2006 1:56 PM

--frequent eating out
--multiple hand-held devices, i.e. cell phones, ipods, pdas
--cable/satellite TV that includes every channel known to man

Posted by: VLIs | August 22, 2006 1:59 PM

I'll add more VLIs:

Interior Designers
Lawn service
Country club
Plastic surgery (make that "elective surgery")
Designer clothes for kids
Salon services (beyond haircuts)
Horses
Boats

Posted by: ConstantComment | August 22, 2006 2:00 PM

Let's do the "Switzerland" thing. McMansions are just vulgar. Period. If you want to see a hilarious article, do an archive search on the Boston Globe about people who hire special decorators to help them fill the extra 2K of space they never use in their McMs. One woman let her kids ride their bikes & skateboards in there as an indoor rink.

M makes a great point - if you would spend X on daycare while working, what do you spend on activities to keep kids busy (and on gas, food, etc.) when you aren't?

Besides - let's take all of this with a grain of salt. Remember 5-10 years ago when you were a bad parent for NOT having an SUV because they were so "safe?" Moderation people, moderation.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2006 2:00 PM

I know this is off topic for today (which seems quite civil compared to most days), but I was on vacation last week and while catching up, I was reading the comments from last Tuesday's guest blog, and I noticed this comment was posted just last night. I thought it was too good to pass up:

Dear Moira and New Mothers Everywhere--

I'm sorry that things have not gotten any better for working mothers since I had my first child in 1976. I wish that people--women and men--would support each other, particularly because we never know when we ourselves might need support and love and reaffirmation from each other.

Moira, having a first baby is an experience that is never duplicated in life. It is so hard to change gears from being a very with-it twentysomething to being a mother whose main concerns are her baby and who also has the demands of a full-time job and career goals. Our idea of what constitutes fun or a fulfilling life are very different after the baby comes.

When I had my first child, I was 32--too old by mid-seventies standards! Most of my friends had kids in elementary school already and the mothers with babies in our neighborhood were about ten years younger. Plus, I worked "outside the home." Stay-at-home moms were, sad to say, not always nice to me and it didn't seem that we had that much in common.

I over-compensated by being the Girl Scout Leader, Cub Scout Den Mother, PTA president, room mother and all that other stuff to prove I was worthy even though I had a career. Then I found myself getting angry at and feeling just a tiny bit superior to stay-at-home moms who didn't do all that I did.

It took some time to adjust. I found new friends. I kept some of my childless friends and made good friends from among those stay-at-home mothers. I was able to find activities for me and my children on weekends and evenings--and learned to enjoy just taking walks and getting together with neighbors for a beer and pizza on Friday night. I also learned that I could have fun with women who were ten years younger and twenty years older. And the dichotomy between the "haves" and "have nots" (as my husband differentiated those who did and did not have children) began to blur and disappear.

Because my husband and I were married eight years before our daughter was born, we had a very strong and stable relationship. That does not mean we never had conflict or that I (or he) never felt put upon or as though we had all the stress and none of the joys of life. But I'm a big talker so we got it all out on the table!

You'll find good friends--your ability to open up in this blog says to me that you are a warm, caring and giving person and people will discern that when they meet you.

Our first pediatrician told me on every visit to make sure that I kept my relationship with my husband strong. He encouraged date nights and I think it is a great idea. We were fortunate to have great teenage babysitters in our community and I also found them at church--the girls who volunteer to work in the nursery are good bets. Also, if you have neighbors whose children are grown and whose grandchildren are far away, see if they would enjoy spending a few hours with Henry so that you two can go out for a while.

Enjoy Henry and your husband and your life.

Posted by: Been There | August 21, 2006 10:35 PM

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2006 2:03 PM

This blog should be renamed to something else, anything else. Maybe "Unbalanced Bling from My Sugar Daddy". Or, "The last refuge of the elite".
Poor little affluent girl Leslie apparently doesn't HAVE to work but she wants to but fears it makes no sense BUT she wants to.

The Post needs to wake up and realize that not everyone can afford this kind of self-indulgent poo.

Posted by: Amazed | August 22, 2006 2:05 PM

Lieu, you forgot the cleaning lady in your list of VLIs!

Posted by: Father of 4 | August 22, 2006 2:05 PM

A cleaning lady is a VLI? I thought that was a necessity. Actually, we don't have a cleaning lady. The cleaning would be be and DH. The kid hardly every cleans:)

Posted by: Lieu | August 22, 2006 2:09 PM

CUTE story alert.

We were driving down to VA beach a few weeks ago and since it was a long drive took the portable DVD system.

My three daughters were all quiet watching the movie. Dumbo.

All of a sudden my five year old, she starts Kindergarten tomorrow, boo hoo, anyway she asks, "Mommy, did a stork deliver me?" My wife and I both kind of looked at each other... My wife said, "No, honey." To which my daughter emphatically responds, "Darnit!!!!"

I kept chuckling all day long, and occasionally would remark, "Darnit!"

Now for Fo4 I have to say, I don't have a favorite of my three daughters, I just know which one is daddy's girl, which one is just like daddy (thus driving him crazy) and which one is the baby of the family. But all claim I'm their favorite daddy.

By the way, my five year old is also the one who when she fractured her skull, my oldest daughters doing, after puking all over herself and freaking out about having "googly" eyes, she gets out of the van at the hospital, covered in puke and says, "Mom, I look like a poopy diaper!"

Why do we have kids?

Posted by: MR. EstrogenCentral | August 22, 2006 2:11 PM

One of the early posters asked "why does having kids not make sense?" I've often said that having children is rarely a rational personal decision in the US in this day and age. Most of us don't need kids to run the farm, to leave our property to, to run our businesses. It often doesn't make sense financially, sleep-wise, health-wise, career-wise, marriage-wise, achievement-wise, real estate wise. Typically, people in the US have children because of some desire - whether immediate (unprotected sex, coupled with a choice to raise the child), familial (parents want grandchildren), or biological (I want to leave a legacy of myself)- not because of a logical decision based on hard cold facts. As a result, it may not make logical sense to have children - but it often makes emotional sense.

