Finding Balance While Making a Difference

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 Send me your original, unpublished entry (300 words or fewer) for consideration. Obviously, the topic should be something related to balancing your life.

Today's writer tackles the powerful role American immigration has played in her personal and professional life, in honor of President Bush's State of the Union speech tonight, which is expected to address his administration's domestic agenda, including proposals for alternative energy, health care and immigration reform.

By Leslye E. Orloff

I consider myself very lucky. I've spent my professional life helping immigrant women and their children, all victims of domestic violence or sexual assault, find the assistance they need. It's not easy, and finding time for myself and my family has always been a challenge, but every day I get to wake up and try to make a difference. And that keeps me going.

My family definitely inspired me to find this path. My father, a Ukrainian-born immigrant, raised three girls in diverse Inglewood, Calif., to believe they could do anything. Gender was never considered a restriction. My grandfather always told me, "Whatever you decide to do in your life, make a difference in the world."

I took these words to heart. After law school, I found a true mentor in Judge Gladys Kessler; I clerked for her in Washington, D.C., learned domestic violence and family law, and was hooked. I became the only Spanish-speaking lawyer in town helping immigrant women obtain protection orders, and I created and ran one of the country's first legal programs to help immigrant domestic abuse victims get care.

At a certain point, though, I realized that my breakneck pace needed some rethinking. Meeting my husband in 1993 helped me step back and begin allowing myself time to recharge and reconnect with friends and family, and it's become an indispensable part of who I am.

My first move was deciding to leave field work and starting the Immigrant Women Program (IWP) at Legal Momentum, where I remain today. Legal Momentum is the nation's oldest legal organization dedicated solely to advancing the rights of women and girls, and IWP's lawyers have won changes in law and policy that have helped over 20,000 women get legal status, protect themselves from violence and get access to economic opportunity, which in turn improves their children's lives.

I've seen some truly amazing successes. With the IWP's help, one of my clients overcame years of abuse, won protection orders against her husband and got custody of her children. She eventually attained legal immigration status and worked two or three jobs to support her children. She never found time to take ESL classes to learn English, but her hard work has paid off: Her daughter recently graduated from medical school.

Turning 50 has been a time of reflection for me. Today I'm dedicated to balancing my work time with time to wind down and be with family. My husband helps me get away from work for art museum visits, vacations and great meals. I have regular lunches with a few close friends and try to see my sister and her children as much as I can. Five years ago I added exercise to my weekly routine -- including long walks at Great Falls with my husband. And I've found a wonderful group of friends through my work co-directing the National Network To End Violence Against Immigrant Women. I take strength from knowing that these allied experts are fighting the same fights and overcoming the same obstacles, professional and personal.

In the midst of a national immigration debate that could help (or harm) so many women and children, I feel the imperative to continue the struggle. The trick is that now I know how much my success relies on the balance I can strike between work and the time I spend with my husband, friends and family who continually urge me not forget to also take care of myself. As the years go by, that has made all the difference in the world.

Leslye E. Orloff lives in Maryland. She is Associate Vice President and the Director of the Immigrant Women Program at Legal Momentum. Founded in 1970 and formerly known as NOW Legal Defense and Education, Legal Momentum strives to achieve equality and improve the lives of women and girls by transforming the institutions and values of our society through legal advocacy. Legal Momentum welcomes comments on its online archive of women's balancing act stories.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  January 23, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Guest Blogs
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Comments

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I'm first.

Posted by: Dorkus humungous | January 23, 2007 7:04 AM

I'm second!! Whoopeeeeeee

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 7:32 AM

You are an inspiration. What a nice story

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 7:34 AM

Sounds like I have wasted my life. But your story is nice.

Posted by: Not Busy | January 23, 2007 7:40 AM

Wow Leslye! You get my vote for the citizen of the month!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 7:46 AM

"Sounds like I have wasted my life"

A lot of Americans do waste their lives.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 7:57 AM

Leslye,

What a wonderful story!! It is very inspiring to me because I am now struggling to find meaning to life beyond my job and family. I am slighlty envious of people who figure out how to find fulfillment early on and so often wish my path was as clear to me.

Thanks for your insights.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 8:00 AM

I can imagine leaving my kids to do something like this - something with purpose. I can't imagine leaving them to practice patent law. That's a mother who is a role model not people who just go do whatever they want at the expense of their family. Bravo

Posted by: nina | January 23, 2007 8:02 AM

nina, I don't think she has kids. She didn't mention them in the story. I don't know if she would have been able to accomplish all of that if she did have kids.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 8:13 AM

BUT, does she have children of her own? Is the "on balance" part just her job, her husband and her extended family?

(Not to negate all her noteworthy paid work accomplishments . . . but isn't this board mostly about balancing family, kids and work?)

Posted by: chausti | January 23, 2007 8:13 AM

Is she related to Veal Prince Orloff?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 8:16 AM

"Sounds like I have wasted my life"

A lot of Americans do waste their lives.

Well, if we didn't waste our lives building a country, there would be no border to hop would there?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 8:16 AM

You certainly are an inspiration. Working to improve the lives of other people is very important and fulfilling, but you can't let it be your entire life. Congrats on finding a balance.

Posted by: Meesh | January 23, 2007 8:19 AM

this board often contains a lot of assumptions that the decision to have children is the point when you are ready to grow up & stop being selfish. It is nice to see some writing that challenges those assumptions. "It's just a job" is a quote that really bugs me...

Posted by: to chausti | January 23, 2007 8:20 AM

Clearly a dynamic and inspirational woman. Power to her, but she does not appear to be a mother, and that adds a different dimension to finding balance.

Posted by: Lori | January 23, 2007 8:30 AM

Leslye is certainly not selfish and she is evidently trying to make a substantial difference in society. Good for her! Women's rights and immigration seem to be at cross purposes since immigrants are coming from different societies than our own. I guess my sights are set a little differently (maybe lower?): I want to raise healthy happy kids, have a fulfilling occupation (which may or may not be paid depending on the circumstances), and enjoy my time with my husband. Thinking back, other than kids, isn't that what Leslye wrote about?

Posted by: dotted | January 23, 2007 8:36 AM

What does it matter if she had children or not? Is someone not complete (or "balanced") without having a child?

Posted by: ? | January 23, 2007 8:46 AM

Do you have kids?

Posted by: To Lesley | January 23, 2007 8:58 AM

I thought the entire point of this blog was balancing life with kids??

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 9:14 AM

For those who work with or for a purpose stepping back and taking time for themselves in order to find balance is difficult. When you are caught up in the mission and focused on the individual you are helping or the change you are bringing it can be very easy to only have that in your life. Lesley's blog talks about the role her husband plays in helping her to find balance and how she has used his reminders to find balance on her own as well. I think it is a fine reminder that a responsibility in partnership (be it spouse, significant other, sibling or intimate friendship) is not to point out their flaws but to offer opportunities to overcome them.

Posted by: late to the party | January 23, 2007 9:16 AM

A woman that has not ever had the wonderful experience of childbirth will never be able to say she did it all.

Anybody can get a job. I'm glad Leslye likes what she is doing and finds it fulfilling.

Posted by: Toodles | January 23, 2007 9:31 AM

To Toodles, your comment is an insult to women who, for whatever reason, do not have children.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 23, 2007 9:34 AM

It's just a job" is a quote that really bugs me...

But my job is just that, a job. A well paying job but nothing that would fulfill my soul.

Posted by: the original anon | January 23, 2007 9:35 AM

"Anybody can get a job."

Yeah, but not anybody can get any job. I don't think there's anything wrong with taking pride in being able to do something that not everyone can do.

And "It's just a job" bugs me, too. I know that not everyone is going to have an occupation they find to be incredibly fulfilling, but "It's just a job" tars all occupations with the same brush. Cancer research? Just a job. Teaching at-risk kids? Just a job. Pediatric oncologist? Just a job.

I've no doubt that my own job would be "just a job" to a bunch of people. It's something I've wanted to do since I was 14 years old, though, and I'm thrilled to be doing it and pleased that it's well-paid. My husband, who actually does teach at-risk kids, has what I would view as "just a job," if not something to be actively dreaded. God bless him, though; he finds it fascinating and exciting.

Posted by: Lizzie | January 23, 2007 9:42 AM

"A woman that has not ever had the wonderful experience of childbirth will never be able to say she did it all."

You spread your legs and popped out a baby, so now you are able to say you did it all??!!! Britney can say she did it all?

This is where you wackos lose credibility with the audience. Childbirth is an animal experience; raising a child should be a human experience.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 9:43 AM

A woman who has never had children, will never be able to say she 'had' children. Big deal.

Making a difference in other womens' lives is worth a lot. If one child grows up in a better home it's been a service to everyone.

I think parents get so caught up in themselves and their children that they forget that people can have lives that drive them nuts without children.

I think stepping back from a job that is so important has to be critical. We all need time to 'go to the well'.

Posted by: RoseG | January 23, 2007 9:44 AM

She has no kids. Everyone does not need to have kids. She helps other people who do have kids. But she does not have kids. It makes a huge difference, doesn't it?

Posted by: boomette | January 23, 2007 9:45 AM

I don't think this had much to do with how her husband helps her find balance- the entire story was about how great her job is and what a difference she makes. Just tooting her own horn...and then she slips in...and I TRY to visit my sister and her kids and maybe I can go for a walk with my husband.

When you don't have kids these "choices" are just a luxury. Us parents can't say, well, mayeb I'll try to see my kid every once in awhile or i'll try to feed, clothe, and bathe you.

This balance is a whole different ball game!

I used to work a similar job and it was easy as pie compared to life balancing kids, work, husband and extended family. I worked 12 hr days and STILL had time and more energy to see friends for lunch or dinner (or both!) and go out with my husband ALL weekend.

It sounds as if she has a great job and she loves it- that's wonderful! But it's really not that difficult to balance. (in hindsight for me)

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 9:49 AM

don't drag Brittany into this...

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 9:51 AM

"Late to the party" has the gist of the blog just right. Leslye is not writing about the role children play in her life, she's writing about her husband's help. Whether or not she has kids is irrelevant to this story.

And Toodles, lots of people can't get jobs. Mentally or physically handicapped people, elderly people, sick people usually can't work, even though they probably want to. So let's not be condescending. For some, work is a serious goal.

Lots of people can have kids. There is no test, and you don't need a degree.

So if kids give meaning to your life, great. If a job gives meaning to your life, great. No one is better than anyone because of their kids or job. It's all about how you treat others.

Posted by: Meesh | January 23, 2007 9:55 AM

Dedicating one's life to helping other women and children as Orloff has done strikes me as just as noble and selfless as raising kids!

The definition of "having it all" depends upon the individual. Striking your own balance has always been, to me, what this blog is about. Go Leslye! (And love the funky way she spells her name.)

Posted by: Leslie | January 23, 2007 9:57 AM

Her balance is merely different -- some people find balance to their lives by focusing more on their outside-of-work lives, others find balance by making their job something that feeds their soul and therefore they cae devote more to it and still keep their lives on track (without becoming workaholics).

The idea is trying to keep work and life outside of work (for most here, it's 2.5 kids and a spouse, for others it's different) balanced, and this is her way of balancing it for herself.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 9:59 AM

Late to the party,

"I think it is a fine reminder that a responsibility in partnership (be it spouse, significant other, sibling or intimate friendship) is not to point out their flaws but to offer opportunities to overcome them."

Wow, that's a great statement, and a good reminder to me. As I have aged, I have come to realize that people often change for the better not when they are presented with angry nagging, etc., but when they have someone in their life who offers them mature love. (I added in "mature" because love can also offer co-dependency and all sorts of other negative things too. Mature love, in my best definition, offers acceptance of the person without supporting any negative traits or actions of that person. Anyone have a better def?).

As for Leslye, you are an inspiration, and I thank you for your work! Did you happen to read the NYT article on the soccer coach who is working with a team of refugee kids?

