Ten Million Words

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 Heather Murphy Capps

Once upon a time I assumed that after I had children I would go back to work -- felt strongly about it, actually.

Recently however, I surprised myself by deciding to be a stay-at-home mom. My reversal was a careful, considered decision, and yet, it still frightened me. Would I lose my career forever? Would I disqualify myself as a feminist with my deliberate domesticity?

My transition happened last fall as I contemplated the arrival of my first child and found myself endlessly mulling the words of a mentor: "You can have it all. Just not all at once."

I already had the first part of "all." I had been a network television news producer and local tv news reporter. I'd flown Air Force One and covered three wars.

There is nothing quite like the exhilaration of landing on an aircraft carrier at midnight on the other side of the world on the first night of a war, racing to report "shock and awe" on deadline even as the ship goes "dark" in electronic silence in order to move under cover. But covering war or other major stories means being away from home for weeks at a time, working around the clock, sometimes in dangerous places. It takes fire, drive, focus and excellence.

I was leery of trying to balance two extreme jobs -- motherhood and journalism.

But my personal tipping point came when I learned a pretty simple fact -- a fact that, for me, became the mouse that roared: Some experts, including the authors of Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experiences of Young American Children, believe children can hear or absorb up to 10 million words in their first year of life.

The first time I heard that I realized to the depths of my soul that I didn't want to be racing home at the end of an exhausting day still trying to do laundry while having meaningful moments with my baby or babies. I wanted exploratory afternoon walks in the park and mornings to read (or chew on) board books. In other words, I wanted time. Words and language are a rich, precious gift I wanted to give my children.

And so I found myself agreeing with my mentor. I want it all -- but not all at once. It may sound mushy, but when my son laughs or says his new words ("dadada" and "abwagee"), I just don't care that my news career will never return to the same trajectory.

I'm now solidly into career number two: motherhood, the next step in having it all.

Who knows what comes next. But I am confident that I can have it all, one piece at a time.

Heather Murphy Capps was a broadcast journalist for nearly two decades except during stints as a mayoral press secretary and special projects director for Super Bowl XXXIX. She is now a stay-at-home mom living in Fairfax, Va., with her husband and son.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  September 12, 2006; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Guest Blogs
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Comments

Please email us to report offensive comments.



It takes an incredibly loving person to put their own desires aside so that they can give a child the sort of love, devotion, and time that they so dearly need to thrive.

Your time with your child will be like gold that no one can ever tarnish or steal away.

Posted by: Rufus | September 12, 2006 8:20 AM

I am on the motherhood/work balance beam. I returned to work part-time this fall, when my daughter entered kindergarten. I am so thankful for my years at home full-time, but also REALLY glad to be back at work, even if only on a part-time basis. I really like having work/being at home after school/and some time for my art. Having it all takes time and sometimes it is just a piece at a time. Enjoy your time with your child, as EVERYONE will tell you, the time WILL fly by, particularly that first short sleep year.

Posted by: NC Mom | September 12, 2006 8:38 AM

How nice to have the choice to stay home. Depending on a husband to provide all the income, though-- that doesn't quite make you the feminist you think you are.
Once again, I think this blog fails to provide a topic that resonates with more than just a few privileged upper-crusties inside the Beltway.
How does today's guest blog demonstrate balance, as the blog's title suggests? Today's writer isn't balancing, she chose not to balance work/family. She quit.
Not all of us can do that, and it gets tiresome having it rubbed in our faces by those who can.
There, I've said my piece. Feel free to bash away; I probably won't see the responses because I have to get to work.

Posted by: whatev | September 12, 2006 8:42 AM

I totally agree! I, too, have no choice!!!! So, I work, and I BALANCE!!!!! Also...Heather is providing a quick peak that romances her stay at home mom life. There are many not so great moments in her life, too (just like there is in all of ours). And there are many wonderful parent-child moments in our lives. Or, at least that's what gets me through the day. Have a good one :)

Posted by: To: Whatev | September 12, 2006 8:51 AM

There's "Having it All" whether you can have it all now or have some now and some later. And there's "Having to Work"...because food needs to be placed on the table and kids need clothes. So...those who "have a choice" are very LUCKY indeed! BECAUSE...there are many of us that despite how many DECADES we work and save will NEVER be able to AFFORD to be home....

Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2006 8:55 AM

Stow the bitterness. She worked HARD for two decades, most likely saved a little, and damn** can stay home if she so chooses. Staying home with a kid isn't a lifetime choice, things change and change and change.....

Posted by: TO whatev | September 12, 2006 8:56 AM

I have no interest in bashing either moms who choose to stay home with their young children or moms who balance work and family. However, I want to describe yet a third option that speaks much more to true balance. It may not work for everyone - in fact, it comes with it's own unique challenges and sacrifices - but it definitely works for me. And that is called equal sharing. When our first child was born, both my husband and I negotiated 30hr/week work lives and staggered our schedules a bit so that we only needed outside childcare 18 hours per week. We both bring in money to support the family, and both have equally important careers. Neither of us has significantly sidelined our career at the expense of the other's. We both have plenty of intimate time with our 2 kids, and know them completely. Our kids get to know that they have two devoted parents and also get a bit of outside care each week for socialization learning and friendship. Our lives are not harried and crazy. Yes, this won't work TODAY for everyone. But it is a viable option that is so often glossed over. It takes planning, a decision to live simply, a commitment to equality over control, and a letting go of wanting to have that super powered career. Good enough is good enough...and I can vouch for the fact that life is good with equal sharing.

Posted by: equal | September 12, 2006 8:59 AM

At-home mostly vs. At-work mostly

Too bad we are not civil about what is truly the other business and dignity of all people.

At some point, we stopped sniping about divorced people.

I wonder when we will stop sniping (or is this snarking) at families who get up each day, and do their best to keep body and soul together.

Thank you, Equal, for offering practical advise on balance.

Heather, have a good time with your true friends later, affirming how your family lives now.

To those who "have" to work, we know. You ARE balancing.

Posted by: College Parkian | September 12, 2006 9:05 AM

The author does make those afternoons with baby sound romantic, doesn't she? There definitely are those moments, but why do we talk those up and neglect to mention the screaming matches, the nights our kids wake us up a dozen times just to make sure there are no monsters in the house, the times when they whack the neigbor kid with some toy, etc., etc.

We can have it "all" in parenting. We just have to remember that "all" includes the not-so-fun parts, as well.

http://punditmom1.blogspot.com

Posted by: PunditMom | September 12, 2006 9:09 AM

To Collegeparkian:
When you have to work, it's a bit difficult to listen to some lady tell us that she's home taking her time...and enjoying every moment of the time that her child can enjoy learning ten million words! I visit the "balancing" blog because I want to hear from people who are balancing...that way I pick up ideas to balance better. This one just rubs it in!!!!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2006 9:09 AM

Ten million words? Let's talk numbers. I want to hear about the 10-15 diapers a day she changes (including those really smelly explosive ones where you have to give the child a sponge bath, and change the cloth on the changing table)...and the number of times a day that she breast feeds or bottle feeds (including the ones in the middle of the night when she wants to be sleeping), the number of times her child cries each day (and she has no idea what the problem is and the kid won't stop waaaaaing....), and the number of times each day that she wishes she had just a few minutes to herself! Hmmmm...those numbers don't sound so "romantic" do they??????

Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2006 9:14 AM

Sandra Day O'Connor stayed at home for five years when her children were small and it did not hurt her career.Take the time you need with your children, you will not regret it.Day care is expensive, there are ways to economize to meet expenses.Read books on money management,Suze Orman has some great advice.It takes courage to "quit", but you can if you have the desire and a plan.

Posted by: em | September 12, 2006 9:21 AM

There is a reason why I hate the saying "You can have it all, just not all at once." Why do a disproportionate number of women feel that way? Why don't more of us, like equal, require our husbands to "have it all, just not all at once?"
This question never seems to get answered....kind of like, if staying home were so great, why don't more men do it?

Posted by: Equal is right on | September 12, 2006 9:21 AM

While I understand that this post could be annoying, in her own mind, she has already balanced. I mean I don't know how much a reported gets paid to go to a war zone, but I would like to think it is a lot. So maybe she saved her money and is now able to stay home. I really find it no different from the moms (me included) who want to work their butts off and have flexibility in their job and possibly stay home when their kids hit their teen years. Plus, she gave you a snapshot of what she does, I'm sure there is more to her day.

Plus, thinking she is privileged because she lives in Fairfax county is a joke, I lived there in an apartment along with countless other non-privileged people for two years.

Posted by: scarry | September 12, 2006 9:24 AM

What if you don't want to quit?

Posted by: to em | September 12, 2006 9:24 AM

I don't see how it is suddenly so difficult 'to have it all.' My mom worked full-time throughout my childhood and still was a wonderful and devoted mother that spent time with us. She loved her job and she loved her kids and was dedicated to each. Why do we have to choose one or the other in today's day and age?

Posted by: not yet a mom | September 12, 2006 9:25 AM

I think it's great that she wanted to stay home with her child but I don't understand how the fact that children absorb 10 million words in their first year of life drove her decision - does her child only hear her words?

Posted by: fabworkingmom | September 12, 2006 9:28 AM

There is the long view of "balancing" (full time work for a while, part time for a while, at home full time for a while), which this blog entry addresses, and the short term view of "balancing" (how I am going to get through this day/week/school year), which is what many blog readers really care about--probably because we're too busy to take the long view right now. Or know that it is likely that we will always be working outside the home, which makes blogs about full-time SAHPs kind of irrelevant. Many of us, as some have noted, come to the blog looking for help and advice, not validation. This is why I don't get why Leslie keeps posting entries like this--they are not particularly helpful and, if anything, can make working moms look or feel worse in comparison. And none of this would be a big deal if we didn't have to read stuff like "you must be such a loving parent to make the choice/sacrifice to stay home" -- we all try to be loving parents, no matter what our work/life choices.

Posted by: Arlmom | September 12, 2006 9:31 AM

What cynical comments! What happened to having respect for choices? I say good for her that she has options and is able to enjoy her life in the way she wants. Sounds like she earned the flexibility. That does not diminish anyone else's choice to live their lives the way they want. And it does speak to the "balance" issue, because this is the way one person chooses to balance. Maybe the negative reaction underscores the frustration a lot of people (including myself) feel about work/life balance-its hard!

Posted by: MDMom | September 12, 2006 9:34 AM

Someone wrote: "To Collegeparkian:
When you have to work, it's a bit difficult to listen to some lady tell us that she's home taking her time...and enjoying every moment of the time that her child can enjoy learning ten million words! I visit the "balancing" blog because I want to hear from people who are balancing...that way I pick up ideas to balance better. This one just rubs it in!!!!!!"
--
So many things hurt us or tear us down a bit. So, be gracious and take care of yourself with your family and friends.

We are all doing our best. Life is not fair. Let's not point at other choices or good fortune or luck or just differences.

I like reading about balance too, so Equal's post is especially good in that way.

As for the work/home thing, we all find our balance-spot and the spot changes over time.

Let me offer this perspective: the balance-work-home thing takes on huge dimensions for me. I have a child with a life-threatening illness. Wish it wasnt' so. Most kids and families do not live with this. Won't help me if I resent that others don't have this.

---
So, on blogs, perhaps we share information, and respond respectfully. We can share "harder" thoughts with friends, privately.

I do hope I have not offended. I see each family's decisions as private and each family as precious and dignified.

Work hard. Love hard. Play hard. Have tea and footrub when you get home. Look at the stars and talk about Pluto to your children. Wonder.

Posted by: College Parking | September 12, 2006 9:35 AM

I don't get the 10 million words comment either. Babies in good day care or with a good nanny develop just as well as stay at home babies. Otherwise, I liked her piece, she did say she had an exteme job with much dangerous travel. And she never said everyone should stay at home, she just wrote an article about her decision to stay home for awhile. If you don't want to or can't stay home, please don't get all defensive. I think we should respect each other's decisions, as parents can gain much by working together.

Posted by: experienced mom | September 12, 2006 9:37 AM

To to em, What if you dont want to quit? I said take the time you need with your kids, if you dont need any more time than you currently have then things are fine for you.

Posted by: em | September 12, 2006 9:39 AM

Here's my balance for the day:

Wake up at 5, wake 11-year-old son up at 5:30; take him to work at polling place for SSL's.
Return home; wake 9-year-old son, take him to vote with me (and husband off to work); take 9-year-old to daycare.
Go to work from 9-10.
Leave at 10 to pick up 11-year-old. Bring him home because his daycare is closed.
Return to work for a few hours.
Return home because do not want to leave son at home alone too long.
Work from home this afternoon if possible, if not, then use leave.

Why am I even blogging?!? There's no time to read or respond to the blog!

Posted by: Silver Spring | September 12, 2006 9:47 AM

I think parents, especially mothers, are often too hard on ourselves. Reading someone else's story on how they balance can feel like a condemnation of how we do it. I don't think that's necessary. This is Heather Murphy Capps' story and that's fine for her. It may help some people and may not help others. I think we're all just trying to do the best we can whatever our given situation is. So don't look for condemnation where there isn't any because there's plenty out there that is there. In this story, I think the balance is of the "to everything there is a season" variety rather than the "how to make it through each day" as a working parent variety. It's just a different view of balance.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | September 12, 2006 9:49 AM

This isn't balance. As has been pointed out, she chose an extreme position, supported either by her considerable portfolio or her husband, and a woman who is probably able to walk back into a job whenever she likes. And when, exactly, will her dangerous job with lots of travel be appropriate for a parent? When the kid is 5? 15?

She'll be changing jobs when she goes back to work anyway. She could do it now. She just doesn't want to. With her success level, she earned the right to take some time off, no matter how specious the mental gyrations she engages in to justify it.

Posted by: Cal | September 12, 2006 9:49 AM

Come on - what bad thing has this woman done? What negative comment has she made about working women? She wanted to share the decisions she had made about work and family, and felt they might be helpful or at least interesting to other people. For you, they may be neither. But what she said was courteous, respectful, and clearly conveyed how she thinks and feels. That' all good - and other readers may find her experiences helpful (or at least diverting).

Posted by: Older Dad | September 12, 2006 9:51 AM

I can't believe this, I agree with Cal!! Thanks for the new word too -specious- I had to look it up.

Posted by: experienced mom | September 12, 2006 9:51 AM

If you don't like her, submit your own guest blog

Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2006 9:51 AM

I think the 10 million words comment refers to an research article from Hart and Risley. They found that children born to well educated, middle and upper class parents heard many more words from their parents during their first few years of life as compared to those children who were born in families living in poverty. As a result of hearing all these words and living in a literacy rich environment, the vocabulary and literacy skills of the mid to upper class kids were stronger throughout their life.

Posted by: 10 million words | September 12, 2006 9:53 AM

What bothered me was she decided to stay home after she learned that babies are exposed to 10 million words in their first year to quote her "Words and language are a rich, precious gift I wanted to give my children" The inference that if the child was in daycare or with a nanny this language exposure would be shorted, you can only give this gift as a stay at home mom, and if she worked (and by extension those who do work) she would be doing a disservice to her child.

Also the way she wrote it as all or nothing - stay home or the high powered journalism career. I know many journalists (including ones on this blog) who continued to work either freelance or less high powered. If she had talked about how she was going to balance or go back when the child was older, I know it wouldn't bother me. It comes off sounding like to be successfull you must have your job as everything and to be a good parent you must be home full time. Her you can have it all just one at a time feeling. It reminds me of the sexist/traditional attitudes "once you have babies you will quit" & "if you are serious about your career you will work whatever hours it takes"

I know she is doing what she thinks is best for her child, but the tone of the blog came off wrong.

