Sunday, July 24, 2005

The Mojo Mom Party Kit is launched

Whew. I've finally finished the introductory session of the Mojo Mom Party Kit, and it feels great to have that done. It was amazingly frustrating to see how hard it was for me to find the uninterrupted time I needed to finish it. Part of the problem seems to be the flow of summer. It seems like all my time is spent putting out fires, running around doing things at the last minute rather than planning ahead. But seeing that my daughter is in camp for almost as much of the day as she is in school during the rest of the year, I am afraid this way of working might be permanent.

Now that my book is done and I am getting the word out about my work, I am more accountable to other people's schedules, and they expect to hear from me. The beauty of writing the book was I always had work that could be done, but nobody really knew the difference if I took a day or three weeks off. (I am not complaining, however, because I am thrilled that the book is done! Looking back on the past year, during which I had strep throat 5 times and finally had my tonsils out, which put me out of commission for three weeks, I really can't believe I ever finished Mojo Mom.)

I am now coming face to face with the reality of running my own business and trying to fit almost full-time work into a very part-time schedule. Managing the Tiemann family household really could be a full-time job in itself. Michael and I are trying to negotiate shared responsibilities so that we both "get" to work outside the house.

In the excellent book How to Avoid the Mommy Trap, Julie Shields says that the ideal work situation a family with kids is to havet the couple's two jobs add up to about a four-thirds position (I will double-check this figure--I can't put my hands on the book right this instant). In our family, my husband's job is itself about a four-thirds position, which makes it a challenge for me to add my career back in. I have responded by being as flexible as possible, and writing certainly fits that bill. But with so many couples having a primary breadwinner whose job requires more than 40++ hours a week, and/or extensive travel, it's a real challenge for the other partner to keep her or his career alive as well. That is a big part of the Mojo Mom challenge.....

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Life is almost back to normal

Whew. My husband and mother both return tonight, and life will go back to normal. Michael has been gone for two weeks, the longest trip he's ever taken in the 11 years I've known him.

My dad and stepmom came down for the Fourth of July weekend, and it was fantastic to see them and to be together with family over the holiday.

By the end of the visit I know we were all tired. When I fell into bed last night, I truly felt exhaustion seeping out of every bone in my body. I thought I'd feel overjoyed that Michael was almost home, but to be totally honest, at that moment I felt pretty angry that I had been given the task of holding down the fort on my own for so long. (My daughter and I had a lot of fun, but it was just so much work for one person to do.) My feelings surprised me, but I couldn't shake them off until this morning. I was caught in the limbo of being almost through these two tough weeks, but knowing that my husband was still half a world away.

I'll be relieved when he's finally home. Right now I still feel so incredibly drained and Mojo-free that it is hard to believe I'll ever get my energy back. Hopefully by tomorrow I'll be back to work on the Mojo Party Kit. The introductory session is almost done and ready to post.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Waiting for Baby X

There's a new blood test that can tell prospective parents the gender of a fetus as early as five weeks into a pregnancy. The test company's representative gushes about the fact that "the companies that make yellow and mint-green baby items are probably going to be really bummed, because you know, once moms are able to find out if they're having a boy or girl, they can find gender-specific stuff earlier than ever before."

Argh. Is that what we really need? In addition to the important ethical questions about the test being used for gender-specific termination, I can think of several reasons why an early gender test is a bad idea.

Parenting is ultimately about letting go of control, and to me, the mystery of the baby's gender was a good warm-up for this idea. I couldn't impose my expectations on my baby from conception day one. I loved setting up a nursery and shopping for clothes that could be for a boy or a girl. "Baby T" had a unique identity in the womb, one that seemed just right to me for the magical period of gestation.

When Baby T turned out to be a girl, it was one of life's great surprise "reveals". She was no longer our hypothetical child, but our daughter. And by not knowing her gender ahead of time, she had a purple nursery decorated with stars, and clothes that included safari jammies and frog onesies.

What ever happened to the idea that gender stereotyping was something we should try to avoid? I can still remember reading X: A Fabulous Child's Story by Lois Gould when I was about 8 years old. "X" is a fantasy about a family who participates in a "Secret Scientific Xperiment" that explores what happens when a child's gender remains a mystery until adolescence. I loved this story growing up. The whole world gets up in arms about not knowing Baby X's secret, but Baby X grows into a wonderful kid, exploring girl and boy interests.

Thirty years later, in the real world of 2005, gender branding is as rigid and uncreative as ever. You walk into any kid's store and there is a girls' side and a boys' side. Pottery Barn Kids: Girls get pink flowers and doll houses; boys get dinosaurs and blue sailboats. Four year old girls are Cinderella for Halloween, boys are Spider Man. I recently bought two Surprize Ink books to keep my daughter busy on a long trip. There were identical games in each book, but one book's theme was Hello Kitty and the other's was Sponge Bob. Hello Kitty searched for her lost luggage and went shopping; Sponge Bob got to go jellyfishing and play with his friends.

Is the adult world much better? Just this week I was wondering why "Parenting" magazine is subtitled "What really matters to moms."

Back to the early gender test. I can envision a day in the not-too-distant future when instead of a plus or minus, the earliest pregnancy tests come up with a little picture of Cinderella or Spiderman in the results window. Is that what we want? Unfortunately, it looks like we have the rest of our lives to be labeled as boys and girls. Let's give our embryos a few months to float peacefully in the realm of unlimited possibility.

News story: New blood test to determine fetus gender raises ethical concerns
NPR news show, Day to Day, June 30, 2005