All Possible Compromises

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 Send me your original, unpublished entry (300 words or fewer) for consideration.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.

By Susan Burns

I have the best of jobs and the worst of jobs. I have taught engineering at the college level for 10 years, and I cannot imagine a more enjoyable and fulfilling career. The yearly influx of young, eager students who are interested in learning what I am interested in teaching renews my soul in a fundamental way every time I teach a new class.

However, while my hours are somewhat flexible, they are demanding, requiring long days. Unfortunately, I have a big-city commute. As a compromise to try to ensure a minimum level of sanity in our lives, my engineer-husband decided to stay home with our two children after our son was born two years ago. I knew this would not solve all the problems, but I thought it would at least give me the peace of mind that all the needs of our children were being met because my husband is a great dad.

Outside of work/commuting, I honestly spend every minute I have with my kids. Like all of us, I love them with every fiber of my being, and I know I am lucky to be able to choose to spend time with them. I leave for work around 4:30 a.m., so I can have the evening with them during the week. We have special activities that are just Mommy and the kids in addition to the family activities we do on the weekends. I do my best to visit our five-year-old's preschool at least once a month, even though I leave for work long before preschool starts and get home long after it ends.

But it is not enough. The kids clearly have needs that are not being fulfilled. When I get home in the evening, our children stick to me like Velcro. Our daughter says things like, "The kids at preschool wanted to know what you look like," which clearly caused her some pain. Short of sending in a picture, I am not sure what to do.

I thought we had made all the possible compromises and had a reasonably good balance between work and home. What else can I do? Do I just trust that my kids will be okay in the long run? How does everyone else handle a seemingly good-enough work/family compromise that doesn't completely meet your kids' needs?


Susan Burns is an Associate Professor of Civil Engineering at Georgia Tech. She lives with her family in Alpharetta, Ga.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  March 13, 2007; 7:30 AM ET  | Category:  Guest Blogs
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Comments

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OK, am I first?

Posted by: foamgnome | March 13, 2007 6:38 AM

Do I just trust that my kids will be okay in the long run?

Simply put, yes, as long as you're sure you're doing your best to meet those needs. Nobody has a perfect childhood. Your kids will be fine. In fact, if the worst thing they can say about you is that you had a job, then you're doing great.

Posted by: NewSAHM | March 13, 2007 6:46 AM

Don't really know what to think about this blog entry. Is Susan insinuating that both parents need to stay at home to meet the needs of their children? I guess what I don't like about this blog is the obvious double standard. Presumably, the kids at pre-school know what DAD looks like. So who cares if they don't know what MOM looks like? How many of the other pre-schoolers can say that?

While I appreciate Susan's honesty and ability to open up about her life, I have a problem with the notion that a SAHD isn't good enough. I think this sends the wrong message and the implication is clear - that it is Mom's responsiblity to provide child care to the family. Perhaps I'm reading too much into this, but that was my gut feeling.

Posted by: londonmom | March 13, 2007 6:48 AM

Londonmom: I guess I did not get that feeling at all when reading her blog. I thought she was just questioning her general decision to work. I am not sure having a SAHD changes her complex emotions. Of course the reality is, someone needs to work to pay the bills. I was actually quite surprised that being a professor was so demanding. Maybe she is not tenured. But once your tenured, it doesn't seem like such long hours. But the commute into Atlanta is probably rough. I would be curious how her SAHH is doing? Does he plan to go back to work? Will things slow down once she is tenured?

Posted by: foamgnome | March 13, 2007 6:55 AM

"The kids at preschool wanted to know what you look like," which clearly caused her some pain. Short of sending in a picture, I am not sure what to do."

Ignore it. Or explain to your child that we live in a sexist society where the expectations are that mom is at home and that his 5 year old is already indoctrinated in sexism

I agree with Londonmom. What is the point? Are you insinuating that your husband is not a good enough father? You say you are spending a lot of (quality)time with your children, if you really are, then they know it. Also you say that you go to her preschool once a month. Is your school filled with helicopter mothers? Why isn't once a month enough? Maybe you need a different preschool then?

Or it could be that the time you are spending with your children is not really focused on them. Or your husband doesn't focus on them. Really, you should be able to have time for yourself as well as time with your children. If your hours are really flexible, then that should be the case. Long hours or not. Can you not do your academic work after they go to bed? That's what I used to do when I was in academia.

How about moving closer to your job? How about changing jobs? I've found when I am happy with my career/job, inconsequential comments like your daughter's don't bother me. Maybe you need a change.

Posted by: working mother | March 13, 2007 6:57 AM

I live in Howard County. Some parents are able to stagger their shifts and have one do dropoff and one to pickup. Many however have a situation where one parent commutes into DC and the other works in suburban MD somewhere. So it is not at all unusual for one parent to do the majority of picking up/dropping off. I would imagine this is pretty normal in any major metropolitan area where long commutes are normal.

Posted by: Tuesday Morn | March 13, 2007 6:57 AM

I put brackets around "being facetious" after "sexism" and it didn't show up. I was kidding.

Posted by: working mother | March 13, 2007 6:58 AM

Foamgnome,
Georgia Tech is not a 'teaching college,' it is a research university. Although the author does not mention it, it is likely that she needs to spend a lot of time chasing research funding and supervise graduate students. When I went to Maryland my thesis advisor was constantly writing proposals so that she could pay her students and have money for lab supplies and equipment. The university provides very little beyond the infrastructure (which they pay for by taking at least 50% of whatever research grants you win).

Posted by: Tuesday Morn | March 13, 2007 7:02 AM

foamgame,
Being a professor is not necessarily that demanding and there is flexibility with hours. And she says she is an associate professor so she either has tenure or doesn't. Those decisions are made prior to associate professor. It seems her issues are with the "long hours"/commute. Many women work and have fulfilling careers. I think her career must not be as fulfilling as she says. Or she is not very good at time management.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 13, 2007 7:02 AM

"The kids want to know what you look like" sounds kind of suspicious to me. I think it would be unusual for a four year old to display that amount of interest in someone else's parents. I'm wondering if maybe that particular classmate is parroting something she might have heard her own snide SAHM say. ("I don't even know what that Susan person looks like . . " said over Starbucks with the other SAHM's.)


I'm actually more worried about what the author is doing to herself by waking up at 4:30 AM and running herself ragged than I am about what it's doing to the kids. I tried to do something similar a few years ago and found myself so burned out that I literally couldn't enjoy anything. If at all possible, try to think this through from a long-term perspective, Susan. Can you keep up this pace for another year, five years, indefinitely? HOw do you think you'll feel about it five years from now? ten years from now? (A friend of mine who works full=time with a really long commute told me there are days when she sort of counts down to the day the kids will be in college so she can finally get some rest -- and I remember feeling similar. It was kind of like a low-level resentment for the frenetic pace being foisted upon everyone.)

Posted by: Armchair Mom | March 13, 2007 7:05 AM

Armchair mom--you make excellent points.

And assuming the kid was parroting her month, why would another mother make a nasty comment like that anyway? Hmmmm....

Posted by: working mother | March 13, 2007 7:12 AM

I agree with working mother. Ignore the comment. Your job as a parent is to prepare your child for the world, not to make him or her happy every moment of every day. It sounds like you are providing an excellent example of how the world is -- somebody has to have a paying job in order to make all the other things happen. That said, it also seems as if the long commute, long hours, and high level of responsibility is taking a heavy toll. I also agree with Armchair Mom that the "balance" may be tipped so that too much of the weight falls on Susan. Something needs to change here -- life is not supposed to be a bed of roses, but it's also not supposed to be such a colossal struggle that there's no joy in it.

Posted by: LML | March 13, 2007 7:18 AM

Do we really have to "completely meet [our] children's needs" all the time?

Posted by: Ajax | March 13, 2007 7:29 AM

I understand Susan's frustration about her kids wanting more. I work part-time and spend almost all of my time out of the office with my kids and they still want more. I find my children are completely insatiable. I work 28 hours a week, 4 seven-hour days. I leave early so I can be home by 4:00pm, giving me 4 hours with my kids before lights out, Mon-Thurs., when they are not in school on Fri. and Sat. & Sun. I feel like I have a lot of time with them. But, my kids still complain that they want me home more and stick to me like velcro when I'm home. I love the fact that they love me and want to be with me but I get weary sometimes of feeling like it's never enough.

I was home on a leave of absence for a number of months and my kids were a little less clingy but there were still times when they protested me leaving. My question is - are all kids insatiable like this or do folks think it's a more common issue for working parents, and possibly more often working moms? Or, is it just my kids?

Posted by: PT Fed Mof2 | March 13, 2007 7:30 AM

I stay at home, and work just twelve hours per week. My kids would be thrilled if I didn't even do those twelve hours! They'd love to have me around the clock if they could. They are 5 and 3, and their daddy is with them when I'm not. I think "wanting more" of mom is normal. But the balance works for us, and I think it's very good for them to learn that the family dynamic isn't based 100% around their concerns. We need to do what's best for us all.

Posted by: Mostly home mom | March 13, 2007 7:31 AM

PT Fed Mof2, my kids are like yours - no matter how much time I spend with them, and no matter how many fun activities we do - they want more. That's why I don't think we can ever meet our kids' needs (wants?) completely. And that's probably a good thing for them to learn.

Posted by: Ajax | March 13, 2007 7:34 AM

PT Fed Mof2 ,
No, it is not just your kids. Mine was clingy when I was SAHM for 3 yrs and is still clingy a year after I started working FT. I think, some of the clinginess is insecurity but most of it is to test boundaries. And I have noticed that if I insist she give me sometime for myself either to read or watch TV or get dinner ready, she usually does - after months of consistently showing her that she can entertain herself for a few mins.

Posted by: AnotherRockvilleMom | March 13, 2007 7:41 AM

"And she says she is an associate professor so she either has tenure or doesn't. Those decisions are made prior to associate professor."

??? Do you know that's the case at Ga. Tech.? At my mother's college, you went from Assistant Prof. to Assoc. Prof. well before you got tenure. It sounds to me like she's right in the thick of proving herself and building a name and learning the grant system etc. etc. etc., which is hugely tough even without young kids.

Susan, all I can suggest is that you go a little easier on yourself. In my own experience, when kids hit 5 or so, they start being aware of the differences between them and other people, so they try to understand those differences (my daughter is fascinated with skin tone and ethnicity right now).

Plus, if your daughter is anything like mine, she knows how to work you. :-) Just last week, my daughter pulled out "why don't parents want to spend time with their kids?" Yeah, twist the knife. But you have to take that stuff with a grain of salt -- in my case, I had just gotten back from a 2-day business trip that afternoon, and since I almost never travel and she is a creature of habit, that was her way of saying "I missed you."

One other thing: again, don't know if your daughter is like mine, but mine has just recently entered the stage where when she gets angry, she says things that she hopes will be hurtful to provoke a response. So now she's trying out different threats to find the one that will get the biggest reaction (she quickly figured out that "I'm never going to come into your bedroom at night again!" didn't really get the reaction she wanted ("ummm, ok, great!"), and has now moved on to "I'm never going to speak to you again" and the like).

I'm not saying that your daughter doesn't miss you. She may need more mommy time -- I think the worry you express is what led a number of posters on this board to choose to both have lower-stress jobs instead of one having a high-demand job and the other staying at home. All I'm saying is that you shouldn't automatically leap to that conclusion, because it could also be any number of other things that are totally normal for 5-yr-olds.

Posted by: Laura | March 13, 2007 7:42 AM

Susan you've probably heard the phrase "Damning with faint phrase".

What you've done with the observation:
"The kids clearly have needs that are not being fulfilled."
with the justification:
"The kids at preschool wanted to know what you look like",
you've actually complimented yourself with faint damning.

Clever! But I really can't think of a real life eexample that could be more petty than what you ggave us to feel guilty about as a parent.

Next thing you'll be saying things like, "I'm worried about sending my daughter to kindergarten because I havn't taught her the multiplication tables yet."

It's perfectly clear to me that not only your children's need ARE being fulfilled, but your rank as a mother is in the top 95 percentile. Typical though, for engineering professors!

Posted by: Father of 4 | March 13, 2007 7:44 AM

I grew up with my father doing all the pick ups/drop offs, teacher conferences, etc...to the point where people thought he was a single dad. He was a teacher with a similar schedule and was in the same city instead of a 45 minute commute away. It didn't negatively impact any of us, yes we were thrilled when mom could make our soccer games and on the weekend when she was around to do other things. I think the key is having someone, mom, dad, grandparents, aunts, uncles, whomever to be available to the children. Yes they may want all of your time right now, but will realize that you can't always get what you want, which is a good thing.

Posted by: fed worker | March 13, 2007 7:44 AM

'I find my children are completely insatiable'

right, mine too. Do your best and don't feel guilty. Children feed on guilt like sharks.

Posted by: experienced mom | March 13, 2007 7:44 AM

I think the bottom line is that you must be comfortable and happy with the situation, and it sounds like Susan is not. Personally, I have found that eliminating the long communte did wonders with my work/home balance satisfaction. Luckily we got into the housing market (close to where we work) before it skyrocketed, but being a 5 minutes drive from the office has made life much more enjoyable, and the kids see both DH and I much more.

Posted by: Michelle | March 13, 2007 7:45 AM

No one has mentioned this yet- but is moving so that you're closer to work out of the question? Maybe you won't be able to afford as much house but a shorter commute is worth at least 1000 square feet. I have a very short commute from my teeny little house to work in downtown DC, and I can't even imagine what my life (or my family's lives) would be like if I had to do a long commute every day.

Posted by: randommom | March 13, 2007 7:49 AM

I also leave very early in the morning and come home later in the evening. I have done this some 26 years. Frieda and I live in a very small town where we can send our kids to public school and not worry too much about their safety. This is the trade off that I have made to give my wife and children a slower pace of life. Maybe every want of my kids wasn't met but oh well! I think now that 3 or the 4 are adults, they understand and appreciate why Frieda and I have made this choice. I guess I need to ask them!

Posted by: Fred | March 13, 2007 7:50 AM

I am not trying to be mean and maybe the kids are too young but doesn't there come a time in a kid's life when they come to the realization that it isn't all about them? They have to learn to share their toys and their parents. I have friends who, the minute they get on the phone, have two kids in the room trying to talk at the same time. Obviously a two year old isn't going to be able to understand as much but a five year old could get "mommy needs a few minutes to do (fill in the blank)". Maybe set a timer so they know that when it goes off they will get some attention.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 13, 2007 7:52 AM

The day I knew my kid was smarter than me:

4 yo - Mommy! Stay here! Play with me!
Mom - Mommy has to go to work, play with (grandparent, cousin)
4 yo - Why?! Why do you have to go to work?
Mom - Well, we need to pay for the house, buy clothes, food, electricity, gasoline...

4 yo - (contemplative pause) Go to work to buy money?

Mom - Yes, that sums it up.

4 yo - (with cheeky smile) Go to work, buy money, give to (insert 4 yo's name)!

I had to laugh.

Re: Today's guest blogger.

Don't fret about it. If you can stop in sometime, do so. Otherwise, let it go. This probably doesn't come from the other kids (some of whom may be asking their DADDY why he can't be there). It's not up to us to make satisfy their every whim.

Go for a carousel ride with the kid instead!

Posted by: MdMother | March 13, 2007 7:53 AM

KLB, you're not being mean, you're absolutely right! For some reason, a lot of people think their kids must come first all the time, and I think that creates a lot of stress in the parents without which everybody's lives (including the kids'!) might just be nicer.

Posted by: Ajax | March 13, 2007 7:55 AM

I think that children do have a sometimes instatiable desire for their parents and for fun activities. But that does not mean that giving them what they want is what they need!

I do think that many young children have a mother preference. There may be many reasons for this preference, including social expectations. This preference means that when Dad is the primary caregiver, the Mom may be besieged when she is home. But that does not mean that the Dad is not a wonderful caregiver.

When my children were young, I worked longer hours than my husband and he picked them up from day care and spent a couple of hours with them before I got home. My youngest daughter had a strong mother preference, but my husband wasn't threatened by it, and my daughter has always been close to me, so I didn't worry about it.

I think you should be happy that your children want to be with you. It shows that you have a good relationship with them. I think it may be that few of their peers have a stay at home dad and many have stay at home moms. It might be useful to connect with other families that have stay at home dads, so your children will see that they are not unique. Talk to them about how lucky they are to have their dad with them during the day.

Also, you should make time to visit their school at least once in the fall and once in the spring, if you have any flexibility at all. Most schools have some kind of activity when kids perform or show their art. It sounds like the children want to show you off to their friends.

I also think that one thing that happens with working moms is that the week-ends are devoted just to the family. If your chidlren have some good friends at school, have play dates over the week-end so their friends can meet you. And you can have some time to yourself while your children play with their friends.

You seem to feel guilty about working. You have no reason to feel guilty. You have full-time parent care for your children. But your guilt may lead you to take your children's complaints too seriously.

Posted by: prof mom | March 13, 2007 7:55 AM

I think the question that is really begging to be asked is: How many engineers does it take to raise children?

None, as they do not have children. They are still trying to figure out how to SCREW in a lightbulb. :-P

Posted by: Chris | March 13, 2007 7:56 AM

I also am mostly home with my kids and they still want more and more of me. Last Saturday I took a shower in the middle of the day and when I came back downstairs my 2 year old screamed "Mommy you're back" and ran to hug me. I had been out of sight for no more than 20 minutes. You are your children's addiction and they will eventually grow out of it. Work, don't work it does not matter.

Posted by: Raising One of Each | March 13, 2007 7:56 AM

Susan,
I agree with others saying to ignore this comment from your daughter. It is likely parrotted from other parents. Having said this, I've done the research/teaching/tenure thing with small children, in engineering even. In a big city too...though not Atlanta! The job is very much akin to running a small business. However, there is one key difference, and it was the one I exploited. I could do productive work from home. Both my husband and I were on the tenure track in fact. We continued working and every week, we each took one day where we wrote/worked from home. In this day and age, you can have virtual meetings over the internet. Use technology to improve your personal view of family. We didn't have that kind of technology then so we had to live right next to the University to make it work. But you do...leverage it...big time. As an aside, I once had a research ephiphany in the middle of building a lego and train city. Today that ephiphany may be part of some of the online business software you may be using. Productivity doesn't have to go away because you may be doing childplay. Keep your mind open on the possibilities in order to get what you want when you want it.

Posted by: dotted | March 13, 2007 7:57 AM

Susan, Maybe emphasizing how special and unique they are to have their dad stay home with them might take some of the sting out of your daughter's comments about her peers at preschool. Does you husband volunteer? Kids think it is way cool to have dads come into the classroom. It is our experience that not too many dads do, but when they do the kids come home with a news bulletin that "Sally's dad was in class today!"

Since we have a situation that allows my husband to do at least 50% of the volunteering my kids have always felt really special because they had their dad there when everyone else has their mom. I make it to many of their parties and volunteer myself and sometimes we are there together.

I know kids make all kinds of comments that we all take so personally. Then we worry that we aren't doing or saying enough, but it is just kids making observations. That is what they do best! If you trust your husband everything will be fine.

Also, the velcro kid syndrome for a 2 year old is normal - the 5 year old may just be jumping on the bandwagon. I notice that when my 6 year old son crawls on my lap suddenly my daughter - who is 9 - suddenly wants attention too. It has always been that way.

Posted by: cmac | March 13, 2007 8:01 AM

Best thing our pediatrician ever said to me: "You're not the entertainment committee."

Her point was perfect - while kids need their parents, and need time to play with their parents, they also need a lot of time on their own, to learn to play by themselves and entertain themselves.

The pediatrician also pointed out on numerous occasions that kids know instinctively how to play their parents, and will constantly test to see how much they can get away with.

Bottom line: you're most likely doing fine.

Posted by: Army Brat | March 13, 2007 8:05 AM

DD is still very clingy. She can never seem to get enough time with mom. I personally don't see that as a problem with working. If it was up to DD, she would never leave the house with out mom. And frankly she does need to go to school and go other places.

fo4: you were a bit harsh.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 13, 2007 8:05 AM

cmac-my 12 and 16 year still do the velcro kid thing. I may be comfortably sitting on the sofa and this huge boy will be siddling up wanting a hug. Last night they jumped on their dad on the sofa as it was his go. We all do hugs to improve our day! Sometimes the velcro thing is just a way to say I love you, not I need you.

Posted by: dotted | March 13, 2007 8:08 AM

Ajax and mostly home mom - Glad to hear I'm not the only one. I agree with you both too - can't live your lives based on fulfilling our children's every want and need - we need to consider everyone's needs. Reality check - if I gave in to the things my children whine about the most their diet would consist of cookies and ice cream and my house would look like a toy store. Oh wait, thanks to our very generous extended family it already does!!

Posted by: PT Fed Mof2 | March 13, 2007 8:09 AM

Caveat - This is a legit question, not veiled sarcasm or snarkiness.

For those moms out there with clingy, insatiable kids: Do your children exhibit independent behaviors in addition to the clinginess? If not, does this concern you? I am blessed with sons (5 and 2.5) who never had a problem separating and have learned to entertain themselves and, ultimately, each other from an early age, so I really can't relate to what you're describing. Frankly, it kind of scares me - I'm not sure how I'd handle it. I'd really like to know how you all do handle it. Thanks!

Posted by: 2terrificboys | March 13, 2007 8:09 AM

foamgnome-I read fo4 as saying Susan was a great mom! I didn't get a harsh note...I'll reread.

Posted by: dotted | March 13, 2007 8:10 AM

"Short of sending in a picture, I am not sure what to do." Why not? My son has had a laminated picture of my husband and me in his school bag since his first day (3 years ago). His teacher says he will get it out from time to time and hold it for a while and then put it back. Seems to bring him some comfort. Maybe another child has a similar picture which prompted the discussion.

This year, the kids all brought in family pictures in September and they are displayed around the classroom. The children love to look at the pictures of their classmates with their family.