Posted by: NoVAsinglemom | September 12, 2006 9:53 AM

Frankly, you can't always know whether day care is good-- or your nanny either. A relative of mine has her kids in a family care where the provider doesn't like to talk. Her kids are significantly verbally delayed, and when I talk directly to them with a question they seem confused. It's worrisome.

Another relative has a nanny which they love. She seems very nice and the kids adore her. But we've been there when the parents aren't, and we can see that she lets the kids watch TV for 6 hours straight or just watches them play without talking to them at all. One of them didn't talk until he was older than 3, and the other one has been in speech therapy for over a year. All that time, though, they never thought of getting a new nanny.

The third relative is in excellent daycare-- it's a research facility where observers can drop in at any time unseen (through a one-way mirror, which is nice since the teachers may even act differently if they know they're being observed). The quality is incredible, and the daughter is flourishing. In fact, because the parents both have some emotional problems, I think it's better for her to be in day care than at home with a parent.

Unless you have a situation where you can observe the kids unnoticed, I don't see how you can guarantee your kids are getting their 10 million words unless you're doing it yourself.

Posted by: Anon this time | September 12, 2006 10:01 AM

"The inference that if the child was in daycare or with a nanny this language exposure would be shorted, you can only give this gift as a stay at home mom, and if she worked (and by extension those who do work) she would be doing a disservice to her child."

Yep, I totally agree!

Posted by: 10 million words | September 12, 2006 10:02 AM

NoVAsinglemom:

Many times the tone of something sets us off, not because it's inherently offensive, but because we simply don't agree with the point of view or opinions expressed. That's not the other person's fault.

Yes, Ms. Capps talked about two options - full time work and staying at home full time. That seems natural. She had apparantly intended to return to work full time, and ended up staying at home full time instead. She probably considered whether part-time work made sense or not, and it would be interesting to hear her thoughts on it. But remember, Ms. Steiner has set a 300 word limit. It's surprising how much Ms. Capps actually managed to say within that limit. Whether or not you agree with her reasoning and emotions, we have a pretty clear idea of what she was thinking. You're point's well taken - other adults can provide meaningful language exposure to our children. This particular mother wanted to provide that exposure herself. We may not think it's necessary - but can we really say it's wrong for her to do this, or that she shouldn't have shared her choice (and her reasons for making it) with us?

Posted by: Older Dad | September 12, 2006 10:03 AM

Usually, I side with working moms because I believe that being a SAHM is a financial mistake. However, I think this woman made a good decision because her job would have severely impacted her job as a parent. She could take another, less extreme job that would allow her to spend more time with her kids, but maybe she will consider that in a year, after the kid is finished "absorbing" those ten million words.

It's interesting that she doesn't mention her husband at all ("my baby" "my son", I can have it all"). As far as I can tell, this post is about her difficult but ultimately correct decision to stay at home. It's not clear from the post that her decision had anything to do with anyone but her. She wanted this high-stress job, so she achieved it. Then she wanted time with her baby ("I want time", "I want walks", "the gift I want to give"), so she quit her job. She even writes "I just don't care that my news career will never return to the same trajectory." Why should she? She's still getting what she wants.

Don't get me wrong. More power to her for achieving her goals and being able to do what she wants. You go girl! But, really, balance is about balancing your wants and needs with those of your baby or babies and your partner (if you're lucky enough to have one). Balance, in my opinion, is about not always getting what you want.

Of course there is balance in choosing among your own competing demands (like why I chose a dog instead of a cat), but a blog about your own choices sounds a lot like an explanation or defense of your decision.

Posted by: Meesh | September 12, 2006 10:05 AM

It is indeed truly sad that many have such an all-or-nothing mentality towards work life balance. Too often we think we have no choice between working on overdrive or quitting entirely. This is particularly true in high powered careers. We really need to figure out how to do both.

Posted by: fabworkingmom | September 12, 2006 10:07 AM

If staying at home to be a full time mother is what you want, go for it! Damn, enjoy the luxury of having that as an option, for most people, the working parent role is a mandate of reality, rather than a mark of ambition.

The reality is, parenting for a toddler up till they're in kindergarten IS a career. You'll learn as much about psychological warfare, aggressive negotiations, and crisis management surviving the terrible twos as you will swimming with sharks in a cubicle farm.

Life is an ongoing evolution dictated by the circumstances under which you live. For now, staying at home with the kid until (s)he is a little more independent involved with school keeping them occupied for a good chunk of the daylight hours is fine, after that, there's an opening for you to return to the ratrace with the rest of us. You're not signing your name on this decision in blood or having it chiseled in granite, so go with it until the circumstances change to create a new balance, and go from there.

Posted by: James Buchanan | September 12, 2006 10:09 AM

What a sad sad world we live in...

I'm not sure sometimes reading this blog whether it isn't just my children acting petty put down in grown up words.

She has more money than me, she doesn't have my struggles, she didn't go through my divorce, she is rubbing it in my face.

Grow up people. Yes, sometimes the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, but remember it takes a lot of manure to get it that way. We all go through rough times, take joy that you too could achieve balance and joy in your life if you just work at "balancing" things. Sometimes you work a few extra hours, or an extra job so you can go on that Disneyland vacation. And sometimes you just have to realize a plasma screen TV, 2006 Escalade, dinners out every night, new shoes, new clothes... VLIs are why you can't do some of the other things you want.

Quit yer bellyaching and clean yer rooms. (metaphorically speaking)

Here are my beefs, his commute is shorter than mine, he has a better view out his window, his wife lets him go out with the boys every weekend, he is able to date hot young chicks, he has a new sports car.

But then again, his job is less satisfying than mine, he is an alcoholic, he is compensating for not having a personality an of course, his car payments are $500/mo. while I have a loving wife and three daughters that adore me. I'm happy with what I've got... though sometimes I do look at other's situations with a bit of envy.

So he can have his crap. I'm happy with mine.

Posted by: Mr. EstrogenCentral | September 12, 2006 10:13 AM

Everyone is different.

Your bio notes you were a correspondent for 2 decades - 20 years. Some people are retiring after 20 years. You'd been there and done that already. If you want to quit that's great.

Younger moms' or those who still feel they have professional goals to attain can make different choices. They have the time.

We all do what we think is right for our children, but we come at parenthood from different places.

Posted by: RoseG | September 12, 2006 10:21 AM

"Depending on a husband to provide all the income, though-- that doesn't quite make you the feminist you think you are."

Does anyone ever pause to think that maybe she actually SAVED some money and doesn't depend entirely on her husband's income? That's what I did. It's not impossible, you know.

I'm so tired of all this, well, if you stay home you are living off your husband claptrap. Figure it out, folks, there ARE other ways.

Posted by: Melanie G. | September 12, 2006 10:23 AM

LadyBug, sorry, no one can say that her kids are better off or not. You'll have to ask them. It's not "undoubtedly".

Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2006 10:24 AM

"Once again, I think this blog fails to provide a topic that resonates with more than just a few privileged upper-crusties inside the Beltway.
How does today's guest blog demonstrate balance, as the blog's title suggests? Today's writer isn't balancing, she chose not to balance work/family. She quit.
Not all of us can do that, and it gets tiresome having it rubbed in our faces by those who can."

Today's post *totally* resonated with me. I'm well outside the Beltway (I'm actually not even sure what the "Beltway" is since I live so far outside the Beltway in Oregon), and am solidly middle class. I would guess that this post actually speaks MORE to middle-America than it does to those in the DC or other major metropolitan areas.

I consider my work and family life completely in balance. Why? Because after working from the time I was 14 through high school and college, and 13 years of full time post-college work through graduate school and my first marriage and divorce and the first 5-8 years of my first two childrens' lives, I'm taking some time off from work outside the home. Nine years off, and then go back to work parttime, if our plan works.

So how is work - family - work/family not "balance"??? Does work and family have to co-exist for every second of one's life to be considered for this discussion?

I don't romanticize my life, but I also don't b**ch about it nor do I consider it drudgery. For those of you who do consider being with your young children unpleasant, I'm sorry you feel that way - but not all of us do.

Posted by: momof4 | September 12, 2006 10:25 AM

Interesting note from EM.

Where are Sandra Day O'Connors' children now?

Undoubtly better off having had a Mom who made history in her own way!

Posted by: LadyBug | September 12, 2006 10:25 AM

My daughter got to hear her 10 million words in two languages, because we made a point of finding a bilingual nanny to teach her a second language (Spanish). Her nanny is loving, enthusiastic, and does NOT park her in front of the TV.

So I feel her life has been enriched by having this time with her nanny, and she hasn't suffered because I continue to work.

Oh, and also, working allows me to put a roof over her head, health insurance that pays for her doctor visits, and food.

It's not easy juggling (and paying for) it all, but it's "balanced" enough for us for now.

Posted by: AWorkingMom | September 12, 2006 10:33 AM

10 million words? I haven't yet seen a parent that has taught their child the meaning of the word "no" by the age of 3.

Momof 4, I have this romantic image of you and your toddler feeding ducks, eating breakfast, and relaxing at the pond. I bet you and all your kids are really cute. I cannot imagine it any other way.

Posted by: Father of 4 | September 12, 2006 10:43 AM

mr. estrogencentral: well said. A lot of whiners here today, wrapping their whining up in a package of 'this writer is not talking about balance." Bull. She is showing her way of balancing, how it is different than she planned, and how, ulitmately, she is doing what she feels is right for her life. She worked for nearly 20 years, so let's say she is 40. Let's revisit her in 2 years and see if she hasn't gone back to work at least part-time doing something, even if it is not landing on aircraft carriers. I cannot understand why some people just cannot let it go that not everyone has the same burdens. We all have them. There is always an opportunity cost to whatever decision you make. And kudos to the retiring comment: my grandmother and mother both worked for 20 years after their respective children weren't home all day and retired after 20 years. They get a pension AND social security.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2006 10:48 AM

AWorkingMom, unless you don't own a TV set or have a nannycam, you have no way of knowing whether your nanny lets your daughter watch TV.

Our relative thinks their kids don't watch TV with the nanny either.

Posted by: Anon this time | September 12, 2006 10:50 AM

Why are we so upset with this mom? We don't get upset when people who don't even have kids give us adivce from everything from breast feeding to behavior management?

So why is it so insulitng to hear how the other half lives?

Just asking, not judging or trying to start a fight, but really, if everyone wants the right to post about balance on this blog why should we be upset with her choice?

Posted by: not signing it | September 12, 2006 10:53 AM

Oh no, more mommy wars. :-)

I'm dragged out today. Got behind on work right when my husband's in a crunch. Why did I think working at home part time was a good idea?

Today's not a babysitter day and she wasn't here yesterday because of a doctor's appointment, which is how I got behind the eight ball.

My one year old didn't take his morning nap (he's transitioning to one nap, oh the joy!) so I'm typing this with the laptop on my knees while we play some esoteric roll-the-ball game he's just invented. I love him dearly and he is a joy, but I have to admit that rolling the ball for the one thousandth time is not thrilling me to my very soul.

Hence the surfing. Because actual work would intefere with my attention - oh! he signed ball! Either that or his palms itch. He's either Harvard-bound and brilliant or allergic to cat hair.

(pause to answer phone)

Oh yes I'm definitely working on those million words which right now seem to include "oh sh*t" as I found I'd forgotten to move laundry from the washer to the dryer last night.

I don't suppose I can hope that he'll only absorb 999,999 words?

And here's the thing. My son and Ms. Capps' kids are all going to end up in school together and you probably won't be able to point out who was in full-time care and who was in part-time care and whose mummy was home all day.

But those kids will know if they were living with parents who were generally overall optimistic and comfortable with their choices and if today's blog author is happy with hers. I'm so glad! She reminded me that I wanted to play in the park too and should get out today.

And the same for hearing about the superb bilingual nanny above. That reminds me that I want to find a bilingual preschool in a year or so!

Peace!

Posted by: Shandra | September 12, 2006 10:54 AM

Shandra,

If oh Sh** is the only word he knows then you are doing way better than my husband.

Posted by: scarry | September 12, 2006 11:04 AM

Hmmmm....ten million words, I'd better get busy! No time to blog...gotta go talk my little-one's ear off to make sure he knows his ten million words.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2006 11:05 AM

I used to ride in the car with my son when he was little...pointing out all of the educational things like a cow on the side of the road, and the dump truck next to us...and finally, he said "mom...can you be quiet." He truly didn't want to hear ten million words!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2006 11:07 AM

I think this mom made a choice with her heart and I applaud her. I work at home but can completely understand the feeling that only you can give your child the best care. Totally natural. It's wonderful that she has that choice financially, and I have no problem with that either.

However, I am annoyed with Leslie. Could we get a bit of a wider perspective here? Perhaps, if no single mom/dad/Wal-Mart working mom, etc. writes in to offer their Tuesday blog, Leslie could go out an find one, then interview her for this space. That would be more valuable than white, upper/middle-class, college-educated, married moms/dads writing (gets rather dull).

Posted by: Rebecca | September 12, 2006 11:08 AM

Rebecca: that's an excellent suggestion!!!!! I, for one, would like to hear from other moms who have to work!!!!! Not because it's a choice, or wonderful, or enriching--but because poverty isn't a great option.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2006 11:10 AM

By the way....10 million words in a year? Let's do the math....365 days a year = 27,000 thousand words a day. Assume your kid is awake 16 hours a day. 27,000 divided by 16 equals 1,700 words an HOUR or 30 words a MINUTE with NO BREAKS all day every day all year.


Posted by: Math | September 12, 2006 11:11 AM

Shandra! Yes. Multi-tasking is fine, here. Teens will listen/chat in the car sometimes: miracles (unbidden and spontaneous) in communication.

Let's be practical. As I blog -- for work and money -- in between voting, and monitoring some teens at home (voting means no school for many), here are small joys in the day:

+frozen store-bought pizza on sale is a hot meal and they are happy.

+organic green beans from a neighbor dipped in Ranch lo fat dressing is one serving of veggies ( she always works full time, with smiles and organic produce for me since I am a neighbor and friend with a few-more flexible at-home minutes).

+I hung my sheets to dry TODAY because it smells good!!! TOMORROW I will be downtown in hose and moderate heels.

Some kind people on this blog say what our grandmothers and mothers told us:

+be kind
+mind your manners
+if you can't say something nice, nothing at all
+offer to help
+take your turn
+no means no (hi FO4)
+you never know another's burden; tread softly.

and "I Love You." and "Pluto will always be a planet for me."

Now: Pluto's planetness. THAT is a debated worth having, heatedly and passionately but with MANNERS.

That Bill Nye (Science Guy) is glad about Pluto's demotion is fine with me. He can have beans and pizza with us any day.

Posted by: College Parkian | September 12, 2006 11:12 AM

There is a reason why I hate the saying "You can have it all, just not all at once." Why do a disproportionate number of women feel that way? Why don't more of us, like equal, require our husbands to "have it all, just not all at once?"
This question never seems to get answered....kind of like, if staying home were so great, why don't more men do it?

Posted by: Equal is right on | September 12, 2006 09:21 AM


Husbands/Fathers do not "have it all". Not if they attending to family they don't. So quit villifying us.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2006 11:12 AM

What does villifying mean? Can people please stop using hard words on this blog?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2006 11:13 AM

By the way....10 million words in a year? Let's do the math....365 days a year = 27,000 thousand words a day. Assume your kid is awake 16 hours a day. 27,000 divided by 16 equals 1,700 words an HOUR or 30 words a MINUTE with NO BREAKS all day every day all year.

30 words minute with no breaks all day? That sounds like a 3 or 4 year old to me!