Posted by: Rebecca | January 23, 2007 10:02 AM

"Us parents can't say, well, mayeb I'll try to see my kid every once in awhile or i'll try to feed, clothe, and bathe you."

Well, actually, you can. You do have to pay for the kid's food and clothing, but it's not exactly unheard of for people to hire full-time childcare (and I do mean full-time; not daycare during working hours) and have minimal involvement with their kids. Have you ever seen 7 Up? There were at least 5 kids that I remember in that show, boys and girls, who were off at boarding school by age 7.

I don't think that's optimal, but if two parents want to devote themselves primarily to their careers, they certainly do have the option of minimal involvement with their children.

Posted by: Lizzie | January 23, 2007 10:04 AM

"BUT, does she have children of her own? Is the "on balance" part just her job, her husband and her extended family?"

JUST her job, husband, and extended family?! Did you not read the article? Leslye has a LOT to juggle here, and who is anyone to judge whether or not it's "hard enough" because she doesn't have children. She does not have to have her own to make a difference. She is helping OTHERS find balance. And I'd say that is every bit as important as having kids of one's own, if not more so. There are so many children doing without in this world, and anyone who can help them, regardless of whether they have children, would be a blessing. Good for you, Leslye. You are truly an inspiration to the rest of us.

And nina, I can't imagine "leaving" one's kids to practice patent law. It is my impression (correct me if I'm wrong) that patent lawyers usually work in an office, travel minimally, and aren't required to "leave" their children. If one's work required one to leave their children behind, I'd be surprised to see a mother undertake that kind of work. There are exceptions, but patent law isn't one of them.

Posted by: Mona | January 23, 2007 10:06 AM

anon at 9:49, you missed the point.

In her younger days, Leslye let her job control her life because her clients - immigrant women victimes of domestic violence -- had urgent needs. Her passion and skills met those serious needs and soon her life had no balance.

Then she met her husband. Then she realized that the time-intensive and emotionally draining nature of her job might be pushing her to burn-out. When your job is "just a job", you put in the effort you have to put in and go home to your life. When your job has such personal impact on your clients, turning off and going home is not as easy.

Several years later, Leslye achieved balance by rethinking whether there was another way in which she could continue to serve the community about which she cares and have a life. This story is not so much about having a great job, it's about having a job that you perceive as making the world a better place, and finding a way to sustain your energy and build a life that isn't overwhelmed by your commitment to that social mission. Maybe you really did have a similar job, but since you don't sound as if you get it, I've got my doubts about whether your job had anywhere near the intensity or urgency of Leslye's.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 10:08 AM

Why are we "honoring" the President's State of the Union speech? Wouldn't it have been better to say that this was a germane topic due to the State of the Union speech, rather than "in honor of"? Of course, as the President has made little headway on immigration and as Iraq, rather than immigration, is likely to be the main topic tonight, I really am not sure how germane this topic really is for the speech.

Posted by: Ryan | January 23, 2007 10:09 AM

remove the post from Toodles. I find this just as offensive as anything that has been removed from this site.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 10:17 AM

Ryan, leave me alone.

Posted by: Jermaine | January 23, 2007 10:18 AM

"remove the post from Toodles"

Better to leave it as a painful reminder of how many psychos there are in this country.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 10:27 AM

Not agreeing with Toodles, but this seems just as extreme as those who worship at the church of work is everything... it is just the other side of the extreme...

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 10:30 AM

LOL!

Posted by: To Jermaine | January 23, 2007 10:37 AM

Kudos to you, Leslye, for your truly inspirational blog. Finding a way to make a difference in the world while at the same time having your own fulfilling life can be a challenge, and it seems you have found a way to meet this challenge.

I find it interesting (but not surprising) that many bloggers seem to dismiss Leslye as a childless woman, like her achievements somehow don't mean as much because she doesn't have her own children. Obviously, I don't agree. There are a lot of women and children who will have better lives because of her contribution.

I think that for some of us, having children is the easiest way to make such a contribution, but I recognize that it is not the only way, or even necessarily the best way. I am speaking only for myself, so everyone, don't take this as a criticism of anybody else's life or choices. I very much would like to have some important impact on this world, but unfortunately, I am not a gifted scientist doing cancer research, nor do I work with at risk children, nor do I have any other profession whose mission is altruistic. To me, my work is a job -- a job that I like and pays the bills, but still, just a job. So my way of contributing to society is by trying to raise a good citizen. It is a small contribution, taken by itself, but when viewed in concert with all the other contributions of parents raising similar good citizens (we hope), the contribution is substantial. One of the joys of this choice is that we get almost immediate payoffs from our efforts. Smiles from babies, hugs from toddlers, watching your 6 year old score in soccer, (for now, I'll skip the teenage years), having your daughter visit from college, attending graduations, visiting with your grandkids.... These are all direct rewards from parenting.

I think many jobs also have their rewards, but some just don't. Others do, but require lengthy educations, hours, commitment, sacrifice, and patience before you see them. I love it that Leslye has shown us how a women who does not have kids can lead a successful, meaningful, and balanced life, by finding a way to contribute to society in a meaningful way. I think this should be everyone's goal, whether or not we have kids.

Posted by: Emily | January 23, 2007 10:40 AM

Emily - what you said!

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 23, 2007 10:42 AM

This is my first post. I'm 30 years old, and my husband and I are saving for a house and contemplating children. To be frank, the prospect of juggling both of our careers plus a family seems daunting. Daycare costs? Maternity leave? Stay at home? Mortgage? And what if we don't have children - what happens then? Lately, I've found myself turning to this column for encouragement and for a connection to others wrestling with the same issues.

I just want to thank On Balance for continuing to show how a variety of women balance work and family - whether its having children of their own or remaining committed to a demanding career and husband. The important thing, I think, is that this forum depicts the wide diversity of choices that are being made every day - even if those choices aren't right for everyone.

Posted by: Monica | January 23, 2007 10:45 AM

"by finding a way to contribute to society in a meaningful way"

Can't wait for the contributions of Britney's kids.

Get real! Most children are accidents, conceived under the influence. Few people are thinking about raising Nobel prize winners when they are having sex.


Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 10:48 AM

Some of you don't get the point. A patent lawyer can find fulfillment in his or her work and not be "selfish" as a parent to pursue what is their "calling" or dream. This woman today is an inspiration and is performing an obvious good for society. But there are others who do good as well. That includes (some) lawyers, doctors, tax preparers, customer service reps, whatever. It is not selfish to pursue a career and be a parent. Parents who have fulfilling careers are role models for their children and society. I wish people will stop the self rightous "I sacrifice for my children so I must love them more" crap.

Posted by: working mother | January 23, 2007 10:48 AM

Kudos to Emily. Nicely said.

Posted by: working mother | January 23, 2007 10:50 AM

Amen to both Emily and Monica. I am childless and I read this blog to better understand my choices, get reassurance that you can raise balanced kids who don't turn into little monsters, etc. Regarding today's guest and the discussion about a "job" -- I too have a "job" -- mine affords me the ability to volunteer for an organization I care about. We all make our "marks" in different ways -- I appreciate the legacy that our guest blogger has made for herself, but no more or less than I appreciate the smile of a happy well-adjusted child.

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | January 23, 2007 10:53 AM

For those of you castigating the author because she doesn't have children: Have you looked at the world today? Does it seem that we are short on people?

People who do not have children, in my mind, are contributing MORE to the welfare of the planet and society than people who pop out 3 or more kids. The earth is overpopulated! People in the US use more resources than people anywhere else in the world.

Posted by: Rebecca | January 23, 2007 10:54 AM

Get real! Most children are accidents, conceived under the influence. Few people are thinking about raising Nobel prize winners when they are having sex.


Gee, maybe that is the way you had your kids, but most people actually plan theirs.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 10:55 AM

"She eventually attained legal immigration status and worked two or three jobs to support her children. She never found time to take ESL classes to learn English, but her hard work has paid off: Her daughter recently graduated from medical school."

Didn't she break the law by coming here? Do you break the law by helping her? Not being snarky, I am just wondering.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 10:56 AM

well said Emily. You are a good writer!

Posted by: dotted | January 23, 2007 10:58 AM

Emily,

I really love what you said about making contributions.

One of our problems as a society is that we feel we're not contributing if we don't make a grand gesture -- one that will change the world.

In reality, life is made up of all the small gestures we try to be conscious enough to make as we go through each day.

If each of us contributes based on our strengths -- what we're good at -- everyone benefits.

Posted by: pittypat | January 23, 2007 11:04 AM

"Didn't she break the law by coming here? Do you break the law by helping her? Not being snarky, I am just wondering."

You're seriously wondering whether an attorney breaks the law by explaining to her client what the client needs to do in order to comply with the law and the risks of non-compliance. The illegal immigrant is no different than a company who thinks it may have violated applicable securities, environmental or tax laws and seeks legal advice on (a) whether it violated applicable law, and, if so, (b) how to get back into compliance.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 11:05 AM

He is probably just wondering why an illegal immigrant gets an attorney at all. I mean shouldn't she have been deported?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 11:08 AM

"Some of you don't get the point. A patent lawyer can find fulfillment in his or her work and not be "selfish" as a parent to pursue what is their "calling" or dream."

Very good point. A happy parent is a better parent, and doing whatever that parent does to make him or her happy is a good thing...in moderation, of course. To force someone into a miserable existence because some "expert" who wrote a book says that kids do better when a parent does such-and-such is negating the potential positive effects of that existence.

"Gee, maybe that is the way you had your kids, but most people actually plan theirs."

Really? Is this why people freak out over finding out they were accidents? I was under the impression that most pregnancies were accidental, and I knew I was unplanned, and it never bothered me. Of course, I have a working knowledge of biology, and know that any pregnancy is luck of the draw, so I'm not offended that my parents didn't special-order me from the stork.

"Didn't she break the law by coming here? Do you break the law by helping her?"

I highly doubt that an attorney would break a law for his/her client. (I could be wrong, but my impression is that crime is essentially frowned upon in the legal community.) So I'm going to hazard a guess that the answer to this is no, but I'm curious to hear Leslye's reply as well.

Posted by: Mona | January 23, 2007 11:11 AM

"He is probably just wondering why an illegal immigrant gets an attorney at all."

An illegal immigrant gets an attorney when that attorney decides to offer his or her services. You can disagree with their priorities, but attorneys generally have the right to represent whom they please.

Posted by: Lizzie | January 23, 2007 11:16 AM

Rebecca: I read the article about the refugee kids soccer team - it made me cry and made me so angry in places. And these were legal immigrants, victims of war. There is a link in the article to the team's webiste, where you can donate money and see the other projects they do (adopt a refugee family, send a kid to camp.

An illegal alien has a right to an attorney like any other person. There also some special visa programs for people who came under the sponsorship of a spouse (or employer) and were abused.

Posted by: jessker 2 | January 23, 2007 11:21 AM

He is probably just wondering why an illegal immigrant gets an attorney at all. I mean shouldn't she have been deported?

Posted by: | January 23, 2007 11:08 AM

USICS has neither the resources to, nor the interest in, deporting everyone here illegally. Most immigrants who may have entered the country without a visa would love to obtain a green card but may not know how or what the requirements are. Working with an attorney is their best bet for ultimately obtaining a green card.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 11:22 AM

This was an interesting topic today. I am glad the author loves what she does and finds the time to balance that love with family.

By the way, lots of people plan their children just like lots of people probably have accidents. However, if it was the case that most children were conceived in a drunken stupor and were nothing less than "an oopps," I doubt that fertility clinics would be as popular as they are. So in the regard to as whether or not many children are oops, I suggest you speak for yourself and not the human population in general.


Posted by: scarry | January 23, 2007 11:23 AM

Is this why people freak out over finding out they were accidents?