Posted by: MOMto3 | March 13, 2007 8:10 AM

Susan,

Just wait until they are teen-agers. It must be the laws of physics come into play as all of the clingy energy has the opposite and equal reaction in later years!

Dotted,

An epiphany, wow! I love epiphanies! An epiphany is one quantum leap over a revelation!

Posted by: Fred | March 13, 2007 8:11 AM

fo4: my apologies. I must have misread it. It sounded sarcastic at the end to me.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 13, 2007 8:11 AM

Re: one parent always picking up/dropping off/being with the child:

With 4 kids, it's very rare that both of us parents are with the same child at once. Usually, it's "I've got this one and that one; you've got the other two." We trade off so that we each get to see some of each child's activities. Since I've coached our middle daughter's softball team for the last 7 years, I have to be there for every game, and my wife has rarely seen her play.

Apparently the fact that I was always around the park without a wife sparked some discussion among a couple of the mothers about whether I was widowed or divorced (despite the presence of the ring on my hand), and one mother was talking to another about trying to set me up with a friend of theirs. Fortunately, one of the other mothers who's a family friend and knows my wife well overheard them and advised them that setting me up with anybody other than my wife wouldn't be a good idea.

Since then, my wife has made it a point to show up to a few of those games a year.

Posted by: Army Brat | March 13, 2007 8:13 AM

dotted,
how lucky you are to have teenagers who actually want to be in the same room with you, not to mention wanting and giving hugs. Obviously you are doing it right.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 13, 2007 8:13 AM

I am not a parent so I'm not totally sure about this, but would it help your kids if they knew where you were during the day? I used to freak out when my dad came home from work--it was as if he'd been in a black hole all day. Then a couple of times he took me to see his classroom, and let me colour quietly at a desk while he taught. It was much easier on me once I could picture what he was doing when he was away.

Posted by: worker bee | March 13, 2007 8:14 AM

dotted - that is so sweet to read. We hug a lot too - both kids are snugglers. My husband and I do get the "pile on" treatment.

I do worry about my kids turning away from me or being embarrassed at some middle school public event when I try to hug them. I see some older elementary boys at the bus stop shrinking from their moms when they try to grab them and kiss them and it breaks my heart.

Posted by: cmac | March 13, 2007 8:15 AM

Yep, I see the double standard thing rearing its ugly head. Children will always have "needs" that are not being met if one of the parents is out all the time. Traditionally the father was out and the mother was home and nobody ever said how childrens needs were not being met for lack of the father being at home. Why then, unless he is a bad dad, and you have said he is great- do you say their needs are not being met? Could it be that there really is something more important about the mother being there at home instead of the father? Or could it be that you feel you should be the one at home instead? I do not have the insight to say which would be better for you- but perhaps you should re-evaluate how both of you feel about who should be the one out engineering the dough.

Posted by: Chris | March 13, 2007 8:16 AM

Fred-ephiphany is my contribution to raising the social network of this blog...like you do with latin.

Posted by: dotted | March 13, 2007 8:16 AM

#1 - contrary to popular belief SAHMs do not sit around at Starbucks judging WOHMs.

#2 - I'm a SAHM and my kids also love to be with me whenever they can. They also cling to daddy whenever he gets home. I think they just really dig us at this age. Also, my ds has a picture of he and I in his lunchbox that he enjoys. I also send in a joke or quiz question to give a laugh and let him know I'm thinking of him.

You are probably doing a fine job - you just really love them and they you! That's terrific.

Posted by: moxiemom | March 13, 2007 8:17 AM

'I find my children are completely insatiable'

This statement reminded me of when my husband and I first met. We felt as if we couldn't get enough of each other- we ate, slept, breathed for each other. We were madly and deeply, without reservations, in love. And so are our kids. They love us completely and totally- no amount of time will ever be enough for them. It's incredibly sweet and so pure that of course it hurts us to deny them what they, in their little hearts and souls, need on just a very base level.

But, as in a new relationship, life must carry on outside of the realtionship- work, friends, family obligations, etc...Just as we made room and rearranged our lives for our partners, we have rearranged and changed our lives for our kids. But that doesn't mean that's all there is. It's important to teach kids that we love them, but life occurs outside of their interests and their home.

Posted by: SAHMbacktowork | March 13, 2007 8:28 AM

I agree that the key guilt producing comment seems to be, "the kids want to know what you look like".

Where did that come from? It doesn't sound like kid talk. It sounds like something he/he heard from an adult.

You kids know what you look like. That's all that matters.

Posted by: RoseG | March 13, 2007 8:32 AM

There's guilt no matter what you do - let it go and enjoy the fact that they're at the age where they want you around.

Off Topic - This story made me laugh out loud:

The Washcloth..............

I was due for an appointment with the gynecologist later in the week. Early one morning, I received a call from the doctor's office to tell me that I had been rescheduled for that morning at 9:30 am. I had only just packed everyone off to work and school, and it was already around 8:45am. The trip to his office took about 35 minutes, so I didn't have any time to spare.
As most women do, I like to take a little extra effort over hygiene when making such visits, but this time I wasn't going to be able to make the full effort. So, I rushed upstairs, threw off my pajamas, wet the washcloth that was sitting next to the sink, and gave myself a quick wash in that area to make sure I was at least presentable. I threw the washcloth in the clothes basket, donned some clothes, hopped in the car and raced to my appointment. I was in the waiting room for only a few minutes when I was called in.
Knowing the procedure, as I'm sure you do, I hopped up on the table, looked over at the other side of the room and pretended that I was in Paris or some other place a million miles away.
I was a little surprised when the doctor said, 'My, we have made an extra effort this morning, haven't we?' I didn't respond.
After the appointment, I heaved a sigh of relief and went home. The rest of the day was normal . Some shopping, cleaning, cooking.
After school when my 6 year old daughter was playing, she called out from the bathroom, 'Mommy, where's my washcloth?' I told her to get another one from the cupboard.
She replied, 'No, I need the one that was here by the sink, it had all my glitter and sparkles saved inside it.'

Never going back to that doctor ever.

Posted by: Fairfax | March 13, 2007 8:32 AM

My children would like me around every minute too. Of course that is not possible. My son is 9 and he has not out grown it yet. But for me it is the best feeling in the world to be loved so much. It is a feeling that I have only gotten from my children.

Posted by: Not Busy | March 13, 2007 8:34 AM

Round about the fifth grade my daughter put it to us something like this:

"Mom, Dad, you know how my birthday is next Tuesday? And like, you know, how you come up to school and have lunch with me on my birthday? Well, um, this year, uh, unless you really, really want to, you don't really need to, I mean, you are busy and all, and um, uh, if you don't show up, I won't get all upset or anything."

Me: "So it's not cool to eat lunch with your parents anymore?"

Her: "yeah, something like that, I think"

Posted by: Father of 4 | March 13, 2007 8:34 AM

fairfax: cute story.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 13, 2007 8:36 AM

I think you need to just do the best you can for your kids. I mean everyone could spend more time with their children; kids want all your time. Won't your kids get to go to school for free when they grow up because you are a teacher at Georgia Tech?

Also, one of the teachers may have said that they didn't know what you looked like. Teachers aren't perfect either. Another parent may have asked for a specific reason and they didn't know how to describe you. Either way, don't sweat it!

Posted by: scarry | March 13, 2007 8:38 AM

"I agree that the key guilt producing comment seems to be, "the kids want to know what you look like".

Where did that come from? It doesn't sound like kid talk. It sounds like something he/he heard from an adult."

Is it possible that the children were just curious? Maybe they did hear it from an adult. That doesn't make it a bad thing. If I see a child and only one parent over a period of time, I might also wonder what the other parent looks like, especially if the child looks nothing like the parent I see. Just curiosity, nothing nasty intended.

The problem may be that Susan doesn't feel good about not being at the pre-school more, and is feeling guilt already, and then takes an innocent remark out of context.

I found that when kids start to want your full attention all the time, then you just have to be firm. Tell them that Mommy or Daddy has to do something else right now and they will be fine playing by themselves or with siblings. Approach it matter of factly, not apologeticly and it may help the child become more independent. I also found TV to be great when you just need 20 minutes or so around the house for phone calls, other tasks, or just peace of mind. TV is not all evil - moderation in everything.

Posted by: Just a thought | March 13, 2007 8:49 AM

My situation was similar to Fedworker's. My mom worked nights so Dad was on school duty (drop offs, PTA meetings, conferences etc.) for me and my two sisters. We all turned out great. So, Susan, it is perfectly okay if your child's preschool acquaintance doesn't know what you look like. The most important thing is that your kids know. The will grow up just fine.

Posted by: Mrs. Rich | March 13, 2007 8:50 AM

"For those moms out there with clingy, insatiable kids: Do your children exhibit independent behaviors in addition to the clinginess?"

2terrificboys: yeah, my daughter's the walking oxymoron, both hugely clingy and hugely independent. Basically, she's an attention hound -- when I'm there, it's all about mommy, but as soon as I leave, she happily redeploys all that energy to taking over whatever little world she happens to be in at the moment. Far as I can tell, she just wants an audience for everything. Part of the reason we had a second (built-in reminder that It's Not All About Her).

I spent most of my second pregnancy desperately hoping this one would be less clingy than her. And even at 16 months, he's already tremendously independent. He doesn't have anywhere near the need for attention that she does, will play happily by himself (usually sneaking off into the other room to get into somewhere he's not supposed to be -- he's stealth trouble), etc. And it actually makes me sad!! My little snugglebunny is too busy banging things together to want to sit and snuggle with mommy any more! The classic "be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it."

Posted by: Laura | March 13, 2007 8:51 AM

Why are you living in Alfretta when you work at Tech? I did that commute for three months as a single person and it almost killed me. There are plenty of nice, still affordable homes in the Perimeter and some decent school districts.

Posted by: another rambling wreck | March 13, 2007 8:52 AM

"For those moms out there with clingy, insatiable kids: Do your children exhibit independent behaviors in addition to the clinginess?"

Like Laura, our DD is complete opposites. She still cries every day if mom is home when she needs to go to school. But she also has started to kick me out of the room. Mainly when she wants to do something naughty, like climb up on her shelf and take down forbidden objects. DD has always had a high capacity to entertain herself. But she has some developmental delays, so I am not sure what is normal. But if she is watching TV, she wants to sit directly in my lap. Even as a baby,she would crawl to her baby gate and look for where I was.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 13, 2007 8:55 AM

Chris,

As an engineer currently trying to start a family, I found your joke not in the least funny.

Posted by: John L | March 13, 2007 8:55 AM

Re: today's essay, could it be that the kids are simply reflecting the mother's anxieties? Mom may be giving off signals (or even openly remarking) that it's a bad thing that she's not with the kids more, which causes the kids to parrot that attitude back to her through words or actions. It may also be the case that Dad is sending such signals when Mom's not home, in which case he needs to come clean to Mom about how he feels.

Kids are adaptable; perhaps if the parents were to communicate a greater level of comfort with their parenting arrangement, the kids would not feel unfulfilled.

Posted by: Tom T. | March 13, 2007 8:55 AM

FO4 - LOL I have a 5th grader who is now doing that - I'm "embarrassing" now! But at home she still wants me to tuck her in at night. ;-)

I would say she needs to see if she can find an easier arrangement. Perhaps teach some night classes. I'm sure her tenure was hard-won, especially at a place like GA Tech. But if she could perhaps switch to teaching at a college closer to home or perhaps some online courses? I'm just throwing out ideas here.

Laura, my dd is the same - it's all about her!

Posted by: librarianmom | March 13, 2007 8:55 AM


Of course, Susan has to decide whether there's an imbalance she wants to address, or this is just an inevitable complaint because no-one can stretch in all ways to be perfectly present whenever the kids desire you . . .

And it sounds like you're feeling the stress more with your daughter (maybe because she's more sensitive, or maybe just because she's more articulate, or more explicitly demanding). Since she's 5, I'm guessing her schedule will likely change dramatically in the next year (summer off, then full-day K, unless you're keeping her in a private part-time K program next year --- I'm assuming from your wording that she's in private half-day preschool, not a public full-day pre-K classroom at her eventual elementary school.) So if her preschool days are ending in a few months anyway, you may need just to adjust her schedule at the edges for this school year, as the issues will change entirely in a few months, anyway.

But, some possibilities if you are looking to reconnect with your kids a little during their regular school days. I don't think it's unusual for preschoolers to want both parents to have some 'presence' in their school life, to know their world of in-class friends, teachers, and experiences which is central to their everyday. Since you're in the classroom once a month you can remind her that you do know her world, and her daily schedule, in subtle everyday ways like asking what specific different friends did today, who got to be line leader, who wrote their name the smallest or the silliest on the sign-in sheet, what did so-and-so choose to draw for a project, who got to feed the guinea pig today, etc, etc, little details that show you care and understand the context of her routines, that open up conversation. I don't know if she's in 5-day preschool or if her school days match those on which you have work flexibility. But if so, perhaps you could set aside one morning a week to take her out to breakfast then do her school dropoff yourself, a just-mommy time that connects to her day and lets her show you off (which is a natural impulse!) --- though I wonder, is her dropoff actually at the classroom, where you could admire art on the walls before dropping off, say a quick hi to teachers, friends, etc, or is it just a carpool dropoff anyway (I'm also an Atlanta mom and professor - not Ga Tech; my eldest's preschool was a classroom-door dropoff and pickup; my youngest's was a carpool line drop-off/pickup for all kids 3 and up, with kids walking from the car line-up to the school building/classrooms on their own, teachers supervising, parents/sitters driving off). If it's just a carpool drop-off/pickup you can reassure yourself that missing it has little impact on your 'school presence' . . . If your dd's not a morning person, you could do pick-up and lunch instead one day --- though I've personally found extricating myself from midday intrusions into their day a lot harder. With one dd, DH or I always did her noon-time preschool pickup to deliver her to our sitter, and at times extricating ourselves from that, especially extricating mom, was slow and clingy (but, her preschool was on our campus adjacent to our parking structure for work anyway, and we live only 1 mile from campus).

Which brings me to that life-sucking commute. Are you really attached to living out in Alpharetta? The few times I've had to go as far as even Sandy Springs for an errand remotely near rush hour I've thought life sucks sucks sucks trying to get there then get back in-town on totally jammed roads to make a longish trip to start with. Yes, the schools are good through high school. But there are many in-town family neighborhoods with strong elementary schools that would enable you to come back for occasional contact points during the day, school programs, parties, volunteering, etc. They are no pricier than Roswell/Alpharetta, though the houses and lots tend to be smaller, except for the huge infill houses that look just like they were plopped down from Roswell or Alpharetta. An intown neighborhood would also shave unpleasant wasted time from the beginning and end of your workday. The main issue, is you would leave middle school an unresolved issue, to see if you'd be happy with public/magnet options at that point, or then decide to go private or move back beyond the perimeter again. But you could buy yourself a lot more day-to-day time and easier daytime jaunts for kid events for many years . . . In my in-town department (for many years all-male but me) the professors who lived outside the perimeter were all very-low-contact dads, evenings and weekends only, and evenings barely a kid-touch before returning to the lab; the ones who lived inside the perimeter seemed much more involved with their kids. Both moms lived within 2 miles of the department.)

Have you considered neighborhoods like Morningside? Even my neighborhood - Druid Hills/Fernbank - has lots of Ga Tech and Ga State faculty and their commute's a lot less than it would be from Alpharetta!

Good luck on whatever adjustments you make. The logistical rebalancing issues you face vary by the semester, though, so while big-picture thinking may be useful, you may just need a little tweak for the next 3 months before everything changes again . . .

Posted by: KB | March 13, 2007 8:58 AM

I am home with my kids all day every day and they still stick to me like velcro. I don't think it has anything to do with working. I think it is just that kids are naturally self-centered. They will suck you as dry as you will let them!!! Quite frankly, I think the best solution is to take them for a walk where they might see some homeless people and have them see how lucky they are to have a nice mommy who has a great job that allows them to have a roof, clothes, regular food, and time hanging out each day. Or maybe they could watch a tv show about famine in Africa. Seriously, I don't think we are doing our kids any favors by giving them all they want or "need". They are learning that the world revolves around them. I think they'll be a lot happier in the long run if what they learn is that there are millions of people who don't even get a square meal every day and who literally die of hunger, and that they are ridiculously lucky for what they have and stop asking for more more more. And I include time with you in the idea of an unnecessary "more". Those starving moms and kids in Africa would be more than happy to be apart for a few hours if it meant food on the table!!

Posted by: m | March 13, 2007 9:02 AM

"This statement reminded me of when my husband and I first met. We felt as if we couldn't get enough of each other- we ate, slept, breathed for each other. We were madly and deeply, without reservations, in love. And so are our kids. They love us completely and totally- no amount of time will ever be enough for them. It's incredibly sweet and so pure that of course it hurts us to deny them what they, in their little hearts and souls, need on just a very base level. "

That was so sweet SAHMBacktowork.

Posted by: to SAHMBacktowork | March 13, 2007 9:02 AM

One of the Mommy Wars contributors titled her essay "Mother Superior" and one of the main points of her piece was that some children simply need THEIR MOTHER. Yes, they need their dad too. But some kids, some times, need more from both parents. It doesn't mean that a SAHD isn't good enough.

I think the fact that Susan is so in touch with her children is a sign that she is a good mom. I don't have any solutions, but I think the fact that she is sensitive to their needs is the most important part.

I am sure her kids sense that, and it probably makes them feel very well cared for, regardless of whether Susan makes any changes to her schedule.

Posted by: Leslie | March 13, 2007 9:05 AM

Why does this blog have a link to the "On Parenting" one but there's no link back to here from over there?

Posted by: John L | March 13, 2007 9:08 AM

Funny memory from my geeklet days:

Me: Mommy, I don't want to go to the babysitter's today! (The "babysitter" was the family-style daycare I went to a few afternoons a week after my morning kindergarten.)

Mom: You always say that, but then whenever I come to pick you up, you always say you don't want to leave!

I realized that it was true- an early lesson in the inconsistency of human behavior, including my own.

Posted by: SheGeek | March 13, 2007 9:08 AM

To those talking about the issues around Dr. Burns' job.

Dr. Burns does apparently have a research group of her own, and publishes frequently. The department in which she works stresses its research groups and achievements. While she hasn't said so, it is likely she faces an enormous amount of pressure to publish.

As a former geologist (though I didn't specialize in her field), Geology publishing takes time. There is field work and lab work and computer modeling in her field, and that's around the teaching responsibilities she must have (which probably includes a few weekend field trips each semester).

It may or may not take any more time than any other scientific specialty, but it still takes an enormous amount of time (even with graduate students to help you out). Being a scientist is hardly a 9 to 5 job, especially in academia.

As for you Dr. Burns - I agree with the other folks here: your children are probably manipulating you. So what if her fellow day care students don't know what her Mommy looks like - they probably know what her Daddy looks like. And I'm willing to wager that at least one of the Daddy's they don't see may work somewhere on campus with you.

My father was a doctor - we rarely saw him when my siblings and I were your kids apparent age - when he wasn't working he was moonlighting extra shifts. I can remember spans of time when I didn't see my father for days because he came home after I went to bed and left before I got up. It's part of being a parent - doing what you can to support your family. If that means a swapping of traditional gender roles, so be it. I'm sure your husband is a great parent.

You seem to make an effort to be involved despite what must be an incredibly hectic schedule. Give yourself a break. It sounds like your kids have parents who care immensely about their effect on them and that's more than many children have.

Posted by: Chasmosaur | March 13, 2007 9:10 AM

To Fairfax:

Old joke. Very old joke.

Posted by: Chasmosaur | March 13, 2007 9:11 AM

John, I know. It wasn't funny... at least not until you said that! ;-)

Posted by: Chris | March 13, 2007 9:24 AM

Looks like the jokes are spilling over from yesterday.

Yesterday was Joke Day. Today is Back-on-Topic Day. :)

Posted by: John Q | March 13, 2007 9:27 AM

To Librarianmom, who wrote: "I'm sure her tenure was hard-won... But if she could perhaps switch to teaching at a college closer to home or perhaps some online courses?"

You're freakin' kidding??? Dr. Barnes would likely NEVER be able to return to a full-time tenured position again in her entire career after dealing it a death-blow like that, certainly not in a field like Engineering.

Tenure is recognized under law as PROPERTY which a faculty member has earned. It is a legal right, and is specific to the faculty member's institution (in fact, often to the individual school or department). For anyone to leave a tenured position is tantamount to throwing away a valuable piece of property, and under most circumstances would be highly irresponsible to herself and her family, because it's one of the most essential parts of her and their economic security.

Nowhere does Dr. Barnes indicate that her husband objects to her career arc, and he was presumably at minimum supportive of her and her career at previous stages, including most likely while she was earning her tenure (if not even earlier).

Plus, the sorts of jobs that Librarianmom describes pay so much less than a tenured faculty position at a major university like Georgia Tech that if Dr. Barnes traded down for one of them, her husband would need to become the family's primary earner, and relinquish much of his parenting time. I.e., the parents would simply wind up more or less swapping roles, not gaining any significant extra time with their children.

I second Dotted's point out that nowadays college faculty can handle certain responsibilities electronically (i.e., by email) that once had to be performed in person on campus.

I also agree with the poster who suggested that the Barneses research moving closer to campus in order to reduce her commute, even if it means sacrificing some house size in return for an extra of couple hours (and concomitantly less stress) each workday.

Finally, I suggest you just chalk up that little crack about wondering what you look like to sheer snarkiness by someone else, whom your daughter was parroting. You didn't get this far in your career by having an overly thin skin, so don't let this little item get you down. It sounds like your daughter is just trying to "guilt" you, so remember, you're the parent, and have the authority to set her straight, so do it!

Posted by: catlady | March 13, 2007 9:30 AM

Oops! Dr. BURNS -- my error. I apologize.

Posted by: catlady | March 13, 2007 9:32 AM

Off-topic:

dotted: I fill out 2 brackets each year, one safe, one risk-taking. What I deem the safe one has Florida, Georgetown, Ohio State and Pitt.