Posted by: Arlington Dad | September 12, 2006 11:16 AM

Main Entry: vil·i·fy
Pronunciation: 'vi-l&-"fI
Function: transitive verb
Inflected Form(s): -fied; -fy·ing
Etymology: Middle English vilifien, from Late Latin vilificare, from Latin vilis cheap, vile
1 : to lower in estimation or importance
2 : to utter slanderous and abusive statements against : DEFAME
synonym see MALIGN
- vil·i·fi·er /-"fI(-&)r/ noun

Here you go, i keep this site as a favorite.

Posted by: scarry | September 12, 2006 11:17 AM

Scarry: Thank you :-)

Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2006 11:20 AM

...................Clearly 11:13 AM did not get 10 million words as an infant. ;) Actually, my mom was a SAHM, and a former teacher...so I got lots of quality education growing up. But the definition of villifying wasn't part of it.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2006 11:22 AM

Clearly 11:13 AM did not get 10 million words as an infant. ;)

I had heard it that children of less educated parents have 1 million fewer words spoken to them than children of parents with higher levels of education. This was one of the reasons for head start.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2006 11:23 AM

tap, tap, tap, tap...guess we've deteriorated to not much...

Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2006 11:24 AM

"Husbands/Fathers do not "have it all". Not if they attending to family they don't. So quit villifying us."

"What does villifying mean? Can people please stop using hard words on this blog?"

Men have their own challenges and regrets. No one wins if men and women treat each other as the enemy (or say nasty things about each other).

Posted by: Older Dad | September 12, 2006 11:29 AM

To "Anon this time" who is so sure that my nanny parks my daughter in front of the TV because it happened to a friend of his/hers:

1. I have a home office, so I can observe pretty closely what goes on during their time together. I am not ignorant or naive, thank you very much.

2. *Many* professional child care-givers are sincere about providing the best experience for the kids in their care. How about giving a little respect for the people who do this important job very well? I'm sorry about what happened with with your friends' kids, but please. Childcare providers are not all lazy, borderline mutes who watch TV all day! Our nanny is educated, dedicated, and very good at her job.

Posted by: AWorkingMom | September 12, 2006 11:36 AM

You can certainly afford to hire a $100K/yr supernanny to assuage your guilt.
Go pursue your career and be the best network anchor ever.
Your baby will be fine at home with supernanny.

Posted by: SilverSpoon | September 12, 2006 11:39 AM

Today's discussion seems to show that "balance" means something different to each and every mom. All depends on your income level, luck, desire, husband, type of kids you have, when you have them etc. Lots of variables.

There are 80 million moms in the U.S. today. No two women "balance" work and family in the same way. Ditto for men.

We could just as easily title this blog "Unbalanced."

Posted by: Leslie | September 12, 2006 11:40 AM

Hi Heather, thank you for your contribution. I am also a mom with a career that does not work well with motherhood. It's not journalism but it's similar in that to be really effective it requires travel and proactive response to world's events. Like you, I think I have risen to the top of my career before having children. I chose to balance diffirently than you by moving into a much less interesting position because right now I want to be a mom more than a career woman but I am afraid to step out of the labor market for the fear that I won't be able to get back in. This way I can coast until my kids are in college. I think you are a brave woman because memories are short... I sincerely hope (without any sarcasm) that your son is on his way to absorbing the 10 million words.

Posted by: from a former extreme profession mom | September 12, 2006 11:41 AM

Get a nanny, put your kid in front of the TV, turn on the tape player. She'll get to listen the 10million words, doesn't have to be from your mouth.
Don't sacrifice your career as a network anchor! you will be letting down all the women in the workforce.

Posted by: TVSitter | September 12, 2006 11:43 AM

I'd just like to nicely point out that there are lots of words that I don't know, which is why I look them up. I'd also like to point put that the push for plain English is on the rise and pretentious speaking is on it's way out.

Sorry, a technical writer took over the mommy blog!

Posted by: scarry | September 12, 2006 11:45 AM

Gee, people, defensive much?

Parenting choices seem to fall in the same category as religion: if people subscribe to a different philosophy than yours, you assume that they are implying your beliefs are incorrect.

But parenting styles (and religion and relationships and careers, etc.) are extremely personal and unique. It's not about you-- it's about whatever works for the individual given their finanicial, emotional, social, cultural and personal circumstances.

Frontloading your career, working hard for 20 years and then taking off a few years with your kid IS a way of balancing; so is working part-time, so is working full time with day care, and so are all the other zillions of highly personalized arrangements people cobble together for themselves.

When you say, "by saying 'x' she implies that I am [a bad mother, making the wrong choice, screwing up my kids, etc.]" what you are really saying is "I'm afraid I'm [a bad mother, making the wrong choice, screwing up my kids, etc.]". Relax, take heart and know you're doing the best you can with what you've got. It's all any of us can do. I was the day-care/latch-key kid of a single mom and I turned out fine: good college, good career, happy marriage. My friends had stay at home moms, career moms, part-time moms and they turned out fine, too. The only kids who are really messed up are the ones whose parents didn't really care about them-- and self-absorbed, callous, cruel parents come in every variety, both stay at home and working. As long as you have a mom and dad that love you and let you know it in word and deed, you're doing pretty well, whatever their working hours are. There is no formula.

Posted by: JKR | September 12, 2006 11:51 AM

I'm concerned by this columnist's implied notion that there's some kind of Pay-off attached to her decision to stay home, as if somehow putting her child first is going to guarantee results -- a brilliant child, a literate adult, a happy home. It's a nice fantasy -- but in life there are no guarantees.

And that's where MY bitterness comes in. I stayed home and my child absorbed ten million words and then some -- Eventually he was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, an autistic spectrum disorder. And it wasn't until that moment that I realized I had been regarding my at-home years as some kind of, well, insurance. As if following all the rules and reading all the books was going to guarantee a particular outcome -- a daughter who didn't pierce her bellybutton and a son who never crashed up the car, and kids who made the honor roll so I could drive around with one of those annoying stickers on my car.

And I remember the bitterness, as I looked around at the kids with the blue Kool-aid rings around their mouths who got into the gifted program as I trudged off to yet another IEP meeting. And I remember thinking that it wasn't fair, because I had done everything right.

I just pray that our columnist doesn't fall into that same trap -- because unfortunately, this morning's offering sounds to me (an old, fat, jaded mom who's been through the wringer) as though she's teetering on the brink of thinking there are guarantees . . .

Posted by: Armchair Professor | September 12, 2006 11:51 AM

Men don't have it all. Most don't get to spend time with their children and develop as strong of a bond with them as women do. That is a big loss. I think women have more choices in how to lead their lives, even if some are not available to them (discrimination does exist). Someday fathers will realize how much they miss out on.

Posted by: single, no kids | September 12, 2006 11:54 AM

Your post makes way too much sense and it's not offensive to anyone. Get off this blog! ;-)

Posted by: Also to JKR | September 12, 2006 11:54 AM

Research has shown that women speak 5x more than men. Since I'm a single dad that doesn't like to talk much, this means I am a bad parent? I'm going to start playing CDs, turning on the TV all day long so my toddlers will be exposed to 10million words. Neither I nor the sitter can't speak all those words ourselves.

What a stupid piece of research.

Posted by: Dad | September 12, 2006 11:55 AM

You are brilliant! Couldn't have said it better myself.

Posted by: To JKR | September 12, 2006 11:56 AM

Having it all, just not all at once. This is a luxury that worked out for this mom, but entails high risks and is not a pattern many could follow. Good for her, but its a unique situation. She had 2 decades of high power career and then gave birth. Unless I'm fuzzy on the math, she took a big chance that she would not be able to have or adopt a child by waiting until she was over 40, increased health risks to herself and her child, and pretty much lost out on the chance to have more than one child. She made her sacrifices for work on the front end. She is "balancing" over decades, not day to day. It sounds like it is working out for her and I would guess that she probably could support herself without her husband if she was a saver during those 20 years. That is close to retirement in the military or government, so maybe she has "had" the job to the extent many people ever will and now can have something different becasue she chose a job that did not have an extended education prerequisite and genetically was lucky to have a long fertility period.

Posted by: ATTYMOM | September 12, 2006 12:00 PM

Hi Armchair mom. Yes. No guarentees. Social insurance seldom works. I am in the same club as you.

Fat? Jaded? You? No. You are probably beautiful and kind under any exterior.

I am sorry about the struggle you have in your family. Aspergers is hard, even when a child has skills, abilities, and options.

Take care. Be gentle with yourself. We can always choose to embrace the children we have and the life before us.

(I like R.B.'s movie "Life is Beautiful." Never fails to uplight, even though it provokes a good cry.)

Posted by: College Parkian | September 12, 2006 12:00 PM

Not everyone can have it all, even sequentially. I didn't go to law school until I was in my mid-30's, graduated at 40. There are lots of places that don't want to hire a person my age b/c they see it as essential to their culture that they only hire younger, malleable lawyers.

I don't know whether there are similar issues for journalists. I will say that if you aren't willing to put your kids first, even if it destroys your future career dreams, you need to question whether parenthood is right for you. I am blessed by motherhood every day -- but I will not pretend that it didn't come with certain career-related costs.

Posted by: can't have it all | September 12, 2006 12:02 PM

Leslie


How about a guest blog by someone is not in the media, of the 23 guest blogs, 11 were written by someone in the media or publishing business, they can't be the only people submitting them? Its a little boring hearing about the issues faced by reporters, newscasters, writers etc.

Posted by: ? | September 12, 2006 12:05 PM

>>>I'd also like to point put that the push for plain English is on the rise and pretentious speaking is on it's way out.

A sudden wave of irony just washed over the blog...

Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2006 12:06 PM

>>I will say that if you aren't willing to put your kids first, even if it destroys your future career dreams, you need to question whether parenthood is right for you. I am blessed by motherhood every day -- but I will not pretend that it didn't come with certain career-related costs. >>

Nice double-standard. I refuse to have to give up a career in order to be a mom, because no one expects men to give up their careers to be dads.

Posted by: sounds like WOMEN can't have it all | September 12, 2006 12:13 PM

The main premise seems to be "How can I get the most benefit?"

It's all about ME.

My career. My ambitions. My money. Me Me!


We just remembered 9/11 yesterday.
We know there are jihadists everywhere in the world plotting to murder us just because we are not Muslim.
Repeat - because you are not Muslim!
You must die because you are not Muslim.
How crazy is that?

I bet 90% of moms are struggling to make ends meet. A high-powered career, 10million words are the last things on their mind. They worry about healthy and safe homes, keeping the lights on. Fathers that will come home and not beat them or abuse the kids.

Your "problem" is really trivial when you stop looking at yourself.

Get a perspective on life outside your privileged bubble.

Posted by: Self-ish | September 12, 2006 12:13 PM

Leslie, I'd love to hear more from/about parents of older kids (not babies, toddlers or preschoolers). We don't seem to hear much from that group -- maybe they're too busy to blog much.

Seems they'd have a lot of useful info to share after trying to keep the "balance" for a decade or more.

Posted by: chausti | September 12, 2006 12:14 PM

"I'd also like to point put that the push for plain English is on the rise and pretentious speaking is on it's way out. "

That would be called the continuation of the phenomenon the dumbing-down of America.

There -- both pretentious and plain English. I think that push is a bunch of shiggity, by the way! ;>

I agree with Equal's comments. Women work very, very hard to balance. The men might as well share in the fun!

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | September 12, 2006 12:14 PM

"Nice double-standard. I refuse to have to give up a career in order to be a mom, because no one expects men to give up their careers to be dads."

Where are our priorities here? More and more dads are doing more and more with their kids. Good trend, and due at least in part to men beginning to recognize what they're missing when we don't. Set that aside for a moment. What do we want to let drive OUR decisions - what's best for us and our children, or winning some point in the war between the sexes?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2006 12:15 PM

>>>I'd also like to point put that the push for plain English is on the rise and pretentious speaking is on it's way out.

A sudden wave of irony just washed over the blog...

Posted by: | September 12, 2006 12:06 PM

She just pointed out that you shouldn't make fun of how people speak and what words they do and do not know.

Posted by: whatever | September 12, 2006 12:16 PM

I, like I'm sure many others, started looking at this blog because my wife is expecting our first, and we're struggling with all of the typical issues. However, the acrimony often exhibited by many of the posters when the topic doesn't precisely match their circumstances is just astonishing, and really sours the experience for those of us who are interested in different perspectives. Just because you don't find a post helpful doesn't mean that others don't. It may even be helpful to you to read a post by someone with a different experience - an open mind never hurt anyone, you know.

Posted by: Dad2B | September 12, 2006 12:20 PM

>I will say that if you aren't willing to put your kids first, even if it destroys your future career dreams, you need to question whether parenthood is right for you.<

It's posts like this that make me CRAZY! I'm a parent who doesn't really care one way or the other about my "careeer", but I HAVE TO WORK to pay the bills. Yet my child is still the first priority in my life, no matter what. I work and I *AM* a good parent! How dare you question me?!

Posted by: Ugh! | September 12, 2006 12:20 PM

"What do we want to let drive OUR decisions - what's best for us and our children, or winning some point in the war between the sexes?"

Personally, I think everybody wins if there is more equality between the sexes so that EVERYONE has more choices (as opposed to society dictating their role). And what's best for us and our children shouldn't have to be unilaterally decided because one parent or the other is not willing to sacrifice. But in each family, those decisions need to be made together.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | September 12, 2006 12:20 PM

"I'd just like to nicely point out that there are lots of words that I don't know, which is why I look them up. I'd also like to point put that the push for plain English is on the rise and pretentious speaking is on it's way out."

You'd think a technical writer would know the correct for of "it" in the possesive.

Pretentious writing may be on the way out; does that mean grammar is too?

Posted by: jobby | September 12, 2006 12:33 PM

10 million words in the first year? Well, let's see. . . there are @ 31 million seconds in a year, so on average, one word every 3 seconds round the clock . . . yep, that study must have involved my 5-year-old.

Or my mother-in-law.

Posted by: Laura | September 12, 2006 12:33 PM

Thank you to those who understood that by writing about my own life and work choices I did not intend any judgement about others. Within the word limit for this blog I described only ONE important part of the MANY thoughts and conversations that went into making a major life altering decision. As all of you know, these decisions are not made lightly or one-dimensionally by anyone regardless of income or experience.
Those of you who felt judged, please do not. I respect the choices and needs of all mothers and the fact that different lives and experiences and families have different ways of balancing. I wrote about my family only -- there was no intent to imply anything about anyone else's choices.
I did work hard for 20 years, I am 40 years old, I do feel good about that and I feel good about what I am doing now. Who knows what will work for me and my family in the future.
As I said, my news career will never return to the same trajectory, but that's ok. Although it seems to have annoyed some people, I think it's clear I am an upbeat person - therefore I am certain that if/when my family and I reach a point where I can or want to balance work outside the home again with raising children, I will find a way to do so.
Is that overly romantic? No, I think it's just a positive attitude. Am I lucky that my husband and I, with careful saving and a more frugal lifestyle than we had before, can make this one-income life work for a while? By all means - and I am grateful for that every day. Are we rich? Not by a long shot, probably never will be.
I don't apologize for the fact that I love my life - if some say that comes across as overly romantic, so be it. Yes, I change lots of poopy diapers and deal with fussiness. That's part of the deal - and even if it's not as much fun as walks in the park, it's all still good - all of it.

Posted by: Heather Murphy Capps | September 12, 2006 12:34 PM

"Ugh", I wasn't questioning (I too have to work, and I became an attorney b/c since I have to work, I wanted a job with better pay & some respect) -- I was directing my comment to the person who wrote "10 million words" who is blithely assuming that she will be able to have it all. My point was that IF your career is of such importance to you that you will be devastated if your best-laid plans of "having it all", now or later, don't work out, then IN THAT CASE you should question whether you really want to have children.

Posted by: can't have it all | September 12, 2006 12:39 PM

Hey jobby it was a typo. geez.

