Life After Mary Poppins

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 Reshma Memon Yaqub

Gimme a nine-letter word for "freedom".

P-R-E-S-C-H-O-O-L.

I can't tell you how long I waited for Zach, my youngest, to start preschool. Oh, wait... yes, I can! Two years, eight months and 30 days.

Shortly after Zach was born, I quit working. And by working, I mean working for actual money. I worked through my older son's first few years. He had the most remarkable nanny (Mary Poppins, complete with British accent) six hours a day, hours that I used to churn out thoughtful prose in exchange for cold cash.

When Zach was born, however, Ms. Poppins informed me that caring for two children cost significantly more than caring for one. At the same time, my brain had pretty much dried up (caring for a night owl newborn may have filled my heart, but it definitely depleted my brain). So I decided to let Poppins go and do the whole stay-at-home mom thing. My husband was all for it, despite the serious crimp in our finances. Instead of putting away a little each month, as we'd been used to doing, we're now kin to credit card debt.

Shortly before Poppins left, I accepted a large freelance assignment, a magazine story I really wanted to write. It's now going on three years, and I still haven't written it. My editor (L.R.) has been incredibly understanding. Her patience, it seems, has worn thin after three years of me lollygagging about, managing debris, microwaving macaroni, screaming bloody murder, intermittently showering, tucking people in, getting drippy with love, wondering if changing bedtime to 6 p.m. might be considered child abuse, calculating the number of hours 'til preschool started. After three years of my, essentially, not working, L.R. recently informed me that if I don't get this story done this fall, she's finding another writer for it.

OK, so back to Zach starting preschool. I now have 2.5 hours a day, four days a week, to work. Of course, if you count commuting time back and forth from school, it's 2 hours. So eight hours a week. Should be enough time to get something done, shouldn't it? Problem is, it's also the only free time, completely unaccounted for, that I've had in six
and half years, since my oldest son was born. Full-time motherhood is work even if I don't have a paycheck to prove it. Before I start my new job -- I do plan to complete this story that I long ago promised -- I need a couple of two hour installments of actual free time to restart my depleted brain.

Reshma Memon Yaqub is a Pakistani-American writer and stay-at-home mom. She lives in Gaithersburg, Md., with her husband and two sons.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  October 17, 2006; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Guest Blogs
Previous: Raising Balanced Kids | Next: Breaking Down Parents' Time


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Comments

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"Problem is, it's also the only free time, completely unaccounted for, that I've had in six and half years, since my oldest son was born"

Sounds like your husband has really dropped the ball on this. Why can't he watch the kids while you have some free time to yourself??? Sounds unbalanced to me.

Posted by: Father of 2 | October 17, 2006 7:27 AM

I agree with father of 2. No where in your entry does it say he helps at all. You should have a few hours every night to write while he watches the kids.

Posted by: scarry | October 17, 2006 7:50 AM

Sorry, but based only on the entry and w/o knowing anymore, I have to agree with the first two posters. Maybe you omitted some pertinent information. But going on what you have written, your husband should be giving you some alone time to write (or do whatever else you need to do).
Good luck and I hope you get your article written.

Posted by: JS | October 17, 2006 8:02 AM

I'm not sure the dad dropped the ball (talk about reading between the lines!). For all we know, Dad DOES give Mom an hour or two a night so she can chill and relax. But I see that as different from giving Mom time to write a long article. Maybe Dad can (should?) give Mom the 20-30 hours a week so she can do freelance work but I'm not dinging him because he hasn't so far.

What I find sad is that she has been WAITING for her son to go to preschool since his birth. While I'm glad for the free time (2 1/2 hours a day) now that my son has started preschool, I find myself going to his school early to wait for him.

Posted by: Mom of 2 | October 17, 2006 8:02 AM

I always love to hear perspectives from the guest blogosphere, but this one scares me. I manage to work about 20 hours most weeks with no Poppins and one child (nap times, plus evenings, plus weekends, plus occasional swaps with mom-friends). I have this vision of doing the same thing with two children some day, once I get past the first few months of no sleep. Am I insane? (Maybe no one should answer that.) :)

Posted by: VAMom | October 17, 2006 8:04 AM

I find it kind of sad that in three years you have not had enough time to write an article. I guess it depends on how much research goes into writing an article. What an understanding boss to wait 3 years for an article. Also Leslie, can you get some people who are NOT writers on this blog. I think it is a very biased point of view. Writers seem to have an enormous amount of flexibility in their jobs (3 year assignments) and it does not seem reflective of most peoples work/life situation.

Posted by: foamgnome | October 17, 2006 8:10 AM

I am a SAHM and a few months ago, about 9 months after becoming a SAHM, I took an assignment to do some writing on contract. I thought that I'd be able to work during my daughter's long naps (3-4 hrs daily). You can imagine my surprise and contempt when my daughter decided to quit her pacifier about 2 days before my time-sensitive work began (of course I was thrilled but ugh, what bad timing!!) The 4 hour naps became about 1 hour, and I ended up doing most of the work on the weekend when my husband could take her out and in the evening (8 till midnight). I was exhausted, but still was glad to have my first professional responsibility in nearly a year. It was a tough balance.

I guess I don't understand the gist of today's topic - you had a nanny, had to give her up, have been sitting on an assignment for 3 years, and you're thrilled you child is starting preschool but realizing you still don't have enough time to do it all......is that it?

I'm counting the days till preschool too if that makes you feel any better! When she was pitching some major tantrums earlier this summer I signed her up for preschool more than a year in advance! LOL

Posted by: Vienna mom | October 17, 2006 8:11 AM

After 6 weeks of maternity leave, I worked 12 30- to 32-hour weeks mostly from home. My husband watched the baby until noon 2 days a week while I went to the office. It was really hard getting work done at home, but I learned to type one-handed and could edit work while the baby was sleeping - I'd have her and all my papers slung all over the bed! She isn't much of a napper, I'd only get about 30-45 minutes 2-3 times a day.

Now that I'm back at work, I can sometimes muster enough energy to get some work done after I get her to bed.

Maybe the guest blogger's boys are much more energetic or demanding than my daughter, but I would hope that she can figure out a way to get her work done and perhaps ask for a bit of relief from her husband. I am fortunate that my husband is usually more than happy to get some time alone with the baby.

Posted by: MaryB | October 17, 2006 8:17 AM

VAMom -- harder with two, yes. But working to have them nap or rest at the same time helps greatly.

Reshma -- I found (find, as I still work free-lance) that once children were in the mix, I had to become flexible with my work pattern. Huge blocks of free time? Ain't gunna happen. But, keep notes in whatever way you can. Outline in your mind. Limit the work cycle to chunks. "I can write two paragraphs today on statistics." or "Let me research for fifteen minutes on Google, looking for two cases to profile.

When my children were little, an editor sent me a small digital recording device as a gift. I spoke into this lighter-sized "thingie" when they were playing, etc. Eventually I wore it around my neck. I see lots of them around in the 25-40 price range. Staples has one brand called, "Executive-Speak" or some such silly name.

Another mom I know uses her Palm Pilot at the playground to make notes to herself on writing projects.

But most important is the exercise piece. If you are tired -- what parent is not -- you will not be efficient or energetic during the day or week. Squeeze the exercise in the day routine. You can make yourself lift weights during TV time, use a Pilates video, or do yoga poses. Walking/running with a jog stroller is also helpful. Try for fifteen minutes.

So, parse the time differently. Instead of being the "One minute Manager," you can find 15 minutes here and there to at least jump-start a project.

Posted by: College Parkian | October 17, 2006 8:19 AM

This post made me laugh. The mom sounds so much like me. I admire women like VAMom who manage to squeeze productivity out of all of their children's sleeping hours, but for the life of me, I can't make myself one of 'em. My kid goes to bed and all I want is a cocktail, dinner, and some mindless drivel to watch or read. Heaven only knows how I'm going to pass the bar in February -- I guess a personality transplant is in order.

Posted by: NewSAHM | October 17, 2006 8:21 AM

i remember an article about 10 years back in the Cavalier Daily at UVA about a single mom of 2 who was living on campus with her kids, pursuing her underhrad degree as a fulltime student. Now THAT is work. Sorry, if you're having that many problems with a husband, 2 kids, and THREE YEARS to do one assignment, then you have severe time management/motivation issues.

Posted by: Oh Please | October 17, 2006 8:21 AM

Mom of 2 wrote "For all we know, Dad DOES give Mom an hour or two a night so she can chill and relax."

Reshma wrote "Problem is, it's also the only free time, completely unaccounted for, that I've had in six and half years, since my oldest son was born."

No reading between the lines here. She SPECIFICALLY says she has NOT had any free time (aka chill time) in 6 1/2 years.

Posted by: Father of 2 | October 17, 2006 8:22 AM

Reshma - thanks for contributing your story but I don't relate to much of what you wrote. I have 2 kids and work part-time, have a house, a husband, a dog and 2 cats, but our 2 outlooks could not be more different. Balancing everything is called life - get used to it.

I second the post that asked for a guest blog of a someone other than a writer.

Posted by: cmac | October 17, 2006 8:22 AM

Writers write and non-writers tend not to write. I guess a majority of the people willing/wanting to write a guest blog are writers (as that is what they do).

You couldn't get me (a non-writer) to write an article/story. It would be like pulling teeth.

Posted by: Father of 2 | October 17, 2006 8:25 AM

Your editor should be granted sainthood! Good lord, THREE years and you haven't begun the assignment?! And you actually admit to it?! With all your flexibility as a writer AND A NANNY, you should have found time. I also must agree with the other posters that your husband should have taken the children away once nanny left and given you Saturdays to write.

So the take away from this guest blog, there is no balance until the youngest goes to preschool and then it is only for two hours, four days a week? How is this balance? What was keeping you from finding a balance before Zach went to preschool?

Posted by: alex. mom | October 17, 2006 8:26 AM

i remember an article about 10 years back in the Cavalier Daily at UVA about a single mom of 2 who was living on campus with her kids, pursuing her underhrad degree as a fulltime student. Now THAT is work. Sorry, if you're having that many problems with a husband, 2 kids, and THREE YEARS to do one assignment, then you have severe time management/motivation issues.

She probably got to go for free, free housing, free daycare, etc. How is that work? And did the other students have to put up with her kids in the dorm?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 17, 2006 8:43 AM

I've noticed a trap that many mothers have fallen into in their quest for free time. this is how it happens. Sleeping babies are unbelievably beautiful, not to mention very desirable for a mommy who wants to get something done in her free time, and we all know how fussy babies become and how uncontrollable kids are when they don't get enough sleep.

As a result, and understandingly so, I've seen mommies literally spend more time trying to get their babies to go to sleep than the time the baby actually sleeps. I can't tell you how many times I've seen mommies exhaust themselves hushing their baby for over an hour just for a 10 minute nap. I call it the beautiful baby sleepy time trap, and the results can be devastating. Exhausted mom who constantly wants to separate herself from her child, and nothing gets accomplished.

