From Olympics to Mocha Moms

Usually, On Balance features guest blogs only on Tuesdays. This week, however, I'm on vacation. So, I'm turning the forum over to several guest blogs. I'll rejoin the comments and conversation on Aug. 14. In the meantime, continue to send me your own guest blog (300 words or fewer) for consideration. Obviously, the topic should be something related to balancing your life.

by Meredith Rainey Valmon

When my first child, Travis, was born, my husband was working full-time and I was running track professionally, so I was able to be with my son almost all day. I had a sitter for a few hours in the afternoon while I trained. That was the best of both worlds. I was with Travis 21 hours a day, but I had an income and professional purpose and challenge outside of being a mother. When he was two, I began preparing for the 2000 Olympic Trials, and Travis went to daycare so I could train consistently.

After I retired from track, I transitioned to a job with Washington DC 2012, the Olympic Games bid group, and Travis stayed in daycare. It seemed natural to me to be working full-time outside of the home and to have my son in preschool all day. I became pregnant with our second child and had a bout of preterm labor at 26 weeks. I worked a modified schedule from home; my boss understood, fortunately. Unfortunately, I had a more serious episode of preterm labor in my 32nd week, which turned into a weeklong hospital stay. This was right during a major event to promote Washington DC 2012. I had to relinquish control of my job responsibilities to other people and stay flat on my back.

Just at the end of my maternity leave with Maya, the announcement was made that the our Olympic bid was not advancing to the next round. My job would be over in a matter of weeks. I'd never considered not returning to work, but I decided to try staying at home. I figured if it didn't suit me I could always get another job. Much to my surprise, here I am four years later still doing the SAHM gig.

The transition was easier because I did not have to leave a job I loved -- my job left me. But after about a year at home, I began to get antsy -- to feel that I was not personally fulfilled. I thought staying home was making me unhappy, so I began to pursue finding another full-time job. Then, by chance, I joined Mocha Moms, a national motherhood organization for women of color. I realized isolation was my real problem. Connecting with other moms for activities where our children can socialize together and we can share friendship has been a lifeline for me. Without that, I could not have stayed home with my kids for this long.

The hardest part of staying home has been putting my ambition aside and taming my natural competitiveness and drive for achievement. I've learned to cope with that nagging feeling that somehow I am not doing my life's work, that I should be doing something substantially more consequential. I see people who turn parenting into a competitive arena and I try not to do that. Starting to run marathons has provided an outlet to compete and pursue goals again, and I've come to realize that I need that. It gave me something to do for myself, by myself, that does not involve my children. Your children can dominate every aspect of your existence if you don't do something for yourself.

I would love to find a situation that would allow me to pursue my career ambitions, make a financial contribution to my family, and still be available to my kids on my own terms. The advice I try to remember is that when you look back on your life nobody every wishes that they had spent less time with their children. Sometimes, on a tough day when my husband is out of town, the kids are all sick, or being the stay-at-home mom of three kids feels overwhelming, I feel like I am just struggling minute by minute. Staying at home is not what I saw myself doing when I was training for the Olympics or studying away trying to get A's in college, but it is invaluable to my children for me to be in their lives. I did not realize how important it was until I did it.

Meredith Rainey Valmon was a member of the 1992 and 1996 U.S. Olympic track teams and lives in Rockville, Md., with her husband and three children, ages 8 months to 9 years old.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  August 7, 2006; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Guest Blogs
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

I know exactly what you mean. My own solution was to start a home based business in a field that helps mothers, which has really helped me feel productive in addition to being able to be home with my kids. I am not making as much money as if I were employed by someone else, but I am very fulfilled and love the flexibility. I love that my kids see me working at something that is important to society, and I especially like that my daughter sees a mother who is balancing work and family.

Posted by: anon | August 7, 2006 7:36 AM

This hits the nail right on the head. I worked for over 20 years in broadcasting and a as lawyer before we adopted our daughter in 2001. My job, an appointment position in the last administration, disappeared after we brought our daughter home, so the decision to stop work had not been mine, although I had wondered if I ever would. The isolation was terrible and it took me, also, a time to figure out that was the problem more than the staying at home part. I'm sure there are many others who felt this way and found a different outlet to deal with it. For me, it was getting back to something that I loved and that I had forgotten during law school and years of law practice -- that I loved writing and that's what I do today, part-time from home, hopefully to work up to full-time as my daughter gets older.

Posted by: PunditMom | August 7, 2006 7:36 AM

Clap, clap, clap. Give this woman her own blog. She's a good, interesting writer, has perspective on life and deserves a wide audience.

Posted by: fract'l | August 7, 2006 8:44 AM

It's great that you are happy with your situation. A mother's happiness and fulfillment is important to her children's well-being. But isn't it amazing how we justify our situations with platitudes such as "it is invaluable to my children for me to be in their lives. I did not realize how important it was until I did it."?

And FYI--women who work outside the home are still in their children's lives and you were too when you were happily working.

Good luck and may you always find fulfillment in whatever you do.

Posted by: altview | August 7, 2006 8:44 AM

Off topic: did anyone see the article in yesterday's paper (Metro I think) about the three guys whose wives and kids decamped to various parts of the world for the summer, leaving these poor helpless guys to fend for themselves? One guy had to call in the housekeeper after he went through 45 pairs of undies...and couldn't figure how to run the washing machine? Another ordered three days' worth of takeout Chinese to keep delivery costs down....and another had his wife put six sets of sheets on the bed, so all he would have to do is strip them off.

Give me a f***ing break! I would be mortified if Mrs. Do2 ever thought for an instant that I needed that level of handholding.

Posted by: Dad of 2 | August 7, 2006 8:45 AM


We own our business and operate from our home. Not an easy task. However, with a babysitter that comes in and helps with the kids, I can interact with them, and help them with things, and my babysitter knows my schedule so will keep them busy when I have conference calls, or need to go out to meetings. She also takes them to activities and camps. I get to see them and help with them, but can get work done as well. (Plan on catching up on some of your work during the evenings after tuck in time though - but it seems to work ok!)

As an athlete, you probably have more focus than me, so it may work better for you. Good luck!

Posted by: lucky me! | August 7, 2006 8:49 AM

Dad of 2,

I saw that article too. It was really messed up. How about the part about putting seven layers of sheets on the bed so he wouldn't have to wash them. Makes me glad I have an anal husband who likes to do housework.

Posted by: scarry | August 7, 2006 8:54 AM

I saw the article in Metro yesterday too, and thought "Oh BooHoo." How I would love to go out of town for 2-3 months, but since we both work FT, not going to happen. I cannot believe these men were this incompentent their entire lives, or did they just assume the role by having someone else take care of the day to day responsibilities involved with having a house and/or family. I would die a thousand deaths if I saw those things written about my husband in the paper, and more embarrassed if he felt as little shame as the subjects in the article did.

Posted by: Burke Mom | August 7, 2006 9:19 AM

I was away at the shore for our annual sabbatical, came back early so future olympian DD could make a swim meet. Unfortunately young athlete crashed on bike on the way to the pool Friday evening, so couldnt do diving - but is swimming today. We made a test run to the pool yesterday to check on how the bruises and twists felt in the water. IMHO tremendous courage for a 9yr old, thank goodness she was wearing a helmet too...

Today's writer makes very good points and the contrast between raising children/providing for family and the go-go years of life is a poignant one.

My go-go years were not quite as cool as the olympics, but I hope our best is yet to come!

I read the NewYork mag article, and the Betty Fried bits. I would like to see some reprints of those 1960's reports on overparenting etc. I still prefer Betty Page tho.

Posted by: Fo3 | August 7, 2006 9:38 AM

For once, I'd like to see an "on balance" that catered not just to married moms but also single moms. The "balance" is twice as hard (at least) as a single parent but this venue doesn't seem to want to acknowlege anything but SAHM or married moms.
Don't forget us out here. We too are looking for a little less isolation.