Now, I've not yet had children, and my biological ability is probably on the steep wane. I'm still on fence, and on the pill...but still considering...

Posted by: Not A Mom Yet | August 22, 2006 2:11 PM

MMMmmmmm. VLIs.

Posted by: Homer Simpson | August 22, 2006 2:12 PM

Other VLI suggestions:

multiple televisions
multiple computers
country club memberships
item purchased in hopes of impressing others, such as:
- designer handbags
- designer shoes
- clothing with logos

I am anti-logos just to be upfront. I cut the labels out of my children's clothing in hopes to curb any future brand obsessions. We shall see if it works!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2006 2:12 PM

Totally off-topic, but I was thinking about the stuff that made my parents (in my eyes) the "bestest" when I was growing up and they did not include any VLIs. They included:
- Getting a Fudgy the Whale or Cookiepuss ice cream cake from Carvel for my birthday
- Coaching my little league team
- going to the library with me when I wanted new books

Anyone else appreciate things from back in the day that crack you up now?

Posted by: JAT | August 22, 2006 2:12 PM

Oh god 2pm, Please don't mention "SUVs" and "safe" in here. People get testy.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2006 2:13 PM

Wow. SAM, you are very honest. As I face serious long term retirement issues in the wake of a divorce after a LONGGGGGG marriage, the financial planner and attorneys both commented (privately to me):

I was used to economy and modestly.

We have not leveraged ourselves precariously.

All the children's educations were essentially paid for.

Are things hard for me. YES, by gum. But I was strangely relieved to see that care and modesty on 1.5 incomes had helped.

GWATCDR (God-willing and the crick don't rise) I'll be ok.

I think that sequencing -- staging career life -- could be talked about in this blog space.

Posted by: Needing Privacy | August 22, 2006 2:14 PM

Add to VLI list:

Lessons for kiddies
Carting kiddies around town
Hair and nail salons
Tanning salons
Dog trainers/dog walkers/dog nannies
Pet groomers
Personal trainers
Plant services
Professional children's entertainers
Television/computer in children's rooms


Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2006 2:17 PM

"Getting a Fudgy the Whale or Cookiepuss ice cream cake from Carvel for my birthday"

What on earth is this?! I have never heard of this. BUT I did laugh pretty hard!

Posted by: WTF? | August 22, 2006 2:18 PM

Things from my childhood that crack me up now . . .

How about clothing with rainbows and unicorns, and my very own pair of roller skates with pink wheels and stoppers on the toes.

LL Bean duck boots

That stupid Aigner purse

Posted by: Funny | August 22, 2006 2:18 PM

Oh god 2pm, Please don't mention "SUVs" and "safe" in here. People get testy.

Yes, people cry about a personal decision by parents to put their children in a car of their choice. In America, can you imagine!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2006 2:19 PM

Thanks for the CUTE STORY ALERTS for the mediocre stories!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2006 2:21 PM

It might be a northeastern thing...in the late 1970s & early 1980s, Frank Carvel did his own ads and two of the kind of ice cream cakes they produced were Fudgy the Whale (in the shape of a whale, natch) and Cookiepuss (a cookie-monster-eque manimal). They need to put those ads on YouTube.

Posted by: Fudgy & cookie... | August 22, 2006 2:21 PM

And if I remember correctly, Frank Carvel's elocution was nowhere near as good as his ice cream.

Posted by: to Fudgy & cookie | August 22, 2006 2:25 PM

Plant service?
YIKES

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2006 2:25 PM

Most of the talk of reasons for working here focuses on personal satisfaction and monetary rewards. Shouldn't a teacher, doctor, nurse, or social worker consider the good they do for society in the equation? Similarly the conversations about singletons tend to focus on sacrificing ski weekends rather than sacrificing time spent on service vocations or availability to other family.

Posted by: curious | August 22, 2006 2:27 PM

Thanks for the CUTE STORY ALERTS for the mediocre stories!

If only there were a hole alerts the blog would be perfect.

Posted by: snarky comment headed your way | August 22, 2006 2:30 PM

I grew up on the West Coast, so yes Fudgey the Whale and Cookiepuss were an East Coast thing. Fudgey the Whale sounds hilarious though. I imagined Cookiepuss to be like an HR PuffnStuff type figure....

Posted by: WTF? | August 22, 2006 2:31 PM

"Working Mother- YOU work with children for a living? (shudder)
What exactly do you do?
More importantly, what are the children that you supposedly "work with" doing while you spend your days posting to this blog? Learning to be bitter and judgmental, perhaps?"

What a nasty creep you are! I have said nothing bitter or judgemental. I won't even address your nasty comment. I have better things to do. I will never read or post here again because there are too many anonymous, bitter flammers.


Posted by: working mother | August 22, 2006 2:32 PM

I don't think the plant service is so far fetched. DH called some kind of plant specialist to come out and tell us what was wrong with the dog wood tree on our front lawn. Tree specialist charges $180/hr. Hmm, he must have words of gold. Anyway, tree specialist comes out and tells us nothing is wrong with the tree and preceeds to hand DH some information he down loaded from the internet. The only bright part of the story is, tree specialist did not charge us a dime for his consultation. He must only get paid for sick trees and plants. BTW, I told DH that home depot yard people said if we brought in a leaf, they could probably tell us what is wrong with the tree. DH did not believe me. Oh well, both were free in the end.

Posted by: Lieu | August 22, 2006 2:32 PM

I've seen carvel cakes at Shoppers. I've never had one though. I loved all the kid stories today. Don't listen to the nasty person, they were great.

Posted by: scarry | August 22, 2006 2:34 PM

Mmmm...Carvel Ice cream cakes! They were the best...I guess they are out of business?
Don't really think hair and nail salons should necessarily be considered VLIs..can't imagine what I would look like without them! Sames goes for dog grooming...simply necessary for some breeds.

Posted by: Missicat | August 22, 2006 2:34 PM

I think plant services means the people who come to your house to water your house plants every week and replace fresh flowers, etc. Indeed, a VLI.

Posted by: ConstantComment | August 22, 2006 2:34 PM

#1 VLI

The billion dollar weight-loss industry that caters to people who can't stop shoving food into their mouths!!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2006 2:35 PM

Toworking mother: Don't let some know it all force you to leave. You have some valuable stuff to add. I hope you stay.