Husbands, if you find that your wife has fallen into this trap, this is a small suggestion I've used that can break the cycle. Take the infant/baby/child/kid outside! In order to sleep well, they need stimulation and excersize. The baby may get extra pissed off at you for taking him off the nipple of course, but crying is a form of activety that wears babies out too.

I think there is something auditory about the outdoors that not only stimulates babies, but also soothes them at the same time. there's usually jet noise, car noise, insects, birds, other children playing, dogs barking, all coming from different directions that even infants as young as a few days old will react to.

So, all you dads with the exhausted stay at homer, if you put in your half hour or half mile walk each day in the outdoors, you just might get repaid 2 fold, 5 fold in the indoors. Think about it! :-)

Posted by: Father of 4 | October 17, 2006 9:02 AM

She probably got to go for free, free housing, free daycare, etc. How is that work? And did the other students have to put up with her kids in the dorm? >>>

I didn't go to UVA but most universities have family style dorms for graduate students or undergrads. with children. It is not free. There is no free daycare on most (if not all) college campuses.

Posted by: alex. mom | October 17, 2006 9:03 AM

What makes you think she was at UVA for free? How can you make that assumption? When I was in college I didn't see any full time students with 2 kids receiving free anything. If that was the case, everyone would have children first and then go to college for "free."

What are you talking about?

Posted by: Why? | October 17, 2006 9:04 AM

The classic mistake here is assuming it doesn't "pay" to work because childcare eats up so much of the cost of the mother's salary. We always looked at childcare against total family income.

Posted by: ChicagoMom | October 17, 2006 9:06 AM

Great Article in the NYT today:
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/17/us/17kids.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

Posted by: Anonymous | October 17, 2006 9:07 AM

Three years? You're kidding! You're lucky you still have the writing assignment. I wouldn't have a job if I took so long to complete my work. I'm a mom with a full-time career who could not and will not ever be able to afford a nanny. Take responsibility for your life. Do what it takes to balance the life you chose and do it now.

Posted by: Linda | October 17, 2006 9:11 AM

You can go to school for free is you are a single mother on welfare. States and law makers are trying to do away with it because they feel that if everyone else can work and go to school why can't they.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 17, 2006 9:11 AM

Wow - let's jump to some conclusions! single mother of two going to school does not equal welfare or free education - although you qualify for more loan money.

And how do you know that she did not work?

Posted by: Betty | October 17, 2006 9:17 AM

I went to UVA and was very involved in the Students with Children program as a childless student. Students with children do not receive free housing, tuition, or child care. In fact, they are considered for need-based financial aid in the same manner as other students. Child care for a student's schedule (which often includes late evenings and weekends) is difficult if not impossible to find. It's also very expensive, particularly in Charlottesville. On-campus child care is expensive and has a three-year waiting list.

Posted by: UVA alum | October 17, 2006 9:17 AM

I am guessing that this woman was older than I was when I had my first. I was in my twenties with two kids, student teaching during the day and going to school at night. My husband worked the second shift, so he took care of the kids (ages 3 and 8 months) during the day. I rushed home at lunch to nurse the baby, rushed back, then he took the kids to daycare at 2. I picked them up at 3:30, went home, played, made dinner, threw in some laundry (we lived out of the drier for the most part). I went to class twice a week for 3 hours--4 to 7. Came home, put the kids to bed, paid the sitter, and did paperwork/homework. By ten I was wasted. My husband crawled in around 11:30. This only lasted a few months, was hell, but we managed. So yes, it can be done, but there is NO way I would do it again. I couldn't because I don't have the energy or stamina! One caveat--we didn't have to spend hours in the car (usually) getting from A to B.

Posted by: parttimer | October 17, 2006 9:21 AM

Betty do you have your glasses on?

The person said that in general terms.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 17, 2006 9:21 AM

I think writers tend to dominate the guest blog because writers (surprise, surprise) tend to write well. Leslie is not only looking for compelling stories, she's looking for people who can get those stories across in 300 words or less.

I wouldn't complain about engineers dominating bridge-building projects; they're the best people for the job. Same with writers producing articles, editorials, etc.

Also, I wouldn't assume that all writers have flexible jobs. It's a romantic notion that we all tap away on our laptops at home, but the majority of writers are employed by corporations and sit in cubes for eight hours, just like everyone else.

Posted by: jpd | October 17, 2006 9:22 AM

Sounds like one big excuse for writer's block. Why procrastinate? Write the article, get paid, THEN do those household projects or just RELAX in your free hours to yourself.

Posted by: A real writer | October 17, 2006 9:29 AM

The only comment I have is go on the computer and join "flylady.net". She will help you with your delima. Its free and you won't believe how this will help you in every way.

Posted by: Mary Jane Grossman | October 17, 2006 9:30 AM

"Take responsibility for your life. Do what it takes to balance the life you chose and do it now."

Exactly. And I'd get that husband on board with taking that responsibility and finding balance before deciding to pop some more kids out. I hate it when husbands are merely sperm donors.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 17, 2006 9:33 AM

I think my take on "unaccounted for free time" is a bit different than everyone elses' - my two have been in preschool/kindergarten for 2 months now. And I do feel like my 4 hours a day is my only "free time" I've had since the baby was born and I quit my full time job. Why? Because I don't think of nap times as free time, the entire time they are napping you have to be ready to go back to mommy work since they could wake up early, refuse to nap, etc. Also, when my husband does take over at night (not consistantly) it is usually to allow me to do something specific, errands/clean/cook/etc.

So yeah - that first week the kids were both in school - it was both fantastic - and odd. Weird to not have anyone to be in charge of - and fantastic for the same reason. I squandered that first week going to the mall, reading, fooling around etc. Then I started to give myself projects that I could cut up into 4 hour chunks. The first week was weird, and I did miss them, (still do of course), but now I feel better about myself becuase I can see things getting done around the house (home improvement projects - not just daily household chores).

Posted by: GS | October 17, 2006 9:36 AM

A practical solution- If you're able to work at home, why not just hire a teenager to come over for a few hours a day and play with baby while you work? Teens (especially the younger kind, like 12 or 13) are relatively cheap, and if you're still in the house you can deal with any emergency that a teen might not be able to handle.

I have always wondered why more work at home moms don't try this option- any ideas?

Posted by: randommom | October 17, 2006 9:43 AM

I wonder if today's guest blogger was paid a portion of the fee for her freelance assignment which is why the editor still wants it and she still feels guilty at not producing it. As a former editor of a publication that relied heavily on freelancers, I can tell you the more you have invested in a piece, the more you want it completed--but in three years' time, the relevance of a piece could easily have changed. what if she's writing about the millions to be made in the overheated real estate market? Someone who has not even begun a piece in three years really is not a writer--she's a person who likes the 'idea' of being a writer. Let's hear from this woman again in 6 months and see if that article has been written, and when it's slated for publication.

Posted by: Ritamae | October 17, 2006 9:45 AM

"wondering if changing bedtime to 6 p.m. might be considered child abuse"

Pediatrician and sleep expert Dr. Marc Weissbluth in his book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child advocates a bedtime of between 6 and 8 pm for infants and toddlers. His approach isn't right for every family, but our boys (ages 4 years and 9 months) are thriving, and my husband and I have time in the evening for conversation, work, study, relaxation--balance.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 17, 2006 9:48 AM

randommom's idea about using teenagers is a great one. I almost resorted to this while doing my part-time thing, but got tricks and schedule in order enough to get work done with the baby in tow.

I find life easier now that I'm back at work fulltime and my daughter is in full-time daycare (7 hours a day). I'm tired most of the time, but I feel like I can accomplish things and keep my house somewhat clean. That's all I expect these days.

Posted by: MaryB | October 17, 2006 9:50 AM

I realize that this is not going to be popular, but she also indicated that money was tight with only the husband working full time.

Perhaps he is in an employment situation where he has less flexibility, and must definitely satisfy the employer given that he's the main source of income for the family?

Posted by: Unpopular | October 17, 2006 9:52 AM

"Let's hear from this woman again in 6 months and see if that article has been written, and when it's slated for publication."

Yes, I for one will be on the edge of my seat waiting for that announcement. Oh, the suspense is killing me!

Posted by: Anonymous | October 17, 2006 9:54 AM

Randommom, after reading this blog on the cost of babysitters, I made up a flyer for my daughter and circulated it around the neighborhood. She makes between $7.50 and $9.00 an hour.

I added up what we pay for my 4 year old's preschool. It came out to be $4.25 an hour, roughly half the amount.

But the teenager makes house calls.

Posted by: Father of 4 | October 17, 2006 9:54 AM

Perhaps he is in an employment situation where he has less flexibility, and must definitely satisfy the employer given that he's the main source of income for the family?

Posted by: Unpopular | October 17, 2006 09:52 AM >>>

I doubt that he works on both Saturday and Sunday. Most employers will allow at least one day off a week. On one of his days off, he should take the kids to the park or something to give her time to write... and here is a thought, if she isn't writing, just to give her a much deserved break. SAHPs need a break too.

Posted by: alex. mom | October 17, 2006 9:57 AM

I agree with "Unpopular." There are some jobs that just don't allow for much time at home to help out. My husband was in one when he was working 60+ hour weeks and traveling. He just didn't have the energy for helping out much at home-- and even when he did, childcare was much harder because he wasn't familiar with any of the current peculiarities of our children or the setup (where the diaper cream is, what the order of the breakfast routine is, etc.). Those years were extremely hard for both of us, and I hardly ever got any break.

Before my husband gets slammed for being a "sperm donor," please remember that it was this long-hour, high-stress, well-paying job that allowed us the savings to have him quit and become the SAHD while I took a lower-paid but more flexible job. Now I'm the one who doesn't know some of the current peculiarities of our kids!

Posted by: Ms L | October 17, 2006 10:01 AM

Regarding the comments that the blogger's husband isn't as involved in caring for the kids....Day to day child care duties are often seen as primarily the mother's responsibility in many Middle Eastern and South Asian cultures. I think Caucasian Americans tend to have a more egalitarian approach in splitting child care responsibilities...

Posted by: middle eastern chick | October 17, 2006 10:02 AM

Seems to me that her real issue is that she didn't NEED to finish the article. If she did, she would have. She had the luxury of waiting. Three years is ridiculous. I agree with an earlier post that she has time-management issues.

Most of all, I'm sad for her that she doesn't seem to have enjoyed the gift of being able to be at home with her kids. Some (many? most?)never have that opportunity.

Another whiner...

Posted by: CA Mom | October 17, 2006 10:03 AM

I just met an admirable woman, who has 4 children, between ages 3 months and 8 years, has a full time job, and is studying for her PhD.
What a contrast with the guest writer.