Mona, I don't recall ever hearing about a person who "freaked out" upon learning that they were the result of an accidental pregnancy. Regardless, the suggestion that the majority of pregnancies are intended, or worse yet, somehow resulted from one or both parents over-imbibing, inaccurate and insulting.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 11:26 AM

This would be an interesting study: who was conceived in a "drunken stupor" (or to be more inclusive, via stupidity, ignorance, failed birth control, rape, etc.) versus who was planned at conception. I wonder what the numbers would say?

Posted by: Mona | January 23, 2007 11:27 AM

deflect, deflect

Posted by: to mona | January 23, 2007 11:29 AM

"This would be an interesting study: who was conceived in a "drunken stupor" (or to be more inclusive, via stupidity, ignorance, failed birth control, rape, etc.) versus who was planned at conception. I wonder what the numbers would say?"

The numbers say that about 49% of live births in the US result from unplanned pregnancies, and that anywhere from 30% - 50% of unplanned conceptions end in abortion. I'm pretty crappy at math, but I'm pretty sure this means that the simple majority of conceptions are unplanned.

Posted by: Lizzie | January 23, 2007 11:30 AM

The numbers say that about 49%

when did 49% equal a majority?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 11:34 AM

The fact that a pregnancy is unplanned does not mean that it is necessarily ultimately unwanted. So what if a baby is conceived an the heat of passion (or even a drunken stupor)? The parents may still be happy to be pregnant.

And who is to say that a child from an unplanned pregnancy will turn out worse than one from a pregnancy that is planned. There are so many variables that affect our lives. I think that whether the pregnancy is planned or not is just a small part of the big picture.

Posted by: Emily | January 23, 2007 11:37 AM

When you include the conceptions that resulted in abortion, the 49% of live births does not represent the amount of conceptions that did not result in a birth. When the 30-50% of unplanned conceptions that ended in abortion are added in, it makes a fairly large number of unplanned conceptions, which would suggest that the majority would have been unplanned.

"Regardless, the suggestion that the majority of pregnancies are intended, or worse yet, somehow resulted from one or both parents over-imbibing, inaccurate and insulting."

I was also insulted by the poster that suggested that unplanned pregnancies were the result of over-imbibing. Some may indeed be, but many are not. As to how I came by the idea that people freak out about finding out they were accidents, that's just a broad assumption on my part. I've seen it happen, but I shouldn't have assumed it happens to everyone.

Posted by: Mona | January 23, 2007 11:41 AM

when did 49% equal a majority?

Read more carefully. The numbers say that 49% of live births in the US result from unplanned pregnancies, and that anywhere from 30% - 50% of unplanned conceptions end in abortion.

It does not say that 49% of pregnancies are unplanned. If 30-50% of unplanned pregnancies result in abortion, that is a significant number of unplanned pregnancies that DO NOT result in live births, which would lead one to think that if 49 percent of live births are unplanned, and you factor in the number of abortions from unplanned pregnancies, the percentage of unplanned pregnancies is higher than the percentage of planned ones.

Posted by: Emily | January 23, 2007 11:42 AM

No one ever said "unwanted." People said "accidental" and "unplanned." When did the two become synonymous? I never thought of myself as unwanted, but I always knew I was unplanned. Big difference.

Posted by: Mona | January 23, 2007 11:43 AM

"when did 49% equal a majority?"

It didn't. The 49% of live births, plus the 30% to 50% of all unplanned conceptions that end in abortion, mean that the simple majority of *conceptions* are unplanned. Read more carefully.

And I don't think anyone's saying that unplanned pregnancies are bad or evil or wrong; just that it's erroneous to say that the majority of conceptions are planned. They're not.

Posted by: Lizzie | January 23, 2007 11:44 AM


Mona,

The numbers I've seen are that about half of pregnancies these days are planned, and half unplanned.

But it's not clear to me how the counting's going on: it seems to me there are 3 categories: actively seeking pregnancy - at minimum, becoming aware of your fertile times and consciously using them, in hopes of conceiving a child; actively seeking to avoid pregnancy - using contraception in all consenting sexual activity; and 'open' to pregnancy, neither actively seeking nor actively avoiding it, no contraception but no deliberate pursuit of conceiving either. Although I personally flipped from active avoidance to active pursuit once we decided the time had come to open our lives to a child, I'm under the impression that many couples occupy that middle ground (? I would be curious to see statistics). In that case, those children may be unplanned, in a narrow sense of the word, but they are welcome and wanted from the beginning. And, of course, many children who really were 'oopses' are still deeply wanted by the time they arrive; they just require some unplanned adjustments, which their parents willingly decide to make.

>This would be an interesting study: who was >conceived in a "drunken stupor" (or to be more >inclusive, via stupidity, ignorance, failed birth >control, rape, etc.) versus who was planned at >conception. I wonder what the numbers would say?

Posted by: KB | January 23, 2007 11:45 AM

Lizzie, what's the source for your statistics?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 11:46 AM

The Guttmacher institute and the CDC.

Posted by: Lizzie | January 23, 2007 11:48 AM

And the numbers on how many unplanned conceptions end in abortion vary. I thought that 50% looked awfully high, but I saw that number more than once. I don't think there's any reliable way to know for certain. Certainly all abortions do not terminate unplanned pregnancies, and all unplanned pregnancies do not end in termination.

Posted by: Lizzie | January 23, 2007 11:49 AM

Let me get this straight anywhere from 99 to 79% of pregnancies in this country are unplanned? Where is a statistician?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 11:50 AM

"Let me get this straight anywhere from 99 to 79% of pregnancies in this country are unplanned?"

Where did you get that? You don't just add 49 and 50 or 49 and 30. It requires an algebraic equation, which I suck at, which is why I didn't do it. I'm not even sure I've given enough information to construct an algebraic equation for this.

Posted by: Lizzie | January 23, 2007 11:54 AM

My take on the article is that it is about finding and leading a life of purpose. Leslye has obviously made incredible contributions to the world, and is now reflecting on those contributions.

Whether we choose the life of a Stay at home mome or Work outside home mom, one day we are all going to be faced with reflecting on the purpose of our life and what we have contributed to it. While I think childrearing is a great, rewarding, and sometimes difficult-to-achieve purpose, for me, personally, it would not feel like a fully lived life without another purpose, ie, my career.

Posted by: Single Mom in Silver Spring | January 23, 2007 11:59 AM

Some of you don't get the point. A patent lawyer can find fulfillment in his or her work and not be "selfish" as a parent to pursue what is their "calling" or dream. It is not selfish to pursue a career and be a parent. Parents who have fulfilling careers are role models for their children and society. I wish people will stop the self rightous "I sacrifice for my children so I must love them more" crap.

Just wondering what you are going to say to your kids when they ask why you couldn't come to their games, help with the play or meet them at the bus? "I was making myself happy"? o.k. That should make them feel good - I guess you would be a good role model for doing what you want. Were this woman to have children her answer would be that she was helping people which I think children can understand as a really worthwile reason to miss out on some things. I'm pretty tired of people justifying their selfishness by saying that somehow everyone else's happiness stems from their own. That's what you say when you don't want to do something that you know you should do - rationalization pure and simple.

Posted by: nina | January 23, 2007 11:59 AM

The creation of every human life has always been, and always will be part of god's plan. There is no such thing as an unplanned child, nor will there ever be.

Also, unwanted or not, to destroy what God has created (abortion, is a serious sin and the practice will eventually lead to more suffering for all of us in the long run.

Posted by: Toodles | January 23, 2007 12:02 PM

Hey Toodles - what about the abused and unwanted children that people didn't abort out there? Don't see the right to lifers lining up to adopt 8 year old children of color who were unwanted.

Also if abortion is a serious sin - what level of sin is a priest having sex with boys? and could I please get a list of not so serious sins so I can try to stick to those in my daily life? Thanks.

Posted by: nina | January 23, 2007 12:06 PM

"Just wondering what you are going to say to your kids when they ask why you couldn't come to their games, help with the play or meet them at the bus?"

1. Do the kids ask these questions of their fathers?

2. My kids don't ask me these questions; they are smart enough to figure out the answers. Maybe my kids aren't as needy as your kids.

"I guess you would be a good role model for doing what you want."

That's exactly what their father does. What he wants.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 12:06 PM

"Just wondering what you are going to say to your kids when they ask why you couldn't come to their games, help with the play or meet them at the bus? "I was making myself happy"?"

On occasion, I can't attend a particular school activity at my son's school. When he asks me why, I explain that I have to work, so that we can have a home, food on the table, and clothing, etc. He understands and respects this, and frankly, does not seem upset over these things.

While I think that it is nice to volunteer at the school and attend children's games and outside activities, it is equally as important to teach kids that they are not the center of the universe, and that sometimes, other things will supercede their needs. As long as you have the basics in hand, and show your children that they are loved and respected and that you are doing your best for them, they will appreciate your efforts. And by learning to sacrifice a little and defer their wants on occasion, children will learn to be compassionate and empathetic people.

Posted by: Emily | January 23, 2007 12:08 PM

"Just wondering what you are going to say to your kids when they ask why you couldn't come to their games, help with the play or meet them at the bus?"

Because I can't stand to spend one more single second with the crazy, fat, weird soccer moms in the neighborhood! That's why!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 12:14 PM

Nina, slamming pro-lifers and priests are examples of not so serious sins, but sins none the less.

Posted by: Toodles | January 23, 2007 12:18 PM

Just wondering what you are going to say to your kids when they ask why you couldn't come to their games, help with the play or meet them at the bus?"

Because I can't stand to spend one more single second with the crazy, fat, weird soccer moms in the neighborhood! That's why!


Oh my God, I am laughing, but at the same time, I am afraid to sign me post.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 12:20 PM

""Just wondering what you are going to say to your kids when they ask why you couldn't come to their games, help with the play or meet them at the bus?"

1. Do the kids ask these questions of their fathers?

2. My kids don't ask me these questions; they are smart enough to figure out the answers. Maybe my kids aren't as needy as your kids.

"I guess you would be a good role model for doing what you want."

That's exactly what their father does. What he wants."


WOW- Did you marry the wrong guy!

Yes, my daughter asks for daddy's involvement- jsut as much as she asks for mine!

How is wanting your parents to be involved and proud of you being needy?? Wow- it sounds like you have intimacy issues! A father that doesn't care and a mother who thinks her kids are needy by wanting her to attend their functions?? Geez


Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 12:21 PM

"Just wondering what you are going to say to your kids when they ask why you couldn't come to their games, help with the play or meet them at the bus? "I was making myself happy"?"

Just because a parent works does not mean that they cannot/will not take time out to do the above things. So what argument do you have for a working parent who also attends games and meets their kids at the bus?

Posted by: fabworkingmom | January 23, 2007 12:22 PM

Toodles has a one track agenda and appears unwilling/unable to listen/believe that there are two or more sides to each issue.

Posted by: DC lurker | January 23, 2007 12:26 PM

Toodles, God will judge us all in the end. Why don't you keep your judgements to yourself for a change.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 12:26 PM

Child abuse is prevalent across all churches, neighborhoods, ethnic groups, and classes.

Posted by: scarry | January 23, 2007 12:27 PM

Toodles, this is a discussion not a lecture/sermon.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 23, 2007 12:28 PM

"Just wondering what you are going to say to your kids when they ask why you couldn't come to their games, help with the play or meet them at the bus?"

My kids would never ask such absurd questions. We've dealt with financial crises, lay-offs, and hospital bills up to our chins and they are happy as clams that we have family dinners together, both of us are employed, and we're not going to lose our house. Our kids are well aware that we both work so that supporting the entire family isn't on the shoulders of one person whose job could be shipped off-shore at any moment. If your kids honestly think that having a parent volunteer to participate in the school play or meet them at the bus after school are critical uses of your love, time and energy, they're either incredibly sheltered, incredibly shallow, or incredibly fortunate that someone has provided a trust fund. Please spare the rest of us your condescension, though.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 12:29 PM

Toodles just checking, is slamming a priest who rapes young boys a bigger or a smaller sin than the rape? I'm really gonna need a chart here to keep track of my hits. Also, I wasn't aware that disagreeing with pro-lifers was a sin? How big is that one. Yeeps - your religion sure is confusing. One more question, how big of a sin is it to cover up for someone who rapes a boy?

