Parenthood is an exciting, confusing, rewarding, infuriating, isolating, and community-building experience. Through writing about my experiences and reactions to parenting-related articles, I aim to foster a sense of inquiry and inclusion rather than to promote any sort of ideal or philosophy. After all, most of us are just flying by the seat of our pants, doing what works and what feels right.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Continuing on with Tongue Tie Awareness Raising

This article from highlights tongue tie as one of the top breastfeeding issues.  That's great!  This is a step in the right direction.

But I gotta tell ya: I am disappointed not to see lip tie on this list as well.  As awareness raising about tongue tie continues, a lot of people haven't heard of lip tie, which was my son's issue.  In addition, if there is a posterior rather than anterior tongue tie, there is almost always a lip tie.  If unaware providers don't look for it, how in the world would you ever know?

That said, I'm glad we're getting there.  Let's keep up the good work!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Check all the babies! Raising awareness for tongue tie and lip tie

I am part of Advocates for Tongue Tie Education, and the group has been working on coming up with easily share-able images to post on social media.  So.  This is me, bombarding the internets. You can be sure I'll be blasting Facebook and Twitter, too.

Please share.  It's such a quick thing to do, and you never know who this information will help.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Sick Mom's Job-hunting Manifesta

While the challenges of being a stay-at-home parent are a whole subject on their own, this post is about being a sick parent looking for a job and paying for daycare at the same time.  It is also about the emotional challenges I face with this particular struggle and coming to terms with what I feel are my real job qualifications (at the bottom, for those of you who can't wait).  

We are paying for child care because I want to work, and I am treating the job search like a full time job.  I don't want to give up his spot because it took ten months to get him into daycare, and when I get a position, I bet they won't want to wait ten months for me to start until he can get back in again.  In the hopeful event that I procure a full time position in under ten months, I'll feel justified.  When I get home from dropping him off, I network and send applications and go on interviews and follow up, and I look for more jobs to do it all over again.  I also do a small data collection project on the side that doesn't take up too much of my time because the whole point is to get a job, and this one certainly won't lead to a full time position.  By all appearances, my job search is going well.  I've had a few second and third interviews and several other promising prospects, all of which bodes well.  It's just taking a while.  

The usual advice for job seekers is to volunteer and accept unpaid positions, and those should theoretically lead to full time positions in the long run.  The problem is one of finances and time.  Right now, I don't have time to prepare high quality job applications and go on interviews if I am committed to too much free work.  When daycare closes, I have another job to do.  In grad school, I didn't have time to take on the extra internships or research assistant positions that look so great on a resume.  The fact is that I probably don't have as strong a public health resume as others since I just didn't have time to do that extra stuff.  And because I am a mother, I feel like a second class citizen as a job hunter, worrying whether a potential employer will not want to hire me if they find out I have a child.  In addition, there is the troubling factor that the unpaid positions that would look good on a resume in public health are often contracted for certain periods of time, and I can't commit to something unpaid for any amount of time right now -- if something offers me money, I'm likely to take it.  

I feel like I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place, and the Economic Policy Institute nicely explains why.  According to them, unpaid internships suppress social and economic mobility. People who can afford to work for free are the people whose families can afford to support them, and they go on to have high-opportunity positions; while people who can't afford to work for free end up taking something of lower pay to meet the bills and don't end up having the same high-level opportunities as the people who could afford to work for free for a rather long time, sometimes more than a year.  I am trying really hard to exist outside of that cycle.  It's increasingly frustrating for those of us who originally came from poor rural areas and can't actually afford to take on a lot of free work for the purposes of bolstering our resumes.  

The fact is that I am middle class now, but I my upbringing was not.  In Maine, we weren't considered socially poor since we had electricity and running water, wore new clothing, and weren't on government assistance, but we certain qualified for it.  The fact is that Maine is a very poor state.  Where I come from, you're doing pretty well if you have a steady job and can afford to pay your bills on time and go out for Chinese food every few months.  No one works for free.  That's how I grew up.  That's my background.  

Make no mistake.  I like working. I want to work, and I want my next position to relate to my hard-earned masters degrees.  If  pressed, I'd prefer to be a research analyst or something similar because I find the analytical process energizing, and I've always enjoyed writing and analyzing data and considering its causes and implications.  Further, I don't want to be a stay-at-home mom.  That has never been my idea of a good time.  And just in case anyone was under the impression that my husband makes enough to pay the household monthly bills even minus childcare, allow me to correct your error.  I like working, and I also need to work.  

So I've dedicated my full time Mondays through Fridays to finding an exciting position.  But the fact is that I'm struggling with the finance equation right now.  The longer I keep my little guy in of daycare to look for a job, the faster I'll run out of money, but the less time I'll have to look for a job, and then we'd lose his spot in daycare, which we will need when I find a job.  