Posted by: G | October 17, 2006 10:05 AM

Your essay made me laugh and reminded me of a novel I read recently -- I'm thinking it was by Jennifer Weiner and called "goodnight, nobody". The idea is that the mom is a sleuth who "solves mysteries every day during the hour and forty five minutes that both her children are in preschool." this, for me, was the hardest thing about having little ones -- that sense that you had such little tiny chunks of time -- not enough to have a whole thought, or think a whole paragraph, or write a whole page. I found it extremely difficult to work piecemeal on projects around all the other stuff too. What worked for me was staying up really late working and then taking a nap when they were in preschool.

I also remember when all three of mine were preschoolers and I used to fantasize about the first day I could drop them all off at school and just sleep -- for like a week!

You might also want to look for a "moms day out" program rather than a preschool. I sent all three of mine to one when they were 4, 3 and 1 and my husband was deployed. It was about 5.5 hours, once a week, and I credit it completely with helping me to keep my sanity during that six month period.

Posted by: Armchair mom | October 17, 2006 10:07 AM

Re teenage "mother's helpers": They are not that easy to find -- the young men & women in my neighborhood were so swamped with school work, studying, extra curricular activities, and regular afterschool employment (supermarket, fast food, retail) that it was hard to find anyone even to babysit occasionally for a couple of hours. My daughter is now 14 and she, too, has far too little time to be able to babysit regularly. It's unfortunate: Most of the money I earned as a teen was from babysitting, but things have changed a lot in 30 years.

Posted by: LawyerMom | October 17, 2006 10:11 AM

Pediatrician and sleep expert Dr. Marc Weissbluth in his book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child advocates a bedtime of between 6 and 8 pm for infants and toddlers. His approach isn't right for every family, but our boys (ages 4 years and 9 months) are thriving, and my husband and I have time in the evening for conversation, work, study, relaxation--balance.

I too would love to advocate this theory of 6-8 pm bedtime. We both work, commuting is sucking us dry, and by the time we get home, fix dinner, play, bathe and play some more, it's 9 pm. Chase is only 19 months -- and has apparently decided that napping in nursery school is for "babies". Rationalizing that bedtime should come early and sleeping straight through would be highly not recommended. Besides this is the only time we get to hang out with him. I'm surprised though to hear that even SAHM are having scheduling issues. I'm planning on leaving my fulltime job by early 2008, but I am still perfecting my SAHM skills by diligently practising time management -- a skill that I feel I desperately fail at on a consistent leve.

Posted by: CJ | October 17, 2006 10:11 AM

I've worked in various subsets of the publishing industry for quite some time, and I am amazed and perplexed at the length of time this "assignment" has continued. I can't imagine any editor I've worked with being that understanding and accomodating. They are under enormous pressure to produce a worthy product, and they have people to answer to as well.

Furthermore, I would venture to guess that all of the communication has included many "target" dates of when you would produce that piece, only to push it back further each time. This, in turn, must seriously impact the workflow, and leave staff scrambling to find something else to fill in for that now (once again) absent piece. Deadlines are imposed for this very reason.

I should say that after three years and no product, the ONLY reason the editor has been so patient is because she doesn't have to pay you until you produce what was promised.

With that said though, the freelance industry is quite competitive, and if you're seriously want it as a career, this does not reflect well on your work ethic and character at all. Editors and publishers do talk with each other, and you could very well be blacklisted before even attmpting to get this career going.

In the end though, I think if the desire to actually write this piece were really there, you'd find a way to do it. Maybe you should consider another contract or stay-at-home type work. Perhaps one where deadlines aren't as much of an issue.

Posted by: literarygirl | October 17, 2006 10:12 AM

Regarding the comments that the blogger's husband isn't as involved in caring for the kids....Day to day child care duties are often seen as primarily the mother's responsibility in many Middle Eastern and South Asian cultures. I think Caucasian Americans tend to have a more egalitarian approach in splitting child care responsibilities...

Posted by: middle eastern chick | October 17, 2006 10:02 AM >>>>

Knowing that her husband's culture prevents him from helping her with the children, this is yet another reason she should have declined the assignment.

Posted by: alex. mom | October 17, 2006 10:13 AM

by the time my oldest was 7, I had four children. I found plenty of free time in the evenings, and on weekends. I don't think Reshma wants to write the magazine story.

Posted by: experienced mom | October 17, 2006 10:19 AM

Isn't 4 days a week of preschool a little much for a 2.5 year old? I thought that preschools for the under-4 set are more like a 2-day-a-week affair.

Posted by: Matt | October 17, 2006 10:24 AM

Isn't it also true in most Middle Eastern and South Asian cultures that the women don't work? I don't know for sure, so I am just asking. I think if she is to put up with him not helping, I don't feel sorry for her.

Posted by: scarry | October 17, 2006 10:24 AM

"Isn't 4 days a week of preschool a little much for a 2.5 year old?"

Ha, I was just going to say that I thought that preschool was supposed to be at least half a day - not 2.5 hours/day.

And the kid is older than 2.5.

Posted by: Lizzie | October 17, 2006 10:31 AM

I think the point of this blog has been largely missed. I believe this guest writer is struggling more with the transition to gaining some of her own time back than anything she wished she could have / should have gotten done before. While I appreciate the "suck it up" type messages above, and the knowledge of many wonder women, I was the daughter of a woman with 4 kids, ages 3mths-12 yrs, working full time, getting her PhD, etc. There is not one of the four of us kids that does not resent it on some level. This mom has clearly made a different set of decisions about her priorities when her kids are at home.

Is there anyone else out there, like one previous poster above, who has handled this transition back to above water when you suddenly find yourself with child-free time and the choices that you make?

Posted by: debpod1 | October 17, 2006 10:33 AM

[by the time my oldest was 7, I had four children. I found plenty of free time in the evenings, and on weekends.]

Bragging a little bit, aren't we?

Posted by: Father of 4 | October 17, 2006 10:35 AM

Wow, folks, judgemental much?

I'm seeing a lot of: she should do 'x', she should do 'y', other people have more work and balance it, what's wrong with her, she could've written that article if she really wanted to, etc.

I think the guest writer was sharing her experience not to be judged but just to say, 'hey, this is how the early childhood years have happened for me'. We all have things we're good at. Some people naturally love and excel at taking care of small children and/or are better with time management; some people are better with older children; some people are more creative/unstructured types while other people can't live without a routine. Congratulations to all of you that have managed to completely master the art of balancing your lives as the parents of young children-- the author happened to find it pretty tough given her unique set of skills, abilities, interests and limitations (we all have them). Friendly advice to her on how you've managed to cope is one thing-- characterizing her as an unenthusiastic mom and lazy writer with an old fashioned husband is not only presumptuous, it's unhelpful and unkind.

BTW, we know Reshma is Pakistani, but we don't know her husband is-- for all we know he's Polish. And in any case, what if he is Pakistani as well? My husband is Turkish and does 50% of the housework. Being from a Muslim or developing country does not automatically mean you don't accept equality in marriage. Contrary to popular media images, modern-minded non-fundamentalist Pakistanis do in fact exist. How about giving her husband the benefit of the doubt before jumping to the conclusion that he must not lift a finger at home for cultural reasons? Maybe he's a surgical resident and works 100 hours a week-- how do you know?

Posted by: JKR | October 17, 2006 10:38 AM

I found that sitting down and reading aloud to my children would 'restart my depleted brain' (as Reshma so rightly wishes to do).
And I was boosting their future SAT scores at the same time:) By second grade my kids were required to read to themselves too, giving me some quiet time. Reshma, do you have a place you can set up your work and leave it out, so you can work in small snatches of time?

Posted by: experienced mom | October 17, 2006 10:38 AM

"[by the time my oldest was 7, I had four children. I found plenty of free time in the evenings, and on weekends.]

Bragging a little bit, aren't we?"

Pot, meet kettle....

Posted by: Anonymous | October 17, 2006 10:39 AM

"Isn't it also true in most Middle Eastern and South Asian cultures that the women don't work?"

No that's not true. In Iran for example there are plenty of professional women who work. Back in the 60's women were mostly teachers and nurses, but now they are getting more into predominently male fields like medicine and engineering. But the same is true in the U.S. I guess....

Posted by: middle eastern chick | October 17, 2006 10:40 AM

Take your laptop with you. After you drop the kids off at school, find the closest cafe, or bookstore or library, and get started. You will save yourself time on the commute each way to collect the little ones. (and sometimes the change of scenery helps) ** a plug for Panera bread - they have free wifi access & good bagels!

Posted by: grab that laptop... | October 17, 2006 10:40 AM

'[by the time my oldest was 7, I had four children. I found plenty of free time in the evenings, and on weekends.]

Bragging a little bit, aren't we?'

Hey, I survived it, with four mostly intact children, I get to brag about it!!

FO4, I'm glad your daughter found some babysitting jobs. Lots of good life lessons in that department.

Posted by: experienced mom | October 17, 2006 10:44 AM

My experience was the same as Reshmas. I was able to finish my dissertation and do some consulting work with 1 at home. Once I had #2 I could barely keep the house clean and stay somewhat rested, even with the oldest in preschool. When Dad watched the kids on the weekend I cleaned. Definately no time or energy for creative work output.

Posted by: drmommy | October 17, 2006 10:45 AM

"Isn't 4 days a week of preschool a little much for a 2.5 year old?"

This is less than day care (5 days a week- all day) The key is the preschool - proper staffing, age appropriate activities, expections etc.

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | October 17, 2006 10:46 AM

Reshma, your six and a half year old could be emptying the indoor trash cans, making his bed, setting the table and helping to empty the dishwasher, maybe dusting and vacuuming and sorting the clean socks, and definitely picking up all of his stuff. It can be hard to teach these skills, but I think it's worth the time invested. If he doesn't want to cooperate, look into an awards system.

Posted by: experienced mom | October 17, 2006 10:55 AM

"So the take away from this guest blog, there is no balance until the youngest goes to preschool and then it is only for two hours, four days a week?"

What I take away from the guest blog is that everyone has to make their own balance.

Reshma truly does seem to have time management problems. Or may they're motivation problems. Given the exponentially more complicated and less assisted lives of many of the moms on this blog, it seems like maybe she doesn't really want to write all that much.

Writers who want to write find the time, even if they have twelve kids.

Posted by: pittypat | October 17, 2006 10:56 AM

I find it interesting that you use Poppins as an example. She is easily one of the most misunderstood characters in the film lexicon.

What Poppins did was reveal to the father (a single-minded capitalist banker and iron-handed ruler of hearth and home) and the mother (a feminist upstart and semi-negligent but loving mom) that what was most important in life was a) right in front of them, b)non-material/pure enjoyment and c) their children---and not their children as something to mold into future success, but their children just as they are with the innocence and gifts they have to share.

At the end of the film Mr. Banks (love that name) decides to not care about losing his job and blow off work to just go fly a kite with his kids, having gained enlightenment through the wisdom of Poppins and Burt, the Chimney sweep.

