Tuesday, May 18, 2010

For the Honor of Grayscull: I - HAVE - THE - POWER!!!

I guess all the estrogen that was released for Mother's Day is really getting people's mommy power juices flowing. I read an article this past week about how influential a mere touch from a woman can be on a person's willingness to take risks. Cool, huh? And we need that mommy power these days.

After my last post, which was kind of a downer, I promised myself that the next post would be fun and light and about something pretty mindless. But then Proctor and Gamble started being really big dickheads. In case you haven't heard, Pampers (made by Proctor and Gamble) have recently come out with a revolutionary new way for moms and dads to absorb pee and poo from our babies' butts. They call it "dry max technology", and its so advanced it will leave chemical burns on your baby's skin! That's right these fabulous new diapers are being investigated by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission due to parent's complaints that their new dry max technology is giving babies chemical burns. But while burned baby bums is terrible, the thing that's really annoying is that P&G refuses to even humor parents by investigating the claims.

One thing that is great about this whole thing is that parents are fighting back, and we are pissing P&G off big time. For example, one mom started a Facebook site (complete with pictures) that now has over 9,000 members. Pampers responded to this and other parent actions by launching a "myths vs facts" site attacking cloth diapers and defending their products as being environmentally sustainable. They are obviously scared shitless that the reports of chemical burns are going to turn people on to cloth diapers, and that once people see how easy they are, and how much cheaper, they won't be going back to Pampers. The Real Diapers Association, a cloth diaper advocacy group, has organized the next round of retaliations by soliciting mom bloggers to write their own myths vs facts pages advocating cloth diapers. What's especially funny about the direction that this is going is that many of the moms that initially complained about the diapers wanted to continue to use the old Pampers products, not move to cloth diapers. So P&G has really brought these attacks on themselves.

If you haven't seen it already my myths vs facts page is attached to this blog.

Ok, next time, a fun, light interesting post about friendly, fuzzy happy things. I swear!!

UPDATE: As of 5-22-10 Pampers took down their myths and facts page!!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Low Quality Child Care Makes Kids and Teenagers Stupid and Mean

Its true. According to a study described in the Washington Post this week low quality childcare in the first 4.5 years of a person's life can make them perform worse academically and show more aggressive behaviors than classmate who received high quality childcare. This effect lasts throughout childhood and into the teenage years.

The article, or the experts mentioned in the article, call for more government and private employers to provide access to high quality child care. I agree wholeheartedly, and can see how certain programs could improve access to childcare, but part of me wonders how you ensure that caretakers show "warmth, sensitivity and emotional support" - some of the traits that the study assigned to high quality providers. These are not traits that you can train a person to have, and they are difficult to interview for. In fact, often you really need to get to know a person to see if they have those traits, and if they will show those traits to your kid.

That makes me think that a lot of the programs that the government should put into place should be for the parents. Maybe training the parents in interview techniques that would allow them to pick out low quality vs. high quality caretakers. Or even having social worker type people that parents could talk to about their childcare choices, or who could visit some of the providers with them.

I know that many states license child care facilities, and will have people visit the facilities regularly to check in on them, but from my experience this system doesn't work. For example, my daughter spent about two weeks in an in-home child care facility that charged $1800 freaking dollars a month. We thought we were paying for quality. The ladies seemed nice, they were licensed by the county, which has some of the most strict rules in the country, and were never cited for any violations. However, after two weeks of dropping my daughter off, and then coming to pick her up at random times, and occasionally staying there for an hour or so to chat and see how she was adjusting, I discovered that they regularly violated county rules and did not do what they were telling the parents they were doing.

So, I guess what I'm saying is, its up to parents to make sure that our kids are getting the love, attention and support they need. And yes, the government should play a role in this, because really, when we have a bunch of stupid mean teenagers running around this is not just a family problem, but a societal problem. But we need a new system. Something that helps overwhelmed, exhausted, clueless parents figure this all out.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

20 Things

5 Ways I Could Become A Stay At Home Mom (or at least a work at home mom)
  1. I could start an online business walking people's virtual pets.
  2. I could start a website for weirdos who like to watch people fold laundry, and then make people pay to watch me fold laundry.
  3. I could cut down on expenses by eating nothing but peanut butter and day old bread and selling all of my clothes and dressing in newspapers held together by chewing gum.
  4. I could win the lottery.
  5. I could write a book that gets made into a movie.
5 Things I Would Do If I Were A Stay At Home Mom
  1. Get my daughter dressed in the morning.
  2. Take a Music Together Class.
  3. Make awesome lunch with grilled cheese sandwiches cut out into the shape of dinosaurs
  4. Teach my daughter the alphabet.
  5. Sometimes nap at nap time.
5 Reasons I Can't Be A Stay At Home Mom
  1. Money for housing.
  2. Money for food.
  3. Money for clothes.
  4. Money for toys and classes and vacations and occasionally eating out at a restaurant and even going to a movie twice a year when we can find a babysitter.
  5. Money for college and for when I'm old and gray and fat and sick and for when my daughter wants to go to summer camp.