Posted by: Lieu | August 22, 2006 2:35 PM

Carvel is still in business -- you can get the cakes at Safeway -- but they are not as good as they were back in the day. I hate it when I sound old like that.

Posted by: to Fudgy & cookie | August 22, 2006 2:36 PM

To Needing Privacy

It's easy to be honest on an anonymous blog. I started posting a name because of frustration when others didn't, but I have this fear that someone will figure out who I am and something I've said on here will come back to haunt me. Not to mention that it will be obvious to co-workers when I'm having trouble concentrating at the office (but then again, would they admit to looking here during work hours?)

Posted by: Sam | August 22, 2006 2:38 PM

....consider the good they do for society in the equation?

LOL.

repeat after me: market based capitalism

Lewd and Lascivious Rock Stars get millions: Teachers get peanuts.

Are you still in college? or work for the federal government?

One cannot eat on the good one does for society.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2006 2:38 PM

How much do plant services people get per hour or job? I heard dog walkers get like $15 for 15 minutes.

Posted by: Lieu | August 22, 2006 2:38 PM

Don't really think hair and nail salons should necessarily be considered VLIs..can't imagine what I would look like without them!


You'd look like the rest of us!

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2006 2:39 PM

It is flip-flop season and I think more people should visit the salon and get a pedicure! If you wear flip-flops, please trim your toenails and remove any chipped fluorescent green toenail polish, please. Think of the children.....

Posted by: Public Service Announcement | August 22, 2006 2:40 PM

Carvel is still in business -- you can get the cakes at Giant -- but they are not as good as they were back in the day. I hate it when I sound old like that.

Posted by: to Fudgy & cookie | August 22, 2006 2:40 PM

Buying them at Giant is not the same as going to the Carvel stores and pressing your face against the display cabinets. *sigh*

Posted by: Missicat | August 22, 2006 2:42 PM

VLI #286: Special Edition Princess Diana Beany Baby.

Posted by: Father of 4 | August 22, 2006 2:46 PM

OT: I think the beanie babies started a terrible trend of retiring toys. Now "retired" toys sell for 2 or 3 times the price on ebay. Insane.

Posted by: Lieu | August 22, 2006 2:48 PM

Oh god 2pm, Please don't mention "SUVs" and "safe" in here. People get testy.

Yes, people cry about a personal decision by parents to put their children in a car of their choice. In America, can you imagine!

I put my little girl in the oven. It's safer. (snark)

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2006 2:50 PM

Lieu,
You are always the diplomat. I reread what I wrote today and I fail to see how describing preschoolers' development can be construed to be bitter.

There seems to be one or more anonymous poster who writes such nasty things--must be someone who only wants to piss people off. This person or people are cowards. Yesterday was especially nasty. And it's also so nice when people criticize for misspelling and typos. How mature.

Posted by: working mother | August 22, 2006 2:52 PM

A Carvel store is opening up just down the street from me. I live in Oakton.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2006 2:52 PM

Buying them at Giant is not the same as going to the Carvel stores and pressing your face against the display cabinets. *sigh*

There is a new Carvel (less than a year old) in the Landmark section of Alexandria, near the Safeway. It's always empty. I bet it will close when the lease is up...

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2006 2:53 PM

Oh god 2pm, Please don't mention "SUVs" and "safe" in here. People get testy.

Yes, people cry about a personal decision by parents to put their children in a car of their choice. In America, can you imagine!

I put my little girl in the oven. It's safer. (snark)

That's another way to practice natural selection. Good idea.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2006 2:56 PM

We used to get Tom the Turkey for Thanksgiving.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2006 2:58 PM

Carvel used to have the best Pistachio ice cream. It was at the time the only Pistachio you could get without the actual nuts in there. At some point in the last 25 years some joker decided to put the nuts in there. I'll never be the same.

(Except that Maggie Moo's now holds the title of 'only seller of nut-free pistachio.' Where do I buy stock?)

Posted by: Proud Papa | August 22, 2006 2:59 PM

>>Someone still has to do the housework, shop for groceries, be available for the children's appointments and sick days, do small jobs around the house, and countless other life maintenance things. It is a full time job taking care of a family, even when the kids are in school.>>

Yep, and lots of people manage to do all this stuff AND work outside the home (partly because both spouses do the house/family stuff, instead of one doing all the house stuff and one doing all the paid work). That's why it's hard for a lot of us who WOHM to understand why people say they "need" to stay home. It's probably EASIER to get this stuff done, and you probably get more sleep, but it's not like the two-income families don't eat or clean or take the kids to the dentist.

Posted by: to#1SAHM | August 22, 2006 3:02 PM

There is a new Carvel (less than a year old) in the Landmark section of Alexandria, near the Safeway. It's always empty. I bet it will close when the lease is up...

I am buying a Fudgey the Whale this weekend to find out what you East Coasties are talking about!

Posted by: WTF? | August 22, 2006 3:04 PM

Working mother - don't let the nasty anonymous posters bother you. They are just trying to stir up bad vibes on the blog which has been relatively civil today.

Posted by: fabworkingmother | August 22, 2006 3:05 PM

There's an actual Carvel store in the District at 14th & Park. Admittedly, it's one of those annoying new combination stores, and the smell of Cinnabon just doesn't mesh with ice cream, but still - a Fudgy the Whale cake, or a six-pack of flying saucers, or a cone of honest-to-goodness soft ice cream (not that frozen yogurt or custard drek so often foisted on an unsuspecting public) . . . what's better than that?

Posted by: Carvel | August 22, 2006 3:07 PM

"Someone still has to do the housework"

If your kids can walk, they can push a hoover. I had kids specifically for the free labor (once they got a bit older). Long live child labor in the home! Just say no to pampered children!

Posted by: wtf? | August 22, 2006 3:07 PM

Go see Fudgie the Whale and friends at http://www.carvel.com

It's under the Cake Carousel - "Show the Love & Characters".