Watch it again with your kids and come to see that this film is brilliantly rich in subtext and is even somewhat subversive in terms of the dominant material paradigm.

Beyond that, I'd say whatever choice one makes--to work or stay at home w/ kids--- do it wholly, not pining for what you didn't choose, because you are empowered to choose otherwise, you just have to do it, excuses and rationalizations be damned. Yes, it always involves sub-choices, sacrifices even, but when the choice is supreme enough, what theologan Paul Tillich called our "ultimate concerns," we let go of the challenges and focus on what Joseph Campbell called "the bliss."

Hey, I'm a single mom with two kids and no child support going on nine years now. Wanna talk about no time? Create the time.

Posted by: Sarah S | October 17, 2006 10:57 AM

Sorry, I have to rant a little more about the cultural assumptions being made here. Sore spot for me.

First, I need to correct my previous post: we don't know Reshma is Pakistani-- we know she's a Pakistani-American and from the tone and content of her blog it sounds like her 'culture' is as American as any one elses on this blog. Maybe she was born here-- maybe her husband was, too. In which case, their household probably has way more in common with yours than with any one in Pakistan. Stop with the assumptions that her household must be a traditional Pakistani one-- we don't know that.

Also, FYI, from my experience with Turkish culture, attitudes toward women and gender roles in marriage in Turkey today are, very broadly speaking, about where US attitudes were a generation ago... meaning a bit less progressive, but not Taliban like. In the countryside, it's probably two or three generations behind, but it's hardly medieval. Pakistan is a very different country from Turkey, but I just want to use it as an example to point out that not every Muslim country is Saudi Arabia and there is a *HUGE* range of family arrangments and views toward women's role in the family within the Muslim world. And, for the record, conservative (not fundamentalist) Muslim behavior between spouses about mirror the way Southern Baptists believe married people should behave. Whenever we get someone on this blog who says they have to 'submit to their husband' we go ballistic... no one says then, "well my understanding is that Alabama culture is one where women are frequently taught to defer to their man".

Sorry, as the wife of a secular, extremely progressive, gentle and sweet man who happens to be from a Muslim country, it gets my goat when people jump to conclusions.

Posted by: JKR | October 17, 2006 10:59 AM

Well, I can't relate, but I can sympathize with the blogger's plight. One of the most stressful things about parenting is finding out that there are some things that you can't tackle as well as you did before kids. On the flip side, one of the most joyful things is learning you have hidden talents that never before had a chance to surface. I work full time, have a daughter in Pre-K and have a spouse with a stressful job with a long commute. Life is overwhelming at times, but I remind myself that this is the life I have chosen. I suppose I could rent an apartment close to the city and not own a home and reduce my husband's commute, or move way into the country and afford to stay at home, or move my family to a more affordable area of the country where we don't know anybody but could lead a more managable lifestyle. When it comes down to it, as long as I have my husband and daughter I am fine. We live the life we do because we choose not to choose something else.

I no longer have the high flying career I used to, but I also have little desire to, as I would rather be singing silly songs with my daughter than attending some boring fundraiser on Capitol Hill. I am harried much of the time, but I still hand in all work on time and love my family.

Posted by: Mom2One | October 17, 2006 10:59 AM

A previous poster provided this link to an NYT article (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/17/us/17kids.html?em&ex=1161230400&en=07f78e2f77facfe9&ei=5087%0A) It's called "Married and Single Parents Spending More Time With Children, Study Finds" if you can't open the link and want to find it on the NYT page.

I just wanted to put in a plug for it as well-- it's interesting and addresses many of the issues we've discussed on this blog before.

Posted by: JKR | October 17, 2006 11:03 AM

To Real Writer --

Forgive me for being dense, but what does "RELAX in your free hours to yourself" mean?

And what, exactly, do you write?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 17, 2006 11:03 AM

debpod1:
I have definitely made the transition to child-free time. my youngest is now in middle school. My day is child-free until 4:30-8:30pm when it becomes the 'take kid to sport' activity time. When they were babies, I worked hard to earn tenure at university. The transition was hard. After all those years of time managine me, I'm now in the position of managing my deluge of time.

Posted by: dotted | October 17, 2006 11:03 AM

I find that I too need external deadlines (i.e., due dates) to be truly motivated, productive, etc. Without them, there is something else that takes higher priority. Good luck to you, Reshma.

Posted by: Deadlines | October 17, 2006 11:06 AM

"Randommom, after reading this blog on the cost of babysitters, I made up a flyer for my daughter and circulated it around the neighborhood. She makes between $7.50 and $9.00 an hour."

Dad of 4 --

Is this the kind of behavior referred to as "helicoptering"?

If your daughter is old enough and wants to babysit, why can't she 1) make up her own flier; and 2) circulate it around the neighborhood her own self?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 17, 2006 11:07 AM

Although I think it's indicative of a severe lack of balance not to have had free time for mom in 6 1/2 years, early childhood doesn't last that long. My perspective has been to enjoy those short years when the children really do want/need you. Mine are 12, 10 and 4 and it's already amazing how much independence they have and free time I can find. I do work full time too but we're actually considering one more child with the recognition that the really hard years are so short and the joy lasts a lifetime. I think it's easy to fall into the cycle of thinking that each day is so hard but overall, it's a short time for sacrifice and long time for enjoying the children.

That being said, I think the suggestions that dad help out, that mom find a part time sitter or moms day out group, and making time to work while the children are in school are all great. Perhaps there's another mom nearby with whom Reshma could switch childcare one or two afternoons a week - perhaps someone else from the preschool class. A group of us in law school together with kids did this to allow each of us an afternoon/early evening of study time and it worked great.

Posted by: SS | October 17, 2006 11:11 AM

"Re teenage "mother's helpers": They are not that easy to find -- the young men & women in my neighborhood were so swamped with school work, studying, extra curricular activities, and regular afterschool employment (supermarket, fast food, retail) that it was hard to find anyone even to babysit occasionally for a couple of hours. My daughter is now 14 and she, too, has far too little time to be able to babysit regularly. It's unfortunate: Most of the money I earned as a teen was from babysitting, but things have changed a lot in 30 years."

Ah, yes. The adolescent labor pool has shrunk. Could that be due to all the OVERSCHEDULING of kids' time which was discussed yesterday?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 17, 2006 11:13 AM

JKR,

Why can't we assume that her husband isn't helping and why can't we assume that it isn't cultural. No where did she say that he helped, so I guess we have the right to assume until we are told differently.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 17, 2006 11:14 AM

Maybe experienced mom is that last sane person on earth. I have been getting my four year old involved in chores--does anybody remember that concept, where the kids actually help maintain the house they live in--since he could walk. I started him with a small broom and a swiffer with a telescoping handle that could be adjusted to his height. He can rinse the dishes, clean floors pretty well, wipe the tables, dust, and is a huge help with yard work. He worked so hard raking leaves on Sunday that he wore himself out.
I am not familiar how city folks do things, but it seems that the kids are spoiled a lot. No wonder the parents think they have a hard lot.

Posted by: bkp | October 17, 2006 11:21 AM

Although I appreciated today's column, I second (third?) the call for guest blogs from people other than writers. And if there are writers who are forced to sit in their cubes in corporate America and don't have flexibility, let's hear from them.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 17, 2006 11:22 AM

While I can sympathize with the author's issues- it really doesn't do much to raise the cause for the world to help balance work/life- she's completely lacking balance and comes across as not working very hard or "doing her part" to acheieve it.

Which makes a non-mom like me care less about helping her out and thinking more that the problem is in her lack of drive, not the world's lack of compromise.

But it is still a real story and, as such, an important one to be shared. The theme of the post was how to deal after your wonderful helper is gone- and it's hard for me to see the dealing on her part.

Posted by: Liz D | October 17, 2006 11:26 AM

"Also, FYI, from my experience with Turkish culture, attitudes toward women and gender roles in marriage in Turkey today are, very broadly speaking, about where US attitudes were a generation ago... meaning a bit less progressive, but not Taliban like."

A generation ago, US attitudes re women and gender roles were more enlightened than they are today.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 17, 2006 11:27 AM

Ha! My 18 month old helps with dishes and laundry. She carries clothes from the washer to the dryer, and hands me plates to put away, etc. It's not a lot of help, but it is helpful and good practice. :)

Posted by: VAMom | October 17, 2006 11:32 AM

Sorry, I just can't relate to this blog entry. I've managed to work full-time and (almost - will graduate in May) finish law school after my daughter was born. Daddy "takes" her when I'm in class three nights a week, and helps me find time to study. Fathers are just as responsible for their little ones as mothers are, and it sounds like the writer's husband needs to step up to the plate. Three years? I've done 63 credits of law school in three years! Countless papers and exams! It IS possible.

Posted by: PLS | October 17, 2006 11:38 AM

Do the math, folks. If her youngest is 2 years and 9 months old, the assignment was given three years ago, why couldn't it have been done in the three months before the youngest was born and while she had a babysitter looking after the oldest? Sounds like she's whining over nothing. If I had been given an assignment and it wasn't done in three years, I'd be looking for another job. Oh, sure, 'working from home.' Right. I have a bridge in Brooklyn I'll sell you.

Posted by: Childless by Choice | October 17, 2006 11:40 AM

"When Zach was born, however, Ms. Poppins informed me that caring for two children cost significantly more than caring for one."

Geez, why couldn't Ms. Poppins let Reshma know this BEFORE the baby was born?

I realize that Reshma accepted the assignment before her nanny left her, but still, three years is remarkably long time to wait, and I think that Reshma would feel a huge sense of relief if she just found a way -- who cares if it takes ALL of the money she'll get for this article? -- to get the article written. (I was in a similar position with a financial situation in my life and it colored *everything* in my life because it was always on my mind that this thing needed to be done but I was putting it off day after day. I don't think the patient editor has really helped Reshma by extending and extending this deadline.) Reshma, get the article written, no matter what you have to put aside for several days (you can do laundry later! order takeout!), and I believe so much will change for you once it's complete and in print.

Once it's in print, Reshma will you have a clip that will show she's *currently* writing. I think Reshma is stuck in procrastination and the solution is to simply get into that article and get it done. (I have several friends with young children who write and work from home and they manage very tight and busy schedules, mostly with little help from their equally busy husbands.) The poster who mentioned taking a laptop to a place near the pre-school was right on. There are ways to balance and Reshma just needs to take a deep breath and start exploring them. But first, finish that article!

Posted by: Gayle | October 17, 2006 11:40 AM

To 11:14:

You can assume whatever you want. No one's stopping you. And if you want to continue making assumptions based on ignorance and stereotypes even after someone with a little inside knowledge (including Middle Eastern Chick who posted re: working women in Iran) try to point out that those assumptions may be totally off base, be my guest.