And of course, there are the student loans coming on soon, which doesn't make me feel any better about leaving my previous job to pursue a couple of masters degrees.  That's something most people where I come from certainly do not do.  Getting my masters degrees wasn't a given, since I had a decent paying job.  I did it since I was assured that there are, in fact, jobs in public health, and I truly wanted to pursue my passion for this field.  

My feelings about this all tend to come to a head when I am sick.  Like any type A person, when I get sick, I have a hard time letting go and leaning back.  I have a hard time not trying to be productive.  I have a hard time resting and letting myself get better.  This is especially challenging when I have to get out of the house in order to take the kiddo to childcare.  If I could manage that when feeling sick, obviously, I can handle sitting in front of a computer and writing countless emails and carefully crafting cover letters for each position to which I apply.  The fact that I am not even getting paid for this causes me to feel the urgency of finding something that will pay me soon.  Surely, I can work through this sickness with the hopes of finding a job faster.  I don't easily forgive myself for days off.  

Prompted by this sense of urgency, I present to you my Sick Mom's Job-hunting Manifesta, my real resume.  Here are the things that make me special and that qualify me to work for you: 

  • My hard work is high quality.  I completed two masters degrees at Tufts University and got a 3.86 GPA while I had a baby during my second semester and didn't take time off. AND I breastfed. I wouldn't want to do it that way again, but now you know what I am capable of.  
  • I have an incredibly supportive family, and that support propels me to pursue something resembling my dreams when, in general, people from my background don't really get to do that. 
  • I can have a comfortable conversation with just about anyone from any background.  This comes in part from existing in and between enough social classes that I know my perspective and keep myself in check.  This self-awareness is crucial for research, especially in public health where the people who are the most at need are also generally the people from my original economic class.  
  • Once again, I work hard. Hard work is a real value in Maine.  All the evidence shows that our country's economic system isn't exactly designed for socio-economic upward mobility, but I did it.  I have worked hard enough to go from living under the poverty line for most of my life to comfortably middle class for a while there.  I'd like to stay there and have an interesting public health career, and I will work hard to do it.
So there it is.  Maybe I should forgive myself if I take a nap to fend off my fever before I make dinner, put the laundry away, wash some dishes, and pick my wonderful child up from child care.  I sure hope someone reads this and hires me before I am financially obligated to take a retail job.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

9 Things Not To Say To The Parents Of A Newborn

 9 things not to say to the parents of a newborn

Courtesy of Lunchbox Dad, enjoy some more parent humor, this time about newborns.

This guy is got it.  Especially the one about asking parents what you can do to help.

In the first several weeks, people asked me all the time what they could do to help.  But, come on.  As if I had the brain power to think of what that would be when I was sleeping a total of 2 hours every day.  Offer things like: "I'll be over at 3:00.  Is that OK for you?  I'll clean the bathroom/wash dishes/fold laundry/run errands if you'd like privacy with the baby while I'm there."  I'd like to offer my thanks to the people who did that out of their own intuition.

Anyway, it's short and funny.  Read it.  "9 things not to say to the parents of a newborn"

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Toddler Bedtime Humor

I LOVE this sneak peak at "The Honest Toddler" on "How to Put a Toddler to Bed in 100 Easy Steps."  Yes, I do believe it's meant to sound as difficult as getting one of those thigh-masters to actually budge.  Is that reference too old?  I guess I'm showing my age again.  

Shamelessly copied and pasted from the Huffington Post Parents.  Check out the original link above.

1. Announce that it's time to go to bed.

2. Wait for your toddler to stop crying.

3. Explain that bedtime is not a punishment.

4. Explain that bedtime is not a new concept.

5. Explain that, yes, bedtime will happen every night.

6. Console your toddler.

7. Announce that it's still bedtime.

8. Let your toddler know that we don't call names in this house.

9. Tell your toddler it's time to go upstairs.

10. Watch your toddler move at a snail's pace.

11. Wait for your toddler to stop crying.

12. Pick up your toddler.

13. Walk your toddler upstairs.

14. Pick out the wrong pair of pajamas for your toddler.

15. Pick out another wrong pair of pajamas for your toddler.

16. Explain that the right pair of pajamas are in the wash.

17. Explain that you will not be doing a load of laundry this evening.

18. Console your toddler while he/she cries.

19 Explain that in this house we don't call names.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Embracing the Moment

While I have not discussed my graduate work much in this blog, it is relevant to mention now that I completed my degree requirements and am now the proud holder of both a Master of Public Health and a Master of Science in Nutrition.  Why is this relevant?  Well, I am now on the job market (for those of you who are curious, I'm looking for opportunities involving applied research, program evaluation, and quality improvement).  And that means I have a lot of time on my hands when I'm not networking or sending out resumes and cover letters.  In all actuality, it's been rather busy.  But it's important for me to slow down and take this time to enjoy it.  Everyone always says that about job seeking, but I have decided that it's true.