Posted by: nina | January 23, 2007 12:29 PM

"I'm pretty tired of people justifying their selfishness by saying that somehow everyone else's happiness stems from their own. That's what you say when you don't want to do something that you know you should do - rationalization pure and simple."


AMEN! If I hear one more time that "I'm a better parent because I work 12 hours/day in a job I love..."blah blah. At some point isn't a parent's happiness NOT the point? I'm not saying we should all quit our jobs- of course not! But it's NOT all about Mom and Dad- it's about the kids, right? Aren't we supposed to change our lives a little to accomodate the kids?

Posted by: SAHMbacktowork | January 23, 2007 12:31 PM

Because I can't stand to spend one more single second with the crazy, fat, weird soccer moms in the neighborhood! That's why!

You know what's so awesome about that reply? How completely sophmoric and devoid of an argument it is. Sounds like someone is bitter at how their life has turned out. Just because your husband doesn't want to be there doesn't mean that you shouldn't. For families that don't have to work (yes if you have two new SUVs and a McMansion in Loudon you don't HAVE to work) it is reprehensible for both of the parents not to see their kids for more than a couple of hours a day. Kids know and understand when parents are working because they have to. How sad to think that both of your parents actually chose not to see you more 2 hours a day. Dont' think that makes me a martyr - I think it makes me someone who took having kids seriously.

Posted by: nina | January 23, 2007 12:33 PM

It shouldn't be all about mom and dad, but it shouldn't be all about the kids either. Talk about a recipe for raising self-centered brats who think they are the center of the universe. Kids should be taught that they sometimes have to defer their wants, needs, and desires. If they don't learn to do it young, life is going to be really hard for them.

Posted by: Emily | January 23, 2007 12:34 PM

I give Leslye alot of credit for her accomplishments. I also do not think a woman (or a man) has to have children in order to "be fulfilled" or make a meaningful contribution to society.

I disagree with those posters, however, who equate balancing life with kids to balancing life with spouse/extended family. My spouse, siblings and other extended family members simply are not dependent on me the way my children are. My children depend on me (and my husband) for everything -- we are responsible for feeding and bathing them, sending them to school, ensuring they get proper medical care, ensuring they are not inappropriately left home alone unattended, et. al. My legal responsibility for my children is 24/7 until they turn 18 (and in reality extends until they are self-sufficient.) My extended family members do not rely on me in this way. They are self-sufficient and can survive on a daily basis without me. If push came to shove, so could my spouse. Balancing their presence in my life is not anywhere near as difficult as balancing the daily, constant, never-ending needs of my children with my career and other activities. That element of dependency raises the balancing act to a whole new level.

BTW - I have three children. The first two were definitely planned. The third was unplanned but not as the result of a drunken stupor. Her conception occurred due to an undiagnosed medical condition that in my case played havoc with the normal rules of reproductive biology.

And a job is not "just a job" regardless of how mundane it may be if it enables you and your family to have a better life.

Posted by: MP | January 23, 2007 12:34 PM

"it's about the kids, right?"

No, in my house, it's about the family and the kids are not little tyrants that dictate to the adults.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 12:36 PM

I knew someone would give me grief about "honoring" bush's speech tonight.

To clarify -- i honor the office of the president, and the president's state of the union, regardless of who (whom? grammar police -- help!) i voted for.

Toodles, more power to you if you think you can save this particular bunch, myself included.

Thank you.

Posted by: Leslie | January 23, 2007 12:37 PM

I am not sticking up for toodles. Her posts are rude. However, you are starting to be equally as rude to the other Catholics on the board who do not share her narrow views. Like I said before, child abuse is prevalent everywhere and it is a sad state of affairs when anyone condones or hides it, but it doesn't just happen with priests and all Catholics don't tolerate it either. I am a pro-choice person myself and am still pissed at the church for the sex scandal, so pissed in fact, that I have not taken communion since the story broke.

So, I guess I am just asking you to not pain all priests or Catholics with the same brush.

Posted by: scarry | January 23, 2007 12:37 PM

My post was to nina in case you didn't guess!

Posted by: scarry | January 23, 2007 12:40 PM

How do you know Toodles is Catholic?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 12:42 PM

Now I see why Nina and Toodles don't get along. They are exactly the same---judgmental!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 12:43 PM

I don't think anyone said anything about Catholics. Episcopalians have priests too. you chose to assume that I was referencing Catholics.

Posted by: nina | January 23, 2007 12:44 PM

I don't know if toodles is Catholic, but I just assumed that Nina was talking about the Catholic Church by the way she was describing the sex scandal and priests.

Posted by: scarry | January 23, 2007 12:46 PM

one exception, I'm hotter than Toodles.

Posted by: nina | January 23, 2007 12:47 PM

I was also going to ask nina how she knows toodles is Catholic. I hear about 1000% more toodles-type rhetoric from my mom's evangelical Christian family than I do from my dad's Catholic family.

Posted by: Lizzie | January 23, 2007 12:47 PM

To Nina
"one exception, I'm hotter than Toodles"

This must be Kismet! I also have the feeling that Toodles is a big tub of lard with a mustache..

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 12:49 PM

Just when you thought Toodles couldn't get any more offensive...anyway, can we leave off the abortion debate, whether it's right or wrong, etc.? A common characteristic of this blog is how wildly it spins off topic in just a short period of time, and that is why I love it (I always think if a blog is exclusively about children, I can't contribute, but the vast array of comment topics always proves me wrong), but I don't think abortion is a topic that needs to be addressed today, especially when some women in here may have had to make certain decisions, and others who cherish their children above all else, and others who would like to be pregnant yet cannot/have not become pregnant, etc., and it's just a great big can o' worms. We were doing fine with our discussion and we were all being reasonably civil till Toodles started preaching. Just. Don't.

nina, now I see what you meant by your comment about a patent lawyer having to "leave" her children behind. I guess you think women belong in the home, even though your initial post did not suggest gender discrimination; your second post did. Women work; deal with it! Some do not, and that's fine for them. Whatever makes a parent happy (within reason, as I already stated) will make a better parent! I wouldn't have minded if my mom was more career-minded. Then maybe we wouldn't have had to live with my grandparents when she left my abusive dad. I wouldn't have minded so much if she'd missed some of my ballet recitals, if I had been actually able to take ballet lessons. There was no money for anything, because she wanted to be a SAHM and when she left my dad, she had no skills and we went hungry and cold. It sucked.

Some households have two incomes out of need. Some have two incomes so that the children can live in a safe, clean area with good schools. And some have two incomes because they don't want the kids to have to go into debt when it's time to pay the tuition bill. But who are we to judge why a woman works or doesn't? A woman's reasons for working or not working are her own, and as long as her kids are not suffering, why do we chastise her?

(Note: I am working on being less judgmental of SAHMs. I have to admit to judging women in the past and may do so in the future, but I'm trying. I've learned a lot from this blog, and one big thing I've learned is that everyone's situation is different, and as long as a person's situation works for him/her, it is not my place to talk down to him/her.)

Posted by: Mona | January 23, 2007 12:50 PM

oh, okay Nina, my mistake, it seemed like you were describing the Catholic church scandal. Go on then, slam all the priests from the other religion you must have been discussing.

Posted by: scarry | January 23, 2007 12:50 PM

I think Nina had an an abortion at one time. Her reaction to Toodles indicates guilt.

Posted by: Quick Observation | January 23, 2007 12:52 PM

"It shouldn't be all about mom and dad, but it shouldn't be all about the kids either. Talk about a recipe for raising self-centered brats who think they are the center of the universe. Kids should be taught that they sometimes have to defer their wants, needs, and desires. If they don't learn to do it young, life is going to be really hard for them."

Emily--good point. Bravo, well said.

Posted by: Mona | January 23, 2007 12:54 PM

Thanks for your inspiring story, Leslye. What stands out the most for me about people who love their jobs is what an earlier poster mentioned about how a fulfilling job can actually give you energy, as opposed to just sapping it. I think that being inspired by your work helps with balance simply because you feel more positive and have more energy at the end of the day to deal w/ everything not related to work. This is also what I think of when people use the "having a job makes me happy and therefore my children happy" line - because while I agree to a certain extent with the posters who say that attitude can only be taken so far, I also believe that enthusiasm for meaningful work will translate to your children.

And yes, I am young enough to still be naive about many things :) and no, I don't have a job like that - but wish I did!!

Lizzie - have to agree w/ you on that - HUGE differences between Catholic and "religious right" public rhetoric :)

Posted by: TakomaMom | January 23, 2007 12:57 PM

"I think Nina had an an abortion at one time. Her reaction to Toodles indicates guilt."

Explain the logic underlying that conclusion.

If any.

Posted by: Lizzie | January 23, 2007 12:58 PM

Hi Leslye -- Great column today. Doing the work you do must be challenging, emotionally difficult, and all consuming. Thank goodness there are women like you out there.

Ignore the smarkiness on this column today. I'd bet I'm in the (relatively) silent majority who get really ticked at the mindless drivel on this blog that gets in the way of real celebration of other people's accomplishments.

Thanks for dedicating your life to a cause you love. If I were ever in trouble, I'd want you on my side.

Posted by: CA Mom | January 23, 2007 1:00 PM


Nina,

I wasn't aware that working meant I could see my kids only a couple of hours a day. Glad I missed the memo on that --- my husband and I have averaged 5 hours awake time with them on workdays, through 9 years as ft working parents. Many working families shift their schedules to maximize time together, instead of putting kids to bed at 8ish to preserve adults-only time. Mine have generally gone to bed at 10; later when they were younger and didn't have to wake early for school. I know few working parents who see as little of their kids as you paint with your broad brush. Most come home at reasonable hours and drag themselves up for more work in the wee hours when needed.

And of course we make time for their functions and to contribute time in their school. No, we don't meet a schoolbus every day; we find coming home early on the school bus once a week fits their needs for at-home time to fit in piano practice, parent-supervised homework, sister time, etc. The other 4 days they spend about 2 hours at aftercare, doing homework, crafts, and playing with their friends. Oh, the horror!

What do I say when they ask why I don't meet the bus everyday? Well, they don't really ask, they like the built-in playdate of seeing their friends at aftercare. What do I say when my 4th grader's beaming because I've just done a planetarium show for the whole 4th grade, as I did on Friday? I'm happy to share my world with her and vice versa, and to have something vital and unique to offer, that comes out of my work identity. There are trade-offs to every choice, they don't all flow one way.

Posted by: KB | January 23, 2007 1:00 PM

I do agree with you lizzie and takoma mom about the differnce between catholics and religous right, but I have to admit that we have some crazy Catholics too. I didn't know that any other church went through a huge sex scandal, but hey maybe I am wrong maybe Nina was talking about something else.

Posted by: scarry | January 23, 2007 1:00 PM

I actually find toodles less offensive than Nina. At least toodles owns up to what she says, Nina totally denies it. It is obvious she was talking about catholic priests.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 1:02 PM

"HUGE differences between Catholic and "religious right" public rhetoric :)"

Don't see how. They are both pretty much the same: Sin - Repent/Confess - Sin. I you die without repentence/absolution, you'll burn in hell forever and ever and ever.

Upbeat beliefs that are sure to attract a lot of followers!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 1:03 PM

"I think Nina had an an abortion at one time. Her reaction to Toodles indicates guilt.