Posted by: scarry | September 12, 2006 12:44 PM

It blows my mind as a reader of this blog how critical and harsh we all are to each other. I thought today's blog entry was refreshing, finally something besides the pretentious cr$p that is always on here. Heather, I applaud you for your decision, while at the same time recognizing that not all people have this luxury. I just think that the constant bashing and hatred on this blog is becoming rather annoying.

I also think that the name of this blog "On Balance" couldn't be further from the truth. There isn't a balance in the issues and views that Leslie presents.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2006 12:45 PM

I'm sorry, I was going to let it go but...

You'd think someone who was correcting a typo would make sure their post was typo free. Better luck next time. Proves my point that no one is perfect.

"You'd think a technical writer would know the correct for of "it" in the possesive."

Pretentious writing may be on the way out; does that mean grammar is too?

Posted by: scarry | September 12, 2006 12:51 PM

UGH! Another $5 word. What does acrimony mean? Would you guys just use regular words please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2006 1:04 PM

I think this was the study Ms Cropp was referring to:
http://www.phenomenologycenter.org/course/talk.htm

Posted by: Ms L | September 12, 2006 1:04 PM

Oops, Ms Capps, not Cropp. Listening to too much DC politics. Sorry.

Posted by: Ms L | September 12, 2006 1:06 PM

"My daughter got to hear her 10 million words in two languages, because we made a point of finding a bilingual nanny to teach her a second language (Spanish). Her nanny is loving, enthusiastic, and does NOT park her in front of the TV."

This sounds really cool. :) Learning a second language that young is way better than waiting until 7th grade like I did (my school system didn't offer foreign language classes any earlier).

"AWorkingMom, unless you don't own a TV set or have a nannycam, you have no way of knowing whether your nanny lets your daughter watch TV."

For that matter, unless he doesn't own a TV set or have a cam, a father whose wife stays at home has no way of knowing whether she lets their children watch TV.

"We know there are jihadists everywhere in the world plotting to murder us just because we are not Muslim."

More like just because we are not their specific type of Muslim. They murder Muslims too ("honor killings," etc.).

Posted by: Maria | September 12, 2006 1:07 PM

To Heather--thank you for your blog. As my name implies, my wife and I are currently considering having a child. Since my wife is a federal employee and invested in the federal retirement program, she does not have the luxury of staying at home. So, if/when we have a child, we'll be facing the same dilemma that you faced on whether to have a SAHP. In that case, it would be me. It's tough and we may or may not be able to make it work, but I'm glad to hear your perspective. It may help make my decision whether to be a SAHD or not. If I do, it will be a significant change in our lifestyles, but we'll make that decision when the time comes the way we always do...together.

Thank you for your perspective, even if others didn't appreciate it. I most definitely do.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | September 12, 2006 1:12 PM

Along the same lines with the plain English, what's with the acronyms and abbreviations? DH, VLI, DD, WOHM...?! Do you just use them and hope that other people figure them out, or is there an agreed-upon list somewhere that I can reference? I mean, I work for the Feds, so I completely understand the acronym overload, but I'm surprised to see it on a blog!

Posted by: Meesh | September 12, 2006 1:13 PM

"Specious," "vilify," and "acrimony" are not five-dollar words, nor are they jargon, antiquated, or anything else objectionable. They are words any reasonably literate American adult should be familiar with. I am really surprised to see someone actually complaining that blog posters are using words that many of us learned in junior high. THAT is a sad state of affairs.

Posted by: I just have to say | September 12, 2006 1:16 PM

Words like "Specious," "vilify," and "acrimony" ARE $5 words--they're not words that most people use!!!!!!!!!!! I'm literate...in fact I write for a living...but I use PLAIN ENGLISH!!!!!!!!! It's good to use regular words if you want people to know what you're saying. If I started to put all of those words in my marketing copy, we wouldn't sell too many products--people would be too busy getting confused, or looking them up in the dictionary. So...while you guys might all know what these words mean, I don't...so stop using them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Unless it's just to impress people with your knowledge. Hmmmm....

Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2006 1:18 PM

"y daughter got to hear her 10 million words in two languages, because we made a point of finding a bilingual nanny to teach her a second language"

This is kind of off topic, but I have been amazed to hear parents _complaining_ that their babysitter speaks to their child in their native language instead of english. Don't they realize what a great opportunity it is for your child to learn another language early? I think to be competitive in the world of the future, language skills are a must. We are lucky to live in an area where bilingual caregivers are readily available.

Posted by: Language | September 12, 2006 1:19 PM

DH--Dear Hubby or Dear Husband
VLI--I haven't a clue what this one means
DD--Dear Daughter
DS--Dear Son
WOHM--Work outside the home mom
WAHM--Work at Home Mom
SAHM--Stay at Home Mom
SAHD--Stay at Home Dad
PTWOHM--Part-Time Work Outside the Home Mom
KWIM--Know What I Mean
BTDT--Been There Done That
PNTWTHW--Prefer Not to Write the Whole Word
AMY--Acrimony
SPC--Specious

Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2006 1:23 PM

What a trite and mushy blog! surely she receives better entries than this???

Posted by: anon | September 12, 2006 1:24 PM

I admire a woman with such drive who choses to stay home. Life will not be easy for her. It takes a completely different pace of life. I chose not to delay childbearing (due to a number of reasons) and hence didn't get a chance to do my 'career' first. I don't regret that decision one iota, but it is a different approach. Every career decision I make for the rest of my life will involve having children at home/in college/somewhere. I feel her piece is appropriate in a blog on 'balance'. For a woman who spent such energy on her career, she is learning to balance her life - in a long term sense.

Posted by: Carrie | September 12, 2006 1:25 PM

I am going to vilify the DH until all the acrimony makes him abscond me for a new consort. Then they can get many VILs and live contentedly in the McMansion in Fairfax..

Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2006 1:27 PM

TAMB-Trite and Mush Blog

Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2006 1:28 PM

vli - vulger luxury item (.. SUV)

Some very clever posters of the Mommy Blog made it up.

Now, what does "literate American" mean?

Posted by: Father of 4 | September 12, 2006 1:30 PM

"Along the same lines with the plain English, what's with the acronyms and abbreviations? DH, VLI, DD, WOHM...?!"

Try http://www.acronymfinder.com/ There's some pretty amusing entries for DH :).

Posted by: ConantheLibrarian | September 12, 2006 1:30 PM

test

Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2006 1:30 PM

MUSHY

Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2006 1:31 PM

UGH! Another $5 word. What does acrimony mean? Would you guys just use regular words please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: | September 12, 2006 01:04 PM

====

Why, because you don't want to spend the 12 seconds it would take to go to www.m-w.com and look it up? That's the Merriam-Websters dictionary site and it's fast.

I came from a household where English was my parents second language. They didn't use a lot of fancy words in their daily spoken word, but they did share the gift of education and learning with me. In their zeal to learn English, they always kept a Chinese-English dictionary around and looked up words that they didn't know. My parents were both voracious readers (in both English and Chinese) and both read the Pittsburgh Post and the Taiwanese newspapers that we got daily. I learned to appreciate learning in whatever form it came.

Although some of you out there might not agree with Ms. Murphy Capps decision, hopefully everyone will find the right way to pass on their core values to their children. Hers is apparently word-based learning. My SIL passed on a love of learning by visiting new, interesting, different places with my nephew. My brother, the thrill-seeking type passed on his sense of never being afraid of failing to his girls. They are both very competitive and outgoing. You don't need a great income or education to pass on good learning. I have a low income friend who is deaf. She's taught her son patience against adversity. He's much more tenacious and patient about learning.

I agree with the poster earlier who said that as long as you are attentive and love your child, you'll be a successful parent. I think that the only measuring stick any parent needs is the child itself. Don't think about or compare yourself or your child against other families, but as long as you are proud of your child for what (s)he has accomplished through what you've provided, you've done a good job of parenting. Good parents come in all shapes, sizes, races, economic backgrounds, jobs, and places. Stand up straight and be proud of yourselves.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | September 12, 2006 1:34 PM

With regard to Sandra Day O'Connor, she was a solo practitioner, by necessity not necessarily desire (because she could not get another job) when her first child was born. After the second, she stopped taking on work, and instead became a very active volunteer, no doubt making some political contacts then. After five years (not when her youngest was five), she became an AG . . . and the rest is history (I'm not even going to get into how her husband's career may have eased her transition back).

Great story, but please don't hold it up as a illustration that women shouldn't worry about bowing out of the legal profession for several years. Times are different (thankfully, actually). There are many female attorneys doing similar things as what she did after having children--e.g., contract lawyering, etc., but it probably will not put them on the path, today, to the Supreme Court. I stepped down from a large firm for public service and I have few regrets about it, but I don't kid myself that, in doing so, I may have put my career on a different path than it was before. But I am happy that I have stayed "in" and still have several paths to take. Let's not kid ourselves that getting out of the law completely and getting back in is very easy.


Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2006 1:35 PM

"voracious reader"--plain English "likes to read"

"adversity"--Plain English "troubles"

"tenancity"--Plain English "sticks with it"

Stop using big words...use plain English!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2006 1:38 PM

If everyone used small words, the dictionary would be much smaller and easier to use.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2006 1:39 PM

Here are two small words "shut" "up"

Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2006 1:42 PM

Loving 1:42 PM.

Posted by: Heh | September 12, 2006 1:45 PM

Well, despite the grammar rodeo that's going on I do think a couple of really good points are being raised. I think the main one is that Leslie is a lazy blogger. She rarely checks in or makes meaningful comments and I suspect she doesn't actually read every entry. Or at least not in a timely manner. It would be great if she would go out there, find and interview people who are balancing work and life in differents. You know, situations where both spouses/partners have to work? Maybe then there could be more meaningful conversations instead of conversations how the blog could be more meaningful.

Posted by: An excellent idea | September 12, 2006 1:46 PM

I posted earlier about the fact that folks rarley use the "you can have it all, just not all right now" cliche with men. I actually wasn't trying to contribute to the/a "war between the sexes." I meant to refer to why WOMEN say that and accept it to each other and amongst themselves.

Posted by: Equal Was Right | September 12, 2006 1:46 PM

I guess I could have said "literate English speaker" instead of "literate American"...I wouldn't expect a literate person in France or China or Egypt to know what "specious" means!

To the OP -- what you call "plain English" is less precise and certainly less interesting. "Voracious" is a lot more evocative than "likes to read." "Sticks with it" is not exactly a synonym for "tenacity" (a noun), and doesn't sound any better or convey the point more accurately.

I don't think anyone on this blog uses language that is more dificult than that used by the Post itself. Go read a blog on USA Today if you want something appropriate for the dumbed-down masses.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2006 1:47 PM

"Plain English" doesn't mean dumbing down or catering to the lowest common denominator. It means avoiding jargon that only one professional group can easily understand (contract lawyers, I'm talking to you!). It means not using 20 words when 5 would suffice.

It does *not* mean you have to restrict yourself to using only words the average third grader knows.

These "big" words you're complaining about are part of the richness of the English language. Stop being afraid and embrace it!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2006 1:47 PM

Instead of complaining about the words you don't know, why don't you just look them up and learn something? That's what you'd want your kids to do, right?

I've sort of enjoyed today's vocabulary lesson. It's certainly interesting to see what minor things will make folks crazy.

Posted by: CatherineP | September 12, 2006 1:47 PM

Stop using big words...use plain English!

=====

Sorry, but no. Feel free to skip my posts if they are too pretentious for you, but I will not "dumb down" my language. It happens to be the way that I was taught to write and in public school, for Pete's sake. And the sad thing is that I'm an engineer. It's laughable that I have to simplify my writing for a writer.

As far as I'm concerned, this "plain English" trend is just plain wrong. Americans have such a poor command of their own language and an even poorer command of any other language. We are least lingual nation of all of the first world countries per capita.

Either invest a few seconds using a dictionary, or just skip my posts.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | September 12, 2006 1:48 PM

Another vote for DadWannaBe! I just hate the trend toward "dumbing down" everything. Why does everything have to be in plain vanilla monosyllables? It's boring, and we are capable of understanding a lot more than the tech writer here would think!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2006 1:51 PM

Fun new word for McMansion or VLI (house) - nasty palace.

Posted by: Fun new word | September 12, 2006 1:54 PM

Grammar Rodeo!

Way out West, in a galaxy far far away....we had an event in real rodeos called

ta DAH Gramma Rodeo (yo-de-lay-ee- ooooooh....yee HAH)

Older women (cowgirls still sounds better than cowwomen) barrel-racing and calf roping.

Very fun.

Makes me laugh. Thanks.

For those irritated by the off-topic- ness here, well consider that

Laughter helps us all MAINTAIN and/or RECOVER balance.

Posted by: College Parkian | September 12, 2006 1:54 PM

College Parkian--you forgot the standard tag line to your post:

"We now return you to your regular b**ch and moan session, already in progress."

Posted by: DadWannaBe | September 12, 2006 1:58 PM

Plain English" doesn't mean dumbing down or catering to the lowest common denominator. It means avoiding jargon that only one professional group can easily understand (contract lawyers, I'm talking to you!). It means not using 20 words when 5 would suffice.

This is not true. It usually means writing to a 6th grade level. Everyone is not educated or privilaged in this country you know.

Posted by: not true, take a class on it | September 12, 2006 1:59 PM

Engineers are the reason for tech writers and plain English.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2006 2:03 PM

Does anyone else find it interesting that a blog about a mother who chose to stay home in part because she wanted to share her love of words and language has started a thread on whether we should be using "plain" english?

Posted by: NoVAsinglemom | September 12, 2006 2:04 PM

Something to consider: Being home with and infant is terrific for some, if you can swing it. But it's not the only critical time.

I'm finding that it is even more important to be home right after school with an elementary school child. Those first couple of hours are critical -- when he talks most candidly about what happened at school that day, both the good and the bad. Realizing his need for that kind of interaction is the key reason why we've made the choices we have (mainly flexibility) to be sure that one of us is always home right after school. For our family, it just seems to be the sensible thing to do with this child. We make up the hours at other times of day (like early morning, for me).

Posted by: CA Mom | September 12, 2006 2:05 PM

"Everyone is not educated or privilaged in this country you know."

Not educated and/or not privileged does not equal "stupid"! I came from a decidedly working-class background and no one in my family needs you to talk down to us, OK? My mom never got to go to college, but she can understand words like "tenacious."

So get off your high horse. Or, go back to your "class" and stay there, Mr./Ms. SuperWriter. I don't think you know as much as you think you do.

Posted by: ProudMom | September 12, 2006 2:07 PM

Actually, I was just trying to point out that it is not nice to make fun of people who don't know the same words you do. Plain English is useful when writing instructions that go out to a lot of different people who may not know a lot of "big words" as you guys say.

If the person can't work his DVD player then the company won't be selling very many. You guys on the other hand, who know the "big words" will still be able to understand the small words used in the instructions. I don't know much about marketing, but I suppose the same is true when you are targeting a certain audience.

No need to vilify me.

Posted by: scarry | September 12, 2006 2:09 PM

I wonder what Leslie gets paid to not work very much!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2006 2:10 PM

Proud mom are you talking to me because I didn't write that post. I do not claim to be a super writer! thanks

Posted by: scarry | September 12, 2006 2:12 PM

Does anyone else find it interesting that a blog about a mother who chose to stay home in part because she wanted to share her love of words and language has started a thread on whether we should be using "plain" english?

that, my friends, is called irony. HA HA HA!

Posted by: experienced mom | September 12, 2006 2:12 PM

Excerpt from PG Wodehouse's "Jeeves Takes Charge" illustrating pretentious writing.