No, Reshma didn't specifically say her husband or her household are NOT traditional Pakistani. But she did say she worked after her first child was born, not that she immediately quit to take over childcare. She said she had a British nanny then, not her Pakistani mom or aunt taking care of the baby as might be traditional. She said her son's name was Zach, not a traditional Pakistani name last time I checked. She said she microwaves macaroni, not that she makes curries and kabobs from scratch. She said she's doing "the whole stay-at-home-mom thing" and regards full time motherhood as work, not that she sees it as her duty or god-given natural role. Every single fact she HAS told us is more in line with American culture and the compromises that millions of other American moms have to make than anything else-- there is nothing in her blog entry to support the notion that she is anything other than an American middle-class mom. (By the way, I don't mean to suggest the two cultures are mutually exclusive-- she may nuke macaroni one day, whip up a curry the next, wear sweats most days and put on a traditional outfit when she goes to a Pakistani wedding... point being, she doesn't mention any aspects of middle eastern culture when she talks about her day-to-day parenting experience.)

What, in fact, other than her name and the 'Pakistani-American' label do we have to indicate that her culture might be anything other than American?? Are you basing all of your assumptions on those two items and ignoring all that she wrote? If her name were Mary Smith, would you be making the same assumptions? Sure, go ahead and assume anything you want. Pardon me for suggesting you actually think carefully about the conclusions you draw or base them on any direct knowledge of the individual or cultures in question-- I guess, in your case at least, that's too much to ask.

Posted by: JKR | October 17, 2006 11:44 AM

"Also, FYI, from my experience with Turkish culture, attitudes toward women and gender roles in marriage in Turkey today are, very broadly speaking, about where US attitudes were a generation ago... meaning a bit less progressive, but not Taliban like."

A generation ago, US attitudes re women and gender roles were more enlightened than they are today.

Posted by: | October 17, 2006 11:27 AM


Point taken-- I often lament the backward motion of US attitudes myself. I guess I meant the 1950's generation.

Posted by: JKR | October 17, 2006 11:48 AM

Seriously, how did we get into making all these assumptions about who this writer is and what her home situation is, other than what she tells us? Can't we just say, ok, the husband is busy, or travels, or can't take time off to give her a few days to write her story and not get into the whole thing of what culture we assume she's from and that because of that of course her husband does nothing to help with the kids. Ridiculous!

Posted by: Anonymous | October 17, 2006 11:52 AM

Yikes! It's stories like these that make me feel most anxious about becoming a parent. I'm an artist who requires loads of down time to be able to fuction well in the studio. And I'm sure many of you would view my time management skills as appalling (although I
DO mangage to get things done in an intuitive, figure-the-day-out-as-I-go-along sort of way). Hmmm....

Posted by: Friend | October 17, 2006 11:53 AM

Sorry, as the wife of a secular, extremely progressive, gentle and sweet man who happens to be from a Muslim country, it gets my goat when people jump to conclusions.

Posted by: JKR | October 17, 2006 10:59 AM


Thanks for the explanation. It is frustrating when people stereotype. But we all have issues with it from time to time. My husband is from Argentina and is automatically assumed to be a)Mexican b)crazy macho c)uneducated & poor d)an illegal immigrant. I look like a blonde American WASPY girl, so his family in Argentina thought I was a)rich b)cold c)not too bright. Sadly, stereotyping happens all the time in all cultures. It is only until we know others on a personal level that these stereotypes fade.

Based on what she wrote, I assumed her husband didn't help out to much. I didn't automatically assume it was because he is Muslim or Pakastani. I figured it was because he was a fairly average guy (although the NYT article made me re-evaluate what an average guy does today). Another poster claimed it was a cultural thing, to which I felt if that is the case she should have taken it into consideration. The Pakastanis I have known over the years have been a progressive bunch but I didn't know if that was due to a limited sample size, so I defer to the poster who claims it is a cultural thing. (I have to accept people at their word that they are in fact who/what they claim to be online.)

Posted by: alex. mom | October 17, 2006 11:59 AM

jkr,

I get it, you can make assumptions about what you want this woman to be like (you), but no one else can.

Maybe her mother is dead. Maybe she doesn't have any aunts. Maybe Zach is a version of another name. Maybe her macaroni is spiced up with curry.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 17, 2006 12:14 PM

[how did we get into making all these assumptions about who this writer is and what her home situation is, other than what she tells us?]

Having the wonderful experience of writing a guest kit, I can tell you that trying to accurately portray your family situation in 300 words or less is almost impossible. I had to cut a lot of things out, and when I did, the content became ackward, so I had to redo it several times. Then I found myself having to eliminate an adverb to insert an adjetive. In conclusion, I had to cut a lot out and left the audience dangling with many assumptions which I tried my best to answer later, and to make it worse, the server computer kept eating my posts.

It wasn't easy, but then again, I'm not a writer.

Posted by: Father of 4 | October 17, 2006 12:17 PM

father of 4 your post was great! I didn't make any assumptions about the culture until someone else brought it up. Then I ask about it because I didn't know. However, I have to say that you can't blame people who don't know a lot about other cultures, for asking those questions.

Posted by: scarry | October 17, 2006 12:21 PM

Oh yes, Fo4 did a guest blog and isn't a writer. Let's us think back at how people responded to his blog. Sorry, Fo4! I really think everyone who posts to this blog should write a guest spot so that the "shoe is on the other foot". Perhaps the experience will reduce the amount of nasty comments.

I admit to being critical today because our guest writer accepted a job and failed to deliver. IMHO, being honest with oneself about limitations is the first step to finding balance... in everything!

Posted by: alex. mom | October 17, 2006 12:24 PM

Reshma,
I have one child so I can imagine that two would be quite exhausting. Just in case, get your thyroid checked out. I was having issues with getting things done and constant fatigue and found out it was due to a thyroid conditon.... this was after a few years of not getting anything done and feeling overwhelmed.

Posted by: D | October 17, 2006 12:34 PM

I really sympathize with the guest blog today, as I navigate the babysitter waters again. (Finding someone to stay at part time hours is hard! and there is a serious dearth of students interested!) I'm kind of looking forward to the preschool years myself.

I have found myself struggling to meet deadlines by working at 4 am and other weird things. I had an important phone call on my cell, writing notes over the handle as I pushed my son around who happened to be teething that day.

I only have one child (and a spouse with a demanding job that occasionally turns to 'insane'). I can see how a second child would confuse things enough that it could take a long time to find a routine that worked, especially if either child is sick or requires extra care.

I'm glad you are getting back in the saddle, Reshma. Happy writing!

Posted by: Shandra | October 17, 2006 12:39 PM

I am truly shocked by the judgmental tone of today's posts - why do we as women insist on building ourselves up by cutting each other down? The guest blogger was just giving us all a slice of her life to show how challenging it can be for her to achieve balance in her life. Some, like myself, can relate - when I was a SAH after my second child turned 2 I was thrilled to find a preschool that took both 2s & 3s (kids are close in age) because it meant that on Tues & Thurs when both were in preschool I could have some alone time to do . . . whatever for 2 precious hours. Others who have more complex lives - school, jobs, etc. may not be able to relate, but why does it have to be a bragging contest on who's life is more busy or who can achieve more things in less time - like "I have 7 kids and still found time to win the Nobel Prize for Physics AND kept my sink shining using the flylady method." To the guest blogger - my comment is this - 2 hours may not seem like much time, but grab your laptop and hit the closest coffee shop near preschool and write (or enjoy a hot latte and scone with a friend!). To others who know who they are - let's be a bit more hospitable to our "guests."

Posted by: FormerSAH | October 17, 2006 12:42 PM

"I have 7 kids and still found time to win the Nobel Prize for Physics AND kept my sink shining using the flylady method."

haha! I couldn't agree more...the judgemental tone of some of the posters is laughable...

Posted by: Anonymous | October 17, 2006 12:50 PM

When did "judge" and "judgemental" become bad words?

Knowing how to judge well is a necessary skill for mature people.

I think what you are criticizing is "elitism" and "snap judgements"- not judging itself.

What's the point of making responses if they aren't going to be judgements based on what we know? As long as we're open to new information, not expecting others to share our judgements, and try and be sensible when making judgements...I say go for it.

Posted by: Liz D | October 17, 2006 12:57 PM

However, I have to say that you can't blame people who don't know a lot about other cultures, for asking those questions.

Posted by: scarry | October 17, 2006 12:21 PM >>>

Better to ask questions than assume... especially on this blog. Oh wait, no you will be criticized for that as well.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 17, 2006 1:03 PM

Liz D --

You are SO not invited to my playgroup.

Posted by: to Liz D | October 17, 2006 1:04 PM

"What's the point of making responses if they aren't going to be judgements based on what we know?"

My biggest concern with today's blog is that people are judging to the negative based on assuming what they think they know about our guest. And while I will certainly agree that the point of posting is to share experiences and being open to exchanging differing points of view based on what WE know about OUR lives, I am finding that some posters instead offer up criticisms (veiled in "advice") in order to make themselves and their lifestyle choices seem superior to our guest.(Key word here - CHOICE - because at the end of the day I believe that this is what balance is all about - our choices in life).

Posted by: FormerSAH | October 17, 2006 1:08 PM

Liz D: Judgemental has always been a pejorative.

Posted by: alex. mom | October 17, 2006 1:10 PM

D, you are so right about the thyroid! I went through two years of fatigue and not being able to concentrate on my work before I was diagnosed because I had tiny nodes on my thyroid. I had written it off to being overworked and depressed about a relationship ending. My doctor, an endocrinologist, says that thyroid underfuntioning (hypothyroidism) is highly underdiagnosed in women. We tend to write it off as just being tired from too many things on our plate, or "getting older", or something, and so women don't say to their doctor "I am tired and unmotivated all the time, can't concentrate -- and this is not normal for me." If you have an annual checkup, ask your doctor to do a baseline test for your thyroid function.

Alex.mom, I'm in your same situation, except my husband is Brazilian! So many people assume that he's uneducated and nearly illiterate, even though he speaks English well and has a job. They also think he must never help around the house because of the "macho" culture. I tell those people that he helps a lot more than most husbands I know. Whatever I ask him to do, he will do, no protests or procrastination, and he takes the initiative to do many chores when he sees they need doing. Cultural assumptions are bunk.

Posted by: TR | October 17, 2006 1:12 PM

Alex.mom

Well that's stupid

;)

Posted by: Liz D | October 17, 2006 1:12 PM

"I have 7 kids and still found time to win the Nobel Prize for Physics AND kept my sink shining using the flylady method."

FormerSAH, you nailed that one. My least favorite parenting advice is when someone says something along the lines of, "I don't understand why that's such a problem for you, I just did X" and X is something really obvious that I've tried and doesn't work, which is, of course, why I'm having the problem in the first place. . .

To the guest blogger, enjoy those 2 hours!! And good luck. I sympathize with how long a writing assignment can take when you can't get a good long chunk of thinking time in.

Posted by: Megan | October 17, 2006 1:14 PM


It's always sad in any family when something has to give, and the something ends up being the children.

