Archive for June, 2007

Lawmummy (a.k.a. Kelly), one of my fellow Disney ex-bloggers, has a heartbreaking post up today. It’s about whether “kids being kids,” while you are under a boatload of external stress already, can make you resent, and even regret, ever having had them to begin with.

As I commented on her post, I can so totally relate. The last six weeks of every school year mean I parent almost single-handedly, as Rain Dog focuses on finals and grading and panicky parents and students. This year was no different, with the last week of school especially grueling as I helped him grade finals late each night. Hamlet could tell that we were both preoccupied, and started to act out to get our attention. The more frustrated I got, the more he acted out: throwing toys, hitting us, and even hurting his brother. (You know – the hug that makes the baby cry?) Even after Rain Dog was home for a few days, it took Hamlet that long to return to his sweet self. Me, too.

In prior years, having Rain Dog home for 10 weeks has always been a tough transition. I expect that he’ll be around to watch the kids so I can work (at long last), while he expects that I will continue to watch the kids so he can accomplish house projects he’s been putting off. This year, I think we were both so relieved to have the school year over with that we were more willing to accommodate each other right from the get-go. We make trade-offs on a daily and sometimes an hourly basis. It’s working so well that if healthcare weren’t in such a horrible state in this country, I’d happily accept it if Rain Dog said he wanted to self-employ and work from home, too.

Going back to regrets, I think Kelly’s post affected me especially because even apart from the last few weeks, the question “Would I have done it differently?” has been on my mind. The loss of Disney income is significant, and I have to find a way to make it up. My business model lately has involved the kind of work I can do in short bursts – around two needy kids – and, sadly, has been more reactive than proactive. That means I take work that’s offered to me, but I don’t go out looking for it – not while time is at a premium. And all I can think is how much easier it would be if I didn’t have kids, or at least if they were older.

So, I’ve been doing what comes easiest: focusing on my network. I’ve talked to other freelancers and I now have a few potential freelance jobs, either from other mothers or people who understand my needs as a mother. That’s a lot better than going to some freelance bid site and worrying about what I’m likely to get for a client.

Meanwhile, I’m enjoying my family. We still have a lot going on, but that week showed us what we don’t want to be like – which has ultimately made it easier for us to enjoy each other as a family. That was the whole point of working from home to begin with.

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Grassroots mamas

I’ve never been much into politics. The folks in Washington seem as removed from me as I am from them. I’m not alone: approval ratings are low for both our Republican not-quite-lame-duck president and our Democratic congress, who are at a standoff regarding the things that matter most to us. As Rain Dog and I discussed yesterday, it seems that most people feel like change can no longer happen on a national level – only on a regional, even grassroots, level.

I joined MomsRising.org several months ago, but hesitated to “do” anything – even sign a petition – because, well, I’m not political. Besides, what could average people do? Then I got an email from them that showed exactly how ordinary people can still make a difference in this country. Mere weeks after receiving a message about their “Power of ONEsie” project, a new message showed that that project had led directly to paid family leave legislation in the state of Washington. I thought that was pretty amazing.

So far, I’ve signed two online petitions: one for healthcare for all children, and one for equal pay for equal work. I’ve never been much of a feminist either, but this isn’t about bra-burning or man-hating… it’s about putting ourselves in other families’ positions and understanding their realities, where mothers are fired because they took time off for a child with a broken arm, and where parents work three or four jobs yet still have no healthcare for their children. Do people really think it’s acceptable to have a childhood mortality rate that puts the United States behind 36 other nations?

For years, “special interests” have been excoriated for “ripping the country apart.” Folks, without a majority that cares about much beyond Paris Hilton, special interests are all this country has left. MomsRising may be a special interest, but it’s in our interest. Can you say the same about politicians?

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June crunch

Late spring is always a stressful time in our house. It’s the end of the school year for Rain Dog, who must plan lessons and write final exams even as his students check out of class (most mentally, some physically). For the last four years, it’s also been the time I need to complete Police & Security News’ annual body armor update – tracking industry trends and reporting on the latest and greatest in body armor.

Needless to say, some aspects of child-rearing tend to slide during this time of year. Like fun trips to the park. And discipline. By mid-June, I may be able to talk about the latest and greatest aramid-polyethylene hybrids – but I’m more likely to be using my time and energy getting Hamlet to stop “comforting” Boris by blowing raspberries in his face (or worse).

A week from now I hope to be a lot more relaxed and believing that there is indeed more to life than time-outs and poopy diapers. But for now? Survival mode. Or else I’m going to find that person who said “You never regret the kids you have, only the ones you don’t” and use her as a body-armor test model.

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When you consider the day “good” because, despite being released from contract for a job that is a significant portion of your income, your almost-4-year-old pees on the potty for the first time. Because, you know, I won’t need that income once I don’t have to buy Pull-Ups anymore. Well… almost.

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A quote

From CriminalBrief’s Robert Lopresti: “Somebody once said that the amateur writer feels guilty when he is writing, and the professional feels guilty when he isn’t.”

Hmm. Where does that leave mothers who write? Somewhere in between amateur and professional – as both mothers and writers? Yeah, sounds about accurate.

(Lopresti went on to say, “I feel guilty either way which just proves I’m a writer who was raised Catholic.”)

D.Z. Allen kindly published another of my short stories at Muzzle Flash. New readers: I write crime and horror fiction, so if this isn’t your cup of tea, please don’t be shocked by the rather gritty material that comes into my head. I swear it’s a way of working out the demons!

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A few updates

It took a year, but my new and improved website is now up. Many, many thanks to Sandra, who put up with 1) my rather vague ideas about website design, 2) the year it took to implement her design, and 3) the delay in telling you all. Nonetheless, she did an excellent job in spite of being overextended herself. Thanks, Sandra!

Also, I finally got around to updating my blogroll over on the side there. I’d neglected it for way too long, but only because I was lazy, not because the love wasn’t there. If you’re not there and you want to be, or if you are there and don’t want to be, leave a comment or shoot me an email (available in my profile). Just remember that I procrastinate. A lot.

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