Therefore, in the spirit of embracing the present moment, I am taking Calvin on a trip with me to visit a friend in Bruxelles, Belguim.  Daddy's staying home so he can keep raking in the big bucks that teachers enjoy.  So I'm traveling with a todder by myself. There are all sorts of ways this trip is embracing the moment.  For one thing, it won't be this easy for me to get a solid week off to go gallivanting in Europe once I start a new position.  Second of all, Calvin turns 2 in March, and he can only fly for free for another week or two.  Better do it now!  Third, I love you, New England, but this winter sucks.  Ticket prices were pretty cheap, and Bruxelles is experiencing temperatures in the 50s right now.  Sounds a lot better than slipping around on the ice and worrying about breaking my neck for another week.

To some people, a European adventure toute seule with a toddler while I'm broke might not seem like the best idea.  But, simply put, this is the most reasonable time to do something like this.  And I may as well.  Because otherwise, life will pass by in a blur. According to Claudia Hammond, whose fascinating interview on the perception of time I heard yesterday on WBUR's On Point with Tom Ashbrook, I would hardly remember this time at all since nothing else notable is happening.  I'd better make the memories while I have time to make them.

So, off we go!  The question remains of how to travel with a lap infant who, to be honest, isn't really an infant anymore, though will do fine on my lap.  Here's how I'm planning to make it work:
  1. Make it an adventure!  Attitude is everything, and if I enter this trip in the spirit of adventure, treating every second as a treasure even if it's a tantrum or a flight delay, I can make it.  
  2. Crayon Twistables, stickers, and paper.  He loves coloring right now, but crayons break and get everywhere.  That's not exactly what I want to deal with on a plane.  The crayon twistables are basically crayon pens or crayons in lipstick tubes that keep everything very controlled.  I wouldn't ordinarily spring for it, but it's going to be worth it for a trip.  
  3. My friend has a spare bedroom.  That makes EVERYTHING easier.  Breakfasts can be pretty normal, meals can be cooked in, and we can get back to a quiet space after a long day.  And then I can close the door and leave the room when he goes to sleep and hang out with my friend some more. Score. 
  4. Rent-a-crib.  I know, there are those of you out there who co-sleep on trips, but I worked too hard to get Calvin in his own bed to give it up now.  
  5. Epi pen and benedryl for nut allergy and sleep.  
  6. For the flights, I am planning to follow the advice of this Apartment Therapy piece that recommends asking for flight attendants to rearrange you a bit and block empty seats.  If the flight isn't too full, the carrier may be able to hook us up with two seats for the price of one, which would kill two birds with one stone.  One, we are less likely to annoy people directly next to us.  Two, he has a nut allergy, and that decreases the likelihood that he'll come into contact with nuts from people nearby.
  7. Ergo baby carrier on the plane, but gate check the stroller for airport ease.  Following the advice of the Ain't No Mom-Jeans blog, don't make a toddler walk if you're tight for time.  And you know, that resonated with me since I'm always running late and we only have 1 hr and 10 minutes between flights, including getting through customs.  
All planning aside, I think probably the most important things are the epi pen and my spirit of adventure.  I'll let you know how it goes.  My assumption is that this is going to be awesome.  

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A new era in holiday treats

My son has a confirmed nut allergy, so our family is needing to reconceive what a few holiday treats look like.  These family heirloom recipes have been transmuted and perfected, passed down over generations.  Our Cream Cheese Mints, one flavor of which is almond (my favorite) is now off-limits.  What will replace the pink "Cream Cheese Mint?" -- Cherry?  That will do.

OK, that one was easy.  Hit me with a harder one.

Oh, You mean, the peanut butter creams?  Can't help ya there.

Oh, sure, there's sunflower seed butter, which is definitely tasty once you get used to it.  I did a trial run substituting "sunbutter" for peanut butter, but it's not anywhere close to the same.  And, unlike the peanut butter creams, they definitely need the chocolate in order to taste good.

So has gone the conversation about holiday treats since his nut allergy was confirmed on November 18 in the second scariest doctor's appointment he's had.  (The first scariest was the one where we found out he wasn't gaining enough weight due to his then-undiagnosed lip tie.)  We have phased the peanuts, walnuts, and pecans out of the home, and just a few almonds remain, locked in a cabinet far away.  We should probably just toss them.

What scares me most is not what we can control under our roof, but how nut avoidance will be operationalized for a kid who likes to try what other kids are trying.