Posted by: single mom | August 7, 2006 9:43 AM

To Do2 and others:
Can you point us to the article you're talking about or give the title? Can't seem to find it. Thanks.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 7, 2006 9:50 AM

It's not true that there's nothing for single parents here. Leslie had a Friday free for all back in April:

Also single people post on the blog as well although the married people seem to outnumber them but that's can't be blamed on anyone.

Posted by: fabworkingmom | August 7, 2006 9:54 AM

Single Mom, have you sent Leslie a guest blog? That might be a way to get your thoughts out there.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 7, 2006 9:55 AM

anybody have a link to that Metro article?

I think Single Mom's are decently represented on this blog...but the commentary is more in the notes than in the topics. Balancing act clearly waay harder with the single fulcrum... dare say status minimizes a solitary parent's opportunity to train for marathons. There was a specific post about starting to date again that got everybody going...... maybe Leslie could create a link topic list for thye articles that pertained to or commented on balancing single parenthood?

Posted by: Fo3 | August 7, 2006 9:56 AM

To F03 and 9:50

I looked but can't find the article. I'll email the blogmeisters and see if they can help.

Posted by: Dad of 2 | August 7, 2006 9:58 AM

The helpless-men article.

Where did they find these guys, anyway?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 7, 2006 9:59 AM

To 9:59.....thanks!

Blogmeisters, please disregard my e-mail!

Posted by: Dad of 2 | August 7, 2006 10:01 AM

I read the Dad article aloud to my husband yesterday morning and we both had a big laugh over it. As Scarry said the sheet layering was mind blowing! My husband just shook his head, who for goodness sakes can't make a bed and wash laundry, the pruchasing new underwear was pretty funny as well.

Back to the topic, I enjoyed reading today's blog, found it interesting and well written.

Posted by: working mom of two | August 7, 2006 10:30 AM

I am a SAHM and just moved to Burke VA. I AM feeling isolated - can't find any mom's clubs to hang out with. Does anybody know of one?

Posted by: Burke | August 7, 2006 11:03 AM

Thank you for the insight, Meredith. As you suggest, it's all about balancing.

Posted by: BEN | August 7, 2006 11:07 AM

To Burke:

There are a couple of moms groups for SAHMs. Look in the Burke Connection newspaper, it comes out on Thurdays, and is a community paper. Also, the Pohick library has lots of newletters and flyers at the front of the library, along with its own story hours, etc.

Posted by: BurkeMom | August 7, 2006 11:24 AM

When I was a SAHM, I too felt very isolated. There were no other SAHMs in our neighborhood and I had trouble finding groups. It was an incredible relief to go back to school where I interacted with other adults a few hours each day! Now as WOHM with three children, I think I'm still isolated but too busy to notice it. I enjoy my job and co-workers but we don't socialize outside of the office. I was in a bookgroup but that fizzled. Really, I think we "cocoon" on the weekends with our children and don't want to socialize that much. How do others balance working, small children, and social interaction? It's been hard for us.

Posted by: SS | August 7, 2006 11:27 AM

Social interaction for people with kids. Now there's a good topic. I have found it very hard to find time to socialize with friends the way I did before my son was born. Weekends are sort of sacred to my family, and between spending time together, running errands, and getting some much needed rest, we rarely have time to socialize outside the family unit. We are not intentionally hermits, but sometimes I feel like we really have cocooned ourselves. Anybody else feel that way?

Posted by: Rockville | August 7, 2006 11:47 AM

Meredith, good job! I especially like the fact that despite the competitive Olympic trainingg you've received, you made it a point to not bring it into the parenting arena. I find it apalling that parents literally scream at not only there 8 year old child, but at the teenage ref, for missing a play or call at a community soccer game. and the competition for education of our children in the DC region may be even more agreecious.

Burke, feeling isolated? visit the MochaMom link. Meredith did a great job there too, and their web site is very comprehensive. Includes dads too!

Off Topic:
I'm not ashamed by the fact that I don't know the brand or even the size of my own underware. On the contrary, I'm proud to be the partner of a loving, dedicated, and obiedient wife.

Posted by: Father of 4 | August 7, 2006 11:47 AM

That brings up a question-- do you know what color your underwear is supposed to be, Father of 4?

Posted by: Confused Godmother | August 7, 2006 11:52 AM

"Your children can dominate every aspect of your existence if you don't do something for yourself."

Thank you, Meredith, for giving me a mantra for the week!

Re: the Washington Post article, what makes me sad is that the dads don't even seem to miss their kids. My husband and I were recently separated for work-related reasons for 4 months, me with the kids, and he was MISERABLE without them. He cried when our 1-year-old didn't recognize him. I think it's great that the kids in the article are getting exposed to other cultures, but after seeing the effect our recent separation had on my husband, I couldn't bring myself to even suggest it! (Not that we have any family any place overseas to go, anyway...)

Posted by: niner | August 7, 2006 11:54 AM

Rockville and SS, I am right there with you. I feel so lucky in so many ways to have the situation I do - I work from home four days a week, which allows me to have lunch times with my son, no commute to interfere with our time together, etc, but man, the isolation is beginning to kick in. To top it off, we recently moved to a new area to be with my family (Colorado, just like niner!). Though we do see my family, we haven't had the opportunity to meet other families in the area and it's definitely tough.

Before we moved, we had a number of friends who were very baby-friendly or had babies themselves, and that made socializing a lot easier. Also, my husband played in a bluegrass band and an acoustic group, and they often played gigs at outdoor festivals and I could come with our son easily and that was a great way to socialize. We're hoping we'll find some of that again, but it's tough.

And also so true with staying at home - Meredith, I had such the same realization when I was home with our son, and finding other SAHM friends made a world of difference.

Maybe it takes a village to raise the parent more than the child...

Posted by: Megan | August 7, 2006 11:57 AM

[do you know what color your underwear is supposed to be, Father of 4?]

confused godmother, when my wife or daughter does my laundry, my underwear turns out bright white. I washed my own clothes once and my underwear turned out a dull shade of grey. there must be a trick to doing laundry, right?

Posted by: Father of 4 | August 7, 2006 12:07 PM

WOW re: washpost article. Haven't read it yet. But anyway, those men are that way almost precisely BECAUSE of their wives. If the wives didn't put up with it, then it wouldn't be that way.
I am totally into the whole idea of rewarding/scolding behavior. The wife put all those sheets on the bed, didn't she? She didn't say: who the heck do you think you are? Go do it yourself...
Just a thought...

Posted by: atlmom | August 7, 2006 12:08 PM

re: SAHM isolation
I definitely felt extremely isolated when I was first home with my son. It was very difficult until I found our neighborhood parents group. It was great to join a playgroup, talk with others, etc.
Now that I am working, it is MUCH more difficult to get the rugrats together with others, for playdates and whatever. Just signed the older boy up for soccer, tho, so hopefully his energy will get used up a little bit...

Posted by: atlmom | August 7, 2006 12:13 PM

I had 3 years of isolation as a SAHM in Northern Virginia... it being the outer suburbs, it took forever to drive to the few other SAHMs I knew in the area. I loved my kids but the isolation was so overwhelming I felt imprisoned at times.

We finally moved, far away, to be part of a neighborhood whose purpose was to be like a village-- where you know your neighbors. It's set up to be pedestrian-friendly and has front porches where you can hang out.

This weekend I sat with my next-door neighbors watching our kids play in the kiddie pool together. Another neighbor came back from vacation with fresh South Carolina peaches for me, to thank me for bringing in her mail while she was gone. The seven and eight-year-olds down the street stopped to hug my 2-year-old and play a few rounds of "Ring around the Rosy" with her, which thrilled her.

After the younger kids were in bed, four moms of kids ages 1 to 9 (working moms and SAHMs together) sat on the front porch of a neighbor and chatted for an hour or so.

Posted by: Ms L | August 7, 2006 12:15 PM

What do the SAHM talk about? Are mothers joining these groups because they are of value or to kill boredom/loneliness?

Isn't there any other way to avoid isolation? Or is it the easiest way?