This is a really interesting set of blog comments for me. I'd like to hear her husband's analysis of what's happening because I would think he'd be her champion.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 13, 2007 9:33 AM

Where does a five year old learn about guilt trips? Home or school?

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 13, 2007 9:33 AM

Catlady,

Are you married and/or have any kids?

Posted by: John Q | March 13, 2007 9:34 AM

Off-topic:

dotted: I fill out 2 brackets each year, one safe, one risk-taking. What I deem the safe one has Florida, Georgetown, Ohio State and Pitt. If 2 out of 7 ACC teams make it to the Sweet 16, I'll be surprised. I haven't yet completed the upset-laden bracket.

This is a really interesting set of blog comments for me. I'd like to hear Susan's husband's analysis of what's happening in their household. I would think he'd be the best source for shoring up her confidence and being her best advocate with their kids.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | March 13, 2007 9:35 AM

"are all kids insatiable like this or do folks think it's a more common issue for working parents, and possibly more often working moms? Or, is it just my kids?"

Great comments today in response to Susan's issues. Yes, yes, yes, they're all like velcro!! And siblings, of course, definitely feed off of each other. Sometimes my twins nearly killed me with their "needs".

When someone in the office suggested that I might want to work some hours from home (this was when the kids were still real little) I pictured it something like this -- ok, I'd rise before they did, then lock myself in my home office with enough food to last me until I could get the work done, which I would do verrry quietly, and oh yes, I take a jar to pee in because if they had any idea that I was home, that would be the end of my quiet time. No matter who else might be there to meet their needs, they would still have wanted it to be all mommy, all the time. As my sister (4 kids) used to sometimes say -- "I'm going to work today to get some rest."

Posted by: lindab | March 13, 2007 9:35 AM

Susan - we have very similar situations. The only difference being that I don't work insane hours. Usually 40-45 hours a week. However, I have NO GUILT about my family situation. Somebody has to work, that's life, bills need to be paid. I feel very grateful that I have a flexible job that pays well enough for my husband to stay home with our two kids. Sure, I would love to spend more time with my kids but I make sure that any time I am with them they have my undivided attention. My husband is a wonderful father and I never worry about my kids during the day.

I think that many people work excess hours because they believe it is expected or it is what everyone else is doing. My boss knows that I will get my work done, do it well, but that I am not putting in 70 hour weeks. He is fine with that. I am lucky that my industry is constantly in need of talented people so I don't fear for job security.

I guess what it boils down to is you should own your decisions. My husband & I have made the best situation we can for our family. That is all you can do.

Oh yeah, and the kid will be fine. Whether or not you can volunteer at the preschool is completely insignificant in the big picture welfare of your child. Having partents that are secure, happy, there for them. These are the biggies...

Posted by: EDK | March 13, 2007 9:36 AM

To John Q: Rest assured I know more about academia than you do.

Posted by: catlady | March 13, 2007 9:37 AM

Fairfax, hilarious story. I laughed out loud.

I second the idea of moving. I have zero commute (work at home) and it's added a lot to us as a family. DH has a 10-minute commute. It's worth it to move closer if you can.

Posted by: Rebecca | March 13, 2007 9:40 AM

I am just curious but does a professor in Dr. Burns situation make a lot of money? It seems like an awful lot of work. When I was in grad school, in statistics, at a big state university, it did not seem as if the professors made that much money. Or maybe they were just cheap.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 13, 2007 9:42 AM

I am just curious but does a professor in Dr. Burns situation make a lot of money? It seems like an awful lot of work. When I was in grad school, in statistics, at a big state university, it did not seem as if the professors made that much money. Or maybe they were just cheap.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 13, 2007 9:44 AM

To John Q: To expect Dr. Burns to trade down to teaching at a college closer to home (where at best she would have to earn tenure all over again, and probably would earn far less) or perhaps teach "some" online courses is economically an even more devastating notion than suggesting, e.g., that she give away her house. Most people would never propose that, yet Librarianmom suggests that she consider discarding her most valuable piece of property. Just not realistic.

Posted by: catlady | March 13, 2007 9:44 AM

Kids hate change. A move will mean a new preschool for her daughter, a new playground and new playmates for one if not both children. Moving may be the right solution for Susan's family, but it is not without downside risk, at least in the short term.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 13, 2007 9:46 AM

Speaking as a child of a professor, yes the hours are very long, and no it doesn't always have to do with tenure. My dad made tenure when I was pretty young and the hours just got longer. Being a professor is like two jobs - you have the hours of a teacher on top of those of a researcher. The perception of your job performance usually hinges on your publications, but at the end of the day you still have lesson plans to make up and work to grade. One compromise my father made as he realized his hours creeping up was to do more work at home - he'd disappear into the home office after dinner, but at least he was in the house if we needed to ask for homework help or just wanted to tell him something. He always came home for dinner, though, and every now and then he'd manage a whole day at home when he didn't have classes.

And I think the expectations for engineering professors are worse. My graduate advisor (aerospace engineering)always came in to work on Saturdays and Sundays. It was helpful for his students, but I felt bad for his family. He's the reason I stopped with my M.S. - I didn't want to buy into that kind of work life. I salute you, Susan, female engineering professors are like gold (I wish I'd ever had a single one) and I'm sure even if you don't realize it, you're making a difference for your students. But you might want to explore your options for being out of the office. I don't think anyone begrudged my dad or any of my professors the time they were out of the office, as long as they were clear about when they'd be back. Bonus points for checking e-mail, but not required.

But professors' kids usually turn out just fine, and we're usually very proud of our parents once we have a clue what they do (that takes a while). The resources and contacts at your disposal come in very handy as well (my dad always knew someone who could give the Boy Scouts an awesome tour or help with a merit badge).

Posted by: SPC | March 13, 2007 9:46 AM

I was not taking about Academia. And how could you possibly know that you know more than I do about that subject.

Academia is not as issue in this article. Parenting is. And while you don't have to have kids to have some basic knowledge on the subject (but it helps), you need to walk a mile or two in the shoes of a parent to understand the issues. You talk as if you are an expert on the subject.

"...you're the parent, and have the authority to set her straight, so do it!"

If you had kids, a career and a spouse, you would know that it's not that easy.

Posted by: John Q | March 13, 2007 9:46 AM

"But it is not enough. The kids clearly have needs that are not being fulfilled. When I get home in the evening, our children stick to me like Velcro."

They're smarter than you think. They know what they are doing and saying. They feed on this guilt and to a certain extent, you feed on your importance to them. It's only natural.

Posted by: MeAgain | March 13, 2007 9:48 AM

Catlady - FYI, as a daughter of an academic, most people are not really aware of the world of academia and how it is set up. So I don't think it is totally unreasonable that people would suggest a change in jobs.

Posted by: moxiemom | March 13, 2007 9:49 AM

Catlady,

I was not taking about Academia. And how could you possibly know that you know more than I do about that subject.

Academia is not as issue in this article. Parenting is. And while you don't have to have kids to have some basic knowledge on the subject (but it helps), you need to walk a mile or two in the shoes of a parent to understand the issues. You talk as if you are an expert on the subject.

"...you're the parent, and have the authority to set her straight, so do it!"

If you had kids, a career and a spouse, you would know that it's not that easy.

Posted by: John Q | March 13, 2007 9:50 AM

To Foamgnome, who asks whether Dr. Burns makes a lot of money.

Good question! I'd answer by asking, a lot compared to what? Compared to, say, an investment banker: probably not. Compared to an engineer out in the field: probably not (plus she might need to be away from home a lot more).

But compared to Engineering professors in Dr. Burns's field at other colleges and universities: probably yes. The number of universities that would pay her substantially more is going to be pretty small, because Georgia Tech is a preeminent institution. Her best bet career-wise would be to continue working productively and gain a promotion to Full Professor. Plus, there's nothing to suggest that Dr. Burns doesn't find her career unfulfilling.

Posted by: catlady | March 13, 2007 9:52 AM

Kids hate change.


Now ain't that the tail wagging the dog.

Posted by: lindab | March 13, 2007 9:52 AM

foamgnome, professor salaries are all over the map, but practically all of them make less than they could be making in industry somewhere and they usually (especially state universities) have an awful problem with salary compression. They tend to stay in the same place for long careers and raises don't keep pace with competition. By the time my dad left the university he'd been there 25 years and new hires were getting paid about what he was. It was always enough to live on, no complaints there, but it was demoralizing and our family's effective buying power did go down some years when they didn't even get cost of living raises. There are reasons that these 80-year-old emeritus professors are still hanging around campus teaching and serving on graduate committees - some just don't know what else to do with themselves, but a lot can't really afford to retire anyway. For comparison, when my dad moved from a university to a nonprofit he got a salary increase of about 40%.

Posted by: SPC | March 13, 2007 9:54 AM

"...you're the parent, and have the authority to set her straight, so do it!"

If you had kids, a career and a spouse, you would know that it's not that easy.

Posted by: John Q | March 13, 2007 09:50 AM


If you have kids, then it's a shame that you can't explain such basic things to me.

Posted by: catlady | March 13, 2007 9:54 AM

Frieda has seen and spoke at length to woman in all income levels, stay at homes, work at homes, work PT, work FT, stay at home then go back to work etc. A lot of times she seems to be more a social worker that a BF consultant! (Interesting side note, she does see a lot of dads come with the mother and ask pertinent questions.)

The one consistent pattern she sees is guilt. No matter what, we seem never to do enough for our children. (Gee, I even have a bit myself).

Susan, Leslie and the rest of us just need to give ourselves permission for not being perfect and realize that one event, comment or occurrence will not ruin our child for life.

I have done things when my daughters were teenagers that I was told was the most horrible thing a person could do, that they could not survive without. If you were to ask my daughters now, they would not remember or would say, dad, your were right or dad, we were just seeing how much we could do.

As more than a few poster have pointed out, it may just be an innocent question. Lighten up on yourself.

Posted by: Fred | March 13, 2007 9:55 AM

OOPS! Typo (Obviously I don't teach typing!). Previous post should've read:

If you have kids, then it's a shame that you can't explain such basic things to THEM.

Posted by: catlady | March 13, 2007 9:55 AM

As a former teenage girl, I can second what I think Fred was saying. The world was going to end if I didn't get the blue ski jacket - period. There was no talking me down off the ledge. My parents were horrible, they hated me, all my friends would laugh at me and shun me.
Guess what - none of that happened. What seems important at the time and the guilt that the parent feels can be so easily and quickly forgotten by the child.
And I am not talking about big stuff here, ok. Just extra wants, not needs. I already had a perfectly good coat - I just wanted the blue ski jacket.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 13, 2007 9:59 AM

Many Universities will now allow you to carry over tenure if you have been in one place long enough. I know my father has moved to a number of different Universities over the past ten years and was able to go in as a tenured professor. That may be a new bargaining chip for good engineers. If Dr. Burns has published that much, she may be able to carry over tenure, especially if she brings money, I mean research, with her.

Kids learn the guilt trip thing very early. My DS has known how to do it with his mother since he was two. But he has it easier with her, she's Catholic.

Posted by: Working Dad | March 13, 2007 9:59 AM

"you're the parent, and have the authority to set her straight, so do it!"

John Q, I am a parent, have a spouse, two kids and two jobs, and I agree with catlady that it is just that simple. We started explaining the connection between working, shelter, food, and hot and cold running water almost as soon as our kids began to ask, "Why do you have to go to work?" To this day when one says, "I don't want to go to school today", we as often as not respond, "I don't want to go to work today either, but that's what we need to do today for our family."

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | March 13, 2007 10:00 AM

I think most of you above make really good points. There are ways that Susan can make adjustments to her life to ease her stress--which seems to eminate most from the long commute.

With regard to clinginess--every child has their own unique temprament. Some are more "needy" than others, some are more physically affectionate than others. However there are things that we can do as parents to help make them feel secure and therefore less "needy". Children tend to be less clingy if 1) they feel secure with their parents love/approval and 2) they know they can't get away with manipulation. Of course there are extremes of normal, but most children are teachable.

My two children tended to be on the independent side. Both seem very secure. One is more independent than the other and I could never imagine him saying the manipulative things the 5 year old in the blog said. My other child on the other hand went through a phase (age 5-7) where she made all kinds of comments like that but I nipped it in the bud. It's tough but you have to let them know you love them and enjoy spending time with them, but not let them get away with dominating you (getting in your bed at night, waking you up at 4 AM to play, whining, etc.)

And I think the teenage pushing parents away is the most common scenario. My son shows affection in other than physical ways. I recall when he was about 8, he declared that I was to never again kiss him in public. I told him that he was right. He was getting to be a big boy and he didn't need kisses anymore. He immediately said "I didn't say you couldn't kiss me in private". So cute. He'll hug me if no one else is around but I know not to even acknowledge his existence around other kids his age--it's just not cool :-)

My sister is an example of someone who is not handling a child's insecurities properly in my opinion. She has a 9 year old daughter who will not sleep over anyone else's home (not even a relative) and frequently crawls into bed with her parents. I invited her to sleep over with us--my daughter is the same age and LOVES sleepovers, but she wouldn't consider it. In fact, my daughter went over to her house and my niece slept in her parents room! It's none of my business so I didn't say anything but I would never allow that--the girl is NINE!!! Sometimes we do this to ourselves.

Posted by: working mother | March 13, 2007 10:01 AM

Working dad,
"Kids learn the guilt trip thing very early. My DS has known how to do it with his mother since he was two"

If there was no guilt trip do you think it would be easier for parents? Do the parents feed into the guilt trip?

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 13, 2007 10:01 AM

Hi Susan,
I'd guess that anyone who writes an article in the language you used is YEARNING to resettle their priorities into a different order, but is STRUGGLING with feelings of guilt at the idea of change.

Perhaps the guilt feelings come from the notion of "giving up" career and intellectual opportunities that some of their peers would feel lucky to have.

Or perhaps the guilt feelings come from the notion of "wasting" the years of education that they themselves have consumed.

Or perhaps the guilt feelings come from the disdain their colleagues reserve for peers who do not place their subspecialty at the highest priority over all other aspects of life.

One solution might be to shuck off some of the work responsibilities, thus giving the priorities the massive shake-up that you intuitively feel is right, and get some perspective on the guilt feelings.

Is that education wasted if it puts one more quantitatively-trained, rational American into the mainstream social network? I'd say, no. Education is not only for a career to consume. It is for the good of the whole society.

Are those career opportunities wasted? No, not if they aren't what you really want.

How about the disdain from colleagues? Well, aren't they the ones who don't have the bigger picture? Certainly from the point of view of a narrow academic community, anyone who cuts back is a "traitor"... but that serves the narrow subspecialty, not you.

Hope these ideas are useful... I'm struggling with some of the same issues, so these things have already been on my mind. I could be projecting. :)

Posted by: Anonymous | March 13, 2007 10:07 AM

I agree with most about the 'comment' from the authors daughter. It was probably just a statement - I'm not even sure I believe it was said meanly. She goes to the preschool on occasion, so she's not a stranger to the place. I might even suggest that the daughter finds that a special visit, rather than the norm, and appreciates it better. My dd asked the same thing of me when she went to kindergarten. There were room moms that came in a couple times a week to help out. She wondered when I was going to come in. So, I called the teacher and set a date. I only did it once, but she was clearly excited, and the other kids still remember that one time. I've seen them outside of school and they know me as 'dd's mom who came in that time'.

Posted by: JerseyGirl | March 13, 2007 10:08 AM

The advice suggesting that the writer bring her children to see where she works and to spend some time there (if this has not been done already) is good. I am an assistant professor at a large university -- while I have flexible hours, I also have many work committments and sometimes work long hours. As a single parent, I don't have much choice in the matter -- I work or I don't have any money. In any case, my kids have spent time with me at work -- sometimes by choice, sometimes by necessity. They have attended meetings, classes, and have spent time kicking around the office suite drawing on the chalkboard. I think they know what I do and they are proud of me -- they are very pleased when students greet me as "professor" on campus and are thrilled that I have basketball players from the school team in some classes. I don't have all the time in the world for them, but they know I am crazy about them and proud of them -- and they return the sentiment. We value the time we have together. Don't worry about your kids -- they will turn out just fine!

Posted by: MontgomeryMom | March 13, 2007 10:08 AM

To Working Dad, who wrote: "Many Universities will now allow you to carry over tenure if you have been in one place long enough. I know my father has moved to a number of different Universities over the past ten years and was able to go in as a tenured professor. That may be a new bargaining chip for good engineers. If Dr. Burns has published that much, she may be able to carry over tenure, especially if she brings money, I mean research, with her."

Good point, Working Dad. But, sometimes when a tenured faculty member leaves for a position at another institution, there's a probationary period of a year or more before the new school grants tenure (unless one goes in as, say, a dean).

But the problem for Dr. Burns is that there probably isn't an engineering school of comparable quality that's significantly closer to her present home than Georgia Tech. My point was that, by definition, there aren't that many top-notch schools/programs in the entire nation.

Depending on your father's field and where he lived, he may have had to move to other parts of the country in order to change positions as you describe (a professor of English or History living, e.g., in NYC or LA might not need to move, however). Did Dr. Burns say she would consider leaving Georgia Tech?

Posted by: catlady | March 13, 2007 10:09 AM

Move closer. Problem solved.

Posted by: Ryan | March 13, 2007 10:11 AM

I would think that it would be pretty tough to find a comparable teaching/research position in Atlanta too. It seems she would have to make a major geographic move to find a university with as much prestige in engineering (I may be missing something as I don't have deep knowledge of either engineering or universities near Atlanta). If the killer commute can be eliminated, it seems that might be the way to go. I don't think moving a pre-schooler is such a big deal. Susan didn't say how many other children she has (and what ages) unless I missed that in a later comment. Even older kids can be pretty adaptable. I wouldn't say "never uproot the kids." That element is only one part of the big picture.

It certainly sounds like her children are well-cared-for; it sounds like Susan is wearing herself out though.

A question for those with more experience in academic careers: once a prof. earns tenure, does that plant permanent roots until retirement? If a tenured faculty member changes university, is there a fast-track to tenure at the new institution? Of course, Susan may not want to leave Ga. Tech even if that is an option. She may not want to leave metro Atlanta either.

Posted by: Another Librarianmom | March 13, 2007 10:12 AM

Megan's Neighbor,

"just do it" works in sports, not in parenting. It's a little more complex than just doing it.

You had to establish what "working" was before you could use it as ammunition.

I've been a single parent for 16 years. It 's a little more than "just doing it".


Posted by: John Q | March 13, 2007 10:12 AM

Hey, susan, move into the city and you can have almost no commute. There are some schools in the city that are fabulous. Yes property values are sky rocketing, but really, how much are you spending on gas (fess up) and you can still find some nice houses, anyway.. We love living in the city-both of us have ten to fifteen min commutes. It makes for such a nicer lifestyle.

Posted by: atlmom | March 13, 2007 10:18 AM

To Another Librarianmom: Dr. Burns says her children are 5 (in pre-school) and 2 years old. So if the Burnses move to a home nearer the Georgia Tech campus, her kids would probably not yet suffer from as much uprooting as older ones might. And, when the time for school comes, the Burnses might want to explore whether Ga. Tech (or Ga. State, or any other colleges in Atlanta) has a lab school on campus that their children could attend (especially if they decide to move closer to campus).

I salute John Q in his capacity as a single parent, because it's a demanding job. I assume that, as Megan's Neighbor pointed out, at some point John Q was able to explain convincingly to his child(ren) about the importance to their family of his working.

Posted by: catlady | March 13, 2007 10:20 AM

I've always wanted to be Dr. Scarry, but I think I may be re-thinking my position.

Do you have to do a lot of research if you teach at a teaching school? I really don't want to do a ton of research, but I really would like to teach.

Posted by: scarry | March 13, 2007 10:22 AM

Atlmom ---

If it's not too probing, what neighborhood are you in? We're in Druid Hills/Decatur - Fernbank school district. Would not trade an under-5 mile commute, and close kid-activities, without substantial duress . . .

Posted by: KB | March 13, 2007 10:23 AM

KLB SS MD:

Absolutely, parents feed into it when they give in to the guilt. I am very proud of my wife. Yesterday she resisted the urge to buy more educational toys that my son doesn't need. She knows she'll feel guilty if he doesn't get into Harvard in fifteen years.

Posted by: Working Dad | March 13, 2007 10:24 AM

"Our daughter says things like, "The kids at preschool wanted to know what you look like," which clearly caused her some pain."

I have a hard time imagining a pre-school-aged child saying this. Sounds like it's been reformulated by an adult.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 13, 2007 10:25 AM

Move closer. Problem solved.

Posted by: Ryan | March 13, 2007 10:11 AM


Life ain't that simple!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 13, 2007 10:27 AM

Susan, you mentioned that you love teaching, but didn't mention that you love research. Could have been space limitations, or, it could be that teaching is your real love and joy, can't tell from a short blog post. But on the assumption that it is the latter:

What about seeking a job at a teaching college? With your credentials you should be able to negotiate a good deal. And obviously you would have a much more relaxed schedule.

A relative of mine obtained a civil engineering degree from a community college after some personal struggles in the post-high-school years, and the education and job opportunities made all the difference to his life.

So I am not totally unbiased here. But still, there is as much opportunity for you to make a difference in young people's lives outside the high-powered research university network as in. Maybe even more.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 13, 2007 10:31 AM

Move closer. Problem solved.

Posted by: Ryan | March 13, 2007 10:11 AM

Life ain't that simple!

Posted by: | March 13, 2007 10:27 AM


life ain't that simple, but it's not impossible either. It would take careful thought to move, but still could be worht the effort.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 13, 2007 10:33 AM

Thank you to all of those part-time or stay-at-home moms who stepped up to reassure the full-time+ working moms that many kids are like this, regardless of the hours you spend with them!!! You have really made me feel better today. :) I will try to keep a better perspective when my son makes comments or acts clingy and remember what you've said here today.

Posted by: Meagan | March 13, 2007 10:33 AM

I think that the Georgia Tech fight song says it all why Susan will stay there!