...You see, she was particularly keen on boosting me up a bit nearer her own plane of intellect. She was a girl with a wonderful profile, but steeped to the gills in serious purpose. I can't give you a better idea of the way things stood then than by telling you that the book she'd given me to read was called 'Types of Ethical Theory,' and that when I opened it at random I struck a page beginning: -

'The postulate or common understanding involved in speech is certainly co-extensive, in the obligation it carries, with the social organism of which language is the instrument, and the ends of which it is an effort to subserve.'

All perfectly true, no doubt; but not the sort of thing to spring on a lad with a morning head.

Posted by: still off topic | September 12, 2006 2:13 PM

"Plain English" ...

This is not true. It usually means writing to a 6th grade level. Everyone is not educated or privilaged in this country you know.

Posted by: not true, take a class on it | September 12, 2006 01:59 PM

=====

In that case, then "Plain English" has no place in a blog on the Washington Post. This is a major newspaper. And it is on-line. Anyone who can spend the time to read the blog for a hundred or more entries can spend a couple of extra seconds with an on-line dictionary. None of the words that have been criticized are outside the vocabulary used by the WP. It would be fairly common to find these words in this daily newspaper and hence they are appropriate in a blog on the newspaper's web-site.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | September 12, 2006 2:15 PM

no one called your mom stupid proud mom, God go take a pill.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2006 2:17 PM

Thanks Heather for a post that speaks to what YOU and YOUR FAMILY think is best for your situation. Folks, she's not being judgmental, she's shared a brief snapshot into why one couple made the decision they did and how the wife/mother in the equation feels about it. For all the hard-working moms out there who by their own loud protestations have made it clear that Heather's choice isn't an option for them, and who somehow think that she is trying to make them feel bad or say they're bad parents, please write a guest blog talking about what your experience has been, and I'm quite certain that I'll read it with interest and learn from how YOU are balancing for YOUR family just like I did today from what Heather wrote. It is absolutely mind boggling to me that so many people get so personally WOUNDED by what complete strangers say about their own choices. With the exception of perhaps Jerry Falwell who thinks we should all be barefoot and pregnant and never work at all, and Linda Hirshman who thinks we should all be back at our desks as soon as the c-section stitches dissolve, I haven't seen many people in this country much less on this blog making pronouncements about how others *must* live their lives. One person's choice is not an inherent critique of another person's entire life!

Posted by: Supporting Heather's post | September 12, 2006 2:18 PM

I don't think anyone was being made fun of for not knowing words... maybe being made fun of for being too lazy to look it up in the dictionary, but that's different.

Simple words are fine for writing DVD player instructions, but surely it is not necessary to limit ourselves in other written forums, now is it?

Posted by: to scarry | September 12, 2006 2:20 PM

can i just point out that just because a woman stays at home full-time with her child supported by her husband, it does not mean they are filthy rich?? we are making our bills by the skin of our teeth each month, and our bank account has been overdrawn. i'm looking for freelance opportunities - also a former journalist, heather, though only for three years - but hubby and i have agreed that i will stay home with our son for now, and possibly homeschool later. i will probably freelance enough on the side for extra cash, maybe do a few other things, but that's it - that's our way of finding balance. i don't want to leave my son with anyone at all. personal choice. i love being with him, love it love it love it, and we're going to find a way to make this happen. for me, it's more a matter of what i want to accomplish in my life, not about a career per se - but that's just me.
oh by the way, i'm muslim. but i promise i don't want to kill anybody. sheesh.

Posted by: freelancer | September 12, 2006 2:22 PM

"Actually, I was just trying to point out that it is not nice to make fun of people who don't know the same words you do."

May not be nice, but can be fun!

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

>no one called your mom stupid proud mom, God go take a pill.

The poster argued that we should use 6th grade level words because not everyone is "educated and privileged."

My point is, some people may not be educated and privileged, but they can definitely understand more than a 6th grader! No need to talk down to anyone here. Save your "simple" words for your five year old, ok.

It was very condescending. I get really sick of the attitudes on this blog. Sometimes it's like if you're not white upper middle class, you don't exist or you're just some vague "other" out there in underpriviledged-land.

Posted by: ProudMom | September 12, 2006 2:25 PM

Good for you, Freelancer. That is exactly what I'm talking about - you can talk about what is good for you and your family, and it is in no way a judgment of what other people do. Good luck with the freelancing, I've often daydreamed about doing it but I just don't have the guts. And I hope (god do I hope) no one has implied or overtly stated to you that you want to do anyone harm because you're Muslim...what a world we live in.

Posted by: Supporting Freelancer and Heather's post | September 12, 2006 2:27 PM

It was very condescending. I get really sick of the attitudes on this blog. Sometimes it's like if you're not white upper middle class, you don't exist or you're just some vague "other" out there in underpriviledged-land.

it's also very condescending to assume that everyone who posts is upper middle class.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2006 2:29 PM

No, I do think they were making fun of her whether they meant it in a mean way or not, I was just trying to lighten the blog a little bit. I didn't realize that it would turn into an off topic.

And

No, I don't think that people should, in everyday speech, limit their vocabulary, surely we all want our kids to know as much as possible, but I do think it is important to understand where other people are coming from and know your audience. I talk differently to my friends then I do to my father with an 8th grade education. Not that he's stupid, he just doesn't know all the big words that I do and I don't want to make him feel bad. I don't care what words you guys use, if I don't know them I look them up, but maybe some people feel to intimidated look them and feel that a blog is an informal place where they shoudn't have too, who knows. :)

Posted by: to to scarry | September 12, 2006 2:30 PM

I'm pretty sure your dad could understand you just as well as your friends do. Give him some credit.

Even if people don't know the exact meaning of an unfamiliar word, they can usually get the gist of the thought based on context. And maybe they'll learn a new word in the bargain.

I don't think you need to be so concerned about overwhelming people with your superior language skills. Just talk, and we'll follow along just fine.

Posted by: to scarry again | September 12, 2006 2:32 PM

So when your 3 year old spills his milk and exclaims "Aw sh1t", do you:

A) Slap him because he said a bad word?
B) Use this situation as an opportunity to teach him how to use alternative words like "feces" and "dung", thereby encouraging him to expand his vocabulary and further your goal of integrating him into adult life?
C) Laugh? He learned that word from you!
D) Other. Please explain.

Posted by: Father of 4 | September 12, 2006 2:33 PM

To the 1:47 poster: careful, or they'll be complaining about your use of words like "evocative."

I'm with DadWannaBe (as usual). If we all made a point not to use words of over two syllables (oops, that one has three), boy would the writing get boring. There's a difference between throwing out big words to show the world you know big words (pretentious) and using appropriate words to evoke a feeling or situation (good writing). And there's a difference between an ad or product manual, which by necessity (oops, 4 syllables there) must cater to the lowest common denominator (and which I don't think anyone would hold up as examples of good writing), and a blog of personal thoughts and experiences, where how a person chooses to write can color the interpretation of what he or she is saying.

I'm all for plain English (I deal with lawyers and consultants all day, and what some very highly educated people consider good writing drives me up the wall). But except for certain situations (like a product manual), writing well and clearly does not require using only 6th-grade words or a subject-verb-object sentence structure. (Hmm, my English teacher taught us "dearth" and "plethora" in 8th grade, so I guess those are right out).

And to bring things full circle: if I remember correctly, one of those language studies found that not only are babies in higher-income families exposed to more words, they are exposed to a much broader variety of words. The study's authors theorized that it isn't simply the amount of language that makes a difference, but its complexity as well. So if you don't know a word, instead of telling everyone else to stop talking that way, use it as an opportunity to expand your horizons one teensy little bit -- which may well benefit your kids in the process.

Posted by: Laura | September 12, 2006 2:36 PM

Laura - thanks for saying what I wanted to say in a much nicer manner. I honestly thought the folks who were asking for definitions were kidding. Believe me, I come from a middle (leaning towards low) class background, but my parents encouraged me to read and learn as much as I could. Fortunately, the public library is free!

Posted by: Missicat | September 12, 2006 2:41 PM

Since we're nitpicking today:

"it's also very condescending to assume that everyone who posts is upper middle class."

How is that assumption "condescending"? It may be a mistaken assumption, but I'm not sure what part of that assumption is "condescension." I think that's not really the word you were looking for. (Sorry, but we are picking apart language today, aren't we?)

I think he/she was referring to the feeling that a lot of the posts here are made by people with a similar perspective (professionals and middle class families). And I would agree that there is not a whole lot of variety in a lot of these blogs -- probably because it's the non-hourly professionals who have time to sit in front of the computer all afternoon blogging away at work. ;)

Posted by: picky picky | September 12, 2006 2:44 PM

Listen, I didn't say I had superior language skills; I went to an awful public school and had to catch up in college. I also didn't say I was overwhelming you or that you were overwhelming me. This isn't personal, I just felt bad for the person who kept saying she didn't know the words! My father worked 15 hour days in a coal mine, all I have for him is credit and respect, but generally by the third time my sister asks me what a word means, I'm annoyed, she's annoyed and my father is looking at like I am pretentious.

Posted by: scarry | September 12, 2006 2:45 PM

>>And to bring things full circle: if I remember correctly, one of those language studies found that not only are babies in higher-income families exposed to more words, they are exposed to a much broader variety of words. The study's authors theorized that it isn't simply the amount of language that makes a difference, but its complexity as well.>>

That's an excellent point. I have a three-year-old and it amazes me how quickly he learns new words and idioms just from hearing us use them...and then he uses them in context, appropriately. If I used only the simpler (plainer!) words when talking to him, he wouldn't be developing his language skills as quickly. Same for books--I read him simple books like "Hop on Pop" to help prepare him for reading, but also more complex stories (like the classic Pooh books) to expose him to more words, bigger concepts, etc.

Posted by: to Laura | September 12, 2006 2:46 PM

oh, I used the word pretentious that must mean that I did it to show I know big words? I just happen to like the way it sounds actually, I will use the word snotty or pompus from now on.

Father of four,

I tell my kid it's a bad word. Although a lady in DC ran a four way stop sign one day and I said "what the f***" to which my daughter replied, " no f*** mommy, that's not a nice word."

Posted by: scarry | September 12, 2006 2:46 PM

"I wonder what Leslie gets paid to not work very much!"

I have two conflicting reactions to this - one that gives the benefit of the doubt to Leslie, and one that doesn't. The former is that she really works quite a bit. That she has other responsibilities at the Post that we may not see, and/or does a significant amount of research we just don't know about. I know I've heard her on Post radio being interviewed about developments with regard to life balance (such as the MBA programs seeking to attracth SAHMs). Plus, it must be hard to come up with something new to say the 3-4 times a week she writes the blog.

But my first instinctive response to this comment was to say that this IS her work/life balance. Imagine how easy it must be to balance life and work if work simply involves rehashing variations on the same topics, getting guest bloggers, recruiting RebelDad to help out, and just checking in to type a comment once or twice a day.

Regarding the bitterness of some of the postings - I think Ms. Capps did a very nice job of explaining that her statements were not meant to put down people who do not stay at home. That being said, when writing these things, it would not hurt to be aware that there are people out there who would love to have the dilemma you agonize over, and that comments to the effect that language is a gift you want to give your children implies that those of us who work do not do the same.

For example, with me, it would have been no dilemma at all once my daughter was born. I also thought I would always work, but once I was faced with the depressing task of finding day care, would have dropped my career in a heartbeat had my husband signed onto it. (Actually, to a certain extent I HAVE dropped my career, in order to spend more time with my family, and now just feel like I have a job.) But my husband didn't think we could manage on one salary, so I kept on working. So reading today's guest blog struck a sour note, as it implied that we have choices we may not have. In my case, I believe my husband's health would have suffered, and that our marriage would have suffered more than it has with my working despite my desire to stay home.

I have mentioned this before, and been taken to task by someone else posting that day who indicated that I should consider myself lucky for believing we do have the financial wherewithal to exist on one salary, given that others would love to have enough extra that they thought they could get by on just half of that. The poster ridiculed me for being so spoiled that I would complain that my husband wouldn't "let" me quit. Although I resented the tone, as the day wore on I realized that he or she had a point. There are a lot of people out there who would love to be in the situation I'm in, where we bring enough extra in that we can set aside extra money for college, and have a cushion for emergencies. That's not to say that I was wrong for wanting more if I thought we could obtain it. But it does show that in writing about myself, I was blind to the fact that I am much luckier than others, and that my post would likely engender bitterness from someone who recognized that I am actually very lucky. I actually count that day as a turning point for me in my attitude towards having to work the past seven years. I have been much happier about my situation since then. Of course, as I've also mentioned on here, it doesn't hurt that my kids are both in school now so I do not feel like I'm missing out on so much.

So while I think some have been unfair to Ms. Capps - imagine how brave it must be to write on here using your full name -
it probably doesn't hurt to remind those with more choices how lucky they are. (Okay, if she worked hard and saved money for twenty years it wasn't all luck but, as someone else pointed out, she's lucky to have had a healthy child at 40). And that those who can't spend as much time with their children are not lesser parents.

Posted by: Sam | September 12, 2006 2:50 PM

again, I didn't say they were ignorant. You are just trying to start a fight with me, which I am not going to do.

Posted by: scarry | September 12, 2006 2:52 PM

How would your family feel if you showed them your posts here talking about how they're too ignorant to understand you?

Interesting blog today. But wasn't this supposed to be about parenting? Ha.

Posted by: another post to scarry | September 12, 2006 2:55 PM

Wow, Sam, thanks for the feedback and update. It's great to really see that this blog has changed someone's perspective, and maybe even outlook on life. I really admire your ability to reflect on criticism, especially since I recall it was mentioned in a somewhat snarky manner.

Cheers!

Posted by: Ms L | September 12, 2006 2:59 PM

One poster way up said she found it was harder to be a working mom once her kids were in school (she felt she needed to be there after school), while Sam just said she found it easier to be a working mom after her kids were in school.

Since mine aren't in school yet, I'd like to hear from some other working parents of school-age kids on this topic. Is it "easier" to work while they're little or after they start school, and why?

Posted by: 2Preschoolers | September 12, 2006 3:02 PM

To 2Preschoolers

My youngest has only been in kindergarten for a week, so it's too early to say which is easier. To me it's easier emotionally to be working now because of the reasons it was hard for me in the first place - I missed my children terribly, especially right after maternity leave. And I hated feeling like I was missing out on their lives. Now, at least during the school year, I realize I wouldn't spend much of the time with them anyway. Because of my schedule and my husband's getting them out the door in the morning, they are only in day care an hour and a half a day. I think I would go nuts at home by myself all day.

Logistically I think it may be more difficult as they get older, however. Homework and after-school activities will eat up much of their time, and there are some things they may not be able to do that they want to do because we both work. Also, and I think this is what CA Mom was getting at, there may be more communication if you're home right after school. That being said, I'm not really sure why there would be less communication when picking them up from after-school care than there would be at home an hour or so earlier. Except that I'm frantically trying to get dinner together.

So I think both are difficult, but they are difficult in different ways.

Posted by: Sam | September 12, 2006 3:11 PM

"oh, I used the word pretentious that must mean that I did it to show I know big words?"

Scarry, if that was directed at my comment, I apologize, because that wasn't what I meant. I meant that IF you are using big words only to show that you know them, THAT is pretentious (like, say, the first-year law student who feels the need to stick a "wheretofore" in every freaking document). I never meant that using the word itself must mean you're using it only to show you know it. I'd be surprised if anyone who has read your entries for any length of time could possibly consider you pretentious! :-)

And FO4: I blame my dad, as that's where she sprang it out for the first time.

Posted by: Laura | September 12, 2006 3:12 PM

My goodess, it all started because Scarry was trying to be nice. Be mean next time Scarry!

Posted by: another post to another post to scarry | September 12, 2006 3:12 PM

no, I was just joking. I feel bad that I accidentaly derailed the blog. I took no offense in your post I was making fun of myself.