Posted by: Quick Observation | January 23, 2007 12:52 PM "

Isn't breaking into someone's personal medical records illegal? How else would you know what Nina has or hasn't had? FYI, not everyone who's had an abortion feels guilty about it. And not everyone who's pro-choice has had an abortion. Also, your "observation" is an insulting slap in the face to women who experience a legal medical procedure, and those who advocate their rights to said procedure. Misogynistic though she appears, the right to abortion is extended to all Americans, without ridicule or accusation from anyone. And your accusation bespeaks your immaturity as well.

Posted by: Mona | January 23, 2007 1:04 PM

"How sad to think that both of your parents actually chose not to see you more 2 hours a day. Dont' think that makes me a martyr - I think it makes me someone who took having kids seriously."

Nina, feeling a little self-righteous, are we? Who sees their kids for only 2 hours a day? Just because my child is capable of walking from the bus stop to my house -- approx. 3 blocks in a neighborhood that hasn't had a violent crime in about 10 years -- at 11 years old, by himself, and you must have concluded that your kids are not sufficiently mature to handle a short walk, there's no basis for concluding that parents who reach a different conclusion see their kids for only 2 hours a day. Our kids don't make absurd claims on our times about stuff that doesn't matter at all -- like being involved with the school play. Yccchh. Both my son and daughter would question our sanity if either my husband or I started spending our family's precious time in trivial school volunteerism. (not that all school volunteer work is trivial -- helping increase literacy? important. bringing cookies for the after-play snack? oh, please.)

We attend the events that are truly important to our kids (according to them), like soccer tournaments and recitals, but otherwise only one parent deals with practices, rehearsals, routine games and dance classes. We are with our kids for 5 - 6 hours a day. I'm glad our kids understand that time is precious, that everyone in our family is essential and makes different contributions to the whole, that we all work together, and that our values inform our choices about how our family spends its time.

Time is precious. Don't waste it on meanness, like accusing other parents of not taking having kids, or parenting, seriously.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 1:05 PM

Toodles just checking, is slamming a priest who rapes young boys a bigger or a smaller sin than the rape? I'm really gonna need a chart here to keep track...how big of a sin is it to cover up for someone who rapes a boy?

You don't need a scorecard to catagorize sin, there are only two types.
In the Catholic religion, sin is divided into mortal sin and venial sin. In order for a sin to be mortal, it must meet three conditions:
Mortal sin is a sin of grave matter

Mortal sin is committed with full knowledge of the sinner

Mortal sin is committed with deliberate consent of the sinner

Venial sin makes up sins other than the the mortal sin definition. So, raping and covering up a rape are both mortal sins! A venial sin would be telling a "white" lie.

Posted by: To Nina | January 23, 2007 1:06 PM

Mortal/venial --

Kind of like felonies and misdemeanors, eh?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 1:08 PM

A woman that has not ever had the wonderful experience of childbirth will never be able to say she did it all.

A woman who has never adopted will never be able to say she did it all.

A woman who has never helped victims of domestic violence will never be able to say she did it all.

No person in the world will ever be able to say that she or he did it all. Balance is finding the things that you want to achieve and working to achieve them.

Posted by: single mother by choice | January 23, 2007 1:12 PM


"... bringing cookies for the after-play snack? oh, please.)

I disagree on this one. Some of the young women (then girls) tell me fondly of when I use to coach softball. They remember the very vocal support that I gave them. I don't recall all of this and certainly did not view it as important or life changing at the time.

I continue to be surprised at what I considered things of no big consequence that my adult children and others remember to this day.

Posted by: Fred | January 23, 2007 1:16 PM

Definition of Balance: "mental steadiness or emotional stability; habit of calm behavior, judgment, etc"

Emphasis on the word calm behavior, judgement which seems to be lacking today.


Posted by: DC lurker | January 23, 2007 1:19 PM

Mortal/venial --

Kind of like felonies and misdemeanors, eh?


Precisely!

Posted by: To Nina | January 23, 2007 1:19 PM

Nope no abortion - sorry. Don't like abortion, but don't think it should be outlawed either. I also don't think I slammed all priests - just the ones who raped boys and those who covered up for it. I'll come out clearly and say that I think that both of those groups are the scum of the earth and should be in a jail cell not just for violating young boys but for violating a sacred trust that was placed in them.

If you see your kids 6 hours a day then good for you and good for them! I wasn't talking about you then.

Posted by: nina | January 23, 2007 1:19 PM

"Upbeat beliefs that are sure to attract a lot of followers!"

I also missed the memo on how we are all searching for an easy, positive and popular religion.

Toodles less offensive than Nina? My vote is for a joint judgmental cave assignment.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 23, 2007 1:20 PM

"I continue to be surprised at what I considered things of no big consequence that my adult children and others remember to this day."

I totally agree - there's all kinds of stuff that I remember clear as day because it was so important to me, that my mom doesn't remember at all because it was no big deal to her at the time. I think the lesson to draw from that, though, is not to run around trying frantically to cover all your bases, but to have a sense of proportion about things like spending 8 hours decorating a Barbie cake for your daughter's 7th birthday, and then 10 years later she doesn't remember the cake at all but remembers the dead raccoon they found in the woods that afternoon with perfect, unerring clarity.

Posted by: Lizzie | January 23, 2007 1:21 PM

regardless of who (whom? grammar police -- help!

Of whom. A preposition required the objective case of a word.

Posted by: Grammar Sheriff | January 23, 2007 1:24 PM

NC Lawyer,

What color is the JJC? Not sage green, is it?

Posted by: Fred | January 23, 2007 1:26 PM

Nina no one is sticking up for sex offenders. Your judgmental rants are so ridicules I can't even believe anyone responded to them

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 1:29 PM

"I disagree on this one. Some of the young women (then girls) tell me fondly of when I use to coach softball. They remember the very vocal support that I gave them. I don't recall all of this and certainly did not view it as important or life changing at the time.

I continue to be surprised at what I considered things of no big consequence that my adult children and others remember to this day. "

Right Said Fred!!(...haha..sorry, I couldn't help myself!)

It's the little things that count and make a great relationship whether we're talking kids or husbands or friends. I couldn't care less if my husband gave me an all expenses paid trip once/year to an exotic locale- what I do cherish are the everyday thoghtful things. Anyone can show up for a big recital (or a wedding or a birthday party), but not everyone takes the time to coach the teams or cheer from the sidelines every week. Anyone who doesn't think that is important is misleading their kids.

And, no, the kids won't be self centered brats or little tyrants because a parent showed up every week for the soccer game!!

Talk about self-centered.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 1:30 PM

The holier-than-thou cave is getting bigger and bigger. Hope you gals have fun!

I still think Toodles is a fatso wrapped in a dangerously stretched cape of religion.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 1:30 PM

Fred and NC lawyer: Do they have a huge ice maker in the sage green JJC?

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 23, 2007 1:31 PM

Lizzie, You came up with the perfect example.

Fred, Gotta disagree with you that cookies for the post-play reception is even in the same ballpark with being a great coach! (please excuse the bad pun and lazy metaphor selection). You spent time, got to know the girls, provided positive feedback. Even at the time, you probably knew you were making a great choice, whether or not any of them remembered later.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 23, 2007 1:31 PM

Off Topic Alert!

Next week, Fredia and I will celebrate 31 years of martial bliss. Any suggestions what I might get her? (other than anything sage green!)

Posted by: Fred | January 23, 2007 1:32 PM


Nina wrote

>If you see your kids 6 hours a day then good for >you and good for them! I wasn't talking about you >then.

No, you were just talking about those strawman WOHMs who live in their McMansions and don't "need" to work, but selfishly abandon their forlorn kids ('why won't you meet me at the bus, Mommy? why?'), whom they see only 2 hours a day.

Because slinging stereotypes is just so conducive to civil and insightful discussion . . .

Sorry, I must be in a pissy mood today . . .

Words I would filter from the list, as they're a surefire sign of rude, denigrating, stereotype-slinging behavior (or mockery thereof):

McMansion, bonbon, spawn, . . . . can anyone list more?

Posted by: KB | January 23, 2007 1:33 PM

Fred, the traditional and modern gifts for 30 years of marriage are pearls and diamonds - you can't go wrong with either one (and something extra for the extra year).

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 23, 2007 1:36 PM

Gotta disagree with you that cookies for the post-play reception is even in the same ballpark with being a great coach!

I dunno know. We live in a very poor state and some of the parents were hard pressed to even pay the registration fee.

(And I sure remember anyone that brings me home baked chocolate chip cookies!)

Posted by: Fred | January 23, 2007 1:37 PM

KB does my desire for a bigger diamond count?

Posted by: scarry | January 23, 2007 1:39 PM

Fred - Yup. It's sage green, in honor of Foamgnome, whose voice of reason apparantely has been sorely missed today. Assuming you intended marital bliss and not martial bliss, I am in favor of a getaway over bling. Is Fredia more the type to want something tangible to remember the event, or a great memory?

KB, No. but they can earn a huge icemaker if the learn to share the cave and play nicely with others. It's unlikely, but perhaps with the correct incentive . . .

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 23, 2007 1:40 PM

Get her a boob job. She'll love it!

Posted by: To Fred | January 23, 2007 1:41 PM

"Next week, Fredia and I will celebrate 31 years of martial bliss. Any suggestions what I might get her?"

Something that you know she'll love and that shows you're thinking of her specific likes and dislikes. I would be thrilled if my husband took me to Cooperstown (because he knows I love baseball) and talked to me about the trip beforehand (because he knows I hate surprises).

Or you could just do an overnight at Inn at Little Washington.

Posted by: Lizzie | January 23, 2007 1:41 PM

ha, some women don't need boob jobs!

Posted by: scarry | January 23, 2007 1:42 PM

What is all of this cave talk about? I am tres confused!

Posted by: s | January 23, 2007 1:43 PM

NC lawyer, Well, depending on the location of the cave (ie below ground if you know what I mean) they may NEED the ice maker. Now THAT would be an incentive.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 23, 2007 1:43 PM

"Words I would filter from the list, as they're a surefire sign of rude, denigrating, stereotype-slinging behavior (or mockery thereof):

McMansion, bonbon, spawn, . . . . can anyone list more?"

Sure, but first I'd have to stop confusing KB and KLB.

KLB - prior ice maker comment was misaddressed to KB. It's my typing -- it's not that you look alike.

KB, I'd propose to add to your list hens, scream queens, and the statement: "Anyone who doesn't think [fill-in-the-blank] is important is misleading their kids."

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 1:44 PM

I'd like to filter "mommy wars"--the phrase and the phenomenon.

Posted by: Mona | January 23, 2007 1:49 PM

My vote is quality time.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 23, 2007 1:50 PM

what is a feminist's perspective on boob jobs? Mine have never been the same since bfing and am considering it but feel like I am betraying myself and my gender...

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 1:51 PM

Fred, have you given her a plastic toy with batteries yet?

Posted by: Don't feel threatened by the Energizer Bunny | January 23, 2007 1:52 PM

"It's for the children" makes me want to vomit.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 1:53 PM

"What is all of this cave talk about? I am tres confused!

to s, my apologies. During the course of a discussion last month, which if I recall correctly arose in connection with a column on the results of research on Neanderthals, several of us proposed that holier-than-thou posters be assigned to a separate cave off by themselves so that the rest of the blogging village could toss around some ideas on balance without dodging grenades. On occasion since then, a poster or two has distinguished herself or himself in a similar manner that suggests that a similar cave assignment is particularly suitable.


Posted by: NC lawyer | January 23, 2007 1:55 PM

To: Nina and Toodles

Sin is sin. There are no "degrees" of sin; religious zealots try to rank man's sin. The exception is - the greatest sin of all, which is to not believe.

Posted by: NYC | January 23, 2007 1:55 PM

the cave article is from December blog entitled "Neanderthal Women Unite!"

NC Lawyer and I are assigned to the CSS cave.