"I'm a Ramblin' Wreck From Georgia Tech and a hell of an engineer.
A helluva helluva helluva helluva helluvan engineer."


BTW, my late FIL went to Georgia so I did not quote the whole song! He always had an offspring of Uga as a pet.

Posted by: Fred | March 13, 2007 10:34 AM

Dear Susan,


Ditch the commute. Your life will instantly be 1000% better. The only risk is that you will be tempted to "pop over to the lab for five minutes" which is something you can't do right now.

Posted by: cotopaxi | March 13, 2007 10:36 AM

We live in Tucker (near the NE intersection of 85 and 285) in DeKalb County, and we love the area. The schools are good, the houses are affordable, and it's a 15-minute commute to Georgia Tech (and just about everywhere else). Is moving a possibility?

Posted by: Nancy | March 13, 2007 10:37 AM

Ryan's simplistic thinking aside, moving doesn't solve the problem of Susan's guilt or concern or evident struggle with the choices her family has made. So what if she leaves the house at 5:30 before the kids are up, or 4:30 before the kids are up. Moving doesn't make her daughter any less clingy.

No one knows how Susan's husband feels about their neighborhood. The person spending the majority of time taking care of the kids during the daytime hours should have the larger say about whether the neighborhood in which they live meets HIS needs - does he have friends in the neighborhood? Are there back-up babysitters/SAHparents in the neighborhood that assist him when he's sick or in a bind. Is there a convenient lake or playground nearby that makes the hours with their son more easily passed? Who are we to assume that a downtown neighborhood will work as well for him as the SAHD, even if it cuts down on Susan's commute.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 13, 2007 10:39 AM

I'm with moxiemom -- when my husband comes home, my son goes nuts! He doesn't want DH to put him down. Susan, I think it has a lot to do with the one who's gone -- the kids see your husband more during the day, so they get excited and clingy when you get home. You're NOT short-changing them by working so hard. And to the comment about letting your kids see where you work -- that's definitely something to consider. Maybe it will then give them a mental picture to have when they think of you during the day.

I assume you're doing this job because you see a reward (and more manageable hours) at the end of the tunnel. Self-doubt seems to be par for the course with parenthood (for many people). I frankly appreciate it when people admit to it! Thanks for your post.

Posted by: writing mommy | March 13, 2007 10:43 AM

To anonymous at 10:31 who wrote: "What about seeking a job at a teaching college?"

As I read it, the Burnses made the decision that the husband would be a SAHF, and the wife the main (sole?) bread-winner. Jobs at teaching colleges pay substantially less. And just because Dr. Burns loves teaching -- which is wholly admirable -- doesn't mean she necessarily loves research any less; after all, her graduate education trained her to be a researcher, and she has been at a research university for 10 years already, which it could be reasonably assumed is what she wants.

So, if Dr. Burns were to follow your suggestion, either the Burnses would have to live on significantly less income (or save a lot less for their children's education and their own retirement), or else her husband would need to rejoin the work force instead of SAH in order to make up for her loss in salary. But Dr. Burns doesn't indicate that either of them thinks her husband should return to the job market yet. Plus, if she trades down to a teaching college, most likely she would never be able to return to a research institution later in her career, if she wanted.

Posted by: catlady | March 13, 2007 10:43 AM

Thank you 10:39 for expanding on what should be obvious.

As cotopaxi points out a quick trip to the lab for 5 minutes can easily turn into 5 hours.

I have driven around Ga. Tech and my impression of the immediate neighborhood is that is is not a desirable place to be after dark. (might be wrong here but still my impression)

Posted by: Life ain't that simple | March 13, 2007 10:43 AM

A question for those with more experience in academic careers: once a prof. earns tenure, does that plant permanent roots until retirement?
- Frequently, but not always.

If a tenured faculty member changes university, is there a fast-track to tenure at the new institution?
- A big it depends. Famous folks can hop jobs at will - Princeton/Harvard/Yale/Duke etc. seem to enjoy stealing big names from one another... For a more normal person it is easier to move down the ladder than up. If you work at a teaching college you don't hear about people jumping to research universities.
- At my (teaching) college they have might have hired 1 person with tenure (though I don't remember any) in the past 5 years, but everyone else was hired without tenure. It was actually more common in my grad department (see above note).

Most engineering colleges are research outfits - you may be required to publish less elsewhere but you will also have fewer resources, fewer grad students... In CS you can get a job in small college, but that is harder in other engineering disciplines.

Posted by: my vantage point | March 13, 2007 10:43 AM

The maxim for academia is "Publish or Perish"

Posted by: was offered but didn't want to be there | March 13, 2007 10:47 AM

Anonymous at 10:39 wrote: "The person spending the majority of time taking care of the kids during the daytime hours should have the larger say about whether the neighborhood in which they live meets HIS needs - does he have friends in the neighborhood? Are there back-up babysitters/SAHparents in the neighborhood that assist him when he's sick or in a bind."

I'm guessing that Mr. Burns is a mature, adaptable adult who's entirely capable of making new friends if they move closer to campus. And, as was pointed out on this board just the other day, there's a large pool of potential part-time babysitters nearby most college campuses; the Burnses could post job listings at the university employment office, and get a good selection of candidates to screen.

Posted by: catlady | March 13, 2007 10:49 AM

Fo4 on Kissing:

My daughters are aloud to kiss and hug me anytime, unfortunetely, more often than not, it's when they want money or a special priveledge. I still do get unsolicited hugs and kisses from time to time.

My boys, starting around age 2, when they gave me a kiss, I would go into a rant:

"EWWWWW!!! YUCK!!!!" *Shake my head* "BLECH!!!"

Despite them laughing at the drama, I would explain to them that boys don't do that to boys. In time the kissing behavior diminished. I show affection to my sons by giving them nuggies, punching them on the arm, slapping their leg, or pinning them down on the floor. Not to hurt them, but when they get pinned they will pull the crying stop. Of course, when they get free, they will laugh hysterically and come back for another roun again and again until they get tired out. Wears me out too.

I title this kind of play as "affectionating the boys" to my wife, and my little boy knows it as a game of "baby beatup".

Pretty funny. My 4 year old came up to me the other day and gave me a hug and kiss. He said, "Oops! Don't tell anybody I did that." Then he rubbed my cheek as to brush off the kiss. Bute!

Posted by: Father of 4 | March 13, 2007 10:54 AM

I never understood why women beat themselves up over their decisions to work--don't we need to pay the bills? Isn't it a disservice to have children one is unable to financially care for?

Both my parents worked full-time when I was a kid (except when we lived on a farm and there was no place for my mom to work EXCEPT for the farm), and my stepfather was a long-distance truck driver, gone for many days of the week. We were the typical latch-key kids. The only thing that ever bothered me is that we could only go to the library on days that it closed at 8 pm, so my mom could take us. If there was any clinginess or velcro-ism, I don't remember it. Your kids are going to be just fine. I'm pretty sure this bothers you more than it bothers them. Stop beating yourself up over it! And I second the idea of sending pictures of yourself to preschool with your kids. Everyone carries around pictures of special people, why shouldn't they?

Posted by: Mona | March 13, 2007 10:55 AM

The long hours, low pay description on academia makes (my) life sound worse than it is. Though I am not at a big RU and I am not trying for family balance...

How many hours extra would you work / how much less pay would you take to not have a boss?

same question - to have work that you find genuinely interesting. I look at most peoples hobbies & have to say I prefer my "work".

p.s. I am a lurker who started perusing this blog to see why so many seem the need to question my life decisions (what do I not know/care I am missing in my hours at the office?) and spring break is good timing for the academic balance discussion!

At an earlier date someone (dotted I think?) said she regretted the engineering choice. This comment/today's discussion interests me as a teacher/advisor - but I found that note at night & wasn't able to followup. What would you tell an undergrad who asked you questions about the big picure stuff?

Posted by: my vantage point | March 13, 2007 11:00 AM

Fo4,

funny, my 15 yr old would rather walk the 2 miles home (except in rain) than be picked up in the "creepy van" But if I am driving the Infiniti, it is OK as long as I keep my eye straight ahead and do not talk to any of his friends.

When we went to see AF dau off last week, I was SPECIFICALLY instructed to bring the good car rather than the mommy van. The van seats 7 rather than the car with 5, so we could have taken more of her team members around to Panama City beach for the afternoon. I guess she will grow out of it, when she is 50!

Posted by: Fred | March 13, 2007 11:02 AM

In-town Atlanta does not mean downtown, just inside the perimeter (think Beltway) . These are neighborhoods, not an urban grid. Houses have yards (through maybe 1/4-1/3 acre lots), big shade trees, older houses with character, parks are abundant, as are SAH parents (my experience is 50/50 or more SAH parents at the preschool level). Alpharetta is if anything *more* developed and more trafficky, and more large-and-impersonal, though with greater square footage, greater sprawl, and strong public schools through high school. Tucker (I like it too, we are TYSA parents, though at almost 20 minutes to the soccer fields it's our most distant activity, the only one outside the perimeter) is a smalltown core surrounded by downright suburbs --- lots of big ranch houses, big lots, very green and tree-filled.

The choices are hardly green, family-friendly exurb versus hostile concrete jungle. There are intown neighborhoods which are very family and SAH-friendly . . .

anon wrote

>No one knows how Susan's husband feels about >their neighborhood. The person spending the >majority of time taking care of the kids during >the daytime hours should have the larger say >about whether the neighborhood in which they live >meets HIS needs - does he have friends in the >neighborhood? Are there back-up >babysitters/SAHparents in the neighborhood that >assist him when he's sick or in a bind. Is there >a convenient lake or playground nearby that makes >the hours with their son more easily passed? Who >are we to assume that a downtown neighborhood >will work as well for him as the SAHD, even if it >cuts down on Susan's commute.

Posted by: KB | March 13, 2007 11:02 AM

Catlady,

Being a single parent was very hard and in that respect, I just did it. I had to do it. But I also wanted to do it.

Teaching her life's little lessons was/is a different story.

I think Susan has a different issue. From the beginning, kids tend to gravitate to their mothers because despite all the bonding a father can do, kids have a greater bond with their mothers. Mom carried them for 9 months gave birth to them and in many cases was the first to hold them and give them love. So naturally kids are going to bond with mom first and in the end have a greater bond with them.

This kind of explains why the kids run to her in the evening when Susan just needs a few minutes to get her bearings before tackling her "second career"
This, in no way says that her husband is any less of a father for not keeping up with the parenting duties.

And it doesn't say that Susan need to do more to be a better parent.

I think the best way to handle situations like the one Susan encountered with her young daughter is to explain that kids will asks those kinds of questions of other kids. That question obviously affected her daughter. But instead of looking to find and answer the question for the other child, explain to hers that questions about someone appearance ("What does your mom look like") really don't require an answer.

If the child really wants to give an answer after Susan has explained that, tell her to tell the other child who asked the question what she "remembers" about what her mom looks like and tell that to the child.

Susan, no matter what your child tells the other child about what she remembers about what you look like, she is still going to see you as the most beautiful woman in the world.

That's all that really matters in the end.

Posted by: John Q | March 13, 2007 11:03 AM

Fred,
When AF daughter is 50 you will be.....and she will be helping you into whatever vehicle she is driving at the time :-)

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 13, 2007 11:04 AM

Mona wrote: "I never understood why women beat themselves up over their decisions to work--don't we need to pay the bills? Isn't it a disservice to have children one is unable to financially care for? / Both my parents worked full-time when I was a kid (except when we lived on a farm and there was no place for my mom to work EXCEPT for the farm)..."

Excellent points all around, Mona. The Burnses jointly made the decision that she would support the family financially while he SAH. Someone in that family has to earn an income, and they decided that she would.

I would also point out that, assuming Dr. Burns got tenure in her 7th year at Ga. Tech, their 2-year-old son was born once they knew she would have the job security that tenure affords (although I must digress a moment to add that this job protection is not absolute, just considerable).

Re your mother working on the farm: maybe she didn't generate much cash, but I'm betting that she worked really hard, and contributed significantly to the household that way.

Posted by: catlady | March 13, 2007 11:04 AM

"Was offered but didn't want to be there" wrote: The maxim for academia is "Publish or Perish."

This is generally true of tenure-stream positions at research universities. Of course, you are entitled to have the prerogative not to take such a job, and I don't condemn you for that in the least. Most people wouldn't want to be forced into a job they didn't enjoy, if it was reasonably avoidable.

But, guess what? Some of us actually ENJOY research and publishing!

Posted by: catlady | March 13, 2007 11:09 AM

Slightly OT question: for those of you who wake up at 4 am or some similar time to get to work early, how much sleep do you get? What time do you go to bed? I've started getting up at 5:30 to go to the gym before work (after work is out of the question; I work on a college campus and the place is overrun with undergraduates in the evenings), and I have difficulty going to bed before midnight. I guess to me it just seems that people "should" be awake then; it doesn't seem right to go to bed so early. But I can't live on just a few hours of sleep or my behind will drag the next day. Do you just get used to a new sleep cycle, or do you just get less sleep?

Posted by: Mona | March 13, 2007 11:09 AM

KLB,

You keep reminding me of all the things that I would rather not think about! :)

Posted by: Fred | March 13, 2007 11:09 AM

To Mona: When I've had to get up early (before my major illness), I've usually gone to bed around 10 PM.

Posted by: catlady | March 13, 2007 11:11 AM

To this day when one says, "I don't want to go to school today", we as often as not respond, "I don't want to go to work today either, but that's what we need to do today for our family."

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | March 13, 2007 10:00 AM

One my favorite repsonses too - I think responses like yours instill a work ethic in kids. I hate to ba a hard a** but kids need to learn early that they have to work for things, that means working in school, chores, team work in sports. Of course kids need down time too, which I protect - if I expect them to work they need their release.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 13, 2007 11:13 AM

Fred,
It's a gift!

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 13, 2007 11:13 AM

"Our daughter says things like, "The kids at preschool wanted to know what you look like," which clearly caused her some pain."

What exactly did she do to show that caused her pain? Or was the pain that of the authors?

Kids and cling - when I see my kids in the evening they are all 'mommy, mommy, mommy!', but then Dad comes home a bit later, and they ditch me like a hot potato!

It's so easy to fall into the guilt trip. I'm sure we've all done it at one time. Sometimes, I still do. It sounds like today's author is 2nd guessing the choices she made.

You love your job and have a spouse who is willing to put career on hold to be a SAHD.
Your commute sucks, 4:30 is really early (I did that for 2 years and hated it every morning!) but you get home pretty early.
You are able to be involved with the preschool (comment from daughter aside).
Your child is happy to see you when you get home, and you do lots of things together on the weekends.

It sounds like you work hard at creating a balance between your job and your family, your child is getting gobs of love and attention. Rather than ask are your childs needs being met, maybe ask if your needs are? Is this what you expected? Do you want to reconsider? There is not a wrong or right answer.

Posted by: JerseyGirl | March 13, 2007 11:13 AM

Beautiful answer, John Q:

"I think the best way to handle situations like the one Susan encountered with her young daughter is to explain that kids will asks those kinds of questions of other kids. That question obviously affected her daughter. But instead of looking to find and answer the question for the other child, explain to hers that questions about someone appearance ("What does your mom look like") really don't require an answer. / If the child really wants to give an answer after Susan has explained that, tell her to tell the other child who asked the question what she "remembers" about what her mom looks like and tell that to the child."

Posted by: catlady | March 13, 2007 11:14 AM

Mona,

I would suspect that a lot of us fall asleep in the LazBoy long before hitting the bed. I am usually in bed by 10 to get up at 5. But I am asleep long before 10.

Posted by: Fred | March 13, 2007 11:14 AM

Mona,

Less sleep. I used to get 7 to 7 1/2 hours sleep. I know get 6 (if I am lucky)

Posted by: John Q | March 13, 2007 11:16 AM

Mona,
My alarm goes off at 4:40. I can rarely stay up past 10:30 pm. Never even try to watch a movie that goes from 9-11 without recording 'cause I will never make it to the end.
I'm with Fred - once I hit the killer chaise I can guarantee that I will take a 5 min unintentional doze before 9.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 13, 2007 11:17 AM

"Was offered but didn't want to be there" wrote: The maxim for academia is "Publish or Perish."

This is generally true of tenure-stream positions at research universities.

----------------------------------------

I am not saying it is for the worse - but this is spreading. I am at a small college and publication rules for junior faculty are on the rise... (The supply of wannabe profs exceeds the number of jobs.)

Posted by: my vantage point | March 13, 2007 11:18 AM

I'm guessing that Mr. Burns is a mature, adaptable adult who's entirely capable of making new friends if they move closer to campus. And, as was pointed out on this board just the other day, there's a large pool of potential part-time babysitters nearby most college campuses; the Burnses could post job listings at the university employment office, and get a good selection of candidates to screen.

Posted by: catlady | March 13, 2007 10:49 AM

catlady, are you this dismissive of the concerns of a stay at home spouse when the stay at home spouse is female?

Hypothetically speaking, imagine a SAHM who has, over the last 2 years, developed a social network within her neighborhood that provides quick and easy back-up childcare, uses her jog stroller daily to run through a nearby park, has an over-the-fence relationship with a SAHM next door that provides an outlet for any parenting stress, likes her 2300 sq. foot house and 2 car-garage and the rose bushes she planted last year. Lawyer Husband comes home one day and says, "Honey, I hate my commute. We're moving to a 3 bedroom, 1400 sq. foot condo 2 blocks from my office so that I'll have less stress, plus I can skip that pesky lawn-mowing." Some, if not many, of us would consider him a self-centered, thoughtless, unappreciative jerk.

Susan's husband is the one that's HOME. He has given up, or suspended, whatever career he had to stay home with their children and make a home for everyone. Moving for the benefit of the WOH spouse should not be summarily assumed to be a good idea for the SAH spouse.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 13, 2007 11:19 AM

This cut from the 10:07 post sounds like catlady

Or perhaps the guilt feelings [about the idea of cutting back on work responsibilities] come from the disdain their colleagues reserve for peers who do not place their subspecialty at the highest priority over all other aspects of life.

Well, aren't [those colleagues] the ones who don't have the bigger picture? Certainly from the point of view of a narrow academic community, anyone who cuts back is a "traitor"... but that serves the narrow subspecialty, not you.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 13, 2007 11:24 AM

To anonymous at 11:19 who wrote: "Husband comes home one day and says, 'Honey, I hate my commute. We're moving to a 3 bedroom, 1400 sq. foot condo 2 blocks from my office so that I'll have less stress, plus I can skip that pesky lawn-mowing.' Some, if not many, of us would consider him a self-centered, thoughtless, unappreciative jerk."

I never suggested that Dr. Burns ORDER her husband to move. Plus, presumably he recognizes the disadvantages of her lengthy commute on all their lives, as well as all the added time and reduced stress that living near campus could potentially cure.

Absent evidence to the contrary, we can reasonably assume that, as with the SAHD decision, the Burnses would discuss te moving topic calmly, weigh the pros and cons, and arrive at a decision about whether moving close to campus would serve their family's best interests.

Posted by: catlady | March 13, 2007 11:25 AM

BTW - my kids are with me all day - cling to daddy when he gets home and then I'm top banana again at bedtime - go figure. Anyone who can figure out what is going on in those tiny heads should get a Nobel Prize.

Mona - re: beating women beating themselves up. I haven't worked since I had kids, but I can say that in my experience, having them changed me more than I could have imagined and I could not ever have predicted the feelings that I would have about these tiny people. So (not intended as snarky) I think when you have kids you may understand why so many (not all) women feel pulled in two by the work/family component. I'm sure others can speak better to this than I can though.

Posted by: moxiemom | March 13, 2007 11:29 AM

10:31 here.

"To anonymous at 10:31 who wrote: "What about seeking a job at a teaching college?" As I read it, the Burnses made the decision that the husband would be a SAHF, and the wife the main (sole?) bread-winner."

So Susan...
The word is in:
You made your bed, now you have to lie in it!
No turning back. Enjoy your life in hell.
Bwah hah hah...

Posted by: Anonymous | March 13, 2007 11:29 AM

Catlady,

Thanks for the grammar corrections :)

Posted by: John Q | March 13, 2007 11:30 AM

"I never understood why women beat themselves up over their decisions to work--don't we need to pay the bills? Isn't it a disservice to have children one is unable to financially care for?"

Ah, that is the luxury I have as a single parent who receives zero child support...I don't have to feel guilty about working. And yeah, my daughter appreciates that I do provide a decent home and life for us, (and her classmates know what I look like!).

But she also knows that there will be times that I am unable to be at events (though I have been pretty lucky about getting time off for various school activities). We both understand that we have compromises, and that is simply our reality. We make the best of the time we have together.

Posted by: single western mom | March 13, 2007 11:32 AM

Not much to say about the topic today. Both of may parents taught at universities, but they were not reasearch universities, so they had a lot more flexibility as professors. But they both worked, so I bet we were a little clingy. I don remember my mom telling me that my brother and I cried when she came to pick us up from preschool because we wanted to stay and play. It seems the teachers were concerned that we were being abused at home. We were also so clumsy that the doctor at the nearby hospital thought we were being beaten because we were there so frequently. LOL! My poor mom.

Mona, if I have to get up before 5, I go to bed at 9. I use my eye cover thing and ear plugs. Total sensory deprivation. I also make the dogs stay up with my husband so they don't bother me. But I'm a complete nutcase if I don't get 8 hours, so I go to bed at 10:00 to wake up at 6:30.

Posted by: Meesh | March 13, 2007 11:32 AM

Susan, you have a difficult situation and you are obviously a strong and brave woman.
The only thing I could recommend for you to do to improve your situation is moving. Maybe look for a teaching position in a smaller university town that would at least save you the time spent commuting. I used to live in Atlanta and Alpharetta is quite a drive. Currently live within walking distance of work and it makes everything so much more doable.
best wishes to you.

Posted by: rumicat | March 13, 2007 11:35 AM

To anonymous at 11:24, who wrote: "This cut from the 10:07 post sounds like catlady"

No, it's not mine. Unlike you, I have the courage of my convictions to sign my blog name, so you'll know when a post is mine.