Posted by: Father of 2 | August 22, 2006 3:12 PM

to:to#1SAHM- I think the argument is not all the housework can't be done if she went to work. It is who is going to be home with the kid after school. A person who is intimately involved in their life. That is a priceless thing. I would also beg to argue a lot of two income parents pay for some time saving devices; like a house keeper or food delivery. We don't have a house keeper but we do buy a fare amount of prepared foods and take out. We also have a lawn service. (Pst- I think I deserve the cleaning lady if DH gets the lawn service.

Posted by: Lieu | August 22, 2006 3:18 PM

My birthday is next week! *races to the Carvel store*

I remember the commercials - looked/sounded like they were made in someone's basement.

Posted by: Missicat | August 22, 2006 3:20 PM

Exactly, children are free labor... My mom tells me that's why she had seven of us, so that not only could we do the needed housework, but also so the older ones could babysit the younger ones and give her time to eat her bonbons and watch soaps. ;)

Posted by: 215 | August 22, 2006 3:22 PM

Wow, I just went to the Carvel site to check out those cakes... Man, that cookie puss thing is sssccccaaaarrrryyyy! Great thing to frighten your kids away from ice cream and cake for life!

Posted by: 215 | August 22, 2006 3:24 PM

I understand that WOHMs do it all, but I prefer to do it my way. It works better for my family, we're all less stressed, there's no juggling schedules. We eat home cooked meals every night. My husband doesn't have to disrupt his flourishing career to shuttle one of the children to the dentist every 6 months. If I was working, we'd have more for retirement but we'd have a crazier life along the way, and I'd rather have less in retirement and more satisfaction now.

I get a lot of crap from people who think I do the Oprah/bon-bon thing all day, but I'll tell you that I almost never sit down from the time I get up until I lay down in bed each night.

Posted by: #1SAHM | August 22, 2006 3:25 PM

A parent doesn't have to be home with the kids after school to be intimately involved in their life.

My kids do homework or other activities after school. I'm home by 5pm sharp and take over from the babysitter.

I am the boss of a government branch office and make 6 figures. Summers and other days school is closed are well covered with activites for the kids. Should I give up a once in a lifetime job to supervise my kids doing homework??

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2006 3:27 PM

Back to the 2:15 comment about things my parents did for me when I was a child...

When I was in high school my parents drove 4 hours (one way!) to watch me run a one minute race during the state track championship. Even thought I didn't win I will never forget my dad standing up and cheering his head off for me. SOOOOO much better than any toy my parents ever bought me.

Posted by: Melissa | August 22, 2006 3:29 PM

Staying on Topic (CS Alert) Cracking Peanuts/Child Labor in the Home

Trying not to snack as much, I bought a bag of World Champion RedSox unshelled peanuts. I was happilly shelling and snacking while the kids ate dinner. Cleaning up my mess of course, put the bag away when I had to run out to pick up DS from hockey camp (VLI). Came back to find that 3 year old had investigated the peanuts in the pantry. So I went and got the vaccuum, telescoped wand down to toddler-size and asked young Sox fan to clean up her mess. She actually did an ok job of it, but when I tried to butt in and help..."No daddy, you are not allowed. Its not your size."

Mark Twain tactics still come in handy.

Posted by: Fo3 | August 22, 2006 3:32 PM

VLIs:
- Multiple cars
- Single family home
- Any kind of cable running into the back of your TV set
- Touch-tone dialing
- Garage door opener ... wait... a garage.
- Fine china
- Coffee maker
- Gas or electric mower
- Central air conditioning

Posted by: Working Dad | August 22, 2006 3:33 PM

"My husband doesn't have to disrupt his flourishing career to shuttle one of the children to the dentist every 6 months"

A dentist visit twice a year is a "disruption"???? Sounds like he is wound a little tight....

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2006 3:33 PM

"I'm home by 5pm sharp and take over from the babysitter.

I am the boss of a government branch office and make 6 figures."

Ahh working on the public teat.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2006 3:34 PM

Oh my God, I have all of these things.


Multiple cars
- Single family home
- Any kind of cable running into the back of your TV set
- Touch-tone dialing
- Garage door opener ... wait... a garage.
- Fine china
- Coffee maker
- Gas or electric mower
- Central air conditioning

Posted by: scarry | August 22, 2006 3:39 PM

I've been reading this column for a few months now and the topic always comes down to SAHMs vs WOHMs. Nobody has ever come up with an idea of how to balance working and parenting for working parents, or how to handle the loss of identity and purpose for SAHMs when their kids leave the house.

Personally, I have observed that most working parents do everything that SAHMs do. And, some SAHMs don't come close to providing the same level of "parenting" that working parents do, and vice versa. Sure, working parents' lives might be a bit more hectic but many do it by choice based on what they want to accomplish in their lives.

It comes down to choice and if you have to justify it, then you are probably making the wrong choice.

Posted by: Me | August 22, 2006 3:39 PM

"I am the boss of a government branch office and make 6 figures."

Ahh working on the public teat. "

I am merely a worker bee in a government office (no where near management) and I make 6 figures.

"Less" working on the same teat.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2006 3:40 PM

Other VLIs
- electric light
- fig leaf for each family member
- running water
- house not tilted uphill both ways

;-)

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2006 3:44 PM

My wife (whom I do love) has no sense of whimsy. She is hard working and can't relax without a sense of guilt. The kids and their way of doing things exasperate her. I usually run interference because I think a great imagination is an invaluable tool in life. Cleaning a shoe to hit a pistachio? Seems reasonable to me (for a kid). Enjoy!

Posted by: PATRICK | August 22, 2006 3:46 PM

I don't understand the VLIs? If you work you should be able to buy what you want.

Posted by: scarry | August 22, 2006 3:47 PM

Oh Me oh my,

I've been reading this column for a few months now and the topic always comes down to SAHMs vs WOHMs. Nobody has ever come up with an idea of how to balance working and parenting for working parents, or how to handle the loss of identity and purpose for SAHMs when their kids leave the house.

ohh. ahhh. And your brilliant contribution for solving this age old enigma is?...?