Posted by: June | August 7, 2006 12:21 PM

Fo4 wrote: "confused godmother, when my wife or daughter does my laundry, my underwear turns out bright white. I washed my own clothes once and my underwear turned out a dull shade of grey. there must be a trick to doing laundry, right?"

Whew! I was *afraid* you would say your undies were some *other* color!!!!

Posted by: Dad of 2 | August 7, 2006 12:24 PM

Rockville - we are also intentional hermits. Since my husband and I have full-time jobs, we tend to guard our precious family time. It's hard for the one-job families to understand why we politely decline regular invitations that will take us apart from each other, or just away from things we'd rather be doing. Of course, we all need our personal time and space (and time with friends), but on the whole, we are a close family and spend as much time as we can together. As with working, free time activities come down to individual family choices and priorities. For better or worse, we are very much weekend hermits.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 7, 2006 12:32 PM

With two kids, we've realized we can't do everything together - and that's for the best, in the end. We have the kids signed up for different activities, where both parents can't necessarily attend - or both children.
If we *were* around each other all the time, I'm sure it would end up with difficult times. My oldest never wants to be away from me, but I'm sure that will change soon (*dad* will be the one coaching soccer, NOT mom...)

Posted by: atlmom | August 7, 2006 12:41 PM

"What do the SAHM talk about? Are mothers joining these groups because they are of value or to kill boredom/loneliness?

Isn't there any other way to avoid isolation? Or is it the easiest way?"

June, you seem to imply that there's something wrong with SAHM getting together, which I think is weird. It seems to me a natural connection, because the kids can play together and the moms can hang out. Most of my non-SAHM friends were at work all day, who else was I going to hang out with? Also, it's much easier to socialize with another adult when your child is entertained with another child.

As for what to talk about, we talked about all the things I talk about with other friends - what's going on in the world, what we were reading, what our families were up to, etc. It's just a matter of finding friends who are in a similar situation, which makes it easier to spend time together.

Posted by: Megan | August 7, 2006 12:47 PM

There is so much to discuss - the kids, for one thing - milestones, preschools, the neighborhood, etc.
Hobbies, for another, the world.
However one would go about making friends with another, really. So the sky's the limit. Or do you mean to imply that the only thing you discuss with others is your job and there's not much more to life than that?

Posted by: atlmom | August 7, 2006 12:47 PM

Aside to Megan: hey, where are you guys in CO?! My husband is a guitarist looking to getting into playing bluegrass! :)

Posted by: niner | August 7, 2006 12:50 PM

"What do the SAHM talk about? Are mothers joining these groups because they are of value or to kill boredom/loneliness?

June, I see where you're coming from--that these may be people who have little in common other than having kids, and it may seem like forced friendships--but there is a lot of value in killing boredom/loneliness.

Posted by: niner | August 7, 2006 12:52 PM

Niner, that's awesome. We're in Littleton, very close to Denver - how about you? It'd be awesome to get them picking together!

Posted by: Megan | August 7, 2006 12:57 PM

Regarding the Post article about those 3 dads: Did anyone else wonder what their houses would look like when their wives & kids get home? Do you think these guys will have the decency to clean up at the end? Or will their wives & kids arrive to sinks full of dishes, dirty bathrooms, full hampers, etc? Wish we could know.

Posted by: sfmom | August 7, 2006 1:04 PM

Re: house...

one of my neighbors sent out a frantic email several days before his wife came home from a month plus long trip with their daughter asking if anyone knew someone to clean his house. He *knew* what would happen if it didn't get clean...

Posted by: atlmom | August 7, 2006 1:12 PM

"Or will their wives & kids arrive to sinks full of dishes, dirty bathrooms, full hampers, etc? Wish we could know."

sfmom, I think we have a pretty good idea of what those women are going to find when they get of them 45+ pairs of dirty underwear! ;)

Okay, Megan, time to take this off-list, cuz we're in Littleton, too! Email me at

Posted by: niner | August 7, 2006 1:12 PM

About isolation and being hermits, when my husband and I moved to N.C. from D.C., I was out of work for several months. Isolation took its toll. What I did, and my advice to others, is to include neighbors in activities that you do all the time. I posted a flier for someone to jog with at night in my neighborhood. On week nights, it's easy to plan for dinner with the neighbors. It's also easy to call them over to watch a video. You'll be doing that stuff anyway, so you might as well include other people. Plus, assuming you like to hang out with other families with kids, no one will be expecting a gourmet meal. In other words, it shouldn't be something that will force you to do more work.

As for the weekend hermits, I see nothing wrong with that. There are already so many commitments for the weekend that you really do need to carve out family time, in my opinion.

Posted by: Meesh | August 7, 2006 1:13 PM

June, I think the SAHM groups can work well if the parents talk about things other than their kids and don't have a kids' competition going on. Some sharing and advice seeking/dispensing about child-rearing or development is valueable, however.

As a WOHM, I find it pretty isolating, because the weekend is about family time and errand-running and activities. But for me, trying to arrange playdates can be hard, because other WOHM can be flaky. They could also be cocooning, but it amounts to the same thing. Our community had a weekend toddler group once a month, but there was very little participation. Then the organizer got busy, then my son had a conflict with his karate lesson, etc.

What I do for my kids' interaction is to take them to the community pool or playground, and if other kids are there, it more often than not turns into an instant playdate. We parents talk at that time, but it's basically about kids, schools, how the community is shaping up, and our jobs. Not the most stimulating conversation. I pretty much save other conversation for friends and acquaintences at work or older established friendships. Sometimes I wonder if we get so wrapped up in our families and all this cocooning, that we forget how to socialize.

By the way, great post, Meredith. I've heard good things about Mocha Moms. I like the way you treat both options, SAH and WOH, with respect.

Posted by: momoftwo | August 7, 2006 1:26 PM

I am finding that being a mom who is trying to connect with other people is a lot like dating. I have to ask people to do things and join different activities/participate in things that give me access to other people. Some of those activities turn out to be duds, some end up being great. The people I think I will most likely be friends with sometimes turn out to be people I don't want to be friends with. And sometimes I end up bonding with people I never expected. It takes time and energy, which I know a lot of us don't have. It also takes having a spouse who supports me in finding friends. We do a lot together as a family but we both recognize we need outside stimulation. It makes a better couple and thus better parents.

Posted by: Burke Mom | August 7, 2006 1:30 PM

On the subject of WOHM-families finding interactions, have any of you been able to make friends with other families from your kids' daycare? We thought that might be a possibility when we put our son in, and we have a sense of which kids he plays with, but how do you get in touch with them? I can't tell if it would be considered odd to leave a note in one of their cubbies or something. I guess I could ask his teacher...

Or am I just being a freak about this?

Posted by: Megan | August 7, 2006 1:30 PM

Megan, your 1:30 asked about making friends with kids' families from daycare. We've made some of our best friends that way. You have something in common with them, since your kids are together all day. What worked for me was just chatting up some of the other parents at the end of the day, getting to know them. We've had lots of fun that way, learned about each other's lives, had dinner partners, and just a lot of fun. Try it!

Posted by: Dad of 2 | August 7, 2006 1:35 PM

re: friends at daycare
Also, our son's preschool has some family nights, where they would have pizza and the kids would be together playing, and you'd get to socialize with the parents. It's less hectic than before/after the day talking, and it's an event that you are at - so you're not hurrying somewhere else.
Our son is at a very small place (total of maybe 60 kids), so it's easier to do that for all the kids together. But also, they could do that for each year (i.e., the 3's the babies, etc). Also, we would have a brunch at the beginning of the year at someone's house, for each class, as a get to know you.

Posted by: atlmom | August 7, 2006 1:43 PM

Reading that article about the men becoming feral when their families leave made me happy to have my husband. I even called him after I read it to thank him for everything he does. When I have to go on business trips, my husband does what he wants. He tells me that he plays video games all night and makes tater tots and corn dogs. But I know that when I get back, I'll come home to a clean house and a well-fed dog (what the dog has been eating, though, is a mystery).

But that's because we agreed before we got married that we are both responsible for all the chores. We usually work together on the tasks (like I'll mow the front and he'll mow the back, or he'll fold laundry while I start the next load).