Usually an entire family makeover is order, not merely a 'better' arranging of children's schedules.

The first few paragraphs are especially telling in this family's priorities with references to 'actual money', 'cold cash', 'cost ', 'crimp in our finances' and 'credit card debt...

Posted by: HankC | October 17, 2006 1:14 PM

" I sympathize with how long a writing assignment can take when you can't get a good long chunk of thinking time in."

She's had THREE YEARS to think!

Posted by: Anonymous | October 17, 2006 1:15 PM

1:15 are you a professional writer? Since you seem to have such a handle on it, maybe you could offer some positive advice.

Posted by: Megan | October 17, 2006 1:18 PM

"When did "judge" and "judgemental" become bad words?

Knowing how to judge well is a necessary skill for mature people."
~~~~~~~~~

No, there is a difference between making a good judgment about something -- e.g., whether to refinance your mortgage, move your kid to a private school, add another pet to the family menagerie, etc. -- and "judging" another person.

The first is that necessary skill that mature people must have; the second is an inclination that we should all work to try and rid ourselves of.

Posted by: pittypat | October 17, 2006 1:19 PM

I am finding that some posters instead offer up criticisms (veiled in "advice") in order to make themselves and their lifestyle choices seem superior to our guest.(Key word here - CHOICE - because at the end of the day I believe that this is what balance is all about - our choices in life).>>>>

Former SAH, my issue is that she made a choice to accept a job then made the choice not to complete the job. While I don't own the magazine nor am her editor, I still feel that was pretty irresponsible. In order to create some balance she needs to be aware of her capabilities/limitations and to ask for help when she needs it. (Assuming she has someone to ask for help. For example, I can only ask my husband for help since we don't have family in the area or friends willing to help with the baby. I have understand my limitations before I take on responsibilities.)

Posted by: alex. mom | October 17, 2006 1:19 PM

I agree with the posters who said getting two kids on the same nap schedule--and having early bedtimes--can be very helpful. Weissbluth is the man.

Posted by: Sleep Mama | October 17, 2006 1:20 PM

In order to create some balance she needs to be aware of her capabilities/limitations and to ask for help when she needs it.

Apparently she did ask for help in the form of extensions from her editor and her editor gave them to her so why is this such a problem for you?

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

If readers aren't supposed to draw conclusions about her ethnic origins, then perhaps her little bio shouldn't have mentioned her ethnic origins.

In fact, when I read her bio, I figured the editor was being patient because the article was in some way related to her ethnicity.

If she wants more time, she can send the kids to preschool. Really, it's pretty pathetic how women who do absolutely nothing can nonetheless whine endlessly about how busy they are.

I'd like to see just one of these Tuesday pieces written by a competent woman who didn't marry rich, enjoys her job and her kids, and thinks Leslie and her various Tuesday posters are self-absorbed incompetents (even if she doesn't say so directly).

But only after I get a vintage Corvette and George Clooney, if miracles are on the menu.

Posted by: Cal | October 17, 2006 1:25 PM

welcome back, Cal!

Posted by: Anonymous | October 17, 2006 1:27 PM

Almost forgot, everybody:
there's a website called studentsitters.com where you can post what you're looking for and get e-mails from local DC area college students looking for a regular, part-time babysitting gig. Usually you get about 8 e-mails and then you can call up the people and interview them and so forth. My friends and I found it handy when I lived in Northern Virginia, and it was MUCH easier than trying to find one of those busy high school students.

Posted by: Armchair Mom | October 17, 2006 1:29 PM

How do they vet the students on their background and qualifications? Can anybody register to be on the list, or does registration have to go through one of the colleges?

I ask only because this would be a great gig for pedophiles if it's not set up and monitored carefully.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 17, 2006 1:36 PM

Well, thanks. I wasn't aware I'd left.

BTW, I should have said "full-time preschool" and I regret using "competent" and "incompetent" in the same sentence. Please consider the first one expunged.

Posted by: Cal | October 17, 2006 1:36 PM

Pitty-

I couldn't disagree with you more. Judging someone to be good, bad, healthy, smart, worth my time, dangerous- those are extremely important things to judge in another person.

Again, I don't expect other people to SHARE my judgement, nor am I closed to new information to re-shape my judgement. But judging others is absolutely necessary in life and something I encourage.

Posted by: Liz D | October 17, 2006 1:37 PM

As a professional writer who is stuck in a cube in a corporate office most days, I just wanted to offer this possibility:

Perhaps Reshma's editor is not hurting too much over not receiving the article after three years. In my experience, there are some assignments that are not critical and therefore more flexibility can be given in regards to deadlines.

I used to be a newspaper reporter and the publishing company also put out a magazine. I had a story idea for the magazine that I really wanted to pursue so I suggested this to the magazine's editor. She was excited about the story idea but did not put it on the magazine's budget. Since the piece was "evergreen," it didn't really have to run at a certain time. She agreed to give me as much time as I needed to finish the piece and would fit it in her publication accordingly. Perhaps Reshma's editor has done the same thing. In that case, no one is scrambling to fill a slot in the magazine with something else when the article does not come through each month.
In my case, I really wanted to complete my assignment but knew I'd have to meet my immediate reporting obligations first (not to mention personal and family obligations) and find time in between to work on it.
I realize not all freelance positions can offer this degree of flexibility. I agree that three years is an awful long time to still be working on an assignment, but I just wanted to offer the possibility that perhaps it is not such a critical assignment or, as many have already pointed out, she would have already done completed it.

Posted by: a professional writer | October 17, 2006 1:37 PM

I did not find anything unusual about today's guest blogger's post. Any woman in my neighborhood could have written it. What I did find unusual is the writer's self identification. Was there some kind of a hidden meaning to the fact that she is Pakistani-American? Otherwise, I would have read the post and moved on.

Posted by: suburban mom | October 17, 2006 1:37 PM

I think it is perfectly acceptable to ask this poster what her husband does while she is watching the children 24/7. Why is that judgmental? Why it is also judgmental for someone to say in certain cultures xyz are common. For many of the men on this board, they constantly make a point of saying what they do to help their wives. Sometimes they are attacked for seemingly doing to little or being sexist, so I guess I don't understand why it is so judgmental to ask her what her husband is doing to help.

Why is her husband any different from the other men on this board?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 17, 2006 1:37 PM

I'm not all too concerned about whether or not she ever writes the article. This is what I found alarming:

"Problem is, it's also the only free time, completely unaccounted for, that I've had in six and half years, since my oldest son was born"

Is this hyperbole? I don't want to beat up Reshma or her husband, but any father can load up the kid(s) in a stroller and give the mom a break of an hour or two. No food, no diapers, no car seats, easy. But every mom deserves a little time to herself and every father should be able to handle the kids for an hour or two over the course of six years.

Posted by: Arlinigton Dad | October 17, 2006 1:39 PM

"she would have already done completed it."

I should have edited to say "already completed it."

Ooops! That doesn't sound so professionally written! (forgive me-- it is lunchtime and I'm off the clock, ha!)

Posted by: a professional writer | October 17, 2006 1:41 PM

To Liz D - I couldn't agree with you more.

And you could join my play group anyday.

Posted by: Lou | October 17, 2006 1:45 PM

"Judge not, lest ye be judged."

Ehh, what fun is that?!

Posted by: spunky | October 17, 2006 1:46 PM

You ask how getting an undergraduate degree is considered "work?" Surely you're joking ... or you majored in basket-weaving!

Posted by: To 8:43 am | October 17, 2006 1:51 PM

"I think it is perfectly acceptable to ask this poster what her husband does while she is watching the children 24/7."

I believe that he is shouldering the earning responsibility that allows her to stay at home in the first place. I've got to tell you, if I was supporting a whole family and my husband wanted me to start in on housework when I got home, I'd be pretty annoyed.

Posted by: Lizzie | October 17, 2006 1:53 PM

My undergrad wasn't that hard, but my Masters is killing me. Just thought I'd throw it out there that all undergrad degrees aren't that hard!

Posted by: scarry | October 17, 2006 1:55 PM

"I think it is perfectly acceptable to ask this poster what her husband does while she is watching the children 24/7."

I believe that he is shouldering the earning responsibility that allows her to stay at home in the first place. I've got to tell you, if I was supporting a whole family and my husband wanted me to start in on housework when I got home, I'd be pretty annoyed.

---

I'm not suggesting he do housework -- even if you make the big bucks, even if he works 7 and a half days a week, a father should be able to be in charge of the kids for two hours at a time once in a while.

Or in this case, once in six years (again with the hyperbole caveat).

Posted by: Arlington Dad | October 17, 2006 2:03 PM

The post wasn't about housework. It was about her trying to finish an article and not having the time to do so because she was watching the kids. If I am not mistaken, she was going to get paid for it, so she would indeed be contributing to the household income as well.

Just so you know, my old man was a coal miner, he worked from sun up until sun down, and he helped my mother when he had the time. He also watched and played with his kids on the weekends. He's not a saint by any means, he's just a good father and an excellent husband. Everyone needs a break.

Posted by: scarry | October 17, 2006 2:05 PM

My undergrad wasn't that hard, but my Masters is killing me. Just thought I'd throw it out there that all undergrad degrees aren't that hard!

Posted by: scarry | October 17, 2006 01:55 PM >>>>

Hang in there! The rewards are so worth it.

Posted by: alex. mom | October 17, 2006 2:07 PM

Oh and scarry be careful, the PhDs will come after you and say, Masters aren't that hard either! My husband plays this card every so often. :-)

Posted by: alex. mom | October 17, 2006 2:10 PM

Is it a bit much for him to spend time with the kids now and then? Of course not, and I'm sure he has; I categorically refuse to believe that preschool is actually the literal first time she has had on her own since this child was born 2 years and 8 months ago.

Is it a bit much for him to provide so much childcare - on top of a full-time job - that she has time to pursue a freelance career? Maybe, if he doesn't agree to it. They had considerable childcare before so he's obviously not philosophically opposed to it; what's wrong with getting someone in a few hours a week so she can have that time?

I've written quite a bit over the past few years. The stuff that I really wanted to write, I made time for, by hook or by crook. The stuff I didn't want to? It got pushed back, as things I did want to do continued to come up. It's quite likely that she found spending time with her kids to be more compelling than knuckling down and writing the article, which is fine.

Stephen King was writing when he was pulling 16-hour shifts in an industrial laundry, living in a trailer, and not even getting paid that much for his writing. He did it because he really really wanted to. If she really really wanted to, she would.

Posted by: Lizzie | October 17, 2006 2:13 PM

Thanks! I think it's because I have a two year old! However, my husband does help and gives me an hour of reading time at night and time on the weekends! :) See it doesn't take that much to be helpful.

Posted by: scarry | October 17, 2006 2:13 PM

"the PhDs will come after you and say, Masters aren't that hard either!"

My BA was excruciatingly difficult. The Ph.D. was cake. Dissertations are annoying and endless, but not very hard.

Posted by: Lizzie | October 17, 2006 2:14 PM

My degree is bigger than your degree...

Posted by: One up | October 17, 2006 2:16 PM

Exactly!