Solutions I have heard noty in order:
1.Laugh - have a Sense of Humor
2. Setting example/pushing change for flexibility in the workplace
3.Communicate more effectively with spouse to better balance house-making whether SAH or WOH
4.Me Time
5.We time
6.quality kid time
7.C02 powered beer dispenser
8.shed out back
9.more sex
10.apprecuiate parent but dont make the mistakes/take advice on those mistakes from same
11. Balance with new-borns infants is very tough - so try not to gate keep (even if an uber-boober) but be assured that it only gets better
12. vent anonymously on this blog-not to you spouse
13. did I say more sex?
14. It takes a village but dont be snarky and stick your nose into other people's private decisions.
15. Rock on. Hello Hello Hello Hello... Whistle while you work.

Posted by: Fo3 | August 22, 2006 3:49 PM

"My husband doesn't have to disrupt his flourishing career to shuttle one of the children to the dentist every 6 months"


What????? I hope this is hyperbole.


Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2006 3:50 PM

Really, deep in their hearts women want their husbands to be nannys. Responsible, but supervised and with the ultimate authority without question resting with them. Someone to take care of the kids but has no voice that must be accomodated. Someone to help but not too much, not compete with, not make them feel bad. Just part of the psyche of women, no matter how much they deny it.

Posted by: James | August 22, 2006 3:51 PM

Right-oh Scarry,

Not only can you buy what you want, you can borrow for more than you will ever be able to repay to buy what you want. It is the American dream.

Dont worry. Be Happy.

Posted by: Fo3 | August 22, 2006 3:53 PM

I absolutely love my life and wouldn't want to do anything else. Can you say the same about what you're doing?


Are you asking everyone? Well, if you are, I love my life too. I work from home in a low cost of living, just bought a house, have enough money to take care of my parents and my kid and can afford to buy some VLIs. I have good friends too. Yeah me and you!

Posted by: scarry | August 22, 2006 3:53 PM

I've always wanted to know why doctors, dentists, etc usually do not have evening and weekend hours? Most parents work and it is a bit inconvenient to haul the kids to their appointments and miss work. This is especially true the younger your kid is--more frequent pediatrician appointments and as they get older, orthodontics with monthly appointments.

And, I love the all night supermarkets so I can shop late at night.

Posted by: How to balance... | August 22, 2006 3:54 PM

More VLIs

Boob jobs
Nose jobs
Face lifts
Botox
Contact lenses
Hair extensions

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2006 3:55 PM

VLI's? I don't think so. You can't take it with you. Only an idiot leaves a ton of money in the bank that they pass by in the hearse on their way to that cold dirt hole.
Spend whatever you please and to hell with those cheap people.

Posted by: Melissa | August 22, 2006 3:56 PM

My parents never missed any of my or my sister's activities the whole time I was growing up. Football, baseball, hockey, piano, acting you name it. You could always hear my mom cheering over all the other parents. The nearest ice rink was an hour's drive to the closest city and I was on the travel team. I will never forget the dedication they had for me and I hope that I can be half the parents they were in that area. But, at the same time, that was INSANE to have us involved in all those activities.

Posted by: Working Dad | August 22, 2006 3:56 PM

As so many other women have posted on this board, I don't understand why some people have a problem with my choices. As my dear friend says, Get a hobby, get a clue, get a life: pick one.

I absolutely love my life and wouldn't want to do anything else. Can you say the same about what you're doing?

Posted by: #1SAHM | August 22, 2006 3:56 PM

actually fo3 anything I buy comes after husband, kid, newphews, nieces, parents, parent's dog, cat, etc. I draw the line at the fish though, I have to have something for myself!

Posted by: scarry | August 22, 2006 3:57 PM

"I absolutely love my life and wouldn't want to do anything else. Can you say the same about what you're doing?"

If you say so...just something about a guy who thinks taking his kid to a dentist twice a year is too disuptive to his career...honestly, kinda makes my skin crawl.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2006 4:00 PM

How to balance:
I recently found out that my dentist has evening and weekend hours. My last appointment was 8PM. And our pediatrician has weekend hours as well. More and more those are now service industries, where they have to be open during off hours to get any business. Look around. You can find them.

Posted by: Working Dad | August 22, 2006 4:01 PM

People who are judgemental and can't see that some people are happy when they take on the role of homemaker/kid dentist taker make my skin crawl. I'm sure he's take them if she needed him too, she just doesn't need to because she is at home.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2006 4:04 PM

"People who are judgemental and can't see that some people are happy when they take on the role of homemaker/kid dentist taker make my skin crawl. I'm sure he's take them if she needed him too, she just doesn't need to because she is at home."

Just offering my opinion - unwad the panties, please!
Incidently - "judgmental" not "judgemental"

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2006 4:06 PM

I am WOHM too. But I am a little shocked that some of the posters can't see the value in being home with their child after school. They don't understand that there are some cons to being a working parent. But I guess if they don't get it now, they may never get it.

Posted by: Lieu | August 22, 2006 4:07 PM

remember the kill the cat thread?

Scarry - I wasnt commenting on your spending habits - just on our native propensity to consume and worry about it later.

I have one fish left.

Survivor United States Champion: Neon Tetra

Posted by: Fo3 | August 22, 2006 4:08 PM

Incidentally - "Incidentally" not "Incidently". :)

Posted by: Oh, the irony | August 22, 2006 4:09 PM

VLI #598: car seat butt warmer. What will they think up next?

Posted by: Father of 4 | August 22, 2006 4:10 PM

VLI#599 -- Refrigerated glove compartment

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2006 4:11 PM

Maybe we need to start talking about ice cream cake again....of course that will probably somehow cause controversy!

Posted by: Missicat | August 22, 2006 4:12 PM

I don't care if you stay home! I just don't agree that you HAVE to stay home to do those things, because zillions of other people manage to raise kids and work outside the home. My parents attended all our games, piano recitals, school plays...we were in scouts, choir, all that stuff. My mom sewed our halloween costumes every year and made dinner from scratch every night (we usually went out for pizzas or Chinese on Fridays). Both of my parents were active in civic and church groups, even with three kids at home. They had hobbies. I don't doubt that SAHMs fill their days and many are happier to have that life. But I don't think its necessary to have a parent at home full time, and I really don't like it when one parent feels pressured (by a spouse, society, her parents) to stay home--or when employers make it more difficult that it needs to be to juggle. I should point out that my parents had flexible jobs--my dad owned his own business and my mom could bring work home (so she could leave during the day to take us to the doctor or whatever).