I don't think that men are useless when it comes to taking care of the house. But some women do cater to that mentality. So wives sort of created the monster. Or maybe they wanted to give hubby a vacation because he works so hard and contributes so much when the family is together. Who knows.

I think those guys just feel out of control in their lives and feel the need to escape responsibility for a while. But, IMHO, their wives shouldn't have to do more work to enable them.

And as for them missing thier families, I think that the moral of the story was that they DID miss thier families and DID treasure their lives with wife and kids in it. After all, what kind of article would it be without the happy ending?

Posted by: Meesh | August 7, 2006 1:49 PM

Megan, I think it's perfectly acceptable to leave cubby notes at day care. It's kind of like the speed dating thing; if they don't respond, no big deal. My son's teacher, when she noticed him bonding with another boy about his age, even suggested that I exchange phone numbers with another mom. (We have, but we haven't done anything yet, mostly because we haven't had a "down" weekend without visitors or other plans yet!) It's nice to get to know other day care parents as more than "Sara's Mom," too.

At our last daycare in the DC area, all of the parents at our small daycare were close. I even went out with the center manager a couple of times to see a movie, shop, etc.

Think of it this way: if another parent thinks that your leaving a note is weird, they're probably not someone you'd want to hang out with, anyway.

(I wonder if our kids are at the same day care?!)

Posted by: niner | August 7, 2006 1:54 PM

On socializing - My husband and I don't yet have kids. Many of our friends do. It's been a big challenge to stay connected with with our couple-friends after they have kids. Here are some of the things we've had to deal with.

1. Friends dropping off the face of the planet
2. Friends preferring to hang out with other parents (see above)
3. Schedules becoming EXTREMELY difficult to coordinate
4. Conversations devolving (with poopy diapers, potty training and spit-up becoming dominant topics )

One of the things that's worked for us is planning group picnics at a local park on Friday or Saturday evenings once a month or so. Everyone brings whatever they want to eat plus a little extra to share. Noone has to host (I LOVE this part). The atmosphere is casual. It doesn't matter how many or how few people show up, we always have a good time. And it's easy. Noone has to cook. Fancy picnic fare is welcome but take-out potato salad is just as heartily enjoyed.

The toughest thing for me as a non-parent has been figuring out how to deal with the hosting thing. It seems like most of my new-parent friends prefer to host in their own homes. But I feel awkard, always being the guest and never reciprocating. At the same time, I know it's much easier to keep a two-year old behaving and entertained in his or her home than it is in my TV-free dining room. So the picnic thing has been my solution.

By the way... Whatever happened to babysitters? Very few of my friends seem to spend adult-time away from their children. It's like people are afraid to leave their children with someone else. When I was a kid my parents frequently hosted and attended adult dinner parties. They just got babysitters. I don't think I'd dare invite any of my friends with young children to this kind of thing. Seems like it's just not done.

Posted by: Friend | August 7, 2006 1:56 PM

Wow! What a great blog today. I recently left full time employment, and what today's writer has shared articulates my own experience as well. The isolation of being an SAHM and the loss of clear goals are the two hardest hurdles in making this adjustment. Finding a social outlet (for me, its MOPS - Mothers of Preschoolers, a national mothering organization ) and new goals (a second graduate degree through distance learning) have helped.

Posted by: New SAHM | August 7, 2006 2:05 PM

Re: babysitters--they are hard to find, and expensive. All those overscheduled high school kids trying to get into Ivy League colleges? Not interested in chasing rugrats on a Friday night. And around here (Arlignton, anyhow) they get paid a fortune -- $7-8 an hour, which really adds up. Between the scarcity and the cost, we only use sitters for "real" dates (e.g., a show, a fancy dinner)--we wouldn't "waste" an available sitter on a night just hanging out with our friends! But it's true, the downside is we either don't see our friends that much, or one or the other of us will go out with friends but not together. I'd love to trade off with the parents at my son's daycare--we'll take their Friday night, and they can take ours Saturday night. SOme day I will get organized enough to suggest this to someone.

Posted by: toFriend | August 7, 2006 2:12 PM

Thanks, Do2, altmom, and niner for the suggestions on the day care thing. Niner, I wondered the same thing, tha would be too much! I think since we pick up our son at noon, we miss some of the prime interaction time, so we'll try notes and make sure we get to the next families night!

Friend, I sympathize. Your picnic strategy is excellent. I'll also guess that your friends are more than happy to have you over and are not worried about you reciprocating becase, as you say, it's so much easier that way. I'm sure if you occasionally offer to bring a dish or drinks that's more than enough (it is for us, anyway!). Also, for us it's gotten much easier as our son has gotten older - he can entertain himself better, we've gotten out of the initial myopia of newborn care (where the baby's habits are all you can talk about) and we're more comfortable leaving him with sitters. Takes time though to get adjusted to it. Sounds like you have a great attitude and approach though, so I'm sure things will work out.

Posted by: Megan | August 7, 2006 2:21 PM

"Whatever happened to babysitters? Very few of my friends seem to spend adult-time away from their children. It's like people are afraid to leave their children with someone else. When I was a kid my parents frequently hosted and attended adult dinner parties. They just got babysitters. I don't think I'd dare invite any of my friends with young children to this kind of thing. Seems like it's just not done."

Sometimes it has less to do with being afraid to leave your children with someone and more to do with just wanting to be with your children.

When I first had children, I was the only parent in my group of friends from college. We just continued on socializing as we had before, only brought our children along. It didn't make sense to ditch them with a babysitter when my friends were accomodating and we could have a social life and be with our children at the same time.

Posted by: moretoFriend | August 7, 2006 2:22 PM

To Friend:

1. I sometimes feel that we have dropped off the planet as far as our kidless friends are concerned. Partly because kids (especially young kids) just take up so much of the time left over after going to work. There's hardly any time for anybody else or even yourself. Of course, I think it goes both ways. We haven't been keeping in touch as much and neither have the kidless ones.

2. It's not always exactly that parents prefer to hang out with other parents as it is often just easier. Kids may have similar schedules so it's easier to coordinate. People with kids have the necessary equipment to deal without the other parents having to drag everything with them. The houses of people with kids tend to already be kid-proofed.

3. Scheduling is definitely an issue. Different times of the day can be better for the kids than others. And time, there's just no time.

4. Conversations devolving. Well, unfortunately, when you're in the midst of some of the kid stuff, it can be overwhelming and the thing uppermost in your mind. And your always looking for the solutions to the latest problem or issue. So when someone says, "So what's so-and-so doing these days?" it can all come out. Sorry.

Babysitters. Well, I don't know about others but we don't actually have one. Probably for a couple of reasons. The kids spend so much time in daycare, we don't tend to farm them out much more. Also, not entirely sure how to find one and when you're done doing all the other work and chores in life, you often don't have the energy to go out anyway.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | August 7, 2006 2:24 PM

Rockville Mom wrote: "... you often don't have the energy to go out anyway."

You got that right! I forgot for the longest time that there were two 11:00's in a day! Of course, it could be that I'm just turning into an old fart.......

Posted by: Dad of 2 | August 7, 2006 2:28 PM

I feel for all of the "Friends" out there; we were the first in our circle to reproduce. We TRIED not to talk about baby-only stuff, really! Our friends, all of whom we managed to stay in touch with, were very patient with us and still seemed to enjoy spending time with us, kids in tow. The two people that we spent the most time with were my husband's brother and his wife, who are expecting now. I just wish we still lived near them so that I could repay all of those hours of babysitting!

Posted by: niner | August 7, 2006 2:29 PM

"I forgot for the longest time that there were two 11:00's in a day!"

LOL! Dad of 2, I never used to understand why my mom, who taught high school and had three kids, used to flop down on the living room couch in front of the TV right after dinner on Friday night. I SOOOO get it now! :)

Posted by: niner | August 7, 2006 2:34 PM

Niner, also in yesterday's Post was the Style Invitational, where the contest was to take two words that only differ by one letter, and define them. My favorite entry was "Copulation: when two people become one. Population: when two people become three." Your comment about being the first in your circle to reproduce made me think of that!