I got my BA four months ago. It was, if nothing else, a lot of work, and a lot of money. Can we all please just be thankful we've been blessed enough to go to college? I think something like 25% of adults in the U.S. even earn a bachelors. Perspective, people.

Posted by: re. "my degree is bigger than your degree..." | October 17, 2006 2:29 PM

Did anyone else think macaroni and cheese spiced up with curry sounds really good?

Posted by: TS | October 17, 2006 2:32 PM

So what, the writer took on more than she could handle? This hardly seems worthy of the responses today.

Apparently you are all perfect and have never done such a thing.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 17, 2006 2:32 PM

People who work their way through college have no one to thank but themselves.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 17, 2006 2:37 PM

I'm sorry but I agree with the writers who called the writer of today's blog a little lazy and that she is using her children as an excuse for writer's block. Many of us with young children work. There are other child care options and if you need a few more hours a day, look into a college student to look after your kids for a few hours a day or a couple days a week. You don't sound very ambitious and a little lazy to me. Sorry but many of us work full time and take care of our kids. The staying home with my children is soooo hard routine is getting old.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 17, 2006 2:38 PM

I've been really surprised by the majority of the responses today. After reading the guest blog, I thought that all the SAHMs would be thrilled to have the "SAHMs work as hard as WOHMs" theory validated.

After all, that's what she's saying, right?

So, why is everyone attacking her? It's what so many of you are always saying on this blog.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 17, 2006 2:48 PM

The "I never ever have a single minute to myself!" whine is also getting old. Please, if you are really don't have time for yourself over a span of YEARS, is there NO ONE around that can help you? Husband, family member, friend, college or high school student, nanny for another family?

I think there's a real lack of communication going on in this woman's life. She maybe has never told her husband that she wants to be alone for an entire day to write. Perhaps he resents that she wanted to be a SAHM and force them to have less income and take on credit card debt, so he does very little childcare, reasoning that "it's her job". (If we can make all sorts of other assumptions, I'll put this one out there.)

Posted by: Anonymous | October 17, 2006 2:51 PM

It is funny how what is ordinary for some women is overwhelming for others. At the beginning of the school year, I met a mother whose son is in my son's class. We got to talking and she told me how she is so overwhelmed with her 9 month old twins. She also mentioned that having a full time, live-in nanny helps, and that her mother also lives with them to help out. I felt very sympathetic because I realize how hard it is to work when you have a small child, and twins must be even more challenging. So I offered to take her oldest to the park with my son the next week when school was out for a professional day. When I stopped by her house to pick up her oldest, I found out that she is a SAHM. She was still in her nightgown, and the nanny and her mother were in the kitchen feeding the babies. There were two other women there vacuming and cleaning. It turns out they were the weekly maid service. She told me how nice it was of my to take her son, since he needs a lot of entertainment and does not let her rest. She planned on napping while we were gone.

I have to say that I have since stopped feeling sorry for her. But she continues to lament the diffulty of situation. Kind of funny, in a pathetic sort of way.

Posted by: Rockville | October 17, 2006 2:58 PM

"Kind of funny, in a pathetic sort of way."

Ha! It's actually quite funny.

I would have been tempted to say something like, "Wow, yeah, that must be hard. What would make it easier for you? Maybe some childca- Oh, wait. Well, maybe if you had some help with the housewo- Hm. It's a pickle, all right!"

Posted by: Lizzie | October 17, 2006 3:02 PM

I love how a guest blogger pens a pretty lighthearted commentary, and gets blasted from all directions for her thoughts.

I think most of the people who read this blog need to lighten up! Sheesh!

Posted by: rockville | October 17, 2006 3:02 PM

We make our own situations. Work expands to fill the time allowed. If you're given three years to write an article, you'll take three years to write an article. If the editor had given her the "write it by fall or I'll have to move on" ultimatum last year, the article would have been in print by now.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 17, 2006 3:05 PM

Rockville... I'm with you! Let's raise our kids to be a bit more open minded and less judgmental. Sometimes you just need to take things face value. Every mom is different and all of our situations are different. Lighten up everyone and smell the roses... or count the raindrops...

Posted by: Dissapointed | October 17, 2006 3:16 PM

Holy Cow Rockville I can't believe anyone would have that much help and still complain. It does make you feel sorry for her kids though and it makes me wonder what her husband does to be able to afford a nanny!

Posted by: scarry | October 17, 2006 3:17 PM

I just don't get the point of today's guest blog. Are we supposed to offer this woman tips on how to balance? Are we supposed to all say, "Gee, I know how you feel!" or are we supposed to say, "Hey, that's what I can do! Wait one more year and my child will be in preschool and THEN I can finally have a few precious moments to myself and my life will finally be balanced." ?

None of these contribute to an interesting or informative discussion. Lots of women deal with far more pressure and they still find balance. I just don't get why this was worthy of being printed. Maybe to get the writer a writing credit for her resume?

Posted by: Joel | October 17, 2006 3:23 PM

"Maybe to get the writer a writing credit for her resume?"

So long as the editors don't actually read the article. Might scare them off.

Posted by: Cal | October 17, 2006 3:26 PM

Okay, I googled her. I recognized her work right away, and in my opinion, she is a really great writer. She wrote a very long, very complex, very moving feature article that appeared in The Washington Post Magazine entitled "Hard Labor" about a couple who were expecting a baby who was going to be severly handicapped and likely die. Father wanted to terminate, mother didn't, differing religions played in too.

I'm a busy, exhaused parent too, and much of what I read I immediatley forget, but this article really stuck with me.

Anyway, this put her in context for me.

Posted by: Arlington Dad | October 17, 2006 3:33 PM

I agree that her tone was lighthearted and did not (to me) seem whiney.

Two hours a day does not seem like much free time. If she's anything like me, we need at least 15 minutes just to settle in front of the computer and start all the programs and check our e-mail.

I second the idea of using the laptop nearby the preschool, and the idea of asking her husband for help so that she can have more free time.

She could also try (like others have said) to work at night when the babies are asleep and maybe nap during the day or just relax. I know that I did a lot of writing at night just because there were fewer distractions.

Good luck!

Posted by: Meesh | October 17, 2006 3:34 PM

I can put a guest blog on my resume?!?! SWEET!!

Posted by: Meesh | October 17, 2006 3:36 PM

I need to change my name, since there is at least one other Rockville on the blog.

I can't think of a catchy name, so let's just call me Emily from now on.

Posted by: The original Rockville | October 17, 2006 3:38 PM

"She wrote a very long, very complex, very moving feature article that appeared in The Washington Post Magazine entitled "Hard Labor" about a couple who were expecting a baby who was going to be severly handicapped and likely die."

I remember that article very well. She did a great job. The woman wasn't expecting to pay a price for her insistence, and Yaqub picked up that she had.

So really, she should get back to work and let better qualified people take care of her kids. Because she's certainly not very good at the basics of parenting if she can't manage two kids and a few hours of work a week.

Posted by: Cal | October 17, 2006 4:00 PM

Rockville, she sounds depressed.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 17, 2006 4:12 PM

The father comments remind me of a recent anecdote. My friend met a doctor (physician) studying for her PhD who was middle eastern. They met casually at one of their sons' sporting events (sons are approx 6 years old). The doctor said her husband refuses to attend any of the children's events or help with the children in any way. He is an anesthesiologist. The woman brought her books and was studying during the event. My friend (who is Indian actually, with a very supportive/helpful husband) was surprised and shared this story with me -- we felt sad for this woman and her children.

On the other hand, I recently learned from my mom that my younger brother (I am one of two) was not wanted by my father (he didn't want another child). My mother pushed him to have another child anyway (she's a whole other story!). Today, my brother and my father have a nonexistent relationship, and my father never really interested in my brother, even when he was little.

Posted by: Rebecca | October 17, 2006 4:14 PM

The house my husband I bought here was previously owned by a PhD student and a WAHM with 4 children ages 5, 2, and twins at 16 months. They were moving to be closer to their families so they could have some help. They had no maid, but did have a nanny who worked on a very part-time basis. They got their work done after the kids went to their strictly enforced 8:30 bedtime. I felt like a selfish, self-centered whiner when I told them that we moved from NoVA back to WI so that we could have some family help and free babysitting. I mean, what right did I have to kvetch about my lack of freetime with 1 manageable almost 3 yr old?

Posted by: MadisonWIMom | October 17, 2006 4:19 PM

Reshma Memon Yaqub is a graduate of Winston Churchill High School in MD, and attended the University of Pennsylvania. She's lived on three continents, and worked in five states. She wrote "Hard Labor"--an article in Washington Post Magazine about a woman who was determined to give birth to a severely handicapped baby, and her husband was determined to stop her. She Worked at Worth magazine for 5 years, and she was a city desk reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She's also a contributing writer to the Chicago Tribune, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, Parents, Men's Health, Men's Journal, Rolling Stone and Reader's Digest. She's also written a monthly consumer-help column for Good Housekeeping.

Posted by: About Reshma Memon Yaqub | October 17, 2006 4:41 PM

I think one of the time-management issues for a SAHP/writer can be that for some types of writing, it can be hard to work in short chunks. Some stuff I've worked on, it takes a while to get really immersed in the material, so I really am effective if I have a prolonged stretch of time to dig into it - like 4 or 5 hours, not a quick 1 or 2 here and there. When I was finishing law school with an infant, I found it hard to get into my homework while my son napped because I never knew how long he would be down for (he's never been a "good" napper), so often as soon as I really got my head into something he'd be up; and after a while I found myself reluctant to try to do work during that time because it just didn't feel as effective as waiting till the weekend when I could get a whole morning to settle in and concentrate.

Posted by: Megan | October 17, 2006 4:46 PM

Just a plug for my very supportive wonderful South Asian husband. We both work long hours and our only complaint when we are home is the drudgery that prevents us from playing, reading, talking more with our kids. We have become resigned to a dirty house and more take out, because we would rather spend time with our kids.

Reshma probably needs to reevaluate if staying home is for her. It sounds like 1) the environment is not right for the work she is doing 2) she is not happy doing the sole childcare--for what ever reason.

Posted by: Sunniday | October 17, 2006 4:53 PM

Reading her article, I found myself wondering how close in age her 2 boys are. My first 2 kids are 18 months apart, and my second didn't sleep for more than 2 hours at a stretch for far too long. I would have been hard-pressed to do any free lance work while she was small. Since my husband is paying the bills, I try to take the worst of the sleep deprivation.


Posted by: YetAnotherSAHM | October 17, 2006 4:56 PM

Good god!

What does it say about the people on this blog that they spend time researching a guest writer's resume and writing credits. And then report the results to everyone else on the blog!

Hey, I looked it up. I got the info on her! She's not an imposter, folks.

It's like a classroom of precocious kids all waving their hands to be called on first and all wanting to be the one with the right answer.