Posted by: to#1SAHM | August 22, 2006 4:12 PM

"Personally, I have observed that most working parents do everything that SAHMs do."

Everything except take care of their own kids during the workday. (Not an accusation or a judgment, just a fact.)

"I've always wanted to know why doctors, dentists, etc usually do not have evening and weekend hours? Most parents work and it is a bit inconvenient to haul the kids to their appointments and miss work."

Possibly because they prioritize work/family balance in their own lives? Although it does seem that with the demand for after-hours services, more offices would offer them, maybe for higher fees.

"If you say so...just something about a guy who thinks taking his kid to a dentist twice a year is too disuptive to his career...honestly, kinda makes my skin crawl."

At the peak of his career, my father couldn't take time off for dentist or doctor appointments for himself. Some jobs really are that intense.

Posted by: MBA Mom | August 22, 2006 4:13 PM

I do my own nails and go to the Hair Cuttery. Even though I could certainly afford to go to a salon (no kids, just dogs), I think it's a complete waste of money. But girls in my high school were all about getting "mani/pedis", so maybe I'm the weirdo. Or maybe it's the DC suburbia craziness.

Posted by: Meesh | August 22, 2006 4:13 PM

Fo3 I know, I just thought it was funny that I was like, let me spend, spend, spend and then I'm like, hey, I never get to spend, spend, spend.

Also, I get so tired of the spelling grammar crap, I can find something wrong with everyone's posts if you all want me too, even mine. It's a blog people, come on. Everyone doesn't have to be a editor to post.

Posted by: scarry | August 22, 2006 4:14 PM

To Oh the irony: I love your post. I think we should all agree the spelling and grammar check police, should at least identify themselves. This way we can "know" who we are hating each day.

Posted by: Lieu | August 22, 2006 4:16 PM

VLI #666: Starbuck's Coffee!

Posted by: Father of 4 | August 22, 2006 4:23 PM

"Personally, I have observed that most working parents do everything that SAHMs do."
Everything except take care of their own kids during the workday. (Not an accusation or a judgment, just a fact.)"


How about the parents of children ages 5 and up who don't need to be taken care of during the workday since they are at school all day?

Posted by: Mary | August 22, 2006 4:26 PM

Has anyone heard the song about the 90 pound suburban housewives drivin' in their SUVs talking on their cell phones with the kids in the back watching the little TV? This blog is reminding me of that song today . . .

Posted by: Funny | August 22, 2006 4:27 PM

Bravo #1SAHM! I know several WOH moms who exhaust themselves trying to do the bare minimum of housework and meal preparation.

"That's why it's hard for a lot of us who WOHM to understand why people say they "need" to stay home. It's probably EASIER to get this stuff done, and you probably get more sleep, but it's not like the two-income families don't eat or clean or take the kids to the dentist."

If you can't leave the SAHMs alone and need to imply that they are lazy because they aren't constantly exhausted and worn down by WOH and trying to keep up with housework and kids, then maybe you're just jealous that they might actually -- gasp! -- have a few hours to themselves now and then.

Lately I've noticed that it's become some sort of deep selfishness to have free time and use it as one likes.

Posted by: Not worn out all the time | August 22, 2006 4:33 PM

Bravo, johnny bravo. He he it just sounded so funny, i'm lauging at my desk

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2006 4:36 PM

"Lately I've noticed that it's become some sort of deep selfishness to have free time and use it as one likes"

This is so true...no matter if you are a WOHM, SAHM, single, childless, etc. etc. I actually feel guilty if I take a day (or even and hour) to just lay around and relax!!! What is wrong with us???

Posted by: Missicat | August 22, 2006 4:37 PM

I know of a real VLI:

having time to sit around judging others' choices and purchases.

You think?

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | August 22, 2006 4:37 PM

I just recently started reading this blog. This bolg needs to be accompanied by a Acronym List. Who in the world thinks of all these acronyms? Some of them I figure out SAHM etc but what is DD, DS, CS?????

Here is my 2 cents for the working mom/stay at home mom debate. I am a working mom and here is the reason why...

I grew up in th 60's/70's. My mom was a stay at home mom. She was June Cleaver to the 10th power. My father worked and took care of all the finances. He was an excellent provider for his family. My mom knew NOTHING about the finances (how much he made, what bank he used, if they bills were paid etc.) and she had no money of her own. If she wanted to buy some penney candy she had to ask her husband for the money. My father became very abusive. First it was mental, then it was physical and got worst with the passing of time. I would beg my mother for us to leave but she would cry and say we could not leave becaue she did not have any money and no where to go. My parents stayed married for over 20 year and the abuse got worse and worse with each passing year. I vowed to myself at a young age that I would ALWAYS work so I would have my own money and NEVER have to depend on anyone to take care of me. My father tried to kill my mother a few times, but she still did not leave. Finally, after the last attempted murder when I was in high school my older siblings and I took our mother and left. We (the children ) basically had to support ourselves. It was very pathic watching a college educated women who once had a professional career trying to get her career back after being a housewife for over 20 years. She never did and eneded up working in a department store until she got to old to work. Now she is dependent on her children and the goverment to take care of her. I shudder to think what would have happened if my father had died when the children were young. We would have been up a creek!!
BTW, some of my siblings have mental problems from all the cramp that went on in our home when we were growing up. One has spent her entire adulthood in and out of mental instituitons and has attempted suicide several time. I am sure my siblings and I would have been much better off with a few less home cooked meals and other stuff my mother did, if she would have gone out and gotten a job and removed use from the madness that was going on in our home.


Good thing I learned from her mistakes and keep working after I had my children. One day my husband annouced our marriage was mistake and left. Luckily, I had a professional career and was able to maintain the same standard of living for my children. Yes my children went to day care, and I was not with them every minnute of the day, but I think they had a much better life than they would have had if I had not been working.