Posted by: Dad of 2 | August 7, 2006 2:39 PM

In my neighborhood there is an "You take care of your kid, and I'll take care of mine" attitude.

You can "borrow" up to 4 hours of letting your little Jonney play over at their "house" before you get the "mooch" label at the next Bunco party, in which you won't be invited. However, you can purchase your time back by buying $80 worth of candles, Pampered Chef, Avon, baskets..., all that overpriced, worthless stuff that women like to buy in order to boost their "at-home" business.

then, on Bunco Night, all the guys get together in one of the sheds, drink beer, and let the kids run around the neighborhood.

So, girls, if you want to ditch your kids off on your hubbies and pick up on the latest neighborhood gossip, learn how to play bunco, get a shed and start one of those Amway businesses.

Yes, I live in the DC area. Can you tell?

Posted by: Father of 4 | August 7, 2006 2:53 PM


Posted by: Megan | August 7, 2006 3:04 PM

Google it and it will make you recoil in horror!! My friend from high school who lives two doors down from her mother is a SAHM who plays this with other mothers of people we went to high school with.

Posted by: Awk! | August 7, 2006 3:06 PM

Feeling Isolated? host a Home Poker Tournament

Taking out the bottles and cans taking its toll? buy a CO2 Beer Dispenser

DH looks confused at pile of clothing? Post Large Font Step by Step Instructions to Laundry/Dryer. Get a washer/dryer with window in front... we had one in London and was mesmerizing for our children...way more educational than TV right?

pour a draught, and watch the fun!

Posted by: Fo3 | August 7, 2006 3:07 PM

There's a great article in the NYT's business section today - Wall Street firms focus on re-attracting moms in their 30s after having children. For some reason I can't post the link here, but definetely worth a look.

Posted by: Just a thought | August 7, 2006 3:13 PM

I'll second the suggestion for the washer/dryer directions - it's useful for everyone. My mom did this to teach us how to do laundry (dad never did it, but we were okay with that) - list clothes into categories, then give the washing instructions for each category. I'm finding that my husband (married 3 months now) is intimidated by my clothes and afraid to wash them. He's perfectly competent at washing towels and all his stuff, but he's afraid he's going to ruin my things. I think it's sweet, but am working on building his confidence.

Posted by: SEP | August 7, 2006 3:22 PM

Isolated SAHMs: Learn to watch sports. That way, you have something to talk about. You would not believe how much of an in-depth conversation you can have discussing Soriano's travails in the outfield. The last one we had touched on Aristotle, the Golden Mean, Rennisance Art and a Flogging Molly reference.

Posted by: Jacknut | August 7, 2006 3:24 PM

In my last job, a group of us all had our kids in the gov't employer daycare. Since I used the daycare over two jobs (and still use it now) for both my kids, I've known some of the parents for a while. I do linger to chat a couple of minutes with other parents, and a group that included some of have gotten together for a couple of farewell/girls night out gatherings. I had no choice but to bring my kids to one, since I couldn't round up a babysitter. My son was remarkably well-behaved, my daughter slept, and I drank iced tea while the other ladies had drinks. When the talk turned to strippers, however, I gracefully made my exit so the conversation could continue uncensored!
So it's more like I knew the daycare parents first. But we just don't hang out often -- things are so busy. But that still doesn't stop the isolation I feel sometimes.

Posted by: momoftwo | August 7, 2006 3:51 PM

"But anyway, those men are that way almost precisely BECAUSE of their wives. If the wives didn't put up with it, then it wouldn't be that way."

Maybe those men were already that way before they got married, and attracted their wives that way? I know a woman who likes guys moving back to their parents' big houses more than guys renting their own little apartments.

Posted by: Julie | August 7, 2006 3:58 PM

In contrast to the silly men featured in yesterday's Post article there was an in my opinion not long enough article about single dads a few months ago in the Washingtonian magazine that gave 4 men facing some tough situations the credit due for raising their kids without the support of the mom either through death, divorce or abandonment. Of course I cannot find it on their site. I think it was either in the February or March 2006 issue. It is a great article.

Posted by: mm | August 7, 2006 4:26 PM

off topic;

please describe your favorite strategies to teach a 3 yr old human female to stop screaming when she doesnt get what she wants.

step two; please describe your favorite strategies to teach a 39 year old human female to stop screaming when she doesnt get what she wants.

Screaming back doesnt work. I rally need help here, I dont run fast enough to make the olympic team and I do know how to do laundry.

Posted by: Fo3 | August 7, 2006 4:55 PM

"Whatever happened to babysitters? Very few of my friends seem to spend adult-time away from their children. It's like people are afraid to leave their children with someone else."

Don't know about your friends' situation, but mine is this: Babysitters are worth their weight in gold, maybe in platinum, and are very hard to find. Usually, babysitting appointments must be scheduled at least a week in advance, sometimes three weeks. The younger the kid, the harder it is to find a qualified and, more importantly, willing babysitter. Going rate is about $10 an hour -- it's that supply and demand thing -- so the babysitting option can get pretty pricey.
When you ask, "whatever happened," I think what happened is that high school and college kids who might be good babysitters are finding more lucrative employment elsewhere. That's what happened with one of our excellent, beloved babysitters. She's in college and has just gotten better offers. Other likely candidates -- such as those in high school -- are busy with extracirricular activities (ski team, theater, etc) and don't have a lot of spare time. You do have to make it worth their while (that means $$$$$) to convince them to take time out of their schedules to babysit your child. Nobody's going to do it for less than $20 a pop.
In the old days, maybe it seemed like babysitters were all over the place. I was one of those babysitters, and I had a very active mini-business going that gave me the money I used to buy my first car. But if such freelance babysitters were plentiful in the old days, that is no longer the case.

Posted by: anon mom | August 7, 2006 4:57 PM

Fo3, I feel your pain! Duct tape works, but apply sparingly. Otherwise, retreat to your corner and curl up into the fetal position until the storm blows over, then apologize profusely for whatever she thinks you did wrong. It saves everybody time and energy!

Posted by: Dad of 2 | August 7, 2006 4:59 PM

RE: Babysitters -- we found ours through a local campus paper. She was a widow, full of energy, worked at a local after-school program PT and looking for occasional additional income. She was at our house ALL day through my induction and labor w/ #2, and was the saving grace when our kids got chicken pox (consecutively, and it lasted a month) -- she came over and took the "swing shift" -- I went in early and brought home work, DH went in late, she covered the 11-2 swing so DH could get out the door and to work, and I could get home and catch up on the day's excitement.

We also had her come over for adult dinners and movies out. Worth every penny!

RE: Hoarding the weekends -- this is hte major reason our kids didn't do sports. We wanted those weekends for family activities, hanging out w/friends, travel, etc. People thought we were nuts. In this hypercompetitive college admissions race I wonder if it was the right decision for each kid, but for the family, it was the way to go.

Posted by: Derwood Mom | August 7, 2006 5:14 PM

Derwood Mom, I think you sent a good message to your kids about the importance of family time. I HATED sports when I was younger; I would have much rather gone camping with my family!

Posted by: niner | August 7, 2006 5:35 PM

Oooh, sounds like fun times in the Fo3 household! With a little kid I used to know who was a real screecher, I found doing something unexpected had good results: whispering her ear, falling over and playing dead, something that would break her concentration. Probably wouldn't recommend it for the 39 yo, though.

Derwood Mom, right on! I hated all those forced competitions and was much happier when my parents let go of the idea of me ever playing soccer. This happened after I stood stock still on the field and let the ball roll right past me because the coach yelled at me for running all over the place. I'm not sure if was embarassment or sympathy that made them do it, but thank god they did.

Posted by: Megan | August 7, 2006 5:43 PM

Megan, when I was forced to play kickball at recess in elementary school, I would sit in the tall weeds in the outfield, and unless I got hit by the ball, do nothing! The teachers would kindly turn a blind eye because they knew I was clumsy and embarassed by my lack of athletic ability.