5 Reasons Why I'm Lucky
  1. My job is not waiting tables or working the cash register at the Safeway. The time I'm spending away from my daughter is time spent making the world a better place and making a decent salary.
  2. I have an incredible husband who shares the burden of childcare, cooking and household chores.
  3. I have an awesome nanny who I trust and who enriches my daughter's life.
  4. I have an wonderful daughter who is thriving.
  5. I and my entire family are healthy.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Moment I Felt Like A Mom - It Was Something In the Milk

I wrote this blog post for a contest submission. The contest was looking for a post about "the moment when you really felt like you became a mother". I still haven't heard back yet about whether or not I won, but I figured I'd share it for Mother's Day. Happy Mother's Day!!

It took a lot longer to feel like a mother than I expected it would. I certainly didn't feel like a mother when we came home from the hospital. My daughter was such a sleepy baby that no matter what I did I couldn't get her to nurse. The lactation consultant at the hospital told me to undress her and dab a wet washcloth on her feet to wake her up. While that made her mad enough to wake up and latch on, as soon as she started to nurse she would drift back into fetal sleep. In fact, the whole nursing experience (the pumps, the mastitis, the sleep deprivation), which I had expected to be the bridge that would bring me into motherhood, did just the opposite. Weaning after 8 weeks allowed me to finally beat the painful recurrent mastitis, find pleasure in being close to my baby, and start to get my mommy mojo.

Once I could hold my baby close to me without flinching in pain I became obsessed with baby wearing. Looking down and seeing my tiny daughter's round cheeks poking out of a Moby wrap made me feel like I was connected to the soul of the universe. I also became the master at "The Mommy Dance" - the crazy bouncy, swinging, waltz that was the only thing that would calm my hysterically screaming daughter during those "witching hour" evenings.

However, it wasn't until close to my daughter's first birthday that something clicked and I felt like my brain had really been rewired from 30 year old working professional to Mommy. What made me realize it was, of all things, whole milk. From the time my daughter was born no major decisions were made without our pediatrician's blessing. She told us what brand of formula to use, when to start solid foods, and even what kind of sunscreen to buy. But something about switching to whole milk made me realize that our daughter was not a mysterious little being with unknowable ways and incomprehensible needs. She was a little person. A little person who I knew and had known since before she was born. And I was her mom and knew what was best for her. And I even realized that I had known all along what was best for her, better than the lactation consultants during our failed breastfeeding days, and sometimes, better than the pediatrician. So, I switched her to whole milk and I didn't call the pediatrician about it. I knew how to do it, because I was, and always will be, her mom.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Why Do Our Maternity Leave Laws Suck?! A call to action.

This week I read that Save the Children rated the U.S. #28 on the best/worst countries in the world to be a mom. That's worse than countries like Estonia, Latvia and Greece. They took many factors into consideration, but one of the primary reasons why the U.S ranked so low was because of our crappy maternity leave laws. WTF?! How can our "family values" obsessed country think that its good policy to give moms a pathetically short 12 weeks of unpaid leave to recover from pregnancy and childbirth, bond with our babies, make sure they are on a good eating/sleeping pattern, and figure out the ins and outs of motherhood before we are expected to hand them off to be raised by total strangers? And because its unpaid many of us can't even afford to stay home for the full 12 weeks. So we are forced to choose between having enough money to buy food and staying home long enough to stop bleeding from childbirth and to get to know our newborns. I mean seriously - that's like Brave New World negative utopia kind of shit.

You might be thinking, "C'mon, I've read your other blog posts. I know you're a drama queen. It can't be that bad." Well, take a looksie at this chart from Forbes that shows how pathetic we are compared to other countries. I mean UK women get 90% pay for a year of maternity leave and frickin' Chile assures their moms 18 weeks of leave at 100% pay. I thought the USA was supposed to be the best. What exactly are we the best in? Because it certainly doesn't seem to be in the things that matter for quality of life.

So now that I've been a total downer in this pre-mother's day post, I'd like to beg you to take some action. The National Partnership for Women and Families has one of those pre-written letter templates that go to your Congress person asking them to expand the current Family Medical Leave Act. It'll take two seconds.

Some other orgs that are trying to do something: