A Woman President

September 24, 2007

Yeah, I’m getting swayed.

I haven’t been a Hillary fan – as a senator, she’s pandered, she’s supported the war, etc.

But I’m at the point where anyone but a Republican – and the idea of a female president – well, it’s getting to me. Is it a superficial reason to want to vote? Maybe. Does it still matter to me? Is the office of the president as much symbolic in its power as it is a source of real power? Yes.

I actually teared up a little listening to her interviewed by John Grisham at the Paramount last night: Take a listen. (Courtesy of the Charlottesville Podcasting Network.) What do you think?

For a humorous look at the possibility of a female president, watch one of my favorite comedians (any gender) from The Daily Show, Samantha B., cover the issue in her own special way…


A Doll for the New Generation

September 11, 2007

More and more boys are not getting circumcised at birth.

Here’s a doll to help us all learn to cope – the peeing boy doll: Watch the video ad now.

This really made my day. Now I know what my daughter is getting for her birthday!

Work-Life Balance: The Peaceful Revolution

September 11, 2007

Moms Rising and The Huffington Post have teamed up to create a new blog focused on work-life balance. Looks interesting. Of course, a “peaceful” revolution sounds good, nice and tame, but I have my doubts. Or my frustrations, actually. It seems to me that the problems mothers face at work link to deeper cultural issues we have as a society about family networks, work, productivity, women, etc. For a true revolution, we need a real overhaul – and that kind of thing usually doesn’t happen peacefully.

A working mother friend of mine sent me a link to that ‘what wives need is wives of their own’ article that came out in August, and our consequent discussion about how even the nicest husbands still don’t do the fundamental toilet-scrubbing, clothes-monitoring, tedious domestic crap that wives tend to do (mostly because they know it needs doing) was a bit tense. Life must continue. We can’t abdicate our responsibilities in protest. We can only have so many battles with spouses (and bosses, etc.) to try and gain equality in the large and small tasks of our lives.

I’m re-reading Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook, a story about two “Free Women” who never remarried after their divorces – in the 70s – and it’s interesting to think about how different their struggles are to define themselves in a different era, “free” from the traditional structures…

I guess I feel like my generation is trying to do everything – we want to be “free” but we want family, too – we have all this feminist background – even if we don’t call ourselves feminists – it’s not that we want to be superwomen – we just want a healthy normality –

I look directly at my mother in law – who does everything for her husband, and bitches at him for not knowing how to do anything, but then never requires him to fend for himself – a vicious cycle that has turned her bitter and vicious. She’s the same way with my husband – she does everything for him when we visit, but then lambasts him for being helpless – I’m not trying to blame her, but her seething anger about the role she plays – and refuses to vacate – is suffocating. And it means that there’s a lot of work for us to do emotionally around our domestic life. I don’t want to become her – I don’t want to grow old with resentment because of the choices I make – or feel I was forced to make. This is what I want to be free from.

Anyway – just my rambling, disorganized thoughts. Domestic life and work life and social life – sometimes figuring out the balance within each and between each, how we define ourselves and each other, within them – it’s not as easy as just meeting deadlines and picking up the kids on time (not that that is easy!)…

Friends at Work: Possible?

September 5, 2007

While walking the dog tonight, I suddenly got the Blog-Gag – the delayed reaction of horror in realizing that it’s quite possible the coworker who’d hurt my feelings today will read the post and damn me to hell. God, I’m so stupid. Not a savvy blogger. I should know better – my mother found my blog and wrote scathing e-mails I didn’t have the energy to read about our religious differences – and I didn’t even know she knew what “Goggle” (sic) was. I am dumb.

The thing is, if we were just friends, not work friends, I’d be able to ask her directly about her behavior, instead of just writing about it. I’d ask if she were mad at me and she’d probably say no but if she said yes then we’d hash it out and then either stay fast friends or go our merry ways.

But we work together. Closely. And we have a really good working relationship – we agree often and disagree constructively, we chat playfully, we side with each other helpfully. We get along so well, I’ve long harbored a desire for the two of us to go off into the sunset together, starting our own business, writing books together, making money and becoming famous together – having fun along the way.

But attempts to extend our work friendship haven’t gone entirely well – mostly because we’re very much alike – sensitive and opinionated and sometimes too easily hurt. We’re like sisters in that way – except we don’t have the blood relationship linking us beyond our petty differences – we have work, which doesn’t so much link us beyond differences so much as make them big and insurmountable, possibly pitting us against each other – if we let them.

I know there are women out there who make friends at work and keep them through the years, both in and out of the office. Same with the old office romance – I’ve had one (it’s still going on, sans office!). So I know it’s possible. But it’s hard. At least it’s hard for me. Friendships are hard, work makes them harder, and it’s difficult sometimes to know how to keep your distance – if you should keep it – when your cubicles are right next to each other.

I do love my coworker, by the way.

And not just because she could be reading this.

Getting Along With NonMoms at Work

September 4, 2007

So, it’s not easy when, in the middle of Labor Day weekend, your little daughter starts vomiting and all the plans of fun in the fading August sun dissipate down the toilet along with anything you try to feed the poor little thing. And then Tuesday shows up, the girl is still too ill to go to daycare, the dad has pressing job matters he can’t avoid, and there’s another eight hours of time off from your job burned – and there’s the cookies you were supposed to bake for department x as part of a group effort with your coworkers still existing on the Platonic plane of ideals – not made.

You tell your boss, and then you let your coworker know, too, just to make sure she knows you’re not going to be there.

“My daughter is ill, ” you say.

“What am I going to do about these cookies I made?” she asks, bitterly, resentfully, – pissed.

No “gee, sorry, hope she gets better” from this coworker. No sympathy. And maybe that’s right – she doesn’t have kids, doesn’t really want to have kids, and has expressed before that she’s not going to let me get any kind of special treatment in terms of needing to hand off overtime work to her because I have a child I have responsibility for – oh no. She isn’t going to let anyone get away with that.

So I shouldn’t be surprised, I guess – but it made me want to scream – and it made me want to cry. I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me because I chose to have children – I’m happy to have my daughter, believe me. The fact that all of my days off go to being with her when she’s sick – no more ‘sick days’ when I just need time to myself to decompress – that doesn’t bother me. The fact that I have to constantly weigh my priorities and try to prove that I’m still a good little worker even though I’m exhausted and worried and strained about my kid or my pregancy – well, I don’t expect special treatment.

But I guess I do expect some courtesy – and I don’t expect to feel guilty or resented because I have an ill child. I don’t expect a non-mom to understand exactly, but – but I do wish it were easier to explain that it’s not that I have it easy – not at all – and some niceness would be – well, much appreciated.

It’s hard to be in a team at work where I’m the only mother of the lot – sure, my boss has kids, and he’s very understanding about the challenges – but he’s also the boss. He doesn’t have anyone to answer to the way I do when he’s got to make a decision between work and family. And he doesn’t have coworkers giving him the evil eye – or the evil phone conversation – when he’s got a family crisis taking over his ability to be a perfect coworker.

I’m trying not to feel sorry for myself – all I care about, when it comes down to it – is easing the misery of my baby.  Still, I’m stressed – nothing is more scary to me than feeling judged by bosses and coworkers for logistical things I can’t control instead of for my job performance. Sigh.  If only I could work from/at home – all the magazines with their articles on working mothers make it sound so easy!