Posted by: to laura from scarry | September 12, 2006 3:12 PM

I....want...blog...now. No balance, no!! Gimmie more topic closer to me. Want better topic. No lazy blog.

Posted by: Plain English | September 12, 2006 3:14 PM

To 2Preschoolers:

I also have a child who just started kindergaten. He loves it, and he loves the aftercare program. So far, so good. Logistically though, we're feeling some panic about how to cover all the teacher workdays and holidays. The schedule at daycare was a lot more consistent, that's for sure. I know it's not the end of the world to take some extra days off during the year on the days school is out, but then I see vacation hours decreasing and then I look ahead to those wonderful summer vacations we save for (money and vacaction hours) all year. Back to yet another balance issue.

Posted by: Arlington Dad | September 12, 2006 3:17 PM

To 3:14 --

You funny. Me laugh.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2006 3:20 PM

I don't see what all the fuss is about. Good vocabulary embiggens the blog. And "pretentious" is a perfectly cromulent word.

Posted by: Grammarqueen | September 12, 2006 3:30 PM

Geez, people on here whining about "big words". Get a vocabulary or buy a dictionary!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2006 3:32 PM

I looked those words up and they are not in the dictionary

Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2006 3:35 PM

Marketing writers write "plain English" -- in other words, English for Dummies. (I know, ok, I am a writer myself.) This makes me sick. "Don't use any word a 5 year old wouldn't understand" seems to be the ideal. How about for once not pretending that marketing writing is writing of anything but crap and it only designed to SELL stuff. It's not literature or even really communication. I refuse to simplify my vocabulary to appeal to people who can't understand basic words that, yes, we all should have learned in junior high schoool.

Posted by: Writer | September 12, 2006 3:37 PM

Cromulent is a word used by the schoolteacher, Miss Hoover, in an episode of
The Simpsons,
in which she defended one made-up word by making up another: "It's a perfectly cromulent word." Since it is used in an ironical sense to mean legitimate,
in reality, it is
spurious
and not at all legitimate. The user assumes common knowledge of the inherent "Simpsons" reference. It has come to be used with
tongue in cheek,
or with the intent to insult high talkers, English majors and otherwise insufferable people who feel the need to correct others.


Good one! Made me look!

Posted by: Father of 4 | September 12, 2006 3:45 PM

Maybe this would be a good topic for Leslie, instead of the same old "to work, or not to work, that is the question." Share your tips for balancing your work (if applicable), kids' school schedules, extra-curriculars, etc. Like if you're working full time, and can't take days off to be a Room Mother for the day, what are some other ways you can stay involved with the school? If your kids want to schedule different extra curriculars at the same time, and you can't take them two places at once, what do you do?

Or is that not controversial enough for this blog? ;-0

Posted by: 2Preschoolers | September 12, 2006 3:45 PM

Plain English, you made me choke on my water. Good one!

Me like you!

Posted by: Meesh | September 12, 2006 3:46 PM

Interesting live discussion about "The Overachievers: The Secret Lives of Driven Kids" going on over at WP Bookworld.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2006 3:46 PM

I second 2Preschoolers' idea for a blog. I could defnitely use some tips.

Posted by: Sam | September 12, 2006 3:47 PM

As a serious boggle and scrabble player, I would like to note that many words not common in speech or writing are four letters or less. Ergo (which is much shorter than 'therefore'), I would like to offer this imcomplete list of words derived from the front page of the Post. Since newspapers are written at an 8th grade level of understanding, most people should understand their meaning, either by context or definition. Assailants, foiled, cordoned, plume, facade, provisional, obscene, negligence, disenfranchises, incumbent, groused, unconscionable, condoned, culmimation and iconic. Each word can be replaced by another word or words. We are not, however, trying to write in the simplest terms available, you quintessence of dust!

Are we bored or what?

Posted by: To highly fed and lowly taught | September 12, 2006 3:48 PM

The author questioned, "Would I disqualify myself as a feminist with my deliberate domesticity?"

Absolutely!

Posted by: former grad. student | September 12, 2006 3:51 PM

Why? What does being a feminist have to do with chosing to stay home with you kid? I bake bread and love to decorate, sew, cook, organize and garden. What is your definition of a feminist? Do I stop being a feminist if I retire? Can my husband not be a feminist?

Posted by: to former grad student | September 12, 2006 3:52 PM

somebody has to clean the house, feed the kids, etc if you don't have money for a housekeeper or a cook, etc. At least part of it has to be done by you. The other parts should be done by your partner, if you have one. This idea that keeping a house clean and relatively germ and rodent free and preparing food for your family is inherently anti-feminist is JUST STUPID. If someone has a job, albeit a job that doesn't pay enough for them to pay someone else to do those things, then they can still call themselves a feminist, but if you don't have a job, it's impossible to believe that women are equal to men and should be treated as such? I just don't get it. I guess all feminists are either loaded and have domestic help or are going insane trying to work 40+ hours and feed their kids and vacuum. God forbid if you don't fit into either of those two categories, I guess you're just as good as Pat Robertson and that point and should just walk around barefoot and pregnant all the time like the ignorant sell out you are.

Posted by: whatever former grad student | September 12, 2006 3:53 PM

>>>Marketing writers write "plain English" -- in other words, English for Dummies. (I know, ok, I am a writer myself.)>>>

Here is my 2-cents, if anyone cares. I am a writer and marketing writers do not use plain English because they have to make the product sexy and sellable, which often means making up words or using buzz words incorrectly. Now technical writers KNOW plain English.

Posted by: technical writer | September 12, 2006 3:55 PM

Well, since we're already off topic...

I did writing for government agencies, and we had to take a course on plain language. It really was about eliminating useless words (like using "to" instead of "in order to") and using less jargon (like "use" instead of "utilize"). The goal was clarity, not writing at an 8th grade level.

However, any writing we did for the public was written at an 8th grade level (like scripts for call centers for the CDC). Those were "dumbed down," and simpler words were used. I wouldn't call that plain language; I would call that simple language.

Posted by: Meesh | September 12, 2006 3:55 PM

you said what I wanted to, in a much more articulate manner.

Posted by: thank you, 3:52 'to former grad student' | September 12, 2006 3:55 PM

If it were written simpler, this blog would be more gooder.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2006 3:56 PM

1. belief in women's rights: belief in the need to secure rights and opportunities for women equal to those of men, or a commitment to securing these.

It is my right to choose what work is right for me. It is not your right to condemn others for using their rights.

Posted by: Don't waste your tuition$ | September 12, 2006 3:58 PM

My grandparents never bothered to learn more than a few words of English. I don't alter my speech for them.

THE PUBLIC LIBRARY IS FREE! THERE IS NO EXCUSE TO BE IGNORANT FOR 50 YEARS!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2006 3:58 PM

"Plain English" doesn't mean dumbing down or catering to the lowest common denominator."

Oh, yes it does. Aim up, not down. No need for the McDonald's of English language. McLanguage anyone? What's next, the perpetuation of the current "dumb is cool" phase?

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | September 12, 2006 3:58 PM

No, you cannot be a feminist and a SAHM. I guess the author was right; you can't have it all.

Posted by: former grad. student | September 12, 2006 4:04 PM

THE PUBLIC LIBRARY IS FREE! THERE IS NO EXCUSE TO BE IGNORANT FOR 50 YEARS!

There is no excuse to be ignorant now either, but you are doing a good job of it. Oh wait, the word is rude, I was using it incorrectly. Everyone doesn't want to be like you grandparents. If they are fat does that mean everyone else has to be fat too.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2006 4:04 PM

My grandparents never bothered to learn more than a few words of English. I don't alter my speech for them.


Maybe they should assimilate too. Bad english is better than none.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2006 4:06 PM

My grandparents never bothered to learn more than a few words of English. I don't alter my speech for them.

THE PUBLIC LIBRARY IS FREE! THERE IS NO EXCUSE TO BE IGNORANT FOR 50 YEARS!

I take it this is amid at me; well you have crossed a line. Yes, I do try to talk like everyone else when I am around everyone else back home. Not because they are ignorant but because I don't want people to think I am snotty. That being said, what does it say about you and your family if they have been here for 50 years and they haven't learned the language? That is equally as ignorant, and as you said the public library is free.

Posted by: scarry | September 12, 2006 4:11 PM

To former grad student:

From the M.W. dictionary:

Main Entry: fem·i·nism
Pronunciation: 'fe-m&-"ni-z&m
Function: noun
1 : the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes
2 : organized activity on behalf of women's rights and interests
- fem·i·nist /-nist/ noun or adjective
- fem·i·nis·tic /"fe-m&-'nis-tik/ adjective

So how is being a SAHM incompatible with feminism? Is it not part of "women's rights and interests" to be able to make choices about our lives and how we want to live them? That seems to me to be the very essence of feminism. (Or maybe I should say 'humanism,' since I strongly believe men should have the full range of choices too.)

So do I get the Marc Fisher thread-weaver of the day award for combining use of the dictionary with the SAHM/WOHM topic?

Posted by: You make no sense! | September 12, 2006 4:13 PM

usatoday.com shows life expectancy in the US. Hawaii has the highest and DC has the lowest. Is anyone surprised?

Posted by: off topic | September 12, 2006 4:17 PM

"The author questioned, "Would I disqualify myself as a feminist with my deliberate domesticity?"

Absolutely!"

Certainly not. Ms. Capps is proving that the feminist movement has succeeded in giving women what they did not have before - choice.

Suffragettes fought to give women the right to choose at the ballot box.

Later the fight centered on whether women had a right to choose a career outside the home - whether they could choose to fulfill public as well as private societal roles. Stifling social paradigms were shattered by brave and talented women who chose to buck the system and balance work and home - they proved that you are no less a woman or a mother if you work.

The challenge now is to allow women the choice to be both talented at work and loving mothers and wives at home without impugning their dedication in any one area of their lives or their desire to focus their energies entirely in one direction for some or all of their adult lives.

Women would be better off if they stopped criticizing women for how they balance motherhood and work, women who stay home for part or all of the time they raise their families, and women who choose not to have children at all.

Posted by: Domestic by choice | September 12, 2006 4:20 PM

"No, you cannot be a feminist and a SAHM. I guess the author was right; you can't have it all."

You don't want to make women choose between feminism and the life they think best fits their needs and the needs of their families - feminism is likely to lose way more often than you would like.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2006 4:41 PM

Leslie,
If you can't tell...this blog isn't much about what you post...it's just a conversation among a bunch of people who have gotten to know each other online and like to chat inbetween working or whatever else they're doing. It's an intellectual way to pass time!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2006 4:43 PM

Although, Leslie, we do like to criticize what you post.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2006 4:44 PM

As long as a faction of the feminist movement demands that try to women work AND have children, many women will not call themselves feminists or relate to the feminist cause. Yes, women should understand that true freedom comes from being able to support oneself. But that doesn't mean that one has to also force oneself to work rather than stay home for a few years to raise children. Some women have no desire to do this, while others get far greater satisfaction from parenting than any thing else they do in life.

Please stop trying to force your agenda on everyone. The true goal of feminism ought to be to teach women to make choices that economically empower rather than enslave them. A woman who plans, with her spouse or parter (or without if she can) to take a few years off of work to be closer to her kids can indeed call herself a feminist.

Posted by: Mel | September 12, 2006 4:51 PM

My grandparents never bothered to learn more than a few words of English. I don't alter my speech for them.

THE PUBLIC LIBRARY IS FREE! THERE IS NO EXCUSE TO BE IGNORANT FOR 50 YEARS!

I take it this is amid at me; well you have crossed a line. Yes, I do try to talk like everyone else when I am around everyone else back home. Not because they are ignorant but because I don't want people to think I am snotty. That being said, what does it say about you and your family if they have been here for 50 years and they haven't learned the language? That is equally as ignorant, and as you said the public library is free.

Posted by: scarry | September 12, 2006 04:11 PM


LMAO.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2006 4:52 PM

The true goal of some people is that everyone should have to work and be stuck living paycheck to paycheck like they do. Busy busy busy parents who are addled trying to keep to some crazy schedule aren't really helping their kids. They're just running on a treadmill.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2006 4:53 PM

The comments here are "an intellectual way to pass time"???

That's a fairly broad definition of "intellectual," don't you think?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2006 4:59 PM

I concur with Meesh, there is no mention of the husband by Heather. As an expectant mother, who will deliver some time in the next 60 days -I too, am facing this difficult decision. I do not have the luxury of being a SAHM, however I did currently have the opportunity to choose between staying in my current position and returning at 32 hours per week or transferring into a more demanding role at 40+ hours a week with occasional travel. I struggled with this decision as the new role is a better match to my skill set and would make my time at the office more interesting and enjoyable. When I began pondering this decision, I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders and was very concerned regarding how this would impact the development of my child. After further discussion with my husband I came to the realization that I was not the only parent available to this child and I am lucky to have a partner that is eager to participate in his role as a Dad. This career change, albeit at an inopportune time, will assist us in better providing for our family and will eliminate certain stressors I currently experience working in a job that is not the right fit for my skill set. I have decided to proceed in changing jobs.

It is important to not forget that moms are not the only option for our children and careful planning can lead to a balance between work and home. This last statement is made knowing that the day I will return to work and leave my baby in the hands of another care provider will probably be one of the most difficult days I will ever face in life. We all make difficult choices -what is most important is knowing you are making the right choice for your family unit.

Posted by: TEJ | September 12, 2006 5:01 PM

My grandparents never bothered to learn more than a few words of English. I don't alter my speech for them.

THE PUBLIC LIBRARY IS FREE! THERE IS NO EXCUSE TO BE IGNORANT FOR 50 YEARS!

I take it this is amid at me; well you have crossed a line. Yes, I do try to talk like everyone else when I am around everyone else back home. Not because they are ignorant but because I don't want people to think I am snotty. That being said, what does it say about you and your family if they have been here for 50 years and they haven't learned the language? That is equally as ignorant, and as you said the public library is free.

Posted by: scarry | September 12, 2006 04:11 PM

Hey Scarry, I don't think that was directed at you - I think everyone's gone off on their own tangent and anyone who's paying attention can tell that all you're asking is that we be nice and not assume a small vocabulary means a small mind.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2006 5:11 PM

2Preschoolers: I now have a twenty-year old and an eighteen year old (both DDs) who still live at home and both in school full time (eldest in 3rd year University, younger finishing high school) and I have had it all ways. 7 years at home when they were born, back to work full time for 9 years, a year off (resting between contracts) and now working full time again for the last three years.

Loved my time at home with them, and love my work which involves a lot stress, a lot of international travel and often very long days.

My own experience has been that balancing is much much easier when the kids are both in school and a little older. The most stressful time in my life were the years when I'd just returned to work, the girls were in school/daycare, but they were little. Between multiple hours of before and afterschool daycare, and my long commute, we all had more on our plates, and longer days, that we could handle. We got through it, but honestly we did not have as many happy hours a day as I could have wished. When we were together, we were fine, just the time was limited and there was always an agenda: time to get up, time to go, time to do homework, time to bathe, time to go to bed. It was awful. But because of illness my husband was not able to support the family alone (nor would I have wanted him to) so we soldiered on.

By the time the youngest was 13 or so, though, they had both turned into real people; compassionate, funny, energetic, engaged, and things got easier. They were interested in various things that we were able to foster (music, sports, etc.) and that took them away from home as did school. They have always pitched in around the house cheerfully doing laundry and cleaning and cooking, not just because they had to but because they saw that the family ran smoothly when they did. Once the frantic years of daycare were past (and don't get me started on how I felt the first time they came home alone!) we found a new rhythm in the family that works for us. And I do believe that they have found both their parents to be worthy models of adulthood; we have treated them as individuals worthy of respect from the get-go, their Dad has always looked after them as well as I do, we sit down as a family most nights for dinner and have some good conversation and some laughs. They have seen both my DH and I step up to the plate to look after the family come what may; illness, challenges, career difficulties, etc. while still keeping our commitment to them and to our employers.