Re: babysitting, higher profiles of news stories like this probably don't increase the likeliness parents decide to let non-family members watch their kids:

Posted by: niner | August 7, 2006 5:54 PM

@ F03, whenever my wife gets uppity, I threaten to give her a Wet Willy.

Works every time. Just licking my finger is enough now to get her to stop annoying me.

Posted by: Jacknut | August 7, 2006 8:01 PM

Fo3, you might want to find out what your wife is upset about. Does she have reasonable expectations? How about family conseling, you sound like a good guy, and no one deserves to be screamed at. The three year old is modeling behavior that she observes. Do you want to spend the rest of your life like this?

Posted by: experienced mom | August 7, 2006 9:49 PM

Meredith, you are a great writer!

Posted by: experienced mom | August 7, 2006 9:50 PM

To Fo3:

If you're serious- two books, each with a different approach. You can read them both and see what you think will work for you.
*1-2-3 Magic (forget the author, easy to find on Amazon tho) - read this first because it's easy to apply. I also have a 3 yo (and a 5 yo, and a 1yo) who is a screamer and this works well with her.
*Playful Parenting, Lawrence Cohen. Very different take on the discipline problem and a little harder to put into practice. We use sort of a hybridized approach.

As for your wife, can't help you there. I tell my husband, "If it sparkles and it's real, it's always a hit," but if she's having a conniption fit you probably don't feel like buying jewelry just to calm her down.

Posted by: Catherine | August 7, 2006 9:50 PM

Surprisingly, I never get any jewelry either. Maybe I should stop screaming.

Posted by: Catherine | August 7, 2006 9:59 PM

Jewelry? I hope you guys are kidding about that. The "real" stuff is mined in places like South Africa and Colombia by people who are essentially slaves. The "fake" stuff looks just as nice, doesn't support oppression, and it's cheaper.

Fo3, I have no advice about the screaming kid issue, but I do have some for your wife (I'm assuming she's the screaming 39 year old. If not, you should just tell that lady to get out of your house).
Either you caused her to scream or you didn't. If you didn't, kindly remind her not to take her frustrations out on you. But offer to listen to why she's upset. You may not be able to do anything about it, but you can listen (if she's calm). If she's not, suggest that she take a 10 minute break while you watch the kids.
If you are the reason she's screaming, tell her you can't understand what the problem is if she's screaming. Ask her to calmly tell you what's wrong and do your best to fix it.

Now does anyone have advice for a 28 year old man who flies off the handle when confronted with something he's done wrong? ("Honey, did you fax that application in, or should I do it now?" "WHAT, YOU THINK I CAN'T REMEMBER A STUPID APPLICATION? WHAT AM I, AN IDIOT?")

Posted by: Meesh | August 8, 2006 8:35 AM

Jewelry? I hope you guys are kidding about that. The "real" stuff is mined in places like South Africa and Colombia by people who are essentially slaves. The "fake" stuff looks just as nice, doesn't support oppression, and it's cheaper.

Don't these people have to eat? People die in coal mines here, mining coal that you use for power? So don't turn on the lights

Posted by: Anonymous | August 8, 2006 8:38 AM

Actually, I do have screaming kid advice, although I don't know if it will work for a 3 year old. When I was a camp counselor, I had my share of bratty kids (it was a very expensive camp). They were 6 and older, though. When they would throw fits and sream, I would gather up the rest of the girls and take them out of the cabin to do something fun, but leave the screaming girl inside (the cabin was never out of sight). I told her that she could join us when she stopped screaming.
So you could try to convey the message that while she's screaming, people leave and no one listens to her. You could even tell her that you don't want to be near her while she's screaming and ask her to leave. Again, I don't know if that will work with a 3 year old.

Posted by: Meesh | August 8, 2006 8:43 AM

"Don't these people have to eat? People die in coal mines here, mining coal that you use for power? So don't turn on the lights"

Right, that's exactly the same because the people here have unions and earn enough to support a family and don't have to work 20 hour days, so that must be how people work all over the world.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 8, 2006 8:50 AM

then they should rise up and fight for a better life like people here did. Don't worry bleeding heart, they will have all of our jobs soon enough and you won't have to worry about it.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 8, 2006 9:22 AM

1. For the screaming, crying 3 year old, send her to her room until she can stop. When she comes out she should be nice and sweet. If she's tired she'll fall asleep before she makes it out. If she is really angry, she needs to screem and cry, which is the cure, not the sickness. I see a lot of parents falling into a trap where they try to rationalize with the unreasonable tamtrom thrower and become just as out of control as the child. Who's the adult here?

2. For lighter episodes, I've always "coached" my kids to make a better tantrum. I tell them they need to stomp around harder and jump up and down even higher before I will even listen to them. I get them to lay on the floor, pound their fist and kick. When they finally realize that I've tricked them into a calethetics routine, they usually come out of it laughing. If they melt, refer to #1.

As for the 39 year old, put your thumbs in your ears, stick out your tongue, twiddle your fingers and be ready to duck.

Posted by: Father of 4 | August 8, 2006 9:29 AM

You need power to work in your office and to refridgerate food for your family, but you don't need another tennis bracelet to show off to the ladies at the club. Seriously, what kind of argument is that?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 8, 2006 9:38 AM

On Coal and Jewelry

I like jewelry, I am going to continue to wear it, and I am going to continue to buy it.
Just so you know I have had family killed and maimed in coal mines, working for much less than you think. I feel bad for those people over there, but sooner or later they are either going to have to rise up and over throw their governments and the people who are oppressing them or they are going to have to live with it.

A lot of people here talk about the poor like they like being poor or they deserve it, I think the same logic should be applied to people in other countries as well.

Father of 4, I know you think I am a closet republican, but i'm not!

Posted by: scarry | August 8, 2006 9:57 AM

There was an article about a research study about increased social isolation in our society...basically it said people don't feel they have anyone to confide in except their spouse and they don't have time to invest in strong friendships much these days...reading these posts made me think of it.

Posted by: Kara | August 8, 2006 10:14 AM

Fo4 said "As for the 39 year old, put your thumbs in your ears, stick out your tongue, twiddle your fingers and be ready to duck."

I stand by my solution: curl up in the fetal position, hide in your corner and don't come out until you are ready to apologize!

Posted by: Dad of 2 | August 8, 2006 10:16 AM

As as single person with lots of friends with kids I can tell you it takes alot of work to stay connected. It is difficult to always be the one who travels to someone else's house rather than have them transport the whole world to yours. But when you are long term friends that is what you do. What I have also done for birthdays, anniversaries and Christmas is give my friends a couple of hours of babysitting so they can go out. They sure appreciate that and I get to visit before and after plus keep in touch with the kids. One of these kids just graduated from college.

Posted by: KB silver Spring | August 8, 2006 10:17 AM

Scarry, your comments are so strange. "Oh, well, not my problem!"

Posted by: Rebecca | August 8, 2006 10:29 AM

Why are my comments strange? I don't tell you your comments are strange. That's kind of rude to say that just because you don't agree.

Posted by: scarry | August 8, 2006 10:29 AM

Scarry, shake it off! ;-)

Posted by: Dad of 2 | August 8, 2006 10:51 AM

you are right dad of 2!

Posted by: scarry | August 8, 2006 10:54 AM

i didn't think Scarry's comments were the least bit strange. She made sense to me!

Posted by: experienced mom | August 8, 2006 10:56 AM

Scarry, queen of "Oh, are you an engineer??" and such snarky comments is calling others rude. Her ability to be snarky yet exact sympathy from others when faced with snarkiness is one of the great mysteries of cyberspace....

Posted by: Please? | August 8, 2006 11:46 AM

"Just so you know I have had family killed and maimed in coal mines, working for much less than you think."

scarry, pointing out your own victimization does not negate the victimization of other people. Where your family members choose to work in the mine and get paid at least minimum wage and have safeguards to protect them from lots of dangers (not all, obviously), people in South Africa, for example, are essentially slaves. They have almost no choice and get paid almost nothing and have no regulations to protect them.