I'd like to raise a major undercurrent in some of today's postings which hasn't been addressed yet: I don't think that as many comments would be addressed to Dr. Burns re scaling back her academic career if she were a he. Maybe it's jealousy pure and simple because a woman has been spectacularly successful professionally in what was long a predominantly male field, or a belief that mothers should (timewise) be children's principal caregiver, or disapproval of SAHFs -- or some other as-yet unarticulated subtext? But I truly doubt that Dr. Burns's comparator male colleagues would be taking nearly as much grief on this board (maybe a little, but nothing like what she's gotten).

Posted by: catlady | March 13, 2007 11:35 AM

Everyone says you naturally wake up earlier as you get older but it isn't happening to me. Left to my own devices I could happily sleep until noon, not that I get the chance much! Most people in my office start work between 7.30 and 8.30, but since I can't really go to sleep before midnight or 1 am, I negotiated to come in to work at 9 and leave later in the evening.
Is this an option for some of you early commuters? Or are your schedules too tied into the rest of the family?

Posted by: worker bee | March 13, 2007 11:36 AM

I meant, the cut from the 10:07 post sounds like it was describing catlady. NOT like catlady wrote it.

The disdainful colleagues who dismiss any life choices that do not involve more and more and more commitment to a research career.

That's something I see all the time in my colleagues and catlady's comments fit it to a T.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 13, 2007 11:39 AM

Huh. I'm at WORK by 6:30 am!

Posted by: John L | March 13, 2007 11:39 AM

John L,
I leave my house at 6am and am at my desk by 6:30-35. The best part is that I walk out at 3:15 and am home before 4. I can hit the gym before it is crowded.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 13, 2007 11:41 AM

Before you start making assumptions about what responses to Dr Burns' male comparators would be like, how about waiting until one of them writes an article so we can see the DATA?

Assumptions, assumptions. Why argue about imagination when there is not even any data.

i ASSUME that Dr. Burns, as a trained engineer, can tell the difference between imagination and data.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 13, 2007 11:41 AM

After skimming 163 posts, I am wondering if the author will even get to this comment, but here goes. You are being WONDERFUL to your kids. You are giving them an example of a parent (notice sex is not relevant) who loves their work and loves the people she works with. This is wonderful. In addition, you are giving them an unparalleled chance to see a fascinating field close up and to meet interested an motivated students. As they get older, they will love coming to work with you.

Your kids' clinginess is typical of any tired child at the end of the day. It's not because you weren't there all day.

Posted by: DMD77 | March 13, 2007 11:44 AM

We are in morningside and love it. Great neighborhood, great parents assoc, I know most of my neighbors, great schools.

Ppl told us we would 'have' to move to the 'burbs when we had kids and my *husband* said that if he had to move out of the city, we'd move somewhere like chicago or boston. This from someone who lived in marietta when I met hi. My how things change.

We love the area and the city stiff that is right outside-we eve think dunwoody is a hike- but my in laws live there- we have to go.

To susan: there are plenty of intown neighborhoods that are wonderful-mside, inman park, candler parkan where plenty of gatech profs live- and they have good schools. My husband calls it alpharegretta for a reason.

Of course, if you like the spacious house and such, it is hard to find that at a reasonable price in town, but the amenities are ther (new pool at piedmont parkd for next summer!).

Posted by: atlmom | March 13, 2007 11:45 AM

I have agreed with most of your posts - but only partly with your last one.
- I don't think most folks realize that many RU science profs work the hours of big firm lawyers, what the tenure process entails, what the NSF grant cycle is like, etc. (and many seem to disaprove of those jobs for both genders). I find most people think we have summers completely off, for example.
- I think fewer people would suggest the clearly part time options like online courses to a man... But on the flip side I don't think they realize the salaries at many teaching colleges are lower than many public high schools.
- The majority of the grief seems to be about the commute, which I think they would give to a dad as quickly.

Posted by: to catlady | March 13, 2007 11:45 AM

... and your colleagues probably get likewise annoyed by people who view their life's passion as "just a job" - these things tend to cut two ways. Your first two posts don't seem very diplomatic?

Posted by: to 11:39 | March 13, 2007 11:49 AM

My question for the author is this: Why do you live so far from campus? You must have realized going into your career that academics requires research, weird hours, being accessible to students, esp. grad students if you're in a high-end research environment, which would be the case at GA Tech. Why tack on a 40+ mile commute each way in a very big city? No wonder you can't find balance. Why did you and your husband make that choice? You could add at least a couple of hours a day with your children if you lived closer. I don't get it.

Posted by: Anon XX | March 13, 2007 11:49 AM

10:31 here.

"To anonymous at 10:31 who wrote: "What about seeking a job at a teaching college?" As I read it, the Burnses made the decision that the husband would be a SAHF, and the wife the main (sole?) bread-winner."

So Susan...
The word is in:
You made your bed, now you have to lie in it!
No turning back. Enjoy your life in hell.


To the anonymous poster: Susan never said she hates her job. Like a good many people, she hates a long commute -- she's hardly unique in this respect, if you remember the recent guest blog on this very topic -- and her child said (probably repeated) a snarky comment which irritated more than it should've, though plenty of people on this board have reassured her that she's a terrific parent.

Don't assume that Dr. Burns doesn't enjoy her job -- just because evidently you wouldn't (or else you tried it, but failed).

Posted by: catlady | March 13, 2007 11:49 AM

Life is all about balance. If you are starting to feel stressed due to your schedule albeit it be working too many hours, too many extracurricular activities, marriage being neglected, etc. etc. then it is time to re-evaulate your schedule and re-balance. Make a list of your true priorities in life. I am in the almost completely empty-nester stage of life surviving a divorce after a 20 year marriage. If I could go back in time.... I would have put more emphasis on my marriage.. myself (aka, making sure I had some relaxation time).. the kids and family.. work.. and the rest of life. Take a look at what your TRUE priorities are. Everyone can handle scheduling different. Don't feel like you have to keep up with the Jones... If you can only handle the stress of one activity per kid.. then stop it at one activity. No harm done. Don't feel guilty or that you are depriving your children. Keeping your marriage and family intact is far more important.

Posted by: C.W. | March 13, 2007 11:51 AM

"I meant, the cut from the 10:07 post sounds like it was describing catlady. NOT like catlady wrote it."

Oh, well that makes it all better -- NOT!

Snark is still snark, no matter how you try to qualify it.

Posted by: catlady | March 13, 2007 11:52 AM

Oops, stiff=stuff

Posted by: atlmom | March 13, 2007 11:54 AM


Brava, catlady!

The suggestion is just that limiting the family's daily life to, say, a 5-mile radius, rather than a 30-mile one --- in a very congested commute corridor where 30 miles anywhere near rush hour is 1 hour + --- might simplify their lives and allow the WOH parent more time at home and more flexibility to meet the occasional daytime need as well (which benefits not just her, but their kids and the SAH parent as well). Of course there are trade-offs, but they are hardly stay = definitely best for the SAH parent, move = definitely best for the WOH parent as anon suggests. Unless the SAH parent just happens to be an extremely change-averse person . . . Neighborhoods with all the SAH-friendly features anon cites, except for the already-rooted-here characteristic, are available in many places, some much closer to her work, while her worksite is an unyielding constraint.

Their reasons for choosing Alpharetta may well be gone now --- proximity to *his* work at the time, a no-brainer for schools (whereas for intown neighborhoods you must develop a bit more detailed school-by-school knowledge, though the realtors have it --- all home ads here explicitly list elementary, middle and high school and finding the strong ones is not so hard in these days of online school report cards and easily-queried parents). Conditions have changed, and so, if their lives are becoming a little unbalanced, it may be worth revisiting prior decisions about how they've structured their day-to-day lives.
But if one were to consider a move, upcoming summer or the next would be a good time, before her oldest starts school. It's a time of transition anyways, a time of beginning in a new school community.

Nobody ever suggested anything adversarial about a move-or-stay decision, only a mutual decision that values everyone's experiences within the family.

I personally consider a long commute to be an exorbitant sacrifice, not only by the parent who suffers through it, but by kids and commuting parent who lose so much time together and proximity by it . . . I would highly prioritize not having one, for either spouse . . . though of course you work with the choices you've got.

Posted by: KB | March 13, 2007 11:56 AM

But, personally, I never wanted a house and the hassles - I lived in a condo before I got married. Who wants to mow the lawn? i told my husband that that was going to be *his* job if he wanted a house. I love my house, but it is a LOT of work - would be more so with a larger lawn, etc. We're near several parks, my son goes next door to play with the neighbor's kids, we know the kids in our four block area.

Posted by: atlmom | March 13, 2007 11:56 AM

I did not mean to sound so undiplomatic. That was my error. I'm sorry.

No catlady, clearly Susan doesn't hate her job... she says so in her article. Susan loves her job.

What she specifically says she loves, though, is teaching.

This isn't about my feelings about my job, it's what Susan says about her job.

Now, as I first said, it could be that she loves research too, but simply didn't have the word-count freedom to go into that.

But it could also be that, given Susan says that what she loves is teaching, what Susan loves actually isn't teaching.

There is a big prejudice in academic communities against teaching-only jobs... and it doesn't help that, as catlady correctly points out, the teaching-only jobs pay so poorly.

So my comment was meant to give Susan some moral support, if in the back of her mind was a desire to take a teaching-only job.

I have a couple of friends who have made that decision, and from their experience, anyone who makes that decision is in need of moral support.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 13, 2007 11:57 AM

typo:

"But it could also be that, given Susan says that what she loves is teaching, what Susan loves actually isn't teaching."

should have been

But it could also be that, given Susan says that what she loves is teaching, what Susan loves actually IS teaching.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 13, 2007 11:59 AM

The different schools and change for kids is par for the course. My son was in one preschool last year, this year I moved him for several reasons, one of them being getting him into a GA funded preK program, next year he will be at the new kindergarten 'annex' from the elementary school, then the year after that, the 'real' elementary school. Four schools in four years (plus different camps in the summer) - so what? Kids are adaptable.

Posted by: atlmom | March 13, 2007 11:59 AM

I see your point, Catlady. I sensed a questioning of her ambition too when some mentioned scaling down to a less demanding (and likely less prestigious-this is engineering afterall) institution.

I think that ambition still is seen by many as an ugly trait in women, even if that view is not at the conscious surface.

OK, I know I'm going to get it now :-).

Posted by: Another Librarianmom | March 13, 2007 11:59 AM

"Our daughter says things like, "The kids at preschool wanted to know what you look like," which clearly caused her some pain."

Had to have been a parent who said this to a kid.... to odd for a child to come up with on their own. You can't worry about what other kids/parents think and you can't please your child all the time. Please them when it is important. This is not.

I think extroverted children are more well, clingy, is not quite right, but my extroverted child is always after me to play with him and my introverted child is not. I think alot of the needing to be with other people, needing to be entertained by other people has alot to do with whether the child is introverted or extroverted.

Posted by: Pink Plate | March 13, 2007 12:00 PM

To "Posted by: to catlady | March 13, 2007 11:45 AM"

I don't see where we disagree. Your points are right on target, especially re woeful salaries for many faculty at teaching colleges.

Tenure-track faculty at research universities know full well what they're getting into when they seek and accept these positions, because during their grad school years they've witnessed their own professors going through these processes. If Dr. Burns had been averse to this way of life, she presumably wouldn't have taken the Ga. Tech job 10 years ago.

And re that part about having summers off: Oh, I never cease to be amazed by some people's naivete on this notion, either! Don't you just wish...

Posted by: catlady | March 13, 2007 12:01 PM

Another Librarianmom,
Wet noodle. Wet noodle. Wet noodle.

Feel better? :-)

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 13, 2007 12:01 PM

To Another Librarianmom:

Curious thing, that word "ambition," so fraught with positive connotations for men but negative ones for women. How about if we call it "excellence" instead?

Posted by: catlady | March 13, 2007 12:03 PM

To KLB SS MD:

Oh, you card ;-)

Posted by: catlady | March 13, 2007 12:04 PM

Like I told Fred earlier, it's a gift.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 13, 2007 12:06 PM

The different schools and change for kids is par for the course. My son was in one preschool last year, this year I moved him for several reasons, one of them being getting him into a GA funded preK program, next year he will be at the new kindergarten 'annex' from the elementary school, then the year after that, the 'real' elementary school. Four schools in four years (plus different camps in the summer) - so what? Kids are adaptable.

Posted by: atlmom | March 13, 2007 11:59 AM

Four schools in four years, plus different camps in the summer is an excessive amount of change for kids under 5. You are rationalizing.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 13, 2007 12:08 PM

To KLB SS MD: And your humility is exceeded only by your veracity, right? LOL!

Posted by: catlady | March 13, 2007 12:09 PM

And my tenacity!

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 13, 2007 12:10 PM

I am a daughter of two professors. My mother was a pioneer in having a tenured position in a "man's field"-- math. I am very proud of her.

My father was an absent-minded professor type, and didn't do any housework or much childcare (though he was theoretically supportive of her career). The years before my mother got tenure were very hard for her-- and even afterwards it was no cakewalk.

I probably watched too much TV and we probably didn't have as much time with my parents as other kids, but I grew up fine. I think the one part where there was really a disconnect was that neither parent had the energy to look at the "forest" of my life. For instance, I spent over 2 hours on the bus every day (in a tiny town) because I was the first one on the bus and the last one off. I lived around 2 miles from the school. I think a more involved parent would have protested this, or driven me to school.

Also, my parents chose their home based on an easy commute for them (2 minutes instead of 10), but there were NO other children in the neighborhood (it was all retirees) and I had a pretty lonely childhood.

Basically, don't worry about *you* meeting every need-- just make sure that their needs are met.

Posted by: Neighbor | March 13, 2007 12:10 PM

Four schools in four years, plus different camps in the summer is an excessive amount of change for kids under 5. You are rationalizing.

Army Brat, are you out there? Care to reply?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 13, 2007 12:11 PM

Kind of off topic, but in the vein of the last few posts:

I'm considering getting a PHD so that I can teach at the university level. I don't want to do much research (how much reasearch is needed on technical communication?). So is it even worth the thousands of dollars I'll spend to get the degree if teaching jobs pay so little?

I'm making a pretty comfortable salary now. I was hoping that a PHD would net me more cash. I guess not necessarily!

Posted by: Meesh | March 13, 2007 12:11 PM

To Catlady:

That's just it. I think for some people, when they see a man with ambition, they equate it with excellence. For women, they think something along the lines of harsh, unfeeling, negectful of others.

I think that much of society still finds fault with women who have misgivings about giving up a quest for excellence/prestige when they become parents. Men who continue to pursue excellence after becoming parents don't have their motives questioned as much.

I do think these attitudes are changing to some degree, just not quickly. If they weren't changing, I don't think we'd have SAHDs at all.

Posted by: Another Librarianmom | March 13, 2007 12:13 PM

"I sensed a questioning of her ambition too when some mentioned scaling down to a less demanding (and likely less prestigious-this is engineering afterall) institution."

I am not so sure that Dr. Burns' ambition is an issue.

What is more likely is that many of the women posting these sorts of taking a step back, going part-time, lessening the responsibility inherent in the job comments are recommending the same approach they took. It's a way of saying, the solution that worked for me works for all working women. They don't adjust their advice on a case by case basis. If Dr. Burns didn't already have two children, they'd next recommend she have a second child to relieve the clinginess of her oldest.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 13, 2007 12:15 PM

Meesh -- How does one get and why would one need a PhD in "technical communication?" What is there to research (i.e., discover something new) -- the real reason for a PhD? Seems like fluff and gobbledygook to me...

Posted by: Anon XX | March 13, 2007 12:15 PM

Four schools in four years, plus different camps in the summer is an excessive amount of change for kids under 5. You are rationalizing.


It's a lot but I agree with atlmom, kids are adaptable. Only you know your child and your own situation well enough to know what's best for the child and family.

Posted by: lindab | March 13, 2007 12:16 PM

KLB SS MD:

I hope you're thrashing me with a wet noodle and not calling me one ;-)

Posted by: Another Librarianmom | March 13, 2007 12:17 PM

I'll reply to 12:08.

My dad worked for the World Bank. We moved all the time as children. We even lived in Mexico. I am a normal adult. I don't think I'm scarred in any way. Truthfully, I don't remember much of it. But (1) I had an older brother which equalled an instant, constant buddy and (2) we pretty much stopped moving by the time the oldest was 10. I think moving a lot after that age is pretty harsh because that's when insecurities creep in. But for young kids, I don't see the problem.

Posted by: Meesh | March 13, 2007 12:17 PM

I am not sure what department you would be applying to - but usually you generally should not have to pay out of pocket for a PhD. In engineering, math, science (at least) you only consider schools that offer either a research or a teaching assistantship... I think this is true in the majority of fields.

I'm considering getting a PHD so that I can teach at the university level. If you want to do this it should generally be done for the job satisfaction, not for the $$. You can make money consulting in a few fields (think b-school here), but that is the exception not the rule.

Posted by: to Meesh | March 13, 2007 12:18 PM

OK, here is a question in real time. How long (in minutes) is a commute from Atlanta to Alphretta? Most of us are not exactly familiar with what we are dealing with.
My point of the money is, besides loving what she does, if she can make more $$ and have more sane hours in industry then research, is that a possible switch?
I agree with Catlady about giving up tenure. The few professors that I know that did that, it was career suicide. They all just assume they will never be in research again.

It sounds as if engineering is very different then mathematics or statistics. Although most if not all, professors work very hard before tenure (even at the big research schools). It does not seem to be this die hard long hours that Susan is talking about. Also most professors at my graduate school, lived close to the university.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 13, 2007 12:18 PM

Another librarianmom,
Yes - that was a lashing with the wet noodle. I was certainly not calling you one.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 13, 2007 12:20 PM

To Meesh, who wrote: "I don't want to do much research (how much reasearch is needed on technical communication..."

I imagine there's hardly any discipline that doesn't require research at the university level nowadays.

You're definitely describe a balancing situation here: Ph.D./university teaching vs. research. But if research is not what YOU really want to do, I'd hate to see you make yourself miserable. In your field, it sounds like the Ph.D. is less about the income and more about the job satisfaction. Despite how some people may have interpreted my comments above, I respect faculty at teaching colleges, and think that maybe it would be a good fit for your interest in teaching in higher education without having to do (as much) research. Are there people in such positions whom you could ask? Good luck.

Posted by: catlady | March 13, 2007 12:20 PM

Anon XX, good questions! I don't run the PHD program, so I have no idea what they teach. It could very well be gobbledegook. I'm interested in the subject, and it is my profession, so i was hoping I'd get something out of it. I'm a serial student, so it makes sense to me to get the highest degree in my field. Whether or not it's worth it is a totally different story.

Posted by: Meesh | March 13, 2007 12:21 PM

Oops! I meant To "to Meesh"!

Posted by: catlady | March 13, 2007 12:22 PM

Rationalzing? He's in the same house since he was born.
Anyway, there wasn't much else I couyld do and he's thriving where he is. I don't think it is rationalizing, it is fine whatever you think. But kids are okay with change, they adapt very quickly.

Posted by: atlmom | March 13, 2007 12:23 PM

Meesh,
Be careful of what you ask for. My Uncle is a retired PhD. He taught education at CCSU. His daughter is also a PhD. Her field is SO limited that she is not working right now as many of the jobs she applies for say she is overqualified.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 13, 2007 12:26 PM

Why should Susan give anything up?

It all seems overwhelming when your in it, but when you come out of it you are proud of yourself.

Make adjustments Susan, but don't give anything up if you don't HAVE or WANT to.

Posted by: John Q | March 13, 2007 12:26 PM

I agree with Meesh; for young kids I don't see a big problem with moving. I moved a fair amount growing up. The only one that was tough was when I was in middle school. Most of that was because we moved to an somewhat affluent and fairly non-transient area. Middle schoolers aren't the most welcoming to newcomers.

I moved in high school and was lucky to find a wonderful group of friends pretty quickly. My brother had a hard time with a late high school move, understandably.

Posted by: Another Librarianmom | March 13, 2007 12:26 PM

catlady, I do think that teaching at a teaching university is the way to go for me. I do know a few professors in my field, but I would feel wierd being like "hey, how much money do you make and do you think it's worth it?" I would like to teach, but if it were really only about the love of teaching, I could be scraping by on an elementary teacher's income, you know? It's not just the teaching but also the money for me.

Posted by: Meesh | March 13, 2007 12:27 PM

Please excuse the numerous spelling errors in my posts. My cold medicine is making me do it.

Posted by: Meesh | March 13, 2007 12:28 PM

Preschool to kindergarten is most likely a school switch. I don't think a move closer to campus would be that much of a stress for a five year old. Now it may be hard on her husband and they would have to agree to that one.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 13, 2007 12:28 PM

Foamgnome, I see your point about "My point of the money is, besides loving what she does, if she can make more $$ and have more sane hours in industry then research, is that a possible switch?"

The problem is that Dr. Burns wouldn't be able to teach -- which she loves -- unless she took an additional part-time job on top of her full-time industry position, as an adjunct somewhere, which would pay a comparative pittance. Under this scenario, she could well wind up working even more hours outside the home than she is currently, leaving less time and energy for her family.

Posted by: catlady | March 13, 2007 12:28 PM

"But kids are okay with change, they adapt very quickly."

I assume your kids are fine with every year a new caregiver, but one of our kids would not have been. I caution the across-the-board assumption that for ALL kids, as much change as is convenient for parents will produce no ill effects.

Comparing military moves, where there is the stability of a SAH spouse, regardless of the base, to frequent parent-driven changing of schools and daycare situations in a two-working parent household, is apples and oranges.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 13, 2007 12:29 PM

Please excuse the numerous spelling errors in my posts. My cold medicine is making me do it.

Posted by: Meesh | March 13, 2007 12:28 PM


I figured it was March Madness

Posted by: Anonymous | March 13, 2007 12:29 PM

KLB SS MD, thanks for the warning. I bet I would be in danger of that.