It's possible. I've never posted to this blog before, because too often people seem to take an "all or nothing" approach. Either you are a traitor to feminine kind if you stay home, or you betray women and children if you don't. Ach! My long view is that no matter what you think you want, life will find a way to impose changes on the plan and children, husbands, wives, and the family as a unit will adapt and flourish if you keep your eye on the prize, which is a strong family life and grown children who are, what did I say? Compassionate, respectful of others, funny, energetic, engaged citizens.

Also, in reference to some of the comments last week, I think, I would just like to say that my DH was born in, gasp, 1954 and he is the very model of the 'new dad.' Someone said they thought someone born in 1958 wasn't going to be that dad? I don't think it has anything to do with age, more with the person's own relationship with his parents and his ability to learn -- and some of the old guys are good at that!

Posted by: Very Old Mother | September 12, 2006 5:11 PM

"This idea that keeping a house clean and relatively germ and rodent free and preparing food for your family is inherently anti-feminist is JUST STUPID."

I think the idea is that some people believe relying on your sex life for your income is anti-feminist (although some other people do not believe it's anti-feminist). For example, a housewife in one house and a maid in another may do exactly the same cleaning, disinfecting, cooking, etc. tasks...

...but which one of them risks losing that position and becoming poorer financially if she says "not tonight, I have a headache" or "not unless you wear a condom" or "not anymore since you just cheated on me" more than her sex partner wants?

Posted by: Maria | September 12, 2006 5:18 PM

Do we pass the time? Absolutely. Is this intellectual? Absolutely not. On any given day there will be slogfests in the mosh pit over the minutest of details, the degrading of other people's choices, wailing and gnashing of teeth because someone has the gall to have more resources than someone else. I cannot judge anyone else's choices: I can, however, ask them what they want and help them achieve that goal. That is how I was able to do it myself--I asked myself what MY goals were (not what someone else wanted me to do, i.e., dad wants me to go to law school, he says I will be wasting my college education if I take that flexible but unprofessional job), and thought long and hard about how to make them happen. I had to be sure of the goals, however, before I spent considerable time and energy working towards them. Life is one long balancing act (Dr. Seuss). Sometimes you need a little help. It could look like daycare, or a nanny, a cleaning service, a class in how to manage a home, a website, dry cleaning pick-up, etc. It could be medication because trying to balance it all is seriously depressing you.

Posted by: parttimer | September 12, 2006 5:28 PM

Okay, no name person, I thought it was directed at me because I said I talked differently around my dad and sister, so maybe I was wrong, but you are right that people have went off today. I am sorry I ever said plain English.

Posted by: scarry | September 12, 2006 5:28 PM

Maria, despite your apparent experience, not all men have a "caveman" give-me-sex or I'll divorce you mentality.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2006 5:30 PM

Amazing that Leslie can even get anyone to guest blog, the way they are picked apart for what they say. Heather was just telling her story. Jeez.

Posted by: Suzy | September 12, 2006 5:30 PM

Maria, despite your apparent experience, not all men have a "caveman" give-me-sex or I'll divorce you mentality.

Posted by: | September 12, 2006 05:30 PM

Yeah, and what's up with the assumption that comes up on this blog fairly often that it's always the woman who doesn't want to have sex? I know plenty of couples where it's the man who isn't interested, much to the woman's chagrin.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2006 5:38 PM

"Maria, despite your apparent experience, not all men have a 'caveman' give-me-sex or I'll divorce you mentality."

What's so prehistoric about someone wanting sexual compatibility in a sexual relationship, being free to break up with his sex partner if he or she is unsatisfied with their relationship, and expecting his or her marriage to be a sexual relationship?

Posted by: Maria | September 12, 2006 5:42 PM

"Yeah, and what's up with the assumption that comes up on this blog fairly often that it's always the woman who doesn't want to have sex?"

I wasn't assuming that it's always the woman who doesn't want to have sex. I was giving one example of how the more your income depends on your marriage, the more your income depends on your sex life. Of course the same risk applies to househusbands as it does to housewives.

Posted by: Maria | September 12, 2006 5:46 PM

Sorry, Maria, I actually didn't mean you specifically, it was more the response to you that made me think of it, and it does seem to pop up occassionally.

Posted by: 5:38 Again | September 12, 2006 6:08 PM

I have no idea what LMAO means?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2006 6:13 PM

LMAO stands for Laughing My Ass Off and ROFLMAO stands for Rolling On the Floor Laughing My Ass Off, hence this:
http://www.forumspile.com/LOL-ROFL_Mao.gif

Posted by: Maria | September 12, 2006 6:23 PM

"I have no idea what LMAO means?"

It means: I spend a lot of time online and have gotten too lazy to write out actual words and therefore I use acronyms that only other people who, like me, spend so much time online that they can't be bothered to type out the words will comprehend.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2006 6:26 PM

"Amazing that Leslie can even get anyone to guest blog, the way they are picked apart for what they say. Heather was just telling her story. Jeez."

You think it's bad *here*? Go see http://www.somethingawful.com/weekendweb/...

Posted by: Maria | September 12, 2006 6:28 PM

To Very Old Mother - Inspring post. Thanks so much.

To parttimer - "It could be medication because trying to balance it all is seriously depressing you."

Love it!

Posted by: Sam | September 12, 2006 9:07 PM

Laura & DadWannaBe ROCK! Thanks, once again, for your reasoned, good-faith outlooks!

I'm reminded of William F. Buckley writing that he received a letter (this was a long time ago) calling him a retromingent SOB. And he mused that it wasn't often he had to look a word up, but in the end, he found this one amusing.

I think that's in a different class than today's words. I'll propose some of my favorites for tomorrow discussion: lambent, pellucid and concatenation.

Posted by: EngineerWannaBe | September 12, 2006 9:14 PM

"I have no idea what LMAO means?"

It means: I spend a lot of time online and have gotten too lazy to write out actual words and therefore I use acronyms that only other people who, like me, spend so much time online that they can't be bothered to type out the words will comprehend.

Good. Now try and guess what Kiss M. A. stands for.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2006 9:39 PM

Equal (one of the first posts) - thanks for sharing your balancing solution. I am due in November with our first baby and my husband and I have come up with a similar solution of sharing the childcare duties by cutting down a little at both our jobs. It is nice to hear such positive results in your balancing act and it gives me encouragement that we can make it work.

Posted by: momtobe | September 12, 2006 10:00 PM

"This idea that keeping a house clean and relatively germ and rodent free and preparing food for your family is inherently anti-feminist is JUST STUPID."

Sigh. I'll explain it once more:

Feminism is NOT against a clean house or babies, or family, or any formally woman-centric things. Feminism is FOR sharing these responsibilities with men. When men eqaully share the house keeping and child rearing, women have all the same options as men (working, travelling, etc.). That's the goal of feminism. Having a TRUE family unit where the husband and wife are a TRUE partnership and no one is left with the majority of one responsibility (men working, women rasing kids and cleaning house).

When a women decides to shift back to traditional gender roels and stay at home, she is going against feminism because the burden of providing for the family is left solely to the husband and the responsibility of housekeeping and child rearing are left solely to the women. That is not feminism.

PLEASE do not discuss feminism if you have no idea what its tennants are. You make yourself look ignorant and perpetuate the wrong interpretation of a worthy movement.

Posted by: Meesh | September 13, 2006 8:53 AM

"When a women decides to shift back to traditional gender roels and stay at home, she is going against feminism because the burden of providing for the family is left solely to the husband and the responsibility of housekeeping and child rearing are left solely to the women. That is not feminism."

Then feminism is not about giving women more choices - it has already made the most critical ones for them. No wonder fewer and fewer women identify themselves as feminists - they want to be able to make the choices that make the most sense for them. Being told what they must do and how they must live by a feminist theorist is no more palatable than
told what to do and how to live by a patriarch.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 13, 2006 9:30 AM

Meesh, you give a good definition of feminism, but I disagree slightly. My husband is the sole bread winner, and he also shares in child rearing and does most of the cooking. The cleaning people clean the house, because I refuse to do that, and have the luxury to do so. Please leave room in your definition for feminist stay at home moms. We are teaching our daughters the feminist ideals. (And if the third and fourth child hadn't come along, I would have gone back to work long ago. Don't get me started on birth control failure!)

Posted by: experienced mom | September 13, 2006 9:37 AM

I have a simple query (or is that a $5 word for question?), are there 10 million words in simple English?

And why dost thou keep remonstrating when others copious assertions are far too sagacious for thy diminutive comprehension?

I learned Chinese, and every time I learned a new word, it would lead to four or five other new words. People treated me differently and spoke to me differently when not speaking "redneckian/grade schoolese." Cowboy up, learn something new. Unless you want to be treated like a fourth grader.

Posted by: Mr. EstrogenCentral | September 13, 2006 10:17 AM

Meesh - take a look at my original comment, I agree with you on the shared duties point, too bad you decided to say that I 'look ignorant' when you're the one who didn't read what I said. What I said yesterday:

"somebody has to clean the house, feed the kids, etc if you don't have money for a housekeeper or a cook, etc. At least part of it has to be done by you. The other parts should be done by your partner, if you have one. This idea that keeping a house clean and relatively germ and rodent free and preparing food for your family is inherently anti-feminist is JUST STUPID."

Note the clear reference to shared household duties between partners. There's no question that feminists - male (my husband) and female (myself) believe that the kinds of duties that a SAHM becomes primarily responsible for should still be shared. That's part of the dictionary definition of feminism (belief in the inherent equality of the sexes) that someone else wisely shared with the blog yesterday. Somebody has to grocery shop, scrub the bathtub and change diapers. Whether it's a male or a female feminist and whether one or both work or not, you cannot convince me (or a lot of other people on this thread, apparently) that doing those kinds things that keep a household running somehow means that it's impossible to believe in the equality of the sexes.

You also made some interesting assumptions when you wrote that when woman is a SAHM that she does 100% of the household duties and that the man brings home 100% of the household income. Well that's not very common, especially around here. Between freelancing (another optioned mentioned by a SAHM yesterday) and husbands continuing to do things like housecleaning, diaper changing, etc, I'd venture a guess that not many families with a SAHP break down into the black and white 100% division of labor you envisioned.

Posted by: STILL whatever - this time for Meesh | September 13, 2006 11:57 AM

Yeah, birth control can and should be re-vamped and improved. After all, it's what helped feminists start the movement!

Ideally, men share all the family responsibility with women.

I, for one, think this is something all women and men should aspire to. I think that most women on this blog agree because I hear a lot about how DH won't change diapers or DH has to work late, etc.

I you don't agree that this is ideal, then I have nothing to talk to you about.

Feminism strives to empower all women to be financially independant. In the past, women where essentially domestic servants who could not live on their own because they had no work experience and who cooked and cleaned for room and board. This is, of course, extreme, but you get the point.

So today women should be concerned with having thier own incomes and jobs so that they would never have to depend on a man, and therefore risk poverty.

If you are already financially independant, then you don't really need to worry about feminism, do you? You can teach it and spread the word, but you don't need to live it.

Of course things change and you need to do what is best for your family. I was out of work for 6 months after we moved. I was dependant on my husband, which made things stressful at home because I wanted to work. But we had to do it, and we did it together. Through it all, my goal was financial independance.

If you're at home because you have to be, fine. If you're at home because you can afford it, fine. But if you're home because you've been brainwashed by the patriarchy that only you can care for your child and only you can keep that house spotless and only you have the responsibility of running the family, then you are most certainly not a feminist.

Posted by: Meesh | September 13, 2006 12:14 PM

I read what you wrote. I was telling you that feminism does not proport what you said it did. You made those points by way of explaining why feminism is wrong, which is dumb because you agree with feminism, you just don't know it.

"Whether it's a male or a female feminist and whether one or both work or not, you cannot convince me (or a lot of other people on this thread, apparently) that doing those kinds things that keep a household running somehow means that it's impossible to believe in the equality of the sexes"

No one is trying to convince you of that. Of course it needs to get done. No one said that you in order to be a feminist you have to live in a cave covered in your own filth.

Here is the difference: It's not "somebody" has to do it, it's "everybody" has to do it. How often do I see women complaining "well, it's got to get done, and when he forgets, I do it! Someone's got to!" Very often, that "someone" is you because it's esaier to just do it all than let it go until tomorrow. How do you think the original idea of feminism (equality between partners) turned into "women have to have the perfect job, perfect kids, and perfect house all while keeping hubby happy and looking gorgeous"? Men can't be seen as "helping you" with the housework. They are simply doing what has to get done. If that happens in your household, fantastic.

And I do assume that women who stay home do the majority of the cleaning and cooking and child rearing. I did not say 100%, because that would be wrong. And I didn't imply that men bring 100% of income, because that would also be wrong. This day and age in SAHM land, men will lend token support because it's expected, and women will earn token income because technology has made it possible. However, equality and financial independance do not exist when the man brings home the majority of the money and the woman does the majority of work in the home realm.

Posted by: Meesh | September 13, 2006 12:44 PM

A couple of thoughts. It's really annoying when people insist that the only people who have a parent at home are the well off. I and a lot of other parents I know have spent time literally living in poverty in order to have a parent home. Other people disagreed with out choice and thought we were doing our children a disservice by making some pretty extreme sacrifices to have a parent home. That was our choice and although it was really, really hard, we're glad we did it. Besides, two income families consistantly out earn one income families so the whole idea that living on one income is some luxury only attainable by those priveleged enough to make gobs of money is just malarky.
Also, I was a single mom for 3 years before getting married and I took a job making poverty wages as a nanny because the family allowed me to bring my son with. It may not be a choice you would want to make, but where there's a will there's a way. It's perfectly fine to say, "I'm not willing to make that choice", but it always seems dishonest to me that so many people insist "I have no choice". I know some people don't, but not nearly as many as make the claim.
Second, I think that we should reconsider whether independence is the ultimate goal for each person. It seems to me that interdependence is a higher goal. There was a study put out earlier this year which found that couples who approach their marriage holding on to the possibility that it might not work are far more likely to get divorced and are less happy in their marriages than couples who look at their marriages as committments which they could not get out of except under the most extreme and very rare circumstances. The idea that by staying home a parent makes themselves dependant on their spouse has always seemed silly to me - they're interdependant which is a good thing in a marriage. Sure it could go bad, life is filled with uncertainty. If on the off chance things don't work, you pick yourself up, dust off and make a way.
www.theupsidedownworld.blogspot.com

Posted by: Rebeccat | September 13, 2006 3:20 PM

I thought that the goal of feminism was to teach everyone that men and women are equal as human beings and should be treated that way. As far as I know or care, it has nothing to do with making a man share equally in household chores if he doesn't want to. Or forcing a woman to have a job when she can and would like to stay at home with her young child(ren).

The unhappiest marriages I know of are the ones where the woman is constantly complaining that her husband won't do "his share" of the household work, when what these women actually do is spend way too much time toting up the balance scale of who washed dishes vs who made the bed. What a sorry mess.

Posted by: Lynn | September 13, 2006 3:34 PM

"If you are already financially independant, then you don't really need to worry about feminism, do you? You can teach it and spread the word, but you don't need to live it."

That's ridiculous. My mother is financially independent and she is a great feminist role model. Her choice to lead her life her way LED to her financial independence.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 13, 2006 3:36 PM

This is ridiculous to be bashing this author this way. I am a soon-to-be stay-at-home mom who has a law degree and worked in a law firm but decided to put that on the back burner for now to do the most important thing I can imagine doing - being a full-time mother. I congratulate the author for making a difficult choice and putting family above all other things. It sounds to me that she has her priorities in order. Of course not everyone has the option to do this, but I don't think she was bashing people who do not stay home, unlike those that are bashing her.