I have kept my promise that I made to myself when I was a little girl. I will always work ( or have my own source of income), so I will never have to depened on another person to take care of me. One never knows what the future holds!!

My mom has told me several times in her old age that her life has been such a disappointment. I bet if she could do it all again, she would NOT be a housewife.

Posted by: workingmom | August 22, 2006 4:38 PM

I used to walk to the dentist, alone, in six feet of snow, both ways, year round; until dad told me I was a wuss - and he said he'd pull my teeth himself. Now I refuse to interrupt trading hours and strongly believe it is in the best interest of the maturation and development of my children that they go by limo, and are carried into the office on a pillowed rickshaw.

The horror, the horror.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2006 4:42 PM

Look, she posted a list of reasons she's a SAHM, and it was a very ordinary list of things that all parents/homeowners/adults do. I don't care if she's a SAHM. I just don't think that raising kids and running a household requires someone to be home all day, because plenty of us manage to do it. And we hear all the time from people who want to stay home because they think it will be "hard" to juggle. (Not this poster, but others.) I was pointing out that it is not as easy as having someone home full time, but also not that hard to have a house and a family and a job, esp. if your spouse pitches in and you can wrangle some flexibility at work. I don't think that's picking on SAHMs.

OK, that's it, have to get back to neglecting my kids--whoops, I mean working.

Posted by: to#SAHM/notwornout | August 22, 2006 4:42 PM

Contacts are an LVI? Oy

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2006 4:43 PM

LVI -

Doggy dare care.

They exist. really.

Posted by: Missicat | August 22, 2006 4:47 PM

I just love a good laugh at the end of the day! Thanks to all the smart a__es and "sarcasticites" for making my day! (...and Hi Lieu!)

Posted by: Beth | August 22, 2006 4:48 PM

Hey 4:42 - you forgot, and we lived in a VAN down by the RIVER.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2006 4:48 PM

Lieu wrote: "They don't understand that there are some cons to being a working parent. But I guess if they don't get it now, they may never get it."

I understand the cons, but after spending 4 years in graduate school I would never consider dropping out of the work force. Plenty of children have working mothers and are healthy (physically & mentally). There are cons to staying home too. There are pros and cons, as with everything in life.

Posted by: Alexandria Mom | August 22, 2006 4:52 PM

I read the "free child labor" comments and laughed. During our legislative session, an immigration bill was being heard in a house committee (Arizona legislature). The pro-immigration legislator (Democrat) asked, "If you ban immigration, who is gonna mow your lawn, clean your house and fix your air conditioner?" The Republican chairman replied, "That's why I have seven daughters...but we haven't tackled A/C repair yet."

Posted by: single western mom | August 22, 2006 4:53 PM

I think FudgietheWhale is a VLI.

Maybe it's just V. Not so much on the LI.

Regular cake wins any day

Posted by: Cake man | August 22, 2006 4:53 PM

I've been "off" from work since June 1st and don't have to begin a new job until September 1st. This is really the first "off" time I've had so I've had some insight into this SAH and WOH debate.

I'm going crazy. Despite having 3 kids, all school age, I still have way too much time on my hands. Maybe it's me and I'm just a very active person, but I need intellectual stimulation. Spending time with my kids is great, but as they get into school, they also spend time with their friends. It's not like they want to spend all day with their parents.

With regard to taking care of the home: I think that people can have the tendency to spread activites over the amount of time one has. When I am working, I get all that needs to be done because I am very efficient. My husband is a help too--we share responsibilities. But I don't think that someone should SAH just so he or she can get the chores done or any such thing.

If one stays at home, it should be because he or she WANTS to, without coersion from family, spouse or society. If both parents find stimulation with outside interests including work, this is better for the entire family. Happy parents make happy children. And I spent several years in medical training earning just enough to pay for my daycare, but the work I was doing was wonderful. So considering the financial matter--it depends. It depends on all kinds of practical, emotional and developmental reasons. It's difficult to come up with one formula for all.

So stop judging other's choices. It's a free country. Better to discuss specifically how society and the workplace can be better for families.

Posted by: SAH vs WOH | August 22, 2006 4:59 PM

Poor James at 3:51 has a wife who doesn't sound very nice and a bit controlling. I am one wife who let's my husband do it his way when taking care of the baby. I don't care how he does it or if he is better at it than I. I just love seeing him involved with his child because I know it will make life better for our baby.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 22, 2006 4:59 PM

DH Derelict Husband
DW Derelious Wife
DS Deviant Son
DD Deviuos Daughter

WOHM Works outside (with) Halo Mother
SAHM Sex (at) All Hours Mom

WOHP What Oh! Happy Person
SAHP Sulking at home person

WOHD What? Over here dear!
SAHD Stay At Home Dad

Dont worry you'll catch on quick...

(horror comment was me, forgot to put in acronym)

Posted by: Fo3 | August 22, 2006 5:00 PM

"Lately I've noticed that it's become some sort of deep selfishness to have free time and use it as one likes. "

Wow, this is so true. Earlier on, I believe Leslie had a few blogs on how people value one another by their salary and financial standing or something like that. {I am paraphrasing}. But what I think people really judge one another on is their use of time. There seems to be this idea that those who actually stop and enjoy their life (and not rushing from work, chore, to activity) are lazy. That's where I see the real judgment.

Doesn't anyone just watch the sunset on a weekday anymore?

Posted by: No Kids and lurking | August 22, 2006 5:12 PM

Missicat wrote: "This is so true...no matter if you are a WOHM, SAHM, single, childless, etc. etc. I actually feel guilty if I take a day (or even and hour) to just lay around and relax!!! What is wrong with us???"

Are you kidding? You feel guilty! Why? Who cares what people think? I love relaxing and I don't care who knows it! ;-)

Posted by: Alexandria Mom | August 22, 2006 5:12 PM

And this extends to our children too. I took my young son (age 4) to a gymnastics class a few years ago--his only extracurricular activity at the time. An acquaintance with similar aged children walked up to me and said "whew, these kids do so many things, ballet, gymnastics, music...its enough to make you crazy!" I said to him "I don't know what you mean". People way overschedule their kids such that they have no "down time". These poor kids are being driven crazy by overzealous parents.