Posted by: Fred | January 23, 2007 1:57 PM

"Fred, have you given her a plastic toy with batteries yet?"

hee. hee. now it's getting very in-ter-est-ing, folks.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 1:59 PM

NYC--that's interesting that you say that. My assertion is that the only people who don't sin are those who don't believe in sin. So by that logic, to those who do believe, I am a double sinner--my regular sins, plus the sin of not believing in sin/God/Jesus/whatever.

Posted by: Mona | January 23, 2007 2:00 PM

...yet in my mind, I'm sin-free by default.

Posted by: Mona | January 23, 2007 2:01 PM

KB, how about "SUV"? That little gem has derailed many a blog.

Posted by: Meesh | January 23, 2007 2:05 PM

Talk about judging - I think deciding who should go in which cave certainly smacks of judgement. I will revel in my cave assignment and decorate it with zeal. I will then seek out and capture an appropriate caveman to have babies with. We won't be attending the cave church though so I guess I may committ the "greatest sin of all." By the way, the greatest love of all is learning to love yourself which seems appropriate to mention as well.

Posted by: nina | January 23, 2007 2:05 PM

NYC my mom is protestant and she says the same thing, sin is sin. However, I feel that if I told you all a lie right now, that sin couldn't be as bad as me standing by while someone was beat to death or if someone was hurting a kid. It's all in what you believe or what you don't believe. It makes the discussion interesting too, when the people involved are civil.

On the boob job thing, who cares what the feminist think, do what you want, isn't that what feminism is all about. I would actually like to go the other way and have a reduction, but I am scared of dying!

Posted by: scarry | January 23, 2007 2:06 PM

nina believes the children are our future, teach them well...

Posted by: Whitney | January 23, 2007 2:10 PM

Sorry to confuse you, Mona...

Everyone sins. My point was that "man" (religious zealots usually attached to some religion/church) trys to rank the sin of others, usually for the convenience to lessen their own sin in their own eyes/eyes of their church.

Posted by: NYC | January 23, 2007 2:11 PM

Nina: blah blah blah blah

What? I can't hear you from the cave? You say you want to repent and play nice?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 2:11 PM

No time to play - working on an Etruscan theme for my cave - very rustic and lovely in here.

Posted by: nina | January 23, 2007 2:14 PM

"pearls and diamonds"
Already has them

"Get her a boob job"
Has them in abundance

"getaway over bling"
She likes that as long as there is a restaurant and a full service laundry

"took me to Cooperstown"
Hey, Lizzie, forget about your hubby and Fredia, take ME!

"quality time"
every day is a quality day when you are married to me! :)

"plastic toy with batteries"

Way too personal of a gift, I would probably get the wrong color.

Posted by: Fred | January 23, 2007 2:14 PM

hahah, I hope your cave man invents the wheel so you can meet your kids at the cave bus!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 2:15 PM

what is a feminist's perspective on boob jobs? Mine have never been the same since bfing and am considering it but feel like I am betraying myself and my gender...

Posted by: | January 23, 2007 01:51 PM

Getting a boob job carries with it a bit more baggage than having a facelift, but if you want one, get one. You're not betraying yourself any more than if you color your hair or have your tummy tucked. The gender will survive any decision a woman makes for herself with respect to her personal appearance, as long as she doesn't consider her personal appearance to be the fundamental source of her self-worth and value.

On the other hand, if a woman undergoes breast enhancement surgery primarily because her husband or significant other deems larger breasts essential to her femininity and attractiveness (that's not you), then, particularly if she is taking on a potential health risk (silicone rather than saline - depending on the latest research, for example), that's when feminists begin to shake their heads in despair.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 2:15 PM

I hope he does too! He's really an awesome cave husband. I'm very lucky - I'm hoping he'll bring home some wild boar for dinner in the crock pot.

Posted by: nina | January 23, 2007 2:16 PM

Boob jobs- There's a good topic.

I would certainly do it if: 1) I had the money 2) didn't have to use my sick/vacation days for my kids

They are just so saggy after kids! I have to wear 2 bras to contain the suckers...It's a matter of comfort in my book at this point!

Don't worry about what others think! Being a feminist is all about beng able to make choices- on money, jobs, boobs, whatever!

Posted by: Boobs! | January 23, 2007 2:17 PM

NYC, sorry, you didn't confuse me. I understood what you said, I just took off on a tangent. It's a bad habit of mine.

My opinion is that though I don't believe in sin, I do have a code of ethics partially dictated by law and partially personal. I follow it, and to me there are grades of violations--telling your wife she hasn't gained weight over Christmas is not as bad as lying about the affair you had last year. But all that is moot. Some sins/crimes are what some would consider worse than others, but you're right--a sin is a sin, just as a lie is a lie.

Posted by: Mona | January 23, 2007 2:18 PM

I find the religious arguments interesting. Who is a sinner, who is not. What sins are worse then others. Whose beliefs are right and whose are wrong. Who is going to hell and who is going to heaven. And of course, is it a sin not to believe?

I personally think there is a God, but I have a hard time believing that any religous faith or establishment can claim to be the sole means of salvation for all humanity. Seriously, humans have lived on this earth for about 100,000 years, and throughout those years, they have believed in many different things, gods, philosophies, religions, etc. as they have developed and learned about their world. I don't believe for a second that Catholics or Muslims or Buddhists or Fundamenalists any other group can say that they are right and every else was wrong. I do think that most faiths have some wisdom in them, and that perhaps we can all learn from each other. And I see need to judge others and condemn them not as a sign that that particular group has more spiritual wisdom than others, but more of a sign that they are more insecure.

But I guess to each his own.

Posted by: Emily | January 23, 2007 2:19 PM

so, nina, you don't have kids yet, but were lecturing us ad nauseum?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 2:19 PM

Q: What's the most effective form of birth control?

A: Equal Opportunity.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 2:27 PM

all you girls who want boobs can have mine!

Mona if I told you you looked nice in a dress and you didn't is that the same as if I saw your husband smooching another girl and didn't tell you. Sometimes a lie isn't just a lie.

Fred, where did you propose to Fredia and what did you do that day? Maybe you could recreate that day.


Posted by: scarry | January 23, 2007 2:30 PM

To January 23, 2007 02:27 PM: The most effective method of birth control is the pill - held firmly between the knees.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 23, 2007 2:30 PM

Scarry,

Lying is lying. Not telling is not telling... Big difference.

Posted by: NYC | January 23, 2007 2:33 PM

Scarry, Some of us want our own boobs -- only in the location they were pre-pregnancy. Gravity and pregnancy are a cruel, cruel team.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 23, 2007 2:33 PM

What a pitiful devolution to smac talk.

Apologies to Leslye and Leslie, who deserve better.

How can this blog be retrieved from the garbage bin of bloggerdom?

Posted by: CA Mom | January 23, 2007 2:34 PM

Plastic surgery, now there's a VLI (anyone remember that?)

Seriously, how can anyone afford elective plastic surgery?

Posted by: Meesh | January 23, 2007 2:34 PM

Well, I think we will have to disagree on the lying issue. I lie to my kid and tell her there is a Santa Claus, but I don't think it is the same as lying about murder, adultery, etc.

NYC lawyer mine have been the same size since 8th grade, BF did nothing to make them smaller, but I do feel your gravity pain!

I think that the issue of religion is interesting, perhaps we could have a blog on the issue of how religion or the lack there of affects how you parent and raise children. If we all just remember that the cave is not full, we could have a great discussion.

Posted by: scarry | January 23, 2007 2:39 PM

Apologies to Leslye and Leslie, who deserve better.

Gimmeabreak, CA Mom - apologize for yourself if you feel the need, but leave the rest of us out of it. A blogger doesn't "deserve" anything, except perhaps a fair reading. We gave it that. This column was fine, but didn't provide the basis for much discussion after 11.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 2:46 PM

Leslye,

Thank you for the inspiring column. I am married, and a recent law school graduate. I am trying to figure out how to succeed at marriage and at a demanding career, and how to help others in the process.

My job is not in public service, but I do see every day how many people are in need of legal services who cannot afford them.

Your column was enlightening, and reminds us all that family, friends, and career are often inextricably intertwined.

Posted by: lawgirl | January 23, 2007 2:47 PM

To CA Mom,

Even Leslie talks about doing laundry in spite of the fact that it is not today's topic!

Posted by: the original anon | January 23, 2007 2:49 PM

I do think that religion and parenting could be an interesting discussion. This is my dilemma. I was raised Catholic, and appreciate how it contributed to me culturally. But to be perfectly honest, I don't really believe much of the dogma anymore, so I don't go to church anymore unless it is a family wedding, funeral, or other big event. But I do like going on Christmas and Easter, not so much for the religious factor, but more for the cultural celebratory factor. I like the music, the carols, and the ritual.

I am not raising my son in the same way, in terms of religion, that my parents raised me, and I am afraid that by not doing so, I will not have exposed him to the culture and history to which I was exposed. I think it is good to know about the bible, because it is so important in literature and history. But I don't see Catholicism as an option for us, because I would just feel like a hypocrite. Maybe I should look into the Unitarian church, or some other group that is less stringent about what the beliefs are and is perhaps just more humanistic and stresses ethics instead of dogma.

Posted by: Emily | January 23, 2007 2:50 PM

Why is it that, when someone is not liked on this blog, she/he ends up being referred to as fat or a "fatso"?

Where does that come from?

Posted by: pittypat | January 23, 2007 2:51 PM

It comes from a tacit acceptance of discrimination against the obese.

Posted by: Emily | January 23, 2007 2:54 PM

Emily I am with you on the Catholic thing. I call myself culturally catholic and to be honest haven't went to church in months and feel torn about what I am teaching my daughter. A little side note is that my mom is protestant and therefore I went to both churches, long story :) I think that if you want to believe in God that it is good to believe he/she is everywhere. My aunt used to tell me that the devil could only be in one place at a time, and that if he was bothering you he was leaving someone else alone. It's fun to be superstitious, and that is one of my fav things about being Irish Catholic. .

Pittypat is right about calling people fat when they are not liked. toodles could be hot for all we know and who cares if she isn't anyway. I just didn't like her rhetoric today, maybe tomorrow I will agree with her, but I see no reason to call her fat.

Posted by: scarry | January 23, 2007 2:58 PM

"as long as she doesn't consider her personal appearance to be the fundamental source of her self-worth and value."

But, if she's willing to spend oodles of money and accept the risks of invasive surgery, shouldn't we assume that she DOES consider her appearance a "fundamental source of her self-worth and value"?

Not quite the same thing as forking over a hundred or two for hair color and a new cut. That's cheap and risk-free compared to surgery.

Posted by: pittypat | January 23, 2007 3:01 PM

2:46 post -- so sad.

Leslye's post may not have been interesting to you, but it was to many others who've written in today. What gives you and your immature co-bloggers the right to hijack a perfectly good discussion with juvenile humor? Find your own place to blather about your boring, trite scum talk.

THIS blog is the location to talk about this topic today -- whether it's 10 posts or 300. Go away and rejoin when the topic suits you; just don't bore the rest of us to tears and frustation with your ignorance.

How about some conversation about what compels someone to work in field like the one Leslye describes. It's an honorable profession.

Alas, that might be a bit to introspective for some of you.

Posted by: CA Mom | January 23, 2007 3:02 PM

Nina, I apologize to you and others for getting snarky and judgemental. I think my own guilt of having an abortion, of all things to pursue, a career in accounting, got the best of me. I don't belong to any organized religion, but I've always believed in God and right now I keep painting an imaginary child with my 2 sons in the picture that sits on my desk. I made a poor decisian because I was scared, and yes, selfish. Now I have to live with it and somehow be able to forgive myself before I go crazy.

Sorry, you don't deserve this, but I'm sure I'm not the only one.

Posted by: Toodles | January 23, 2007 3:02 PM


Meesh,

I'm with you on the "SUV". How about rich, wealthy, elite, luxury, petty, whine, whining . . . often appear together as in

"Only wealthy elite white women have the luxury of whining about such petty problems"

usually tossed in preemptively in an attempt to dismiss the day's topic or the experiences/demands of a whole class of people.