And anyone wonders why little kids today are rude, aggressive, and inconsiderate? Their parents -- mostly lawyers, it would appear -- spend their expensively acquired research skills getting the dope on guest bloggers and micromanaging their children's time.

Geez!

Posted by: Anonymous | October 17, 2006 4:59 PM

And one more thing --

You all seem like a bunch of over-achievers who don't have enough to do with your time.

Frankly, none of you seems very over-subscribed.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 17, 2006 5:06 PM

I have nothing against Reshma and it sounds as if she had a successful writing career. What I want to point out is that she has not -- unless there were smaller articles published that she doesn't have space to mention -- currently have a writing career. In previous blogs and posts, we've discussed getting out of your career field for a short time, usually to be a SAH parent, and the difficulty of getting back in. Writers -- even freelance writers who work from home before having children -- usually belong to writers groups or professional societies. They try to continue writing, even short pieces, just to keep current clips in order to get future assignments. (I once wrote one column per month for a national publication. Do you think employers care that I did that 10 years ago? No, they care about what I wrote last month or at most, last year.) If Reshma wants to get back into writing, perhaps she *should* re-evaluate her choice to stay at home. But maybe she doesn't care and just wants to finish one article. Get a sitter, get a hotel room or a friend's guest room, and write!

Posted by: CL | October 17, 2006 5:06 PM

"Frankly, none of you seems very over-subscribed."

What the hell does that mean? Sir, I believe you have been over-served.

Hey, the guest blog itself had no real point, so most of us seem to have used it as a jumping-off point to create wide-ranging discussions and comments.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 17, 2006 5:09 PM

"Their parents -- mostly lawyers, it would appear -- spend their expensively acquired research skills getting the dope on guest bloggers and micromanaging their children's time."

Was this necessary? Naturally by an someone who didn't bother to sign. Throw stones much?

Posted by: SS | October 17, 2006 5:12 PM

I too, read the author's article, "Hard Labor." She is a fantastic writer, and it looks like she perhaps has enough clout to pick and choose her assignments and maybe even the deadlines they are on. When you are good enough at what you do, you are given certain flexibilities that everyone may not have.

Posted by: Emily | October 17, 2006 5:16 PM

"Was this necessary?"

Was it necessary to engage in an all-out deconstruction of the blogger's life, goals, objectives, marital problems, resume, work habits, ancestry, ethnicity, parenting skills, etc., ad barfum?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 17, 2006 5:18 PM

BTW, you don't have to be a genius, or even a lawyer to type a name into Google. All you need is hands, average intelligence and a working computer.

Posted by: Emily | October 17, 2006 5:19 PM

"Was it necessary to engage in an all-out deconstruction of the blogger's life, goals, objectives, marital problems, resume, work habits, ancestry, ethnicity, parenting skills, etc., ad barfum?"

Duh! That's what the Internet is *for*!

Posted by: Lizzie | October 17, 2006 5:26 PM

I agree with 5:18.

The guest blogger is called "guest" for a reason. Do any of you treat a guest in your home the way you've treated Reshma today?

If so, you can't have many friends.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 17, 2006 5:26 PM

Hooray for the thyroid poster - it is VERY underdiagnosed in men and women alike - thyroid problems and disease are also hereditary. Half my extended family has thyroid problems (8 of us) and many of them have just found out in the past 5 years or so - when it became known that there were several of us with thyroid disorders.

If you are unusually tired don't wait - go to the doctor and ask for a thyroid screen!

This has been a public service announcement.

Posted by: cmac | October 17, 2006 5:35 PM

I think it is perfectly fair to research the writer's life, ethnicity, profession, etc. It is called context. I is hard to provide context in a 300 word blog. Plus, the information that folks have unearthed is public if it was found on the internet.

Posted by: Emily | October 17, 2006 5:36 PM

One reason why a lot of people don't sign their posts on this blog is that other bloggers here have long memories and hold grudges.

I know that's why I don't.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 17, 2006 5:36 PM

"I think it is perfectly fair to research the writer's life, ethnicity, profession, etc. It is called context."

Oh, for cripes' sake. This is a BLOG, not a history of Western Civilization. You don't need "context" to understand and respond to the points being made. The guest blogs here are intended to stimulate discussion, not provide clues for amateur Internet sleuths.

Get a grip.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 17, 2006 5:45 PM

Really, people. She published her thoughts on the website of a national newspaper. She was probably paid to do so.

She's most certainly not the "guest" of the people commenting here, and the people commenting here owe no one--not Leslie, not her, not each other--a single thing.

It's not your little neighborhood playgroup.

Posted by: Cal | October 17, 2006 5:48 PM

"Really, people. She published her thoughts on the website of a national newspaper. She was probably paid to do so."

None of this is the point. It's not the guest blogger who's making a fool of herself here. It's the rest of this gang, checking up on her to see how she might be further discredited.

It really smacks of lawyer crap.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 17, 2006 5:58 PM

I am not sure what about googling someone requires extended swipes at lawyers. I had the impression that the bloggers who googled the author were attempting to understand her perspective, work habits, etc. If the suggestion is that lawyers would rather check facts efficiently and quickly rather than reach conclusions about someone's motives and choices based on assumptions, I'll accept that characterization.

to the topic at hand, I'm curious as to why the author opted to place her Zach in this particular part-time preschool, rather than either (a) enroll him in another preschool with hours that would give her more flexibility (three full-time days, five full-time days, the options are myriad), or (b) enroll Zach in this preschool before two years, eight months and thirty days elapsed. When a grown woman is counting the days of her life as they expire until an event occurs over which she has at least some control, I have to wonder why. Many reasons come to mind, but they all involve value-judgments, "we loved this pre-school more than others that had more favorable hours", "we thought Zach would thrive here", "we thought Zach wasn't ready before now". Those value-judgments tend to make most of us not count the days so much because we buy in to why we're doing something now, and in this manner, and not earlier or differently.

I suspect that the preschool selection and timing were not decisions made by both parents, collectively, based on the aggregate needs of the family.

Posted by: NC Lawyer | October 17, 2006 6:18 PM

"It really smacks of lawyer crap."

No. But your comment really smacks of crappy ignoramus.

I often read a column or newspaper article and google the author. Sometimes to see what else he or she has written, other times to see if any affiliations would call his or her bias into question. Maybe I'm the only one--so long as you ignore several zillion bloggers and discussion board members.

One person who should do it more often is Leslie, who on a few occasions has chirped enthusiastically about a news article that a few google searches would reveal to be complete nonsense. But I guess she's too well-bred to google. Maybe she should pay a lawyer to do it.

Posted by: Cal | October 17, 2006 6:25 PM

" But I guess she's too well-bred to google."

??

Well bred people don't google?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 17, 2006 7:12 PM

Well, if it's a lawyerly activity, one can only hope not.

Posted by: Cal | October 17, 2006 7:18 PM

on the premise that lawyers are lowly and poorly bred, or on the premise that if you can pay someone else to do it for you, you should?

Posted by: Anonymous | October 17, 2006 7:45 PM

HA HA

Posted by: Anonymous | October 17, 2006 8:13 PM

Guest bloggers are not paid. They do it because they hold the level of discussion on this blog in such high esteem.

*snark*

Posted by: jpd | October 17, 2006 8:34 PM

10:39, I think I love you!

Posted by: Julia Child | October 17, 2006 8:42 PM

"Let's hear from this woman again in 6 months and see if that article has been written, and when it's slated for publication."

Yes, I for one will be on the edge of my seat waiting for that announcement. Oh, the suspense is killing me!

That made me laugh out loud. Right about now, the guest blogger is probably either laughing at today's entries and shaking her head, or having a stiff drink and shaking her head. Reshma, don't you wish you had spent your time writing that overdue article instead?;>


Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | October 17, 2006 9:15 PM

I am amazed at the amount of over-analyzation that has gone into some of these responses. I saw this entry as a light-hearted account of someone who was looking forward to and enjoying her children being away for a few hours, rather than agonizing that the babies were leaving her.

Re: help from the husband. Whe said that she has not had 'unaccounted for' time since she had children. There is a word restriction, so full explanations aren't always given. Maybe there is more to her life than caring for children and keeping house. It is very possible that her husband has completely done his share, but that she does other things while he is tending to the children. It was years before I allowed myself to take time just for me. There was always something to do such as call relatives and or friends, take my mother to the grocery store, get some extra sleep, etc.

Posted by: diana | October 18, 2006 3:09 AM

'I agree with the posters who said getting two kids on the same nap schedule--and having early bedtimes--can be very helpful.'

I have found that it is the SAH parents who put the kids to bed early. But how does this achieve balance for eht family? It's fine for the SAH who has been with the child for many hours, but the working parent sees the child for only a short time each day.

We both work in my house and the kids have always had late bedtimes. 9:00 as toddlers and 10:00 in elem school (7:00 am wake-up). Many times they would nap during the witching hour while we were preparing dinner, but we enjoyed having them around in the evenings after dinner and not sending them to bed early.

'I do work full time too but we're actually considering one more child with the recognition that the really hard years are so short and the joy lasts a lifetime'
LOL - you haven't hit the really hard years yet if your oldest is 12.

Posted by: diana | October 18, 2006 3:18 AM

She must be very passive or she would have come on here and discussed it with us. That should be a requirement of the blog.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 18, 2006 7:59 AM

Dear readers of my guest column,

I just read all your comments. Thanks so much to those of you who were nonjudgmental and even kind and understanding! You are the kinds of moms and dads that I would hope to run into in real life.

To the rest:
1. My husband of 15 years (and 85 to go), did nothing to deserve this kind of mean spirited speculation. He's a wonderful husband and father. He spends tons of time with our kids, and they adore him, as do I.

However, because he has a job that pays our bills, he's not around to give me time to write on weekdays. On weekends we spend time with the kids and each other, not working for money.

2. But how did this become about him anyway? It was about me, and about the challenges of blending two things that I care deeply about - my kids and my career.

3. As for the article I haven't written: I've written lots of other articles in these past three years. Including several for this same editor. In fact, I have one due to her next week, and it'll be done on time.

4. Some of you wondered if I was paid for writing it. I wasn't.

5. What's up with the ethnic stereotyping? Why would you make assumptions about people's character and work ethic because their parents grew up in a particular country? (Though I'd be proud to be Middle Eastern if I were, last time I checked, Pakistan was not in the Middle East.)

6. Remind me never to run for public office or to become a famous movie star! If this small amount of mean spirited speculation about my life and my family hurt my feelings so much, I can only imagine how Jennifer Aniston feels!

Gotta run - one kid's waking up from his nap and the other's school bus is about to pull up.

Peace,
Reshma Yaqub
reshmay@aol.com

Posted by: Reshma Yaqub | October 19, 2006 3:28 PM

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