The suggestion I made was not that you stop wearing jewelry but that you wear fake or semiprecious stones. You get the same sparkly stones. Cost alone should dictate the switch! What would compel you to pay exorbitent prices for precious gems that support oppression when you can have something that looks exactly the same for much less money? Status?. These are rhetorical questions. I started the debate (sorry) and I think we should stop--it doesn't really have a place on this blog.

I think I read the same article. It's sad, isn't it? A lot of what contributes to that is how we're so far from our extended family because of cost of living and work demands. Technology also contributes to this. There is so much being done without face to face contact, and even without voices, that people don't have to come into contact with people as frequently as they used to.

Posted by: Meesh | August 8, 2006 11:51 AM

Off Topic (and not about scarry) - I have a good friend who is 30 weeks pregnant and just went on bed rest for the remainder of her pregnancy (which will hope will be much longer!) We don't live near each other, so visiting, etc. is not an option - I wanted to send her a little something to make things easier and wanted to see if you all had any ideas. FWIW - she is a Type A lawyer and this is probably driving her insane!


Posted by: Off Topic | August 8, 2006 11:53 AM

"Ask her to calmly tell you what's wrong", but that's why she's screaming at Fo3 in the first place. Meesh, your solution is the problem.

As for advice on how to deal with a 28-year old man that flies off the handle for petty little things, the solution is simple. Somehow, mention his mother when he heats up. You can use plain generic phrases like "Ask your mother" or "Is that what your mother thinks?". For instance if he asks "do you think I'm an idiot", the answer "Ask your mommy!" should get him to really blow his stack. Once you've effectively derailed his ability to provide any rational thought in a discussion, focus on his behavior. Remind him that his face is getting flushed and maybe he should go see a doctor or alternatively, a counselor, where you can discuss his anger issues, and the root of the problem, namely his mommy. I know, it's a cheap shot, but it works.

Scarry, you're a little rough around the edges, but I like that. I'm Irish too, don't you know.

Posted by: Father of 4 | August 8, 2006 12:10 PM


Posted by: test | August 8, 2006 12:56 PM

These people are not my responsibility. Do you think the people in Africa are worried about you or me? Also, people in my family are a not victim, that's not why I said that. My point is that we can't take care of the whole world, sooner or later they have to take care of their selves.

And, please, I'm sorry that you are still mad over the SUV conversation, but I would have thought that you would have moved on by now. Me and experienced mom have had disagreements on this blog, or better stated, misunderstandings, but every time I get on it, I read her posts from a new perspective and don't keep harping on the old things she has said. Can you please get over it? I like SUVs and apparently jewelry, like the rest of the women in this country running around with engagement rings.

Posted by: scarry | August 8, 2006 1:26 PM

Well, I had preterm labor and it is very rough. She will probably get tired of the TV and movies, so I would go with some good books that she can really get into or some junk magazines. I know it is hard if you live far away, but the best thing to give her is company! Try to call her when you know she will be alone.

Posted by: scarry | August 8, 2006 1:29 PM

To "test"....was that a test tickle?

Posted by: Dad of 2 | August 8, 2006 1:40 PM

by the way Scarry, I've been meaning to apoligize, I did not intend to upset you during the 'starving baby' discussion. I was trying to explain the standard three day old breast feeding baby huge demand increase, that freaks out alot of people (me included), but as we continued to discuss the issue, it became clear to me that what you had experienced was different! Then I didn't have a chance to apologize because I had to go do something. That's the problem with cyberspace, tone and intention are lost, and there can often be more than one meaning to a bunch of words.

Posted by: experienced mom | August 8, 2006 1:51 PM

I suggest a subscription to Brain, Child Magazine ("The Magazine for Thinking Mothers") or, better yet, the book of Brain, Child's greatest hits.

The book has wonderful articles that would be great for an expecting mom, including a beautiful piece by Silver Spring resident Elizabeth Roca about the agony of bedrest.

Posted by: Ms L | August 8, 2006 1:53 PM

You don't have to apologize, I get upset easily over that an I took it the wrong way. It's like I've told other people, a new blog, a new day. I don't know why SUV person can't get over the SUV discussion. Everytime I think they are gone they come back! Please, give me a break, I work at a non-profit and I love people and animals. Sometimes things I say come out wrong, like everyone else. Dont sweat it, we can still be blog friends.

Posted by: scarry | August 8, 2006 2:01 PM

To Off Topic,

I was laid up for 5 weeks because my appendix ruptured. I love to read, but after about four hours of reading, my eyes would start to hurt. So I wanted something else to do besides read and watch TV. The best gifts were fun crafts, like:

~ A book and supplies to learn to do origami
~ Scrapbook supplies and all my pictures from home to (finally) organize them
~ Yarn to learn how to knit (I was terrible, but it was fun)

I also asked for donations of trial-sized personal grooming products and old shoeboxes to make gifts for the women's shelter.

You could also ask her if there's anything that she never had time to do and see if she could accomplish it while bedridden (like learning a foreign language).

Posted by: Meesh | August 8, 2006 2:05 PM

Scarry. I'm definitely over it. I possess the ability to dispassionately debate the issues. I hold no ill will over an SUV related discussions.

What will consistently chafe is debating(or watching debate where) someone with a weak POV will retreat to things like "you're rude" when they're out of intellectual horsepower to continue the discussion. Particularly when they shift their style over to "rude" when it suits them.

Posted by: Please? | August 8, 2006 2:26 PM

For the bed-ridden mom-to-be - how about crossword puzzle books? I had knee surgery and was laid up for a month and they were invaluable. You can pick up anytime and even do while tv is on. They also keep the brain working at least a little bit.

Posted by: KB silver Spring | August 8, 2006 2:27 PM

i'm in the middle of my second long bout of bedrest. the hardest thing for me is how hard it is on my family - last time "family" was just my husband but now its my husband and son of 18 months.

the best thing anyone has done - besides ALL of the babysitting - is my sister-in-law went to Let's Dish ( and split all her meals with me. that gave us 12 nights that my husband doesn't have to cook in addition to doing ALL other work that 2 of us normally do.

that's a very expensive gift and wouldn't be feasible for you anyhow since you live so far away. the point of my story, however, is that any sort of gift certificate for prepared food (take out, etc;) will probably reduce the burden on her family and give them more time together. that's what i appreciate most right now.

Posted by: bedrest gift | August 8, 2006 2:50 PM

also... stationary!!!!

I had/have so many thank you notes to write! Writing thank you notes while on bed rest kills time and makes you feel productive. I wrote more than 50 thank you notes by the time all was said and done with the last pregnancy. People remember them. I wrote all the L&D and NICU nurses that helped us through. I've run into many of those nurses during trips to the hospital during this pregnancy - they all remember my name and many told me that the note meant so much that they kept it! Now I the best nurses volunteer to take me on their caseload when I go to the hospital :-)

Posted by: bedrest gift 2 | August 8, 2006 2:54 PM

bedrest gift wrote: "the best thing anyone has done - besides ALL of the babysitting - is my sister-in-law went to Let's Dish ( and split all her meals with me. that gave us 12 nights that my husband doesn't have to cook in addition to doing ALL other work that 2 of us normally do."

MAN!!! Your SIL is awesome! I never heard of letsdish before...went to their website and I'm gonna sign up.....and I'm a pretty darn good cook, but at a certain point who has the time/energy/desire.....

I hope your bedrest remains uneventful and you are well.

Posted by: Dad of 2 | August 8, 2006 2:55 PM

Hey, Off Topic, If I had a bedridden TypeA lawyer friend, I would send her a box of Bon-bons. but that's just me and offers a possible explaination why I don't have many type A lawyer friends...

Down in the small consession store in our building, I've asked if they sell Bon-Bons. (I really don't know what they are), but the person that works there says they stock Milk Duds. Are Bon-Bons and Milk Duds the same thing? Maybe one of you stay at homers can clue me in on this one?

Posted by: Father of 4 | August 8, 2006 3:21 PM

Fo4 wrote: "Are Bon-Bons and Milk Duds the same thing? Maybe one of you stay at homers can clue me in on this one?"