Posted by: KB | January 23, 2007 3:03 PM

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070123/ap_on_re_us/flight_tantrum

Didja see the article about the couple who were kicked off an AirTran flight because their three-year-old wouldn't sit down and fasten her seat belt?

They delayed the plane for 15 minutes, they were given free tickets for the next day AND three free tickets for a future date. They're saying they'll never fly AirTran again.

No comment. Just sharing.

Posted by: WDC | January 23, 2007 3:03 PM

"I do think that most faiths have some wisdom in them, and that perhaps we can all learn from each other."

Emily,

You're so right about this.

If you look carefully at all the major religions practiced in the world, they all ultimately come down to the same thing: Do unto others as you'd have them do unto you.

Posted by: pittypat | January 23, 2007 3:06 PM

Now this blog has turned into an Oprah-esque confessional. Not what I signed on for. Y'all need to see a shrink. See ya....

Posted by: To Toodles et al | January 23, 2007 3:09 PM

"Didja see the article about the couple who were kicked off an AirTran flight because their three-year-old wouldn't sit down and fasten her seat belt?"

I would have had the parents sign a release form, taken off regardless, and let the little tyke hurl around the plane. That would teach him and the parents a lesson that will be valuable throughout life. For the kid -- always buckle up. For the parents -- children should be seen and not heard.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 3:09 PM

To CA Mom

This is what I wrote the other day.

"Yes this blog does go off-topic sometimes and I am one of the "offenders". If you read a lot of other blogs, the regulars and "irregulars" stray from topic much more than this one.

We went off topic a few days ago to discuss the teenage pregnancy of that girl's aunt. The aunt was obviously upset about the situation. Many regular and irregular posters had concrete ideas and sympathy for the aunt. I feel that the comments help make a positive difference concerning the aunt's matter. I learned that many colleges have specific programs for single mothers attending college. So, going off topic can be a good thing and just don't read the comments that bother you."

Posted by: Fred | January 23, 2007 3:14 PM

Pretty broad, sanctimonious brush there, CA Mom. I suggest that you go away and rejoin when a multitude of diverse voices, interests and experiences suits you; just don't bore the rest of us to tears and frustration with your miserable attitude. Find your own place to blather about your boring bitterness and trite scum anger.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 3:15 PM

I would suggest all who believe they know something about Catholic Church teaching to read the catechism. for example, a mortal sin (in which the sin is grave) can have gradations - sin can be "more or less great: murder is graver than theft. One must also take into account who is wronged: violence against parents is in itself graver than violence against a stranger." in my experience, priests always consider the situation in which the sin was committed to assess the gravity of it.

and, fwiw, I converted to catholicism. I am not an extreme right-winger either. I went through my periods of being really angry at God, not believing in God and becoming buddhist. the thing that I like about christianity, though, is that its goal is simply for you to love and honor god, and, to do so, to be like god/jesus, who is the personification of all that is good - ie, to be a good person. with catholicism in particular, I find confession rather carthetic, a means whereby I examine myself and my actions, admit where I have done wrong, and repent and resolve to do better. it is, simply, a way for me to strive to be a better person.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 3:16 PM

Toodles, no need for an apology, it was fun to spar. Kids are home now maybe catch you tomorrow.

Posted by: nina | January 23, 2007 3:17 PM

I think the sideline comments from people who were raised in a certain religion but are raising their kids differently would be a good idea for a future day's topic. It sounds like a lot of us are in that boat and trying to figure out if we're doing the right thing. If nothing else it would spark some good dialog I'm sure. Leslie?

Posted by: idea? | January 23, 2007 3:17 PM

Hmmm. I'm not allowed to express my opinion in the midst of all of the other junk on this site? BTW, I don't have a miserable attitude. I just choose not to sign on to a Washington Post blog to read about boob humor and other meaningless scribbles.

So, I'll vote with my right index finger and sign off...

Posted by: CA Mom | January 23, 2007 3:20 PM

There is an article on the NY Times entitled "Is There a Post-Abortion Syndrome?" that is online now. This article discusses a lot of what Toodles is probably feeling. Worth a read.

Posted by: Fred | January 23, 2007 3:20 PM

to idea? as long as it doesn't devolve into the On Faith blog - the bitterest WaPost blog around -- where non-believers bash anyone who believes anything. Scarry's said it best, "if we all just remember that the cave is not full, we could have a great discussion."

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 23, 2007 3:21 PM

I thought the point of Leslie's story was that everyone needs balance in their lives. Each person's situation is unique, and some may find it harder to balance than others, but everyone needs balance.

I was struck by the mother who went to a foreign country for a better life for her family, worked 2-3 jobs, reached out for assistance to navigate whatever was needed to be legal and raise her children. I will not question her illegality at this point because I don't know if she came here illegally, or came legally on a temporary basis and failed to return, or how it was the she was illegal. The fact is that she did obtain legal status and worked very hard. I admire that more than many people who endured years of higher educationt to obtain high-paying prestigious jobs only to complain that the companies don't allow them to work hours of their own choosing.

Leslye, I admire that you found something that not only helps others, but fulfills you. Personal fulfillment is yet another piece of "balance". I also think I may be the only person who recognized that you may overdo anything, even the "dream job" and I'm happy that you found a way to slow down without giving it up completely.

Posted by: anon | January 23, 2007 3:24 PM

"On the boob job thing, who cares what the feminist think, do what you want, isn't that what feminism is all about."

You can do what you want as long as you BF and never, ever formula feed :).

Posted by: anon | January 23, 2007 3:28 PM

Haven't read the article, but I do know that some people do grieve and sometimes get depressed after an abortion. I know a woman who had an abortion after she found out that the fetus had Downs Syndrome. She was a physician, and knew exactly how much the fetus had developed. She also knew it was a girl, so she was understandably upset by her decision even though she knew in her heart that it was the right decision for her and her family. Still, she grieved for more than a year and very wisely sought counseling for her depression.

Posted by: Emily | January 23, 2007 3:28 PM

Fred, do you have a link to that article?

Posted by: Toodles | January 23, 2007 3:30 PM

Here's the link:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/21/magazine/21abortion.t.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1

Posted by: Emily | January 23, 2007 3:43 PM

Emily raises another great topic. How do you achieve or sustain balance, particularly as a parent, amid personal loss or tragedy?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 3:48 PM

"But the idea that abortion is at the root of women's psychological ills is not supported by the bulk of the research. Instead, the scientific evidence strongly shows that abortion does not increase the risk of depression, drug abuse or any other psychological problem any more than having an unwanted pregnancy or giving birth."

-- From the NY Times article.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 3:51 PM

"Maybe I should look into the Unitarian church, or some other group that is less stringent about what the beliefs are and is perhaps just more humanistic and stresses ethics instead of dogma."

Emily,

I can tell you from experience that the Unitarian church can provide a rich spiritual grounding for kids. Their "religious" education is outstanding.

As for the adults, it's a real home for those who value spirituality over religiosity.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 3:53 PM

Fred, it's not grand or (very) expensive or terribly romantic, but the coolest gift I've gotten all year was an AeroGrow kitchen hydroponic garden. Especially good for city dwellers who have counter space to spare and who like to cook.

Posted by: WDC | January 23, 2007 4:01 PM

Air Tran did EXACTLY what they should have done! Good for those flight attendants. I can't tell you how many flights I've been on where I've had to endure the kicking and screaming of toddlers (not infants, but children who are clearly old enough to understand the words "sit down and be quiet") -- and when you say anything to the kids OR their parents you either get the "what can WE do??" shrug or the "don't tell me how to raise my child" glare.

Yes, I know this was off topic but I wanted to get this in before we heard from some parent who was outraged by the actions of the Air Tran folks. I mean, c'mon - these folks got put on another flight, were reimbursed the original cost of their tickets, and were given vouchers for free flights in the future. Basically, they were rewarded for their kid's bad behavior!! I've certainly never gotten that kind of compensation for being involuntarily bumped from an overbooked flight or having my luggage lost. Maybe all I need to do is climb under the seat and scream a little. :)

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 4:03 PM

oh come on, flight attendants are lazy, mean, and have too much authority.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 4:06 PM

I agree with CA mom that Leslye deserves more discussion over her guest blog, and our comments have certainly devolved. On the other hand, I also agree that straying from the topic can be a great thing at times. I apologize for hijacking the thread yesterday afternoon with my personal stuff. I got some great advice from some great people, but I probably should have spent more time discussing the topic at hand, as we all should have done today as well. The great thing about this blog is that it opens up doors to discuss a multitude of topics, but we do have to acknowledge the person who went out of her way to tell us her story. And she does do some amazing work. We could all take a page out of her book and try to make a difference in the world; there is always a worthy cause that could use our attention. So I guess I'm torn--I love the inevitable spin-off topics that come from this blog, but I definitely want to acknowledge Leslye's contribution, both to this blog and to society.

And speaking of inevitable spin-offs, regarding "abortion guilt": Toodles, I'm sorry you are having guilty feelings about your abortion. You seem to be very upset with yourself and regretting your decision. I know it must be very painful, and I hope that you can find peace sometime soon. Have you talked to anyone about these feelings?

That being said, I've always had this opinion: it is better to regret an abortion than to regret a child. Thoughts?

Posted by: Mona | January 23, 2007 4:08 PM

"Fred, it's not grand or (very) expensive or terribly romantic, but the coolest gift I've gotten all year was an AeroGrow kitchen hydroponic garden. Especially good for city dwellers who have counter space to spare and who like to cook."

WDC --

Yes!!! My husband gave me one of those for my 50th b-day (my request), and I just set it up this past weekend. Cool gift for anyone who likes growing herbs or lettuce or tomatoes or strawberries, or flowers, etc.

Posted by: pittypat | January 23, 2007 4:10 PM

To person who converted to catholicism:

Many other religions do the same, some just without the jesus thing. Many of those ideas came from judaism.

And to most of you: judgemental enough? Wow . I especially like the ones who say it is not ok to work, then say it is if only - and give a bunch of conditions. As if it were up to you to judge. Everyone makes their own way in the world, and their own decisions. No one else knows what others go thru, so it is really not up to you to decide what is ok and what is not. As if anyone actually asked your opinion.

Posted by: atlmom | January 23, 2007 4:16 PM

Mona - Children CAN be given up for adoption you know.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 4:17 PM

'That being said, I've always had this opinion: it is better to regret an abortion than to regret a child. Thoughts?"

Wow, I have never thought of that. Not sure at all which is worse.

I know miscarriages are not abortions in the political sense, but having had four miscarriges, I can understand how it feels to lose a pregnancy. For me, the losses were huge disappointments, but I never felt as if I had lost an actual baby. It was more a feeling of having lost a possible baby, especially with my first and fourth miscarriages, where on the ultrasound, all that was visible was an empty gestational sac that had stopped growing.

In a way, seeing these ultrasounds were helpful to me because they did not show babies or anything that remotely looked like a baby. I think it would be much harder to lose a pregnancy or abort a pregnancy knowing that there was a fetus with a beating heart, a head, and a body.

Posted by: Emily | January 23, 2007 4:21 PM

atlmom, to most of us? Please reconsider the mass smear in light of the number of employed-outside-the-home parents that posted today. With the possible exception of Nina, there was little if any WOH bashing. You might have been thinking of another day's posts.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 4:23 PM

Would it be completely provocative of me to remind folks of the freakonomics findings re: abortion and crime?

Ah well, most folks have gone home to meet the bus by now, so it's probably not too inflammatory.

Posted by: CH | January 23, 2007 4:27 PM

"Air Tran did EXACTLY what they should have done!"

Hear, hear! I don't know where some people get off having such a sense of entitlement to think THEY need to be accommodated somehow when THEY ARE THE PROBLEM!