Posted by: Meesh | March 13, 2007 12:30 PM

Comparing military moves, where there is the stability of a SAH spouse,

Plenty of military spouses work outside the home, too

Posted by: Anonymous | March 13, 2007 12:31 PM

Anon at 12:29,
"Comparing military moves, where there is the stability of a SAH spouse, regardless of the base, to frequent parent-driven changing of schools and daycare situations in a two-working parent household, is apples and oranges."

Most military spouses I know work.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 13, 2007 12:31 PM

Cultural Tidbit of the Day

e.e. cummings typewriter
was

broken

Tomorrow, Pamplona

Posted by: Fred | March 13, 2007 12:31 PM

I agree with Catlady about giving up tenure. The few professors that I know that did that, it was career suicide. They all just assume they will never be in research again.


I will probably be thrashed for suggesting that maybe people can't have it all and if she's not happy or thinks she isn't meeting an important need then something does have to give. If she can't be a reasearcher and the kind of mother she wants to be then maybe she needs to consider which is more important. So few people today are willing to make any sacrifices - try as you might, you can't have it all.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 13, 2007 12:33 PM

It sounds as if engineering is very different then mathematics or statistics. Although most if not all, professors work very hard before tenure (even at the big research schools). It does not seem to be this die hard long hours that Susan is talking about. Also most professors at my graduate school, lived close to the university.

-------------------------------------

A few distinctions
- The biggest is the lack of dependence on grant funding. Labs are more like running a business with many employees. If you don't get the next grant your grad students are SOL.
- Math is one of the ultimate work from anywhere (often home) professions. It is really hard to draw any distinction about the number of hours worked from the hours seen in the office. They can be lost in their work pretty much anywhere (though it would be good to ban theorems while driving...) Folks had no idea what happened to Andrew Wiles for a few years, until he emerged with his proof of Fermat's last theorem. Some of his colleague's thought he had given up math I think...

I don't know about the industry thing... if you where told you could gain job security and money by becoming a municipal garbage man would you do it? It is good, secure, important job - but at this point stats is probably part of who you are??? At some point I think genuine job fufillment is a big thing to give up.

Housing prices have gone up much faster than teaching salaries. In many cases it is harder for junior faculty members to buy property near work.

Posted by: to foamgnome | March 13, 2007 12:33 PM

Anon at 12:29, let us not speak of Maryland's terrible performance last week. I am, however, happy for the UNC fans. I think MN's prediction is right about the ACC's poor showing this week and weekend. My hopes are not high for Maryland even though we're 4th.

Posted by: Meesh | March 13, 2007 12:35 PM

Please excuse the numerous spelling errors in my posts. My cold medicine is making me do it.

Posted by: Meesh | March 13, 2007 12:28 PM


I figured it was March Madness

Posted by: | March 13, 2007 12:29 PM

MN, is that you again? Having another flare up of CRS?

Posted by: Fred | March 13, 2007 12:35 PM

"

"I sensed a questioning of her ambition too when some mentioned scaling down to a less demanding (and likely less prestigious-this is engineering afterall) institution."

I am not so sure that Dr. Burns' ambition is an issue.

What is more likely is that many of the women posting these sorts of taking a step back, going part-time, lessening the responsibility inherent in the job comments are recommending the same approach they took. It's a way of saying, the solution that worked for me works for all working women. They don't adjust their advice on a case by case basis. If Dr. Burns didn't already have two children, they'd next recommend she have a second child to relieve the clinginess of her oldest.
"

Well, I am a woman who posted one of those things, and your guesses are not correct.

I don't think that given a 300-word article anyone can give perfect advice to anybody.

What these posts are is a forum for discussion.

Right now, in this place and time, there are a lot of prejudices against scaling back on work.

This is true for everybody, and is particularly true for women whose life work has been in a traditionally male field.

In a discussion form, challenging pervasive prejudices often leads to productive comment.

That was the point of my posts on the subject...

Posted by: Anonymous | March 13, 2007 12:35 PM

foamgnome wrote: "I agree with Catlady about giving up tenure. The few professors that I know that did that, it was career suicide. They all just assume they will never be in research again."

I totally agree with this, especially in engineering. The fact you've done it once (phd through tenure) doesn't buy you squat. If you get out of academic research, you can't get back in. Academic searches focus on what have you done lately and how that will fit into the research aspirations of the university. If you've been out, you have nothing to show and you won't be considered.

Posted by: dotted | March 13, 2007 12:35 PM

"Best thing our pediatrician ever said to me: "You're not the entertainment committee."

Her point was perfect - while kids need their parents, and need time to play with their parents, they also need a lot of time on their own, to learn to play by themselves and entertain themselves."

This is kind of the inference I'm drawing from moms who say their kids are clingy even though while they are home they spend all kinds of time with them "doing fun activities."

Since kids are directed so much at daycare and in organized sports with "activities" I think parents have begun to assume they have to guide and present things to do all day long.

It's sure not something my SAHM did, and I wonder how well today's "activity" kids do at entertaining themselves.

Posted by: wenholdra | March 13, 2007 12:35 PM

catlady: I totally get she loves what she does. Believe it or not, I actually love what I do too. I am just lucky that being a statistician is a good job for work/life balance for the most part. You can always have a sucky boss or job cuts. But overall, statisticians are well paid professionals with EXTREMELY low stress jobs. I also do research and publish too. But I do it for the government. Of course it is a several notches down from Dr. Burn's research. But it is basically the same type of thought process. But I don't have to figure where research $$ are coming from etc... My only point is parents sometimes sacrifice their professional "love" to have a better lifestyle. Whether in research or not. My friend is a programmer. Would rather program at a number of different places, but choose a job where she only works 6 hours a day. She did this to be home after school with her kid. Dr. Burns, in theory, could take a job in industry (granted she did not loathe the job) to spend more time with her kids. She would have to give up teaching but might find the teaching outlet in another way. Say volunteer tutoring. Just a thought. Clearly most professors do not give up tenure track positions.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 13, 2007 12:35 PM

KLB SS MD:

Oh, good. I'm trying to have a more optimistic outlook now that spring is here!

Posted by: Another Librarianmom | March 13, 2007 12:36 PM

You don't need to ask about salaries... One of the trade mags (the academe maybe or the journal of higher ed) publishes average salaries for almost all colleges broken down by rank...

They can be a bit skewed at the high level (occasional very highly paid famous person), but at the junior ranks they are very useful.

Posted by: to Meesh | March 13, 2007 12:37 PM

An obscure but obscure fact about e.e. cummings. He signed his name as E.E. Cummings.

This is what a masters in Literature does for you!

Posted by: Fred | March 13, 2007 12:40 PM

Again, I am not sure how engineering exactly works. But statisticians and mathematicians in industry are still statisticians and mathematicians. Granted almost none of them are teachers but they are still statisticians and mathematicians. And as far as statisticians go, more of them in industry and government do research. Very few are pure production type people. But again, I don't know much about engineering. And from what I understand there are all types of engineers and their work is equally varied. I am sure being a teacher is a part of who you are. But heck if I could stand being a HS math teacher, I would do it for a better work/life balance. I would probably always consider myself a statistician by trade and education. But the reason I don't become a HS teacher is the kids and their parents would drive me to drink!

Posted by: foamgnome | March 13, 2007 12:41 PM

Cultural Tidbit of the Day

e.e. cummings typewriter
was

broken


Fred, er fred: so was archy's -- lol

Posted by: catlady | March 13, 2007 12:41 PM

Meesh ---

Chronicle of Higher Education

Though getting a little mentoring would be a good move. Most faculty members consider mentoring students/potential students part of our jobs. It would be good to learn more about typical career/life trajectories in your specific field and how hard those positions you're thinking of are to get, in the first place.

>You don't need to ask about salaries... One of the >trade mags (the academe maybe or the journal of >higher ed) publishes average salaries for almost >all colleges broken down by rank...

Posted by: KB | March 13, 2007 12:42 PM

I love Fred's cultural tidbits. It's like getting a second Writer's Almanac e-mail newsletter!

Posted by: Another Librarianmom | March 13, 2007 12:43 PM

It sounds as if engineering is very different then mathematics or statistics.

The diff between an engineer and a statistician,

A statistician looks at her foot

An engineer looks at the foot of a bridge

Posted by: Anonymous | March 13, 2007 12:43 PM

re:changing schools.

My husband was a military brat and he was in 6 different elementary schools. They moved 5 times in 12 years, he changed schools in 4 different states then twice in state getting into on-base school and getting out of another on-base school. He is fine - but he is an extremely adaptable adult and was as a kid too. 3 out of 4 of the kids did great, the oldest was 15 or 16 when they stopped moving and he was the one that had all the problems. It all depeneds on the kid and what age they are when they are moving.

I would never have fared as well as my husband did. I was shy and introverted as a little kid and thankfully my parents did not move from the time I entered Kingarten thru HS.

Posted by: cmac | March 13, 2007 12:44 PM

My daughter is almost 1 year old, so who knows what lies ahead. Lately I am able to get things done while she plays in her "toy corral" in the living room by herself for 45 minutes to an hour. I can also get dinner made with her underfoot playing with plastic kitchen items. This makes me so happy and I hope she will continue to expand her ability to entertain herself. My mother did not spend gobs of time entertaining my brother and me and I think it was for the best. Our parents led scout groups and other activity, but we mostly played by ourselves or with other kids on the street.

As for the blogger's comment about the other preschool kids not knowing what she looks like, our daycare has a "family board" for each child and teacher. It's a really helpful way for us to get to know everyone faster and the older children are apparently very proud of having pictures of their families to show the other children.

Posted by: MaryB | March 13, 2007 12:46 PM

"Housing prices have gone up much faster than teaching salaries. In many cases it is harder for junior faculty members to buy property near work."

But isn't Dr. Burns a senior faculty member? She's been at Ga. Tech for 10 years, and likely has tenure.

Posted by: catlady | March 13, 2007 12:49 PM

Well, thank you Another Librarianmom.

That was an original poem BTW. You will probably like my post tomorrow about Hemmingway vs. Fitzgerald.

Posted by: Fred | March 13, 2007 12:50 PM

MN, is that you again? Having another flare up of CRS?

Posted by: Fred | March 13, 2007 12:35 PM

Fred, I thought that comment was submitted by you, LOL, since you've mentioned March Madness several times.

I tend to refer to my favorite season of the year as The Tournament. Ta ta. I must finish submitting multiple brackets to this years' designated Associate In Charge Of Running the Pool.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | March 13, 2007 12:50 PM

Meesh --

Re: the Ph.D question: best advice is to really look into what you would do with it. My mom is a college prof at a small college -- and even there, research is absolutely critical if you want tenure. She actually loves the research part and hates the teaching (go figure!), so it works ok for her, but it really would be unrealistic at most places to expect to get tenure without some significant research in your field. And salaries will likely suck in any field (they basically make you pay your dues until you get tenure).

My husband also has a Ph.D (EE), and he works in industry. For what he wants to do, the Ph.D has almost been a career deterrent -- he is really interested in the operations and business side of things, but in his field, people with Ph.D's tend to be pigeonholed into narrow technical research fields. He's actually had people advise him NOT to put the Ph.D on his resume, given the career path he wants!

So my advice: look at the Ph.D as a means to an end goal, not the goal in and of itself, and research it just like you would anything else. Talk to people at the school, in your business, etc. -- figure out what opportunities exist for Ph.Ds in your field, and whether that's really where you want to be.

Oh, and if you harbor some belief that being a college prof will give you better hours, lose that now. Having grown up with two English professors, I decided I wanted an easier, less demanding job -- so I became a lawyer. :-)

Posted by: Laura | March 13, 2007 12:50 PM

MN,
Is "Associate In Charge Of Running the Pool" an official job description or simply an additional duty?

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 13, 2007 12:51 PM

foamgnome is sounding more and more like a statistician I worked with in NINDS..?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 13, 2007 12:52 PM

That was an original poem BTW. You will probably like my post tomorrow about Hemmingway vs. Fitzgerald.

Posted by: Fred | March 13, 2007 12:50 PM


Fred, would you care to elaborate now?

There is no contest for me- Fitzgerald. HEmingway makes me want to poke my eyes out with a fishing pole.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 13, 2007 12:53 PM

Oops, sorry, I forgot to sign my posting (12:52 p.m.).

Are you a brunette, perchance?

Posted by: MdMother | March 13, 2007 12:53 PM

Foam - as usual, I agree with you! Can I ask an off topic ?. My ds is leaving his school this year to go to 1st grade. He has had the same teacher for 3 years who has been not only wonderful to him, but a huge help to me as well. I'd like to get her something truly special but I haven't a clue. I'd like to spend about $100. Any ideas out there for something special (not a gift card). I'd love any help.

Posted by: moxiemom | March 13, 2007 12:54 PM

foamgnome is sounding more and more like a statistician I worked with in NINDS..?

Posted by: | March 13, 2007 12:52 PM

I don't think I am that person because I have no idea what NINDS stands for.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 13, 2007 12:55 PM

This one is going to get trashed but here goes.

My husband and I are, I swear, very progressive. Yet there is something in his nature that would just make him profoundly discontent if he were a SAHF. There is nothing he can do about it just by wishing it away with progressive ideals and theories, it is just the way he is inside.

Dr. Burns does not mention her relationship with her husband at all in the whole post. She only talked about kid issues. I wonder if some unspoken discontentment between the two Drs. Burns is contributing to the family issues that she did talk about. If it was me and my husband, that component would be there. Of course different people are different.

OK, flame away, that's OK. Having contributed this notion I will let the rest of you decide if it's all right or bad. :)

Posted by: Anonymous | March 13, 2007 12:56 PM

"Fred, would you care to elaborate now?

There is no contest for me- Fitzgerald. HEmingway makes me want to poke my eyes out with a fishing pole.

Posted by: | March 13, 2007 12:53 PM"

No, only 1 CTOTD per day per blog. But, I suspect that my opinion would be close to yours and I supspect Papa would appreciate the fishing pole comment. I think that if anyone could have done himself in with a fishing pole, Papa would have!

Posted by: Fred | March 13, 2007 12:59 PM

Anon at 12:29,
"Comparing military moves, where there is the stability of a SAH spouse, regardless of the base, to frequent parent-driven changing of schools and daycare situations in a two-working parent household, is apples and oranges."

Most military spouses I know work.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 13, 2007 12:31 PM


Actually, most military wives stay home (I'm an Air Force wife- there are stats on this as well- I'll look for the article I read) Also, most married women leave the military when they get pregnant.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 13, 2007 1:00 PM

moxiemom: does your son's teacher have an aide in the classroom? If so, you could ask what kind of hobbies she might have. You could ask your son but he may not be privy to that information. The other thing is ask the director at your son's school. Like if she likes gardening or something, you could get her some sort of exotic plant (my mother likes gardening) or if she collects something (like hummels) get her one. I would include a gift receipt in case she has one or wants to return it. But I would get something personal to her. I am sure she has had enough engraved pen and pencil sets and nameless junk like that.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 13, 2007 1:01 PM

To moxiemom: Although I generally don't approve of expensive gifts for teachers, yours is such a lovely exception -- a wonderful teacher, for half your son's life -- that I think it's nice of you to want to get her something special.

Is there something you know she'd like but that she'd never spend that much for out of her own pocket? A professionally framed print? A lavish coffe-table book? Please let us know what you finally come up with :-)

Posted by: catlady | March 13, 2007 1:01 PM

Anon @ 1:00,
I work for the military, and am retired military. Most of the women I know personally (and in almost 30 years I know a lot) who have gotten pregnant have remained in the military.
Most of the spouses I know work.
As Jerry McGuire said - show me the stats!

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 13, 2007 1:03 PM

AF wife,

Interesting point you bring up here. Are you an officer's wife? Most officer's wives are as you say, most em's wives have to work. (KLB was an em)

As I have mentioned before, a lot of military families home school for just this reason--job movement. But if I recall most of the ones that Frieda associated with were officer's wives.

Posted by: Fred | March 13, 2007 1:05 PM

12:56, there is nothing wrong with not wanting to be a SAHP, regardless of gender. Please don't think one should sacrifice happiness for the sake of progress. I for one would be miserable as a SAHP, but that doesn't mean anything, except that I like working and don't want to end up on the wrong side of a divorce (because let's be realistic, they do happen to the best of couples, whether we like to admit it or not). No matter what your husband's reasons for not wanting to stay at home, they are his reasons. And just like I don't want to give up my career "just because we can" or for the sake of convention, my future husband shouldn't have to do the same just for the sake of progress.

Many people, men and women, define themselves by their work. It's possible your husband is one of them. It's also possible that he is afraid of being without income, gets bored with the Wiggles and playground banter, needs adult stimulation, etc. All the above (and many more!) are perfectly fine reasons to want to WOH. I can't imagine anyone wanting to flame you or your husbands simply because you have your own reasons for doing things. If he wants to work, let him work--assuming you are both still able to achieve balance.

Posted by: Mona | March 13, 2007 1:06 PM

Officer vs enlisted,
Maybe my vision is skewed because of working in DC but even the wives of our officers (LTCs and COLs) still work. Many have SES or high GS level jobs.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 13, 2007 1:08 PM

Thanks foam and cat although foam, you now reminded me that I need to get something special for the aide too who has been there the whole time!!! Curses - these wonderful caring teachers! I generally don't want to give expensive gifts, but she really has been a special person and support/advice giver for me and its kind of a going away present. I'd like her to have something that lets her know how much our family values her and to remind her of my ds w/o giving her a big, cheesy picture of my ds. haha I truly love this woman. If she would teach him forever, I'd do it. I am going to call the administrator to find out her personal interests. Thanks again.

Posted by: moxiemom | March 13, 2007 1:08 PM

Re: Military moving.
I was an Army brat, and we moved every year or few until about middle school years. Moving up until that age is good for kids. (Right on about early teens be inhospitable to newbies.) It forces kids to learn to adapt to new situations. I didn't like it at the time, but in retrospect am glad for it. Now I am always friendly to anyone new, anywhere.

And military moves are comparable to other parent job related moves. Not everyone lives on base/post, so a move is a move is a move.

Posted by: NC too | March 13, 2007 1:10 PM

moxiemom: you definitely have to give to the aides too. They probably don't get paid as much but has devoted a lot of time to him.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 13, 2007 1:10 PM

MN,
Is "Associate In Charge Of Running the Pool" an official job description or simply an additional duty?

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 13, 2007 12:51 PM

I suppose it's an additional duty, but that would inaccurately suggest that we have job descriptions. Ha! Rejecting the esteemed opportunity to be the Associate in Charge of Running the Pool is what's known as a career-ending move in these parts.

anon at 12:56, I also found it odd that mention of Mr. Dr. Burns was nowhere to be found, but assumed that perhaps he asked not to be mentioned in a public blog.

cmac, prior to my birth, my family moved roughly every two years. My brothers were fine with it, but my sister, also an introvert, had a difficult time starting over and over and over and pretty much had no friends when she graduated from high school. She also is a person who is very grounded by place (has stayed put for 23 years now, when moving actually would have been better from a personal and career perspective), and when people ask where she's from, she struggles to find an answer. For others, like your husband, moving's no biggie. Like always, we each know what's best for our children.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | March 13, 2007 1:11 PM

Officers vs. enlisted spousal jobs:

I think this is mostly generational and MOS related. My mom was stay at mom, my dad was an officer. That was back in the 70s and 80s. Probably different now. His work also called for quite a bit of TDY.

Posted by: NC too | March 13, 2007 1:12 PM

Military wives had lower earnings because they worked fewer hours and received lower wages than civilian wives. Controlling for other differences (e.g., age, education, number of children, area of residence), we found military wives were less likely than civilian wives to work in a given year (74 percent of military wives compared with 82 percent of civilian wives); were less likely to work full-time, which we defined as at least 35 hours weekly for at least 35 weeks (48 percent compared with 59 percent); worked fewer weeks (37.6 weeks compared with 40.9 weeks); and had lower weekly earnings ($268 compared with $308). Although these comparisons varied somewhat from year to year, the overall pattern has been stable since the late 1980s.

The analysis found that the probability of working during the year declined with age for military wives but was constant for civilian wives. Among those in the labor force, weeks worked and the probability of working fulltime increased with age for both military and civilian wives, but weeks worked rose faster for civilian wives while the probability of working full-time rose faster for military wives. Hourly wages were lower for military wives than for civilian wives at every age, but rose at the same rate with age for both.

Posted by: military wives and work | March 13, 2007 1:12 PM

http://www.dod.mil/prhome/docs/dacmc_qol_705.pdf


Great report (DoD) on quality of life in the military- including child care, wive's careers, etc-

Posted by: Anonymous | March 13, 2007 1:14 PM

Foam - you are right. I don't know how I forgot her. She's really wonderful as well, but focuses mostly on the younger children in the classroom (it is 2.5 to 6) and hasn't had as much to do with ds of late since he's such a hot shot now! I know that her dd is going away to college and she was concerned about saving up to get things for her. I'd like to get something just for the mom, but as a mom, I also know that I'd rather my kids have stuff before me (ergo the Target wardrobe of mine). ARRRGH, I just would like to do something really sincere that lets them know how truly valued their work is! WIsh me luck. I'll let you know what I end up with. Also, foam, does your dh know how very right you always are? If not, send him my way! haha

Posted by: moxiemom | March 13, 2007 1:14 PM

To the anonymous poster at 12:56 PM (is that you, Leslie?) who wrote, "Yet there is something in [my husband's] nature that would just make him profoundly discontent if he were a SAHF":

No flaming from this quarter! I think what you say is likewise true of a good many women.

Dr. Burns wrote near the top, "my engineer-husband decided to stay home with our two children after our son was born two years ago. I knew this would not solve all the problems..."

While no one's life is idyllic 24/7/365 (366 in Leap Year) -- regardless of gender, WOH, SAH, full or part-time status, etc., etc. -- absent information to the contrary, we just have to take Dr. Burns at her word when she states that the SAHF decision was her husband's. And given the blog's word limitation -- as well as perhaps her sense of privacy -- it's not necessarily surprising that she chose not to discuss personal details of her marriage.