My children are school age and they are encouraged to pick one to two extra curricular activities. That's plenty.

Posted by: Enjoying life | August 22, 2006 5:18 PM

it is an interesting thread that i've picked up reading these blogs over the couple of months is that children are miserable in day care or with the babysitter and would much prefer being home with mommy. granted there are some day care situation that are bad but based on what i have seen (yeah, i know anecdotely) children enjoy/love their day care providers.

i am considering cutting back and working part time so that i could be home when my son comes home from school. one of the reasons i am considering it is that after school care in arlington is expensive. however, my son loves his after school time. he has gotten to know older kids at his school, children he might not necessarily have gotten to know were he not in after care. so while children may love their mothers best of all they sure do enjoy their friends.

Posted by: quark | August 22, 2006 5:43 PM

VLI additions:
Jacuzzi/hot tub/spa
Shower with more than one shower head
in-ground pool
above-ground pool
koi pond, fountains, and any other body of water created by a human being.

Posted by: DINKgrrl | August 22, 2006 7:08 PM

"Add to VLI list:
Personal trainers"

Thanks for your confirmation! Made my day.

I'm trying to cut back and did the math. I ditch Jim for a year, and those new, huge conflict-free diamond earrings are mine!

Posted by: Studs | August 22, 2006 7:09 PM

Someone asked about doctors, dentists, and so on and evening hours. More and more of these places have later hours to accomodate patients who work during the day.

One difficulty is getting people to work those later hours. I am an outpatient pediatric speech therapist and many of our patients are in school during the day and/or their parents work until 5. We have to work late at least 2 nights per week but we don't get paid any more for those later nights than for our earlier days. We just go in later (10:00 - 6:30 instead of 8:00 - 4:30, for example.) Going in at 10 is kind of nice but it's not late enough to really do anything before work.

Another part of that question had to do with having higher fees for evening appointments. This may be possible for private pay, but I don't think any insurance companies would be willing to pay a higher rate for a treatment based on what time of day it was provided. And if you are accepting insurance, you have to accept the amount that your facility and that company have agreed to. You can't charge the patient anything extra. Their co-pay is whatever their contract with their insurance provider states; you can't make it higher for evening appointments.

I was working until 6:30 or 7:00 3 nights a week until I had my son. I was able to make my days a little earlier after he was born, because I couldn't find a daycare open later than 6:30. I am now leaving that job for a school-based position where I will be working 8:30-3:30 and have summers off.

Posted by: speech girl | August 22, 2006 8:37 PM

What a great topic. :) I work part time out of my home (with a babysitter in for some of those hours and the rest evening/naps). Financially that means a small additional income that definitely helps our family out for savings and non-vulgar luxury items (LOL).

It can get hectic sometimes and I feel like I'm not always doing either job (SAHM, WAHM) to the best of my ability. But I value both aspects - the career movement, albeit slow, on one side and the way that I get to be the primary caregiver for my son on the other.

I did want to point out again though that there are always two jobs being done during the day - one is minding the children and one is working. If someone's staying at home, then someone else is doing their job and if someone's working then someone else is minding their kids (at least before they're in school). It's not that anyone is doing any more or less; it's a question of who's choosing to do what.

I do find that the flexibility in my time contributes to our family's sense of peace and exploration - I can do chores during the week and so our weekends aren't spent on them to the same extent. There isn't a good way to add that up financially but it works for us and adds to my personal sense of balance, anyway.

Posted by: Shandra | August 22, 2006 9:23 PM

I tried to read all of the comments. Sam and Lieu, from what I remember, seem to be reasonable people.

The best thing, however, was the newly(?) coined term VLI. LOVE IT. Have many, many of them. Looking at the hot tub and already have the jacuzzi. We have NEVER used it (came with the house). There is nothing wrong with spending your disposable money on stuff that you like, though. Helps the economy, right? I do, however, do a lot of our shopping in Delaware. Love that taxfree state!

I have been off all summer. Yesterday was my first day back at work. Some of the summer was really nice, and then again, if I had had the option of working parttime, I probably would have done it. My kids are at that easy age where they play in a pack and run the neighborhood (meaning, between our house, the pool, the other kids houses--all with mothers in them). They are not interacting with me, that is for sure. I DON'T see them more than I do see them, and we eat dinner together every night! They have their own agendas--making earrings, baking, sewing, playing, riding bikes, swimming, etc. Kids grow up and you have to find something to do.

I sometimes really feel that, like Kahlil Gibrans's poem, that your children come through you, maybe even over you. Maybe you think you have them for 18 years, but it really isn't that long. 11, maybe 12. Then you are lucky if you GET 15 minutes of uninterrupted alone time.

Posted by: parttimer | August 22, 2006 10:00 PM

I meant with the kid. 15 minutes of time alone with your child.

Posted by: parttimer | August 22, 2006 10:01 PM

If I had continued to work fulltime, my husband and I would have ended up divorced. I quit for the sake of my marriage. I don't regret it.

Posted by: Just a Thought | August 22, 2006 10:48 PM

The other tax implication is whether or not your spouse can claim you as a dependent. That reduces the bottom line a lot, but doesn't apply if you earn more than a few thousand per year as a part-timer. She stated that her husband makes a lot more money than she would if working full-time, so it's probably much better for them to have her be a dependent.

Not sure why this woman's piece is so confusing to so many posters. Makes sense to me, as I wrestle with many of these issues due to impending job loss.

Posted by: restonmom | August 23, 2006 2:03 PM

wow - what serious comments to what I interpreted as a hilarious, light take on a mom's perspective on her life. to the author - you are a great writer -- keep it up.

Posted by: christine.boston | August 23, 2006 9:09 PM

Wow! I'm suprised how many people took the article so literally. I can't imagine it was intended to be a forum for whose 4 year olds can wipe themselves or the pros and cons of careers... rather just a reminder for us all to loosen up a bit and look at the world through the eyes of our kids, and spark some childlike curiosity and creativity. Thank you to the author. I loved it and directed a few friends of mine to it.

Posted by: Becky | August 30, 2006 12:32 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 

© 2007 The Washington Post Company