Better assume a fetal position, quick!!!

Posted by: Dad of 2 | August 8, 2006 3:28 PM

I get hit a lot, but I deserve it.

Dad of 2, are you the same person that wrote a feature story on this blog several months ago? My battered head is failing me at this moment.

Posted by: Father of 4 | August 8, 2006 3:39 PM

Nope, not me, nosir. I just found this haven of martial bliss a short time ago....

Posted by: Dad of 2 | August 8, 2006 3:52 PM

For your bedridden type A lawyer friend - just hope her office doesn't deliver a laptop (with a wireless connection) and a ton of work.

However if she can get the laptop WITHOUT the ton of work - ask her to join us here.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 8, 2006 3:59 PM

Please don't make me turn in my 'guy card' for this but I think Bon-Bons are different. I saw them in the frozen case at a movie theater. They appeared to be kind of like a frozen chocolate thing with ice cream in the middle. Looked pretty good actually.

Maybe next time the wife drags me to a chick flick I can get some bon-bons and a box of tissue and fit right in.

Posted by: Proud Papa | August 8, 2006 4:03 PM

Father of 4, thanks for the advice on the screaming 28 year old. His suggestion was to flash him every time I wanted him to stop yelling (seriously), which works, but is more of an incentive to start yelling again!
So I'll try the mom thing. I already have tonight planned...
"Honey, did you take the turkey out of the freezer to thaw so I can make dinner?"
"Just think of the turkey like your dad thinks of your mom--a hunk of frozen meat that needs to thaw or else it's inedible"

Posted by: Meesh | August 8, 2006 4:10 PM

I have been on bedrest with preterm labor for 3 pregnancies. TV and books do get old. Depending on the medication she's taking, she may or may not be able to write-- my hands would tremble much too much to write. I killed a lot of time playing Civilization (a computer game), and sleeping.

I would have LOVED either a daily phone call to chat, or a cleaning service. My husband worked very hard to keep the house going, but our bathrooms and kitchen were gross for most of the time I was on bedrest (he's a capable guy, he just had a lot on his shoulders). Its also possible to have a masseuse come to her house-- just make sure she is knowledgable about pregnancy massages.

Good luck to your friend-- the first week is the hardest!

Posted by: Former bedrester... | August 8, 2006 4:23 PM

Fo4 wrote: "Are Bon-Bons and Milk Duds the same thing? Maybe one of you stay at homers can clue me in on this one?"

not sure, but godiva chocolate works for me.

Scarry, blog friends, sounds good!

Bed rest, hand held computer games? not for everyone, but can help pass the time.

Posted by: experienced mom | August 8, 2006 4:38 PM


It's hard to debate "your comments sound strange," it leaves a lot of room for interpretation. And, apparently, you are not over anything because every chance you get you take a cheap shot at me, which doesn't bother me in the least because it really just shows how immature you are.

I always know when you comment because it is always "scarry is mean or don't feel sorry for her." The comments are very intellectual and it makes me wish I could be more like you. (See note on snarky comments below) It never really has anything to do with the topic or even the off topic that we get off on sometimes. If you spent a little more energy on your intellectual debate and a little less time on the "scarry sucks topic, maybe you would have a better time on the blog. Note: And my snarky remarks usually only come out when someone has said something nasty to me or someone else.

Meesh, is there any diamond jewelry that is safe to buy? If so, from what country. Also, I know this is hard, but you might want to consider boycotting China since I know you like animals. They are going around clubbing dogs to death?

Everyone else, I am moving on to Kansas City and I will blog you all next week.

Posted by: scarry | August 9, 2006 6:58 AM

Meesh, if a wisecrack like that doesn't land the both of you into therapy, you may want to consider marriage counsilling as a second career.

I found the Bon-Bon site we've all been looking for:

Posted by: Father of 4 | August 9, 2006 7:04 AM

Fo4, I presume that if you are brave enough to order bon bons for Mrs. Fo4, you will NOT become Fo5!!!

Posted by: Dad of 2 | August 9, 2006 8:19 AM

Hey, I still say, that index finger can point inward too. For every "your comment sounds strange" that you get, it is preceded by some 'strange' comment that you make. I'm not the guy calling your comments strange, just the guy asking you to defend the comments themselves.

All I do is point it out. And that's a cheap shot? To ask you about your own words? If you can't keep from ramming your own feet down your throat, it's rude of others to point that out?

You really are just like a bad politician. (Okay, that one was a cheap shot.)

Posted by: Please? | August 9, 2006 8:47 AM

scarry, lab-created diamonds (which are just as valuable as mined diamonds) are 100% safe to buy. As far as from what countries it's safe to buy mined diamonds, I'm not sure. I bet that with a little research, we could find a few jewelry companies that claim to mine in worker-friendly environments.

I am aware of what is going on in China with the dogs. It's heartbreaking. I already do my best to buy American, but I will certainly keep an eye out to avoid products made in China. Thanks for the suggestion. Good luck with the move!

Posted by: Meesh | August 9, 2006 9:07 AM

I realize that my answer may not have been as clear as it could have been.

Only certain countries have mines (South Africa for diamonds, Colombia for emeralds, etc.). Companies like De Beers may own a mine and therefore have complete say in how it is run. Other companies like Jared might just buy their diamonds from mines owned by the government or other companies. So the trick is researching how companies aquire their diamonds, not from which countries.

Posted by: Meesh | August 9, 2006 9:11 AM

oh come on, the article about the 4 witless guys is funny! (and I'm not a guy)

Posted by: anon | August 9, 2006 1:56 PM

Meesh, you are right on about the diamonds, and De Beers is THE major player, making it difficult to find safe diamonds. Also from what I understand, because De Beers has a lock on the market, they have kept the value of diamonds artificially high by controlling the supply, and single handedly created the perception that diamonds are a girls best friend and are the only acceptable stone for an engagement ring. Very effective marketers.

And can we please, please drop the Scarry topic? You all know I like Scarry tons, and so I'm sure my opinion is less valuable to you, but good grief, it seems like it would get tiresome reading so many mean-spirited remarks about one person even if you agreed.

Posted by: Megan | August 9, 2006 4:22 PM

Canada has working diamond mines. There are brands of diamonds that are from Canada and etched with an ID to ensure the origin. The two brand names that I can remember are Polar and Ekati.
Of course, this is a bit like the fake fur discussion - does wearing a "safe" diamond still encourage the market for "blood" diamonds?

Posted by: diamond | August 10, 2006 10:20 AM


Thanks a lot for the information. I'm sure that my first post sounded heartless, even though I didn't mean it that way. I guess I just get so frustrated that so much bad stuff goes on in the world that my first reaction was, I'm still wearing diamonds, even though I have very few!

I am just really worn out with causes because it seems like something bad is always going on, so I talked with some friends about it and they said, Scarry, I can't believe you said that, and then I couldn't believe I said it either, so I'm sorry, and I will do my research before I buy another diamond. I think the coal mine comments got me fired up.


My first comments weren't strange at all. People understood them. I thought the strange comment was rude because she didn't ask me to explain why I felt that way or to further explain my position. And by strange, I'm sure she really meant something else.

By the way, you are just as bad as Fox news, always putting a spin on everything I write. Someone can say I wrote something strange, but if I say something back then I'm the jerk. Someone can say, all mothers should stay at home but if I reply back, I'm snarky.

I also don't hold grudges for all time and eternity, sometimes I wonder if you are sitting at your house plotting ways to find out my identity so we can have a smack down! Let's hope for your sake that isn't true.

Posted by: scarry | August 10, 2006 3:43 PM

Scarry, I don't know if you'll come back to read this, but that's what I think is great about you. You're passionate and always ready to take someone on, but you also are willing to admit mistakes and are forgiving of others who do the same. Well done.

Pardon me to whoever it was who got mad about the two of us being too chummy, but at this late date I can't imagine there are too many others looking at this blog, unless others were just too intimidated by the sheer number of posts to the blue collar one...

Posted by: Megan | August 10, 2006 9:29 PM

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