Posted by: catlady | March 13, 2007 1:17 PM

Moxiemom: Nah, DH is definitely in the dark about my superior knowledge. LOL. And spoken from a mom, get the aid a gift card she can use for her kid's stuff. Especially if she is having stress about supplying college goods. She will understand and appreciate it. Yeah, we are all wearing Target, while our kids sport stride rite shoes. Because god forbid they don't make the US olympic track team, we will know it was all our fault because we bought them cheap shoes at Target.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 13, 2007 1:18 PM

Stats,
I don't think that with 74% of military wives working you can say that they don't work. Most do work and those who do work make less money. That, added to the TDY and deployments is very stressful.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 13, 2007 1:19 PM

Pretty funny sort of inside joke about e.e. at

http://www.gvsu.edu/english/cummings/caps2.html#footnote

Posted by: Fred | March 13, 2007 1:24 PM

"Lawyer Husband comes home one day and says, 'Honey, I hate my commute. We're moving to a 3 bedroom, 1400 sq. foot condo 2 blocks from my office so that I'll have less stress, plus I can skip that pesky lawn-mowing.' Some, if not many, of us would consider him a self-centered, thoughtless, unappreciative jerk."

This sounds like the old "sauce for the goose, sauce for the gander" argument. In real life, it's the other way around. I had a seven-mile, fifteen-minute commute from house to work until our oldest child was ready for kindergarten. Then we moved to an apartment, 44 miles and an hour away from work, but only seven minutes from school by "Mommy van." Now, we live in a house, but it's still 44 miles from work. A consolation: I have to mow only 1/5 acre of lawn, not 3/4 acre.

"Susan's husband is the one that's HOME. He has given up, or suspended, whatever career he had to stay home with their children and make a home for everyone. Moving for the benefit of the WOH spouse should not be summarily assumed to be a good idea for the SAH spouse."

The motto of the Prince of Wales is, "Ich dien" -- "I serve." Neutral terms like "WOH spouse" and "SAH spouse" don't fool anyone. He is still the husband, she is the wife, and the husband has the responsibility to serve his wife and children, just like the Prince of Wales has to serve. American culture comes from Britain, not from the European Continent. The wife and children are not there to serve the husband's interest, convenience and necessity.

Here is Lawrence Auster in the January 28, 1991 issue of National Review, reviewing Richard Brookhiser's book, "The Way of the WASP":

"The way of the WASP" consists of six closely related values or character traits--conscience, civic-mindedness, industry, success, use, and anti-sensuality. The most important is conscience. . . ."

I have a colleague who, faced with the same decision I faced, let his wife drop his son off at school -- an hour's commute away from home on her way to work in Baltimore City -- while he kept his ten-minute commute to work. Could I have stayed home and let a kindergartner commute an hour to and from school? Could I have stayed home and let my wife commute an hour each way to work? My conscience would have bothered me.

That's not to say that moving to make the wife's commute shorter is always a good idea. Would a move benefit the wife without harming the children? Then why not move? On the other hand, if the children are used to their friends and their school and their house and their yard, and moving would disrupt their lives, then the wife can jolly well keep commuting -- just as I do.

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | March 13, 2007 1:26 PM

To: Meesh

PhDs don't really pay off financially so its something that you should really want for other reasons.

First, you usually do need to put out some money. While you can get a reseach assistantship, traineeship, teaching assistantship (this depends a lot on your field though) they don't actually pay 100% of what you need to live on, so you need to use savings or get a student loan. Even though I was in a fairly high demand field I was lucky to get support - a lot of people didn't. My support was 80% of tuition and a 15,000 stipend. Still left a lot of money to come up with.

Once you're finished, in many fields you don't go straight into a job - you need to do at least one postdoc first to get anywhere in the field. These generally do not pay well.

I'm a year out from my PHD and am feeling that it wasn't worth it. Hopefully my next job will improve things and I will feel better about my decision to get a PhD. Going into it though, if I had known that I wouldn't be going into a decent job straight out of school, that I would have another 1-2 years of low pay, I'm not sure that I would have done it. So check into what is typical for your field.

Posted by: bf | March 13, 2007 1:28 PM

moxiemom: What about giftcards to bookstores? On a survey of teachers in my board this was the most popular gift idea.

Posted by: worker bee | March 13, 2007 1:39 PM

Thanks for all the suggestions, folks. I will have to give this more thought. There are no easy answers.

Posted by: Meesh | March 13, 2007 1:41 PM

I realize I'm entering this WAY late in the discussion, but for those who were talking about moving around a lot and the impact on a child... By the time I was 17, I had lived 11 years of my life overseas, and had moved every 1 - 2 years, starting at age... 6 months, I think?

While it may have been hard while I got older (leaving friends and such), it is an experience that I'll cherish forever. Living in the same town your whole life can't teach you the things that you'll learn moving somewhere new.

Just my 2 cents.

Posted by: dlm79 | March 13, 2007 1:42 PM

I'm not the other Air Force wife who claimed that most military wives don't work- but I think she probably meant to say that most military MOMS don't work. I read in the military money magazine that 70% of ALL military wives work and 50% of military MOMS work.

I am the wife of an enlisted member and I stayed home- along with every woman on my block. A few worked a few hours on th weekend at the BX to get out of the house, but I know only 1 woman who found a good CAREER kind of job in our absolutely awful small town.

I'm a journalist and I found a few free lance gigs (online), but absolutely NOTHING in our town. The local paper (if one could call it a paper) basically laughed at me, told me their staff had been there for years and that's the way they do it. end of story. The closest "big town" was 2 hours away. it was a NIGHTMARE.

The CDC was filled for a year due to cut backs, there was one preschool in the town, and a few family based daycares, but I figured I'd rather be home with her than drop her off at someone else's house, so... I decided to stay home for 4 years.

My husband still had 1 year left at this base and I just couldn't take it anymore, so we (my 2 kids and I) moved across the country with our family, on the East COast, and I started my career again while he went on a 6 month TDY.

Posted by: Air Force wife | March 13, 2007 1:45 PM

ok, not so late in the game.. W Post's clocks are still off by an hour!

Posted by: dlm79 | March 13, 2007 1:46 PM

Posted by: Air Force wife | March 13, 2007 01:45 PM

My gosh, were you at Minot or Warren?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 13, 2007 1:50 PM

I'm with dlm79...we moved around a ton when I was a kid, although the circumstances weren't exactly benign. The worst effect it had on me was that I had no childhood friendships (which was why it was hard for me to understand why ex-BF's childhood friendships were so important to him), and that I still have a certain amount of wanderlust. Even now that BF is gone, I'm still tempted to move to California just for the change in scenery...

Posted by: Mona | March 13, 2007 1:52 PM

Matt in Aberdeen: blah, blah, blah, . . . fool . . . , blah, blah, blah.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 13, 2007 1:54 PM

if the children are used to their friends and their school and their house and their yard, and moving would disrupt their lives...

Are your kids the boss of you? Susan's are preschoolers, do you think she should keep up the killer commute so they won't miss their yard.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 13, 2007 1:55 PM

Fairfax - I just sent your story out to a bunch of my Mom friends. That is a keeper! Definitley puts things in perspective on a busy day!!!

Posted by: Bad Mom - To Fairfax | March 13, 2007 1:57 PM

Meesh,

I was told that if I got a PhD in technical communication and decided to teach that I would always have a job. That being said, I saw a position for a "new" teacher that paid in the high 40s. Now, what will you learn and or teach if you get tech com degree:

Usability testing
Rhetorical theory
Document design
Web design
Medical writing
Instruction writing
Linguistics (depending on what you like to teach)
Grammar (yuck, not for me)
Grant writing
Proposal writing

I am sure I am forgetting something. I am almost done with my masters and am looking for a PhD program now. The problem I am having is finding a program that will let me go part time. I mean, my family has to eat you know.

Posted by: scarry | March 13, 2007 2:01 PM

----"The kids want to know what you look like" sounds kind of suspicious to me. I think it would be unusual for a four year old to display that amount of interest in someone else's parents. I'm wondering if maybe that particular classmate is parroting something she might have heard her own snide SAHM say. ("I don't even know what that Susan person looks like . . " said over Starbucks with the other SAHM's.)

Had to have been a parent who said this to a kid.... to odd for a child to come up with on their own.

Where did that come from? It doesn't sound like kid talk. It sounds like something he/he heard from an adult.

I agree with others saying to ignore this comment from your daughter. It is likely parrotted from other parents.----

As someone who's spent a lot of time around smart, inquisitive children, I disagree that Susan's daughter's comment had to have been prompted by an adult.

Smart little kids notice patterns. Odds are that the majority of preschool children's moms are seen at either drop-off or pick-up since SAHDs are still relatively rare. There's a good chance that one or more of Susan's daughters' friends may have curiously and innocently asked, "Where is your Mommy?", prompting Susan's daughter to tell Susan that the children at the preschool want to know what she looks like.

There's no reason for guilt, or for snarky, delusional SAHM-bashing.

Posted by: MBA Mom | March 13, 2007 2:03 PM

Dlm: the original thread was that my son will have four schools in four years-something that while I have no problem with it, was also unavoidable. We have lived in the same place, tho since before he was born.

Posted by: atlmom | March 13, 2007 2:04 PM

Altmom -

Ah, sorry, I guess I was speed-reading, trying to catch up. Should slow down, I guess.

If you're not actually moving, just having the child change schools, I see no problem whatsoever! He will still have the same friends, they just won't see each other during school hours! I think I'm not understanding why people were saying this was a big deal.

Posted by: dlm79 | March 13, 2007 2:09 PM

Kids can be clingy - don't let that guilt you. By not fulfilling every single want they have (they WANT you around 24 hours a day, they don't NEED you that whole time), you help them to realize that they world does not revolve around them. Harsh, I know, but there are a lot of kids today that could use that lesson!

Posted by: ParentPreneur | March 13, 2007 2:09 PM

Totally off topic, but totally fun. I just got these Fan Yang Gasillion Bubbles from Target today and DD (4) had the best time chasing them, some of them as big as her head! Such fun - FYI.

Posted by: moxiemom | March 13, 2007 2:11 PM

Just to put in my two bits, I'm sure there are lots of kids out there whose classmates do not know what one or both of their parents look like. Would we be looking at this situation differently if it were the dad working long hours as opposed to the mom?

Posted by: 215 | March 13, 2007 2:12 PM

scarry, exactly. I factored in the cost of the program because there was no way I was getting a teaching or research assistantship while trying to work full time. I haven't started looking for that dream program, but there's got to be one out there.

I would love to learn and teach any of those subjects. I'm still working toward my MS, so the PHD is a little ways off. I still don't know if teaching is for me. But I like the range of subjects you listed. Gives me hope! Thanks

Posted by: Meesh | March 13, 2007 2:13 PM

Oh, wow, all this military brat/spouse discussion going on and I've been off working! Darn it, I always miss it.

My graduate work in statistics taught me that "data" is not the plural of "anecdote", but nonetheless, two points:

1 - I grew up the son of an NCO. We moved constantly; I went to 13 schools from K through 12th grade. Most of the time it was fun, I grew up with a far greater appreciation of the world writ large than most of my peers who lived in one town all their lives. Also, Mom was a schoolteacher who tried to work everywhere we went. She at least substituted. The only times she didn't were when Dad was in Korea for a year unaccompanied and when he was in Vietnam for 14 months. Most of the other NCO wives worked, too, at least part time - enlisted pay was horrible then and not much better now, if you want to have a family.

2 - I was fortunate to have a job for one year in the 90s as a Visiting Professor at the Air Force Academy. In my department, there were 24 military faculty - 23 men and one woman. All were officers. All the wives except three worked outside the home - I think about 5 or 6 were nurses; for whatever that's worth. (The ones who didn't work outside the home dedicated full time to advancing their husband's careers.) The one husband also worked outside the home.

Posted by: Army Brat | March 13, 2007 2:13 PM

If you're not actually moving, just having the child change schools, I see no problem whatsoever! He will still have the same friends, they just won't see each other during school hours! I think I'm not understanding why people were saying this was a big deal.

Posted by: dlm79 | March 13, 2007 02:09 PM

For a child under 5, the age atlmom said her child was, 4 schools in 4 years, plus a slew of different summer camps each year, means that every time the child connects and gets to know his primary, daytime caregiver and all his school buddies, he changes to a new environment and caregiver. Shifting a child's full-time environment at each of 2, 3, 4, and 5, plus different summer camps each year, is a different proposition than yearly moves of school-age children. The child won't have the same "friends" because friendships are developed maintained during the school day for preschoolers.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 13, 2007 2:14 PM

Moxie - The warm weather has brought out all the summer toys already, chalk, bubbles, skates and water guns. Yesterday you would have thought it was July 4 in our neighborhood, kids with shorts laying on towels. I am not ready for summer! I just walked the dog and almost melted.

Posted by: cmac | March 13, 2007 2:15 PM

Well, as we go through life, we don't have the same friends, so maybe it's best for the child to learn to adapt to change now, at an early age! Besides, altmom said it's unavoidable, so why not pick on someone who's actually harming their child instead of just trying to do the best they can?

Posted by: dlm79 | March 13, 2007 2:16 PM

If atlmom says her kid is fine, then that's good enough for me.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 13, 2007 2:17 PM

"Besides, altmom said it's unavoidable, so why not pick on someone who's actually harming their child instead of just trying to do the best they can? "

dlm, not picking on atlmom, providing background since you didn't seem to get the gist of the thread. sorry - you were the one that said you had not had time to read carefully.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 13, 2007 2:20 PM

ignore me, i should stop posting anyway. i'm pregnant and cranky today. LOL

Posted by: dlm | March 13, 2007 2:22 PM

http://chronicle.com/stats/aaup/

Someone was wondering about salaries in academia, i think.
This gives a 5-year span.

Posted by: academic salaries | March 13, 2007 2:26 PM

"I am not ready for summer!" - CMAC - I'm not ready for summer. I ordered suits from Lands End and FYI you only get the suit. The body that the model has is not included - so its still you just in that suit in a much larger size. I forget this EVERY year. I'm o.k. with Spring but Summer no.

Posted by: moxiemom | March 13, 2007 2:32 PM

Thanks for the support. And for the record, school no 1 was last year, when he turned four. And he still sees that teacher b/c she babysits a bunch at our synagogue and volunteers there as well as babysits for us.
As for now, many of the kids in hius preK class will also be in the kindergarten (new school, cause it is an annex), then will move w him to first grade the next year to the elem school.

But what is the crap about new caregivers? Most students get new teachers each year even if they r in the same school.

Posted by: atlmom | March 13, 2007 2:33 PM

Fred - where on earth do you get the idea that most, even many, military families home school their children?? That is totally false.

Also, spouses of officers HAVE to work??

Fred, Fred where do you get your information?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 13, 2007 2:37 PM

altmom -

if your child is moving from preschool to kindergarten to first grade.... to me, that seems like a natural progression and OF COURSE he's going to have different teachers/be in different schools.

like i said before, not sure what the big deal is here. can't we all just get along? LOL

Posted by: dlm79 | March 13, 2007 2:37 PM

Susan Burns said
"Outside of work/commuting, I honestly spend every minute I have with my kids. "
and
"I thought we had made all the possible compromises and had a reasonably good balance between work and home. What else can I do?"

What about spending a little LESS time with them while you are at home?

It could be that by not taking time for yourself, or for yourself and your husband, you are sending them the message that they deserve your 100% attention any time you are nearby.

That isn't a very realistic message, and it is healthy to teach kids (by example) how adults take care of themselves, too.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 13, 2007 2:38 PM

"I ordered suits from Lands End and FYI you only get the suit. The body that the model has is not included - so its still you just in that suit in a much larger size."

Moxiemom - ROFLMAO. This is almost as good as, "Moxiemom, setting the bar low for all of us."

Posted by: Anonymous | March 13, 2007 2:38 PM

"I ordered suits from Lands End and FYI you only get the suit. The body that the model has is not included - so its still you just in that suit in a much larger size."

Moxiemom - ROFLMAO. This is almost as good as, "Moxiemom, setting the bar low for all of us."

Posted by: | March 13, 2007 02:38 PM


Isn't that the truth.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 13, 2007 2:40 PM

hey, ladies, try being preggers and finding a decent suit. i swear all those models are air brushed, and probably not even pregnant at all!

Posted by: dlm79 | March 13, 2007 2:42 PM

I think it would be unusual for a four year old to display that amount of interest in someone else's parents. I'm wondering if maybe that particular classmate is parroting something she might have heard her own snide SAHM say. ("I don't even know what that Susan person looks like . . " said over


Do you know 3 and 4 yr olds? They are VERY interested in each other's parents. They are trying to figure out their families in relation to other kids' families. I see it everyday at my daughter's school. They are always asking questions and yes, they talk about where their parents are.

I would actually address the question. This is a perfect opportunity for Susan to explain that there are all different types of families. She should say that it's great that Daddy is able to stay home with you. Some people have mommies that stay home, some families both parents work. IT doesn't make anyone better, just different. THEN she should set aside a morning to drop her off at school and read a story to the class, etc...

Kids actaully love their parents to be involved in school. Though Susan wouldn't be able to do it everyday (and I don't think she should feel guilty about it) I DO think she should try to be involved a little more.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 13, 2007 2:45 PM

anon critic of atlmom wrote

>Shifting a child's full-time environment at >each of 2, 3, 4, and 5, plus different >summer camps each year, is a different >proposition than yearly moves of school-age >children. The child won't have the same >"friends" because friendships are developed >maintained during the school day for >preschoolers.

atlmom was describing school changes at ages 4,5,and 6 --- one from preschool to pre-K, then to K which is unfortunately not at the usual elem school but annexed to it(?), then to the regular elem school. The K to 1 switch sounds unavoidable but the cohort of kids will be the same, just all moving up to the main school. There will likely be continuity of community (though that's always luck of the draw, anyway; with annual remixing of classes it's not unusual to start each of the first few years in the same elementary school knowing nobody or only 1-3 kids in your class anyways)

I thought atlmom was SAH but may have gotten a mistaken impression. Around here preschools are almost all (except Montessori) part-time, 3-4 hours/day, with kids going 2-5 days per week (under-3's can go only 2 days per week by state regulation, this keeps them from being regulated as daycares; preschools/mothers' morning out programs tend instead to be nonprofit and church-affiliated). They only are in session during the school year. So while you're judging atlmom as saying she switched a full-time caregiver situation every year, I'm taking it as her kid came back after the summer to at-most an elementary school-length day (for pre-K and up), not to a new class and new teachers in the same building but to one in a new school. It's nice to keep going to the same school and to see your old teachers and prior year classmates on the playground occasionally (if you even remember them at this age, the kids move on to friends within their daily lives of this year's classmates pretty quickly). But sometimes getting the program and the teachers right instead takes precedence . . .

We also never won the lottery to get our kids in pre-K at their own elem school. One stayed at her preschool for pre-K then moved up to elem school for K. The other, we took a sabbatical year away, so she went from pre-K at her old preschool, to kindergarten elsewhere (her preschool friends were all scattering to various schools anyway), to first grade back home, where it turned out she knew nobody in her class. Our elementary school lets you write the principal a letter asking for a friend to be placed in their class, if you know of one, and describing the teacher qualities that bring out the best in your child. I think tending to these issues may make a bigger difference in your child's adjustment than just continuity in the same school. For my dd's it was the empathy/attunedness of the teachers that made the biggest difference in their annual adjustment to school.

Posted by: KB | March 13, 2007 2:49 PM

"Fred - where on earth do you get the idea that most, even many, military families home school their children?? That is totally false.

Also, spouses of officers HAVE to work??

Fred, Fred where do you get your information?"

I said that a lot of military families home school. Maybe a bit of a overgeneralization but when Frieda home schooled #2 & #3, the air base near us had an extremely strong home school contingent. I also know that many military children attend the public school in the community. The Dept. of Defense has a program to reimburse such school districts for these children as many live in base housing and thus, no property tax is paid.

On officer's wives having to work. I did not say that. My observation over many years has been the opposite.


Posted by: Fred | March 13, 2007 2:50 PM

Meesh,

If all you really want to do is teach, suggest you look into your local community colleges. Usually an MA plus experience in the field is enough, but some will even take teachers with just a BA/BS and lots of experience. Community Adult Education Programs are also good places to look. Granted, this isn't a way to make a career, but it can satisfy your teaching jones and be very rewarding.

Also, please take to heart the "overqualified" comment - it happened to me. By all means, get that PhD if you've got a burning desire, but *only* if you have a burning desire.

Finally, to Anon XX - please don't be so dismissive of research in the humanities and social sciences. It's offensive.

Posted by: 2terrificboys | March 13, 2007 2:52 PM

the military life sucks

Posted by: Anonymous | March 13, 2007 2:56 PM

Kids actaully love their parents to be involved in school. Though Susan wouldn't be able to do it everyday (and I don't think she should feel guilty about it) I DO think she should try to be involved a little more.

Posted by: | March 13, 2007 02:45 PM

She's there ONCE a month! How much do you expect? Do you see WOH dads at their kids' schools more often than once per month? I'm not faulting the anon poster, but this well-meant suggestion only ratchets up the pressure on working moms to give more than whatever they have to give. Susan's maxed out. I don't get the sense that more school time is the solution.

The more time Susan spends at her daughter's school, that time comes out of the family bucket not the work bucket. Is spending more time at the school more valuable than playing legos with her daughter Saturday morning, or giving up an evening with her family? Because that's the trade-off. Our kids understand that the more either of us participate in school events, whether chaperoning the field trip or reading stories, we will have to work late or on the weekend to get the work done that would have been completed during that time. We make those choices together with our kids and - no surprise - they tend to prioritize one-on-one at home attention over group, school-related activities.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | March 13, 2007 3:01 PM

...she might have heard her own snide SAHM say. ("I don't even know what that Susan person looks like . . "

I don't understand where this is a snide remark (other than inside your head). "I don't even know what that Susan person looks like." It's just a statement. I don't know what she looks like either, does that make me snide?