It seems to me that being a true feminist amounts to supporting other women in their choices and celebrating what makes women special and different than men. One of those things is the fact that we can be mothers. We should enjoy that in every way we can, however we choose to do that.

I also don't totally agree with people saying they CAN'T be a SAHM. My husband and I had to give up lots of things and completely change our lifestyle to do this one one income. Now I know there are single moms out there who many not be able to do it, but I think MANY people can if that is truly what they want. If not, that's fine. I don't look down upon those who decide to go back to work, just as THEY should not look down on those of us who choose to stay home with our children.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 13, 2006 3:58 PM

"It's really annoying when people insist that the only people who have a parent at home are the well off."

Yes, the people who say this aren't looking around them. I know more middle-class women who are staying home with their kids than upper middle. Most of the women I know who have very young children and continue full-time work are the ones who have high-paying (above $50,000 a year) jobs. I also know many lower-class women who stay home with their kids. Yes, they just might be "middle class" if they also worked, but they definitely fall into that situation where the combined family income would be LESS due to the costs of daycare, transportation, etc.

Posted by: SJ | September 13, 2006 4:27 PM

Meesh- I haven't hear feminism explained that eloquently in years. I 100% agree with you. I think on almost everything - well done!

Posted by: Erin | September 13, 2006 4:33 PM

Sigh. I'll explain it once more:

Feminism is NOT against a clean house or babies, or family, or any formally woman-centric things. Feminism is FOR sharing these responsibilities with men. When men eqaully share the house keeping and child rearing, women have all the same options as men (working, travelling, etc.). That's the goal of feminism. Having a TRUE family unit where the husband and wife are a TRUE partnership and no one is left with the majority of one responsibility (men working, women rasing kids and cleaning house).

When a women decides to shift back to traditional gender roels and stay at home, she is going against feminism because the burden of providing for the family is left solely to the husband and the responsibility of housekeeping and child rearing are left solely to the women. That is not feminism.

=====

Meesh--I have to say that I disagree with you. I think you've taken an ideal and taken it to an extreme.

As far as I'm concerned, feminism is about ensuring that men and women have equal choices in both work and home life.

Obviously, a single parent doesn't apply since a single parent doesn't have choices about what to do and makes their appropriate choices. But in a marriage, two people make choices as appropriate for their situation. And to imply that once they've analyzed their situation and made their choices that they are "going against feminism" is just plain wrong.

If two partners evaluate their situation and decide that the wife *PREFERS* to stay at home and they can afford to live on the husband's salary, that is a choice. If they evaluated both options of the SAHD/WOHM vs the SAHM/WOHD and they decided as a couple that the one option was better, this is true feminism at work. They had the equal options and they made their decision. I find the notion that this kind of decision making is anti-feminism is reverse sexism of the worst sort. These women had the choice to stay at home or to work. They chose to stay at home. They teach the idea that they children of either gender can aspire to any goals and can again make the choice with their mate about whether to be a two-income or one-income family, to raise kids or not raise kids, and once they do, to be a SAHP or WOHP. I think that teaching daughters that they have to accept non-tradional gender roles is as sexist as saying that they have to accept traditional gender roles. The point is to have the equal choice not based on gender. Period.

As for sharing traditional tasks, again, that is preference. Provided that these tasks are not assigned, but partners decide to do either what they are better at or prefer to do, that is feminism. It's when traditional gender roles are assigned rather than chosen that there is sexism. If a man can cook, but isn't a good cook, and the wife likes to cook so does the cooking, why is this "against feminism?" If a wife has pollen/grass allergies, so her husband does the yard work and she picks up the house while he's doing it--thus sharing the housework, why is this "against feminism"? They could trade, she could be miserable, but this would be feminism at work?

Having such a black and white picture of feminism and decrying those who don't fit is far too judgemental in my opinion.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | September 13, 2006 4:36 PM

The feminism debate is very interesting. I can see both sides. One side says that staying at home to keep house and raise kids is antifeminist because the responsibilities of making the money and tending the home fires are not being equally shared by men and women. This point does have its merits. If men are the ones out in the world making the business decisions and the money, we run the risk that the needs and concerns of women will be overlooked because they are not in the marketplace making their voices heard. On the other hand, if women, for the sake of feminism, cannot stay at home to raise their kids if that is what they really want to do, what good is feminism to them if it is not making them happy and meeting their needs?

Luckily, it is not so black and white anymore. While many women choose to stay at home for some time while they are raising kids, the concept of housewife as a permanent career is out of date these days. I know many women who are or have been stay at home moms. I don't know any who have decided that they will never go back to work once they have kids or get married. So the idea that you are eroding feminism by staying at home is not so strong once you take into account that the staying at home stint may only last a few years.

But I do agree that the mindset that mothers and wives belong exclusively at home is bad for women, because there are so many other options out there that can be better suited to our temperaments and ambitions. Luckily, I think this mindset has changed. And I like the current trends toward working, going on a sabbatical to have kids, going partime to have kids, or even using daycare when you have kids. They are options. The fact that so many different people do it so many different ways proves that these are choices and no longer socially imposed requirements or obligations. And I do think, over time, that more men will begin to follow these trends as well. Rome wasn't built in a day.

Posted by: Rockvillle | September 13, 2006 4:54 PM

It's interesting that a woman who stays home with her child is going "against feminism", unless the child has special needs and then the mother is just doing what she ought to do so that her child can have all the best therapy and treatment. So why can't a mom stay home if the child doesn't have special needs?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 13, 2006 5:23 PM

everyone has choices. some are obvious, others are not. some people want to work, some want to stay home. both are fine options. however, i don't accept the argument that we're not all in the upper-financial-echelon and can't stay home. these people also have choices - to do without cable, to share one car, to move to another state or neighborhood. the last, i feel, may be the best way to save money. since leaving d.c., i've been amazed at the affordability and relative simplicity of life (in pa). the move may make it possible for you (as it did for me) to stay home with your kids. just a thought.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 13, 2006 11:22 PM

I'm trying to figure out what in the h*ll in my post made you think that I was arguing against feminism, or that I'm a feminist and 'just don't know it'. Uh, I do know it, I am a feminist, I just happen to be a feminist who disagrees with you over whether you can be one AND be a SAHM. Save your self-righteousness.

Posted by: Whatever, Meesh | September 14, 2006 12:29 AM

The idea that men and women must be completely the same in all actions and responsibilities is not only stupid and unrealistic, but profoundly mysogenistic. It says that the only way a woman can be equal to a man is if she is doing what a man does. Since when did measuring what is worthwhile by what men do become pro-woman? This is the same mindset which looks down on traditionally female pursuits because if they are worth doing - why aren't men doing them (and yes, I have actually heard this argument repeatedly, no straw man argument needed here). Isn't it pretty much the definition of mysogeny to be hostile towards women/womanly things? Yet there is an unfortunate strain of feminism which is based on just that idea- that what is admirable and worth doing is measured by what men do. What rubbish. I'm really shocked that anyone actually advocates this anymore. If a family decides to keep a parent home to care for their children, this is a completely fair division of labor, not a repudiation of feminist ideals of equality. Worth is measured by far more than monetary gain. One need not be the same in order to be equal. Duh.

Posted by: Rebeccat | September 14, 2006 11:15 AM

"One need not be the same in order to be equal."

The Supreme Court of 1954 disagrees with you.

Posted by: To Rebecca | September 14, 2006 11:46 AM

I agree with Rebecca. The idea that raising children is somehow less valuable than making money IS misogynist. We will have a truly just society when the contributions made by women are valued as much as those made by men. This will be really hard to do. Many people provide lip service to the virtues of women raising children, when it is all just a front for disempowering women and limiting them to the home sphere. Without practical policy that provides women who raise children with certain protections and security, the lip service toward their lofty mission means nothing. But the solution is not to abandon all things womanly as worthless and insist that women can only be powerful if they aspire to be just like men. This is just as ridiculous. I guess the solution is to redefine roles that have heretofore been considered women's roles, show that they are necessary and worthwhile, and compensate them accordingly.

Posted by: Rockville | September 14, 2006 11:50 AM

"We will have a truly just society when the contributions made by women are valued as much as those made by men. This will be really hard to do. Many people provide lip service to the virtues of women raising children, when it is all just a front for disempowering women and limiting them to the home sphere. Without practical policy that provides women who raise children with certain protections and security, the lip service toward their lofty mission means nothing."

WHO, exactly, is going to make these practical policy changes if the people who actually care about them and are affected are staying home to parent? WAKE. UP. It is all lip service - if society valued care-givers, then we would pay our teachers, day care professionals and elder care professionals more. We don't. Plus, why on earth should government be in a place to give stay-at-home moms "certain protections" and security?

Posted by: WHAT??? | September 14, 2006 1:50 PM

"Plus, why on earth should government be in a place to give stay-at-home moms "certain protections" and security?"

It won't - and that's largely due to your brand of feminism. If most women see stay-at-home moms as turning their backs on their own potential and making a foolish choice, there will never be the political support to make policy decisions that are designed to be friendly to stay-at-home moms.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 14, 2006 3:22 PM

"and that's largely due to your brand of feminism. If most women see stay-at-home moms as turning their backs on their own potential..."
That is SO CUTE. Don't you love how it's STILL women who are in charge of other womens' success & failures? How about men making the political support for stay-at-home moms? Since there are only 14 women in the Senate and 24 out of 435 in the House of Representatives, how, pray tell, do you think WOMEN are responsible for the governmental legacy of lack of support for SAHMs? Your cute little "allegation" about "my" brand of feminism hurting all these poor, insipid SAHMs, who apparently have no political will or power for themselves to get their OWN policies enacted, would only be true if women comprised half of the decisionmaking governmental bodies, which, obviously, THEY DON'T. It simply isn't for the government to "subsidize" SAHMs. Don't we hear every day on this blog how women are "sacrificing" so they can "do the most imporant thing" of their lives - to stay at home with their kids? Government doesn't exist to support questionable social decisions made by individual families.

Posted by: Erin | September 14, 2006 9:21 PM

"Government doesn't exist to support questionable social decisions made by individual families."

This is what's really so cute - the blanket assumption that SAHM's are making a "questionable social decision." Many of us a far, far more interested in the quality of our family lives than we are in feminist theory. If you want to make it easier for me to work part or full-time - which might make it more likely that I'd make that choice - then I'm all for it. But don't tell me that my choice is, by definition, suspect just because it doesn't fit your pet social theory.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 15, 2006 12:14 PM

"If you want to make it easier for me to work part or full-time - which might make it more likely that I'd make that choice - then I'm all for it."

Why don't you take that up with your husband? Why do you expect OTHER women who have stayed in the work force to make your choice easier?

Posted by: Erin | September 15, 2006 12:47 PM

"Why don't you take that up with your husband? Why do you expect OTHER women who have stayed in the work force to make your choice easier?"

Let me be blunt. If you want me to validate and support, politically or otherwise, the choice you prefer, you're going to have to reciprocate and support my choice to be a SAHM. If, instead, you persist in telling me that it is somehow questionable, second rate or not socially responsible (without knowing anything about me or my situation) then forget it - you've written me and women like me off, and I feel under no obligation to validate or support you.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 15, 2006 2:00 PM

OK, because I don't want you to: "validate and support, politically or otherwise, the choice you prefer."

Here is a question for you - if staying at home is truly a choice (a term which is bandied about quite frequently, esp. with regard to "choice feminism," etc.) - do you believe in alimony? Not child support, but alimony?

If staying home is a choice, then you chose to remove yourself from the workforce and your husband shouldn't be penalized for your choice should you decide to separate.

Can I say in all honesty, too, that I appreciate this back and forth? You have made me challenge a few of my own assertions, and I appreciate that. Thanks for continuing the conversation with me.

Posted by: Erin | September 15, 2006 2:56 PM

Staying home or trying to do both home and working outside the home. The decision is never easy and sometimes the decision is taken away because of different needs; a special needs child or maybe double income to support the family, etc. etc. I applaud Heather for her decision especially since she is right you can have everything just not all at the same time. Enjoy your children Heather they will give you joy untold.

Posted by: Pat McCarthy | September 15, 2006 4:55 PM

Here is a question for you - if staying at home is truly a choice (a term which is bandied about quite frequently, esp. with regard to "choice feminism," etc.) - do you believe in alimony? Not child support, but alimony?

If staying home is a choice, then you chose to remove yourself from the workforce and your husband shouldn't be penalized for your choice should you decide to separate.

Let me state my perspective. The choice for one parent to stay at home is usually come to as a joint decision between spouses because it benefits the family, not just one of the spouses. The working spouse can concentrate on career if the stay at home spouse takes up the slack with the child raising duties. This often makes family life less stressful for both parents, and it often allows the working spouse to grow in their career in a way that would be impossible if they had to pick up their child at daycare at 6:00 pm every other day. In my family, we chose for one parent to stay home because we just don't like the general frenzy of having two people working, rushing to get home, rushing to cook dinner, rushing to do homework, stressing over who gets to work late, etc. Having one person at home makes life just so much easier, and the working spouse definitely derives clear benefits from this arrangement.

Since we made this decision jointly, neither of us should be penalized for that choice. I think that the stay at home parent should be guaranteed, in writing, that if the marriage dissolves, that the working parent will provide support to the at home parent for a reasonable time until the at home parent can find appropriate employment. I don't think this is penalizing the working parent, who benefitted from the fact that his/her spouse stayed at home. It is fair that in the case of divorce, the working parent somehow compensate the stay at home parent for the work that the stay at home parent provided at home. That is why I believe in prenups and postnups. I also believe in alimony for this purpose.

Posted by: Rockville | September 15, 2006 4:57 PM

"If you want to make it easier for me to work part or full-time - which might make it more likely that I'd make that choice - then I'm all for it."
Why don't you take that up with your husband? Why do you expect OTHER women who have stayed in the work force to make your choice easier?

Because legislating some practical equity for stay at home parents is good for women and good for families. We make a lot of policy decisions that provide incentives for making particular choices because we believe this is good for society. For example, we believe that home ownership is good, so we provide tax breaks for people who own homes. We believe in the value of educating our children, so we provide public schools for people who have children. We believe business is good for the economy, so we have myriad tax and other government benefits for business out there, big and small. Why not decide that raising children is another benefit to society that deserves to be compensated? After all, raising children is providing our society with human capital.

Posted by: Rockville | September 15, 2006 5:23 PM

"OK, because I don't want you to: "validate and support, politically or otherwise, the choice you prefer.""

Thanks for being honest - you've provided an fascinating. If you really don't care what SAHMs think, and don't care whether or not we support women's workplace issues, then we really don't have much to talk about.

I think that's sad, and rather shortsighted, though. My daughter may well make different choices than I do - or be forced into them by economics, a failed marriage, or something else. Beyond that, I believe women who work outside the home are much more likely to get what they want and need politically if SAHMs support their causes - and SAHMs are more likely to get what they want (which more and more is simple respect) if working women understand and support them.

Bottom line - it's sad if we're reached the point where SAHMs turn to working women for support and are told "why are you asking me for validation - go ask your husband."

Posted by: Anonymous | September 18, 2006 9:22 AM

To whatev,
Thank goodness someone has a balanced view about class privileges. Here in Rome, Italy I see the collateral effects of globalization. Working mothers without time for their children hire Filipino women to take care of them. The Filipino women have left their children in the care of their families back home.

How is that for balance? To me it looks like the dividing line of wealth and poverty is balanced on the backs of kids who are learning life's most important lesson: money is everything.

Posted by: Peter | September 18, 2006 9:26 AM

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