If I had misbehaved like that when I was young, there is no way my parents would have sat back and watched. As a result, I grew up knowing that I had to be polite and respectful at all times, and did not develop a giant chip on my shoulder and a belief that the world owes me something because I screwed up.

The airline should have given EVERYONE ELSE free vouchers, and left the family on the tarmac.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 4:27 PM

"Mona - Children CAN be given up for adoption you know."

Which, of course, explains the 100,000+ adoptable children in the U.S. alone, many of which are not having any luck at finding permanent homes.

Adoption is not always the answer. It can be a godsend for some, but it does not help a woman who does not wish to be pregnant. And people can regret adopting, too.

The bottom line is to do what works for you. Some would NEVER abort, some would refuse to adopt in or out--it's a personal choice. The most important thing is to do our best to make sure children who ARE born are wanted, loved, and cared for. There's no room for regrets.

Posted by: Mona | January 23, 2007 4:32 PM

many of whom* 'Scuse, please.

Posted by: Mona | January 23, 2007 4:34 PM

Thanks Fred, Emily. I followed the link and read the article. there's help, there's hope. 1 out of 3 women choose to have an abortion, but only 1 out of 1000 will ever talk about it.

Posted by: Toodles | January 23, 2007 4:34 PM

So Fred, have you decided on your gift yet? You do realize you will have to keep us posted, don't you?

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 23, 2007 4:39 PM

I had an abortion at 18. Selfish? yup. However, I've never regretted it. I once regretted being honest about it (years later) at an OB/GYN appointment with a new doctor who pretty much insisted that I needed grief counseling to deal with the feelings of guilt that I "should" be experiencing. I've never felt guilty about it. Needless to say I did not return to her office.

Posted by: ffxSAHM | January 23, 2007 4:41 PM

One of the hardest things to realize is that EVERYONE feels things differently. If I am sitting in a room with sweat pouring down my face and say that I am hot but someone else is there shivering and says they are cold which one of us is wrong? Feelings aren't right or wrong - they just are. It doesn't matter if you are talking about religion, abortion, going back to work or the Colts going to the Superbowl.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 23, 2007 4:47 PM

KLB SS MD, I was with you there until you included the Colts. About some things, the righteous all agree.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 23, 2007 4:51 PM

"But the idea that abortion is at the root of women's psychological ills is not supported by the bulk of the research. Instead, the scientific evidence strongly shows that abortion does not increase the risk of depression, drug abuse or any other psychological problem any more than having an unwanted pregnancy or giving birth."

-- From the NY Times article.

Posted by: | January 23, 2007 03:51 PM"

This is really cherry picking a quote from the article. The article is some 10 pages long. I am not wanting to take sides here but the issue is more complex than this quote would make it appear to be.

Posted by: Fred | January 23, 2007 4:55 PM

NC lawyer, I had to throw that in there - can't be TOO serious you know. So, do you like or dislike the Colts? Anyone who lives near Baltimore knows their sordid story and most don't like them.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 23, 2007 4:56 PM

"1 out of 3 women choose to have an abortion, but only 1 out of 1000 will ever talk about it."

Toodles, I question the 1 in 3 statistic and am curious about whether your source is objective or has an ax to grind. With respect to your second comment many of us discuss it with our close friends and family, but don't want to raise such an incendiary topic on a board devoted to work-life balance. If you're interested, I also had an abortion and have never looked back. I had neither the resources nor the maturity to reproduce at that time. You, on the other hand, feel terrible about your choice, and I hope you get the counseling that will help you deal with your feelings.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 4:59 PM

"Feelings aren't right or wrong - they just are."

Not to nitpick (ha), but some feelings are indeed wrong. They're based on erroneous information, are the result of a skewed impression, or are totally unreasonable. The person might indeed feel those emotions, but that doesn't mean they are legitimate or should be indulged.

People I know who have done cognative-behavioral therapy say that the hardest thing about it, hands down, was figuring out when their feelings were wrong. Acting on it was the easy part (comparatively). It was toughest to figure out for themselves which of their emotions were, in fact, invalid.

Posted by: Lizzie | January 23, 2007 5:02 PM

So Lizzie, when are we going to Cooperstown? My team are the Cub and the Dodgers. Altho, after last season, I am ready to disown the Cubs--not withstanding that I was born in Chicago.

Posted by: Fred | January 23, 2007 5:05 PM

KLB SS MD,

I lived in DC when the owners packed up Baltimore's beloved Colts and moved them to Indy. Baltimore has never been more unfairly and royally screwed over. On the other hand, neither Tony Dungy (a great coach who has done all the rights things and been extraordinarily patient with racism in NFL hiring) nor any of the guys on the current team, particularly Peyton Manning -- one of the most talented, truly nice guys of all time -- deserve to be booed for the crappy behavior of the owners awhile back. I didn't root for the Colts over the Ravens because I just couldn't stomach it, in deference to history. At this point, though, I'm 100% in favor of Dungy, Manning, et al. being able to look at those rings on their hands. The owners? still scum.

(You may recall that I live with a fan of Ol' Miss's greatest QB ever - Peyton's daddy.)

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 23, 2007 5:06 PM

Lizzie, I am not talking about feelings that are obviously wrong but the smaller things that people usually "nitpick" about. Most people fight about the small stuff which happens here too. I think we can all agree that rape and murder is bad. What we will not be able to agree on is whether or not you are wrong if you have an abortion and don't feel guilty - that is the type of feeling I am talking about.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 23, 2007 5:07 PM

NC lawyer - I stand corrected with respect to the Colts. I am not a native here and was never a football fan until I arrived here when the 'Skins were hot. Once they were bought by Dan Snyder (whom I call "The Weasel) I haven't gone to a single game or watched them on tv. He was charging admission and parking fees for practice!

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 23, 2007 5:12 PM

I wasn't trying to imply that what I felt was "right" or anything along those lines - just wanted to share my story and be one of those "1 in 1000" women who will talk about it, even after facing judgement from a healthcare provider. Much worse than being judged by an anonymous blogger.

Gotta doubt those "1 in 3" numbers, though . . .

Posted by: ffxSAHM | January 23, 2007 5:13 PM

Can I get in on the Cooperstown trip? As I am from Washington, the Mariners are my first love, but I have enjoyed watching the new Nats come to Washington and all the affiliated excitement (not especially looking forward to the coming season, though ...)

Posted by: TakomaMom | January 23, 2007 5:13 PM

KLB, fair enough. I just get hives when I hear someone say, "But all feelings are valid!" and my knee-jerk impulse is to say, "Uh, NO THEY'RE NOT."

Fred, I feel your pain. I'm a Red Sox fan. Although I have it easier than you Cubs fans. As far as the Dodgers go, my BIL thinks they hit the skids when they left Brooklyn, Sandy Koufax notwithstanding.

Posted by: Lizzie | January 23, 2007 5:13 PM

Lizzie - I am a Red Sox fan from WAY back (we're talking the days of Yaz here). Nobody knows pain like we do (there I go with feelings again). That is another word we should disallow - validation!

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 23, 2007 5:16 PM

I had the pleasure of watching the Mariners in the King dome many years ago. Nothing even fell on my head! Haven't been to the new ball park though.

I use to see the Angels play in Dodger stadium so you know that was a long time ago!

Posted by: TakomaMom | January 23, 2007 5:17 PM

ffxSAHM, I believe that 1 in 3 number actually came from the NY Times article.

Posted by: Jen | January 23, 2007 5:18 PM

to ffxSAHM: You should never be judged by a healthcare provider. I am a nurse and many years ago I worked in labor and delivery. We also had what we called "procedure day" where we did abortions and tubal ligations. I felt it was my job to support the patient in whatever decision she made - never to judge.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 23, 2007 5:19 PM

Yaz, being Polish, was my hero when I was small. Recently I found a Jim Rice autographed baseball for $60 and said to my husband, "Ohmygod, can you believe how cheap that is? Isn't that awesome?" He said he wouldn't cross the street for a Jim Rice baseball. What do you know, Husband?

Posted by: Lizzie | January 23, 2007 5:20 PM

I remember listening to the ball games from the west coast on my little am radio late at night. I had to hide the radio under my pillow so it wouldn't keep my sister awake. I carried it to junior high school and would listen in between classes (more day games back then).

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 23, 2007 5:22 PM

Sports fanatics -- You are on the wrong blog!

Posted by: denkpaard | January 23, 2007 5:32 PM

Re: The Colts - but Baltimore had NO PROBLEM ripping the Browns from Cleveland!! (with the exception of a few souls who protested the first "Ravens" game - b/c of the way B'more got the team).

Posted by: Betty | January 23, 2007 5:34 PM

It's nice to hear from someone on this blog who is using her skills to promote family.

Too often, the loudest voices are the militant mommy lobby who think there is no higher calling than pushing their own ideas and toting around their own children. Meanwhile, there are thousands of others who need legal, medical, and financial help, and who do not have the luxury of driving the carpool in the family SUV.

Hearing the perspective of someone who values her own family AND has a calling to help others is a refreshing change from the usual bickering between parents and non-parents, breastfeeders and forumla feeders, etc., etc., ad nauseum. It truly embraces the notion of "balance," which is rarely even discussed meaningfully on this blog.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 23, 2007 5:56 PM

"The airline should have given EVERYONE ELSE free vouchers, and left the family on the tarmac."

Wouldn't that get some panties in a bunch! Ha ha!

Posted by: catmommy | January 23, 2007 5:57 PM

We always go off topic no matter what the topic or who wrote it.

That is just the way it is, I like that we can be discussing one topic and then someone else says, "what about this" and we move to that topic, it makes the blog interesting.

Toodles, you are brave, I would never confess what you did to anyone. However, I wouldn't have apologized to someone who was equally as rude either. Did you notice that she didn't apologize to you?

Come back tommorrow :)

Posted by: scarry | January 23, 2007 6:26 PM

Sorry that should have been to TakomaMom!

I had the pleasure of watching the Mariners in the King dome many years ago. Nothing even fell on my head! Haven't been to the new ball park though.

I use to see the Angels play in Dodger stadium so you know that was a long time ago!

Posted by: TakomaMom | January 23, 2007 05:17 PM

Posted by: Fred | January 23, 2007 6:30 PM

I'm just not that interested in this woman's views. I am thrilled for her that she's found a satisfying career and am thankful that she does the work she does (and which few would want to do, including me), but I fail to see in what ways her life is like mine in terms of trying to balance work and family. She doesn't need to constantly take into consideration the other (in my case) 4 people that make up her family. It's just she and her husband. There's no balancing act in her life. Sorry, just don't see it.

Posted by: Righto | January 23, 2007 9:27 PM

who do not have the luxury of driving the carpool in the family SUV.

Since when did picking up kids from school become a luxury? Did you ever think that maybe those women worked hard so they could have that "luxury." It is not their fault that people come to this country illegally, don't learn English, and then have to work three jobs.

In fact, their taxes probably foot the bill for these people.

Posted by: duh | January 24, 2007 8:56 AM

what is a feminist's perspective on boob jobs? Mine have never been the same since bfing and am considering it but feel like I am betraying myself and my gender...

Posted by: | January 23, 2007 01:51 PM

Getting a boob job carries with it a bit more baggage than having a facelift, but if you want one, get one. You're not betraying yourself any more than if you color your hair or have your tummy tucked. The gender will survive any decision a woman makes for herself with respect to her personal appearance, as long as she doesn't consider her personal appearance to be the fundamental source of her self-worth and value.

On the other hand, if a woman undergoes breast enhancement surgery primarily because her husband or significant other deems larger breasts essential to her femininity and attractiveness (that's not you), then, particularly if she is taking on a potential health risk (silicone rather than saline - depending on the latest research, for example), that's when feminists begin to shake their heads in despair.

I agree 120%. Finally some sense!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 24, 2007 9:04 PM

Woah, talk about topics all over the spectrum...

Posted by: 215 | January 26, 2007 4:24 PM

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