And why does it have to be a SAHM who said it? Plenty of working parents still manage to drop off or pick up at pre-school.

Posted by: I don't get it | March 13, 2007 3:01 PM

Speaking of swimsuits, I have an OT question you guys might be able to answer. My mom has a lot of foot problems and is going through a lot lately, and has gained some weight. She can hardly walk, so she can't work out as strenuously as she used to. I suggested swimming as a good non-impact activity, but she's self-conscious in a swimsuit now. I'm a little worried about her health, and she's not happy being overweight. Has anyone else struggled with overweight (I guess pregnancy could be considered here, though that's a far different situation) and health problems while trying to maintain an exercise regimen?

Sorry for the OT distraction--just want to give her some good advice.

Posted by: Mona | March 13, 2007 3:02 PM

Unless she is actually asking for your advice, don't offer any.

Trust me, hearing unsolicited advice re: being overweight is unwelcome, no matter how good the intentions are.

Posted by: to Mona | March 13, 2007 3:06 PM

--

''Finally, to Anon XX - please don't be so dismissive of research in the humanities and social sciences. It's offensive.''

--

Wasn't Anon XX dismissing "research" that does not lead to anything new? Not the humanities and social sciences per se. There are new things going on all the time in the humanities and social sciences.

Agree, fields where a PhD is not associated with new interesting discovery are dangerous timesuckers for Piled-High-and-Deep candidates.

Posted by: Golgi | March 13, 2007 3:06 PM

Mona wrote: "Has anyone else struggled with overweight... and health problems while trying to maintain an exercise regimen?"

Oh, Mona, who hasn't? You are so young and innocent!!!

Best advice (from personal experience): Buy one of those tummy-flattening one-piece "miracle" suits (in a dark color), and still don't look in the mirror!

Posted by: catlady | March 13, 2007 3:07 PM

Mona wrote: "Has anyone else struggled with overweight... and health problems while trying to maintain an exercise regimen?"

The average American over 30 has. Get dark tummy flattening suit and pray. Really at her age, she is probably OK with being over weight.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 13, 2007 3:15 PM

Mona: My MIL has a recumbent exercise bike which she was able to use even after her foot surgery. I've seen these at some gyms also. Not sure what type of foot problems your mom has, but just a thought.

Posted by: worker bee | March 13, 2007 3:21 PM

If your mother might enjoy the pool, convince her to go to one during the geriatric exercise hour just to observe. I was over there a few days ago when my son had his lesson, and noticed quite a few older people with health issues doing some water exercises. Some of them were just walking in the lap pool. This was not a competition for perfect bodies. It was just a bunch of people, none with perfect bodies, exercising, and in that kind of environment, I doubt anyone would be embarrassed.

I myself am never embarrassed, even in my swimsuit. Life is too short, and the great thing about the beach is that there are always plenty of people who are fatter than me. And a bunch of people who are slimmer too, so I just blend in and am completely ordinary.

Posted by: Emily | March 13, 2007 3:21 PM

Now, don't blast me for this, Frieda says this. (But you can be envious as she has lost 50 lbs in the last 7 months)

The trouble with men is that they look in the mirror when they are teenagers and never look again!

Posted by: Fred | March 13, 2007 3:21 PM

Foamgnome wrote: "Really at her age, she is probably OK with being over weight."

Dear Foamgnome, It ain't so! Please trust me on this (sniff, sniff).

Posted by: catlady | March 13, 2007 3:22 PM


MN,

Ultimately it's up to Susan whether once/month is too rare an appearance at her dd's school or not. It is pretty few-and-far-between on a 4yo timescale. Just handling a dropoff once a week might make that connection/presence much stronger for her dd.

And yes, I know plenty of WOH dads *and* moms who appear in the school building much more often than once/month. Typically those with some job flexibility to timeshift where they complete some of their work, and when they are in the office. It does make a difference to many kids, they're proud to show off their school and to show off their parent. It helps that once you hit elementary school age the dropoff is *so* early, many parents drop off on the way to work. I see many dads dropping off in the morning, everyday. We all drop off together.

Posted by: KB | March 13, 2007 3:23 PM

Mona, I don't mean to sound glib, but my mantra is "I'm somebody's goal weight". That's probably tough for your mom, didn't Dr. Phil say "you wouldn't worry so much about what people thought of you if you knew how infrequently they actually did" (I know, its totally wrong and SAHMy of me to quote him!). Really, she needs to focus on herself, who she is, the people who love her and screw everyone else at the gym, especially those gym people. We could all look like that if that's all we wanted to do. (gym people please don't hurt me).

Posted by: moxiemom | March 13, 2007 3:25 PM

Moxiemom wrote: my mantra is "I'm somebody's goal weight".

This is clearly a corollary to "Moxiemom, setting the bar low for all of us."

Moxiemom, you've brightened my whole day -- thanks :-))))))))

Posted by: catlady | March 13, 2007 3:28 PM

KB - Morningside elem has not had prek at the school in forever-they are overcrwded. We have him in a private preschool that has a ga prek program. Morningside elem is (finally) figuring out they are overcrowded and aps is making a new school on ponce. At first it will be a kindergareten annex - I suppose when they redistrict they will take a few students from mary lin as well as morningside.

I was SAH until my ds was 3 1/2 and other son was 6 mos. Now I work and had older in preschool/ daycare that was fabulous but just doesn't have a prek program and I wanted to get him into a ga sponsored prek. My other son has bee home with a nanny since I went back to work- the same one for about 18 mos-she is going to be lvng us soon and we are heartbroken. He will start school in a few weeks and we are thinking about getting an au pair.

Posted by: atlmom | March 13, 2007 3:33 PM

I think Susan is the typical over achiever, not that there's anything wrong with that. Most engineers are over achievers by nature.

Which reminds me of an joke:

Q: How do you motivate and engineer to get a project done 2 weeks before the deadline?
A: Tell 'em its impossible!

Posted by: Father of 4 | March 13, 2007 3:34 PM

Foamgnome wrote: "Really at her age, she is probably OK with being over weight."

What is 'her age'. I'm a mom of teens and I was in my 30's when they were born which puts me in my 50's now. I'm probably as old as the mothers of some of the regular posters.

We don't obsess about being overweight because we don't define ourselves by our looks. But we do care about it for health and beauty reasons.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 13, 2007 3:37 PM

" Yeah, we are all wearing Target, while our kids sport stride rite shoes. Because god forbid they don't make the US olympic track team, we will know it was all our fault because we bought them cheap shoes at Target. "

Wow, we made it a whole 5 days or so without foamgnome making a comment about how much money she spends on her daughter!

(And yes, I realize it was a joke but I'm sure her daughter really does wear Stride Rite and that she really does think there's a problem with Target children's shoes.)


Posted by: Anonymous | March 13, 2007 3:42 PM

Thanks for the advice. To "to mona," she has asked my advice. I'm sort of the "fitness guru" in my family; everyone is overweight except me (and her, until recently). But she developed plantar fasciitis on top of scoliosis and having one leg shorter than the other. Add on the anti-anxiety meds she's on, and she said she stopped caring until her clothes stopped fitting. She wants me to be her fitness drill sergeant until she loses fifty pounds in six months. Trust me, she cares what she looks like, and always has been pretty fit until the past year or so. I'm a little too hardcore for her (I have the bad habit of working out too hard and ignoring injuries) so I don't want to work with her directly, but her biggest problem is finding the facilities she needs in her small town. The only pools are public, outdoor, and teeming with children, and the only gym is Curves. I don't know what to tell her. If she lived in DC, there'd be a wealth of things she could do, but her town is not very conducive to physical activity. (She hasn't lived on the farm in decades!)

Posted by: Mona | March 13, 2007 3:42 PM

"Do you see WOH dads at their kids' schools more often than once per month? "

Actually, yes. I know a lot of WOHDs (many of whom have SAHWs) who take the kids to school in the morning on their way to work.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 13, 2007 3:45 PM

Curves owners donate to anti-abortion causes. If you're pro-choice, don't go there.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 13, 2007 3:50 PM

I thought Curves owners were franchisees? Is it a requirement to donate to anti-abortion causes in order to purchase a franchise?

(I would never go there anyway. Same workout every day? Are you kidding me?)

Posted by: Mona | March 13, 2007 3:53 PM

Even if it is a franchise, the franchisor must pay fees (usually some sort of a flat one, plus a percent of revenue). If what the person says is true, then the actual owners of the franchise name may be the ones donating. But if you spend money at one of the franchises, your money still goes to them.

Posted by: atlmom | March 13, 2007 3:56 PM

Hello Leslie Morgan Steiner --

Today was really interesting. Thanks both to you and to Dr. Burns.

Could we have an "On Balance" some time on this related topic:

Everyone working these days experiences pressure to emphasize career over other life demands. But when women in traditionally male fields experience this pressure, is the pressure disproportionate to that experienced by women in traditionally female fields and by men in traditionally male fields?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 13, 2007 4:03 PM

Learn something new every day! I'll pass on the info.

Posted by: Mona | March 13, 2007 4:03 PM

I've been to Curves. It's a good 30-minute workout. Clients are women of all ages and sizes. I've never seen anyone *strutting their stuff* there the way some do at other gyms. Job, house, husband, kids, pets, extended family don't leave me much time for extended gym workouts.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 13, 2007 4:06 PM

Catlady - I'm glad you find inspiration in my mediocrity. Maybe I should do my own line of posters to counteract those Successories stuff they sell "A challenge is just a mountain I haven't climbed" (yuck). Maybe a picture of me in my white, cotton, Target underwear with the goal weight line. hmmmmm.

Mona - actually Curves might be a great place for your mom. A lot of overweight women go there and there isn't any judgement. It might be a really good stepping stone to get her started and feeling successful and looking better. Drop 15 or 20 lbs. @ Curves, gain some confidence and then hit the gym. I went there right after baby and it worked for where I was in my life. I felt bad about myself and I didn't have a lot of time. I'd also recommend finding a YMCA, more real people there, fewer of the hottie workout people. A lot of people who carry some extra weight, but want to be fit. Not a lot of judgement. Good luck to her - that can be a crummy feeling.

Posted by: moxiemom | March 13, 2007 4:10 PM

Moxiemom wrote: "I'm glad you find inspiration in my mediocrity."

Oh, Moxiemom, it's not mediocrity. Just clear-eyed realism!

Posted by: catlady | March 13, 2007 4:17 PM

Mona - Hope you Mom's seeing a podiatrist for the plantar fasciitis. A good foot splint worn a couple of hours a night often works wonders. Also, there are some very simple stretches that anyone - including a 38yo, 9mo pregnant woman on bedrest - can do that should really help. Good luck!

Posted by: 2terrificboys | March 13, 2007 4:19 PM

Thanks catlady, but really its mediocrity, maybe mediocrity at its highest level which might make it lose its medicore status, but plain old midwestern mediocrity which I'm pretty o.k. with. Thanks for laughing, you made my day!

Posted by: moxiemom | March 13, 2007 4:20 PM

Curves owners donate to anti-abortion causes. If you're pro-choice, don't go there.
-------------------------------------------
... I seem to vaguely recall a 60 minutes interview that the $ was going to homes that actually facilitate the have the baby choice for poor mothers who needed help... (ie, not to political groups to eliminate legal choices.)

Posted by: don't know | March 13, 2007 4:23 PM

----Curves owners donate to anti-abortion causes. If you're pro-choice, don't go there.----

For more complete info, go to:

http://www.snopes.com/business/alliance/curves.asp

Posted by: MBA Mom | March 13, 2007 4:24 PM

I went there ... go to the bottom and read the article. really annoying you can't cut & paste but

---------------

the majority of $ went to a catholic group providing healthcare for the uninsured - it does not provide abortions but is also not involved in the antiabortion movement.

------------------

did you read the chronicle's correction at the bottom or just the blurb at the top???

Posted by: to mba mom | March 13, 2007 4:33 PM

sorry I'm the one that can't read.
I ignored your --- && assumed that was your conclusion!

Posted by: to mba mom | March 13, 2007 4:35 PM

To atlmom:

When my daughter was an infant, I read an article in the NY Times about au pairs (found it for you--Nov. 12, 2000--The Critical Piece of the Puzzle). The article profiled a suburban family who had been using au pair care for fourteen years.

Here is the line that really stuck with me:
"Adam could recall being upset over some of the departures when he was younger, but he swore that he could not even remember the name of last year's au pair."

I'm not saying that having an au pair doesn't work out for some families, but I would be reluctant to do it over the long, long haul (not that you're necessarily thinking of a long timeframe).

Quite frankly, the parents of this family sounded pretty obnoxious, so I doubt they were helping make this a good situation for their kids. For one thing, they imposed their religious holidays on the au pairs, implying that this proved they were inclusive. Actually, NPR had a piece recently discussing how this crosses the line--interesting to hear the perspectives of the domestic workers.

But I digress. I wish you well finding childcare that works well for your family. I know it can be tough to find a workable solution.

Posted by: Another Librarianmom | March 13, 2007 4:36 PM

"...mediocrity at its highest level..."

Oh, Moxiemom, you crack me up! We wouldn't want merely mediocre mediocrity, now would we?

Posted by: catlady | March 13, 2007 4:37 PM

well said catlady. This is starting to sound very Prairie Home Companion. I've got to go convince the small ones to eat the delicious (yet still mediocre) meatloaf I prepared for them. Wish me luck. Thanks again for your good humor - fun to find here.

Posted by: moxiemom | March 13, 2007 4:51 PM

I am not sure when parents started being too involved in their kids lives and I am sure that I am guilty of it on occasion but it is not necessary for parents to show up at pre-school or school or every game and event. When I was a kid my Dad travelled so he missed some things. My Mom worked so she missed some too. Sometimes I was disappointed but so what? I knew my parents loved me and when they came to events it was that much more special. I send my kids to school to learn and to learn how to navigate socially. I can not nor should I do that for them. Explain that you can't be there all the time. Tell them that you work so that they can eat and have a place to live. Assure them that you love them and show them you do by teaching them to be as independent as is age appropriate. Your children will be fine unless of course you tell them or act like they won't be and even then they will be fine but they will put you through hell making you think they aren't because they know you feel guilty.

Posted by: Chris1458 | March 13, 2007 4:55 PM

Susan -- Another option if you still feel this way in a few years is to switch places with your husband. He goes back to work, you stay home. I've seen this switcheroo work really, really well for moms, dads & kids. They all benefit.

Posted by: Leslie | March 13, 2007 5:43 PM

Wow, we made it a whole 5 days or so without foamgnome making a comment about how much money she spends on her daughter!

"(And yes, I realize it was a joke but I'm sure her daughter really does wear Stride Rite and that she really does think there's a problem with Target children's shoes.)"

Can you get over this please? I don't understand what makes someone you lash out at her. She is really harmless.

Who cares if she likes money, who doesn't. It bothers me that you even count the days.......................

Posted by: Can't we all just get along? | March 13, 2007 5:53 PM

Leslie wrote: "Susan -- Another option if you still feel this way in a few years is to switch places with your husband. He goes back to work, you stay home."

Actually. this is not feasible in academia. At best Dr. Burns could go on sabbatical, but she'd need to dedicate this time -- typically either 6 months at full pay or a full year at half-pay -- to research and grant-getting. That's just a reality of academic life. If she dropped out for a period of years, her odds of returning are less than epsilon (or is it delta? -- Foamgnome, are you still here?).

Posted by: catlady | March 13, 2007 5:57 PM

Susan -- Another option if you still feel this way in a few years is to switch places with your husband. He goes back to work, you stay home. I've seen this switcheroo work really, really well for moms, dads & kids. They all benefit.

Posted by: Leslie | March 13, 2007 05:43 PM

great idea - screws both parents' resumes so neither can earn enough as a sole breadwinner and they are both forced into the marketplace.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 13, 2007 6:17 PM

To Leslie: I'm in the awkward position of having to agree with the substance -- yet having to denounce the snarky attitude -- of the person who posted at 5:43 PM. Academia is unlike industry, especially at a high-level university like Dr. Burns's.

Posted by: catlady | March 13, 2007 6:25 PM

epsilon

Posted by: to catlady | March 13, 2007 6:30 PM

atlmom ---

Well we have one pre-K classroom at Fernbank but you can see it's mainly a hypothetical benefit, there's only a 1 in 4 or 5 chance of actually getting in (for non-Georgians, this is Georgia's 'universal pre-K' benefit you hear lauded so much). So most parents make different arrangements anyway . . . .

Neither of my girls' pre-K's were GA-certified, that's apparently a lot of hoops many nonprofits don't care to jump through (though both were NAEYC-certified). I was very comfortable with the programs academically, on an individual basis . . . you just have to make the best of the choices actually in front of you and it sounds like you've done that.

Too bad on the overcrowding at Morningside, I'm just back from music with the kids and one of the moms mentioned that, too . . . but it is such a strong school.

Ouch on the sitter . . . irreplaceable . . . would you have access to any good aftercare programs for your oldest, or does the split-campus option rule that out? I'm so glad our kids have finally been in the same place the past 1.5 years, it makes life so much easier for 2 WOH parents to manage without help, same school/same aftercare (which opens for a lot of school holidays), though my oldest would like to end that bonus a year prematurely if she wins the lottery for the magnet school she wants (but then her middle and high school years would be golden, chances she'll win that lottery are even worse than the pre-K one, though) . . .

Good luck configuring next year. Sounds like hange all-around, usually hardest for the parents, though my kids have surprised me once in a while by sailing through most changes then hitting one that really up-ends them. I really think well-matched teachers are the biggest influence. I was very spoiled when we went on sabbatical, totally new everything and my very shy dd came home from school/aftercare with a phone number in hand for a playdate! (very extroverted new friend!) I didn't know how lucky that was, and how great her sweet easygoing kindergarten teacher was for her, til the next transition, back home, misfired on both fronts . . .

Posted by: KB | March 13, 2007 7:05 PM

some late thoughts. I used to get so annoyed that the preschool generated so many parent participation events, when I was paying them a lot of money to take my children off my hands for a much needed break (for both the children and me).

Susan, I don't think you should worry about going to the preschool more than once a month. It is a good idea to get involved in elementary school, and get to know the students and the parents. But not preschool! My children don't even remember preschool, except for the playground.

Posted by: experienced mom | March 13, 2007 8:20 PM

KB - I'm not too worried, it's just that it's our first transition, and it seemed so easy to find our first nanny - and I hear about everyone's issues/troubles. I have a good boss, though, when he heard he said: don't worry about it, work from home if you need, leave early to interview, etc.
We'll see how it goes...

Posted by: atlmom | March 13, 2007 8:48 PM

To Leslie, re taking time off from an academic appointment: When Professor Henry Kissinger was first serving in the Nixon administration, after two years Harvard gave him an ultimatum: return to campus or lose his tenured position, because that was their rule and it applied to all faculty, and they wouldn't hold it open even for government service. Henry the K chose to relinquish his post.

Posted by: catlady | March 13, 2007 9:04 PM

You are doing fine. I grew up in the 70s and 80s in Indiana, and parents just weren't in classrooms that much, which was fine by me. My parents came to all my music concerts and sports activities, but I didn't expect to be so glued to them as parents seem to think they should be now. Relax, you are doing a good job. Do your kids crave your attention? That's great, give them what you can, and don't stress about the rest. Trust me, soon they will evolve into craving their independence, which means you are doing what you should be. My mom used to say to me that her goal was to raise adults who she'd actually like to be around once we grew up. The goal isn't some perfect idyllic childhood, it's successful adulthood.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 14, 2007 9:28 AM

Think you have difficult decisions about your children? Your husband is a stay-at-home-parent? All you have to do is look around to see that you have pretty much a perfect situation for your kids. Myself and countless other women had to raise their children by themselves. Yes, work full time and be mommy, too. My 25 year old son is a UC California graduate. He supports himself and is working on his acting career. He is the nicest, most polite, itelligent, witty, and loving young man you'd ever want to meet. He is a wonderful caring son to me. My son always knew he was loved and that I had his best interests in mind. I visited his schools, was known by and even friends with his teachers.
Your kids will also be fine if you show them (not just tell them) that you truly love them. They have two parents who can do this for them. Mine only had one and he is a wonderful human being.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 10:41 AM

I'm a dad of a little 2 year old and travel pretty extensively while my wife works 2 days a week. We have a very good daycare setup so those 2 days are (IMO) a lot of fun, and pretty educational for my little girl.

Lately I've been very cognizant of the fact that I am on the road quite a bit, and the fact that it causes my wife to exhaust herself running the home, and causes both of us to have much less flexibility to give each other "breaks" or to pick up activities we might like to do on our own. That said, the time we have together is treated like gold and we try to make it the very best possible and try to avoid feelings of guilt or the urge to spoil our daughter. The fact of the matter is that this is the life we have chosen, at this point in time, and we're doing what we can.

I can clearly see vision to a day where I decrease my travel and stress so my wife and I can share some of the parenting duties a little more evenly, but again, this is the life we have chosen.

I'm not sure what my advice is here, except to say that I don't imagine how I'll ever be at point where I don't wish something to be different, better, etc. Heck, if I stop traveling I am certain I will miss it (and maybe my wife will too!!). Make the best choices you can and try to accept them. I hope we are teaching our daughter that tough choices (like being gone on trips) are just that and that we are making them, in part, for her longterm benefit.

When I look back at my child hood now (as a dad) I laugh at the things my parents did which would be considered VERY un-PC today. I hated some of their policies and parenting styles, but in the end I knew (and now appreciate) how they were formed by their own love for us and frankly, their fears and hopes. I just chuckle.

Lastly... this is so much harder than I thought...

Posted by: Rick | March 16, 2007 5:58 AM

"We don't obsess about being overweight because we don't define ourselves by our looks. But we do care about it for health and beauty reasons."

Sure I believe that, NOT! This is usually code for I am fat and have given up.

Posted by: pATRICK | March 27, 2007 4:31 PM

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