The Special Ed Coverage Gap

I had an IEP (individual education plan) meeting for my younger son, Peanut, today, and it did not go well. After up-ending our schedules to bring him into the district’s special ed preschool for SIX DAYS (note: DH did 5 of these days so I have to give him a big shout out for pulling much more of this weight while I’m still very new at my job), the conclusion was basically that Peanut has some things he needs to work on, but he’s not eligible for special education services.

Apparently, he was a little angel during these six days, which is usually what you want to hear about your child, but not in this case!  So, I asked about putting him in our local developmental preschool (there is one at the school my older son attends) as a typical peer, and they said, “Well, the typical peers need to be really good role models.”  So, he’s too disabled to be a typical peer, but not disabled enough to be in special ed.  Great. Thanks for nothing public school system!

Build Better Bathrooms

(The above should say “waiting in a shorter line,” but I still found it amusing.)

I was talking to a mom of (two) boys the other day, and we were discussing gender differences. She was saying how some moms will tell her that “girls are harder,” but she disagrees for various reasons. Then we proceeded to discuss the “pros” and “cons” of parenting both genders.

At some point in the conversation I said, “You know what I always resented? Going on road trips, and feeling annoyed because The Hub could not help me with two girls. So, I’d be stuck in the restroom changing two sets of diapers.”

And she responded:

“But that happens with us, too, because the men’s rooms don’t have diaper changers!”

To which I was momentarily speechless. And then I gasped and got rather excited and high-pitched: “OMG, I can’t believe I never thought about that before!! Ohmygosh, of course, they don’t! Omg, they need to do something about that! OMG, I’m sure Econ-Mom will talk about how men need to be more involved in child-rearing again!!”

Right, Econ-Mom!?!

My friend and I discussed the pitfalls and perils of gender-separated bathrooms for quite some time, including other, even more important reasons for having more family bathrooms aside from the fact that child-rearing should be a gender-neutral activity. For example, it’s awkward for moms of boys to be taking their boys-of-a-certain-age into the women’s bathroom with them, but equally dangerous for them to be sending said boys into the men’s bathroom on their own.

Tricky.

Seriously, people. Two words: family bathrooms. More of them. Please.

This reminds me of a point I have been complaining about for 15 years now, ever since my first debut as a litigator at the Daley Center courthouse: poorly designed women’s bathrooms. The women’s bathrooms at the Daley Center were clearly designed by men because they do not even have counters! So, you have no where to put down a purse,  an attache, a briefcase, or a coat.

Do the men’s rooms have counters? Don’t men have briefcases and coats? Where do they put them? The floor? And if so….gross!

This is why we need more women in the fields of architecture, design, and engineering.  (Why we need more women in all fields.) I’m personally sorry I didn’t pursue that career path, because I think it would be more rewarding than law. I’d love to take charge of a new nationwide movement to build better bathrooms!

In short, in order to be a better, more functioning, and more sanitary society, we need (1) more family bathrooms with (2) diaper changing stations, and (3) counters.

Econ-Mom: Oh gosh, bathrooms.  Having recently lived in Seattle, where there is a bigger push for gender-neutral bathrooms, part of me does feel like it’s a bit weird.  For a while I was working in a building with a gender-neutral bathroom. I rarely used it (because there were also men/women bathrooms) but the few times I did, I was always kind of worried that I would walk in on a man using the urinal.  (Yes, there was a urinal, and yes it was a multi-person bathroom.)

But a much bigger part of me is all for gender neutral bathrooms!  This is an issue where the disability community is very much in line with the transgender community, for obvious reasons.  I still take my 7-year-old (who is super tall and looks like he’s about 10) into women’s bathrooms with me on occasion, depending on how comfortable I am with the situation.  I was somewhere recently where I had him in the bathroom and a lady walked in and said something like, “Oh my gosh.” I thought that was probably directed at me/my son but I just ignored it.  (BTW, if she had asked me why I had him in the bathroom, I would have happily told her that he is autistic and I don’t feel comfortable letting him go in strange bathrooms alone.)  Of course, people with more severe autism or other disabilities go with a caretaker for their entire life (and just to be pedantic, I will point out that most caretakers are women.)

All that being said, my number one biggest issue with bathrooms is that they are quite often sensory nightmares.  I was cracking up recently because someone in one of my autism mom groups called those high-powered air dryers some really dramatic name like “death machines”, and everyone in the group was like, “Preach, sister!”  There are honestly tons of ASD parents out there who do not take their kids to certain places because the bathrooms are just not an option for their child.

Law-Mom: I get that.  I think I’ve mentioned on this blog that The Hub and I were convinced for the first few years of SC1’s life that she was autistic for many reasons, including the fact that loud bathroom hand-dryers would make her cry.

Also note: I don’t think they need to build more family bathrooms to the exclusion of gender separate bathrooms. Maybe that would be not be economically feasible? But would it really be that expensive to just have one family bathroom for families to use (not necessarily with multiple stalls)?

Finally, in this campaign to Build Better Bathrooms: when they build women’s rooms, they should just build them two to three times the size of men’s bathrooms (i.e., with two to three times more stalls). Surely that would make everyone happier, including the men who would spend less time waiting for their female companions.

We Respond To Each Other’s Podcasts

Law-Mom:  I really enjoyed your conversation with Conan Tanner on “Barbarian Noetics,” Econ-Mom. I particularly appreciated your comments about changing the paradigm so that all parents – moms and dads – spend more time with their children. I also appreciated Tanner’s comment about making the world a more “child-friendly” place to be. Shouldn’t that ultimately be the goal of our society? A more child-friendly world is a more human-friendly world.

I did want to respond to two things that I believe Tanner said during your discussion. The first was Tanner’s comment,”What’s so bad about being lazy?” or, “What’s wrong with lazy people?” At that point, I wanted to barge into the conversation and say: “Ummm…everything.”

I don’t know what that says about me, but I truly have a deep-seated bias against lazy people and laziness in general. That’s not to say that I don’t believe in relaxing and rewarding oneself after a long day, or a long week, of being productive. But I truly abhor general slothfulness. I get mildly ragey when I perceive lazy behavior in my own children. I think some of this is because I have an understanding of just how hard you really have to work to enjoy the finer pleasures of life. And I think most people have to work super hard in life to get where they are. (Not all, of course, but most.)  So, while I do not consider myself very conservative in political matters, I do understand the viewpoint of: “Hey, look: I’ve worked my tail off, so I’m not super interested in being taxed out the ying-yang so that someone else can sit on their duff and enjoy the fruits of my hard labor.” It’s the story of “The Little Red Hen”: I’m not interested in sharing all of my hard work with you ungrateful, lazy, jerks.

Is that selfish? Maybe. But I think it’s understandable. On the flip side, I do believe in cooperation (as I talked about with Tanner). But cooperation is a two-way street: it means everyone is working and  being productive. You only get to be lazy, IMHO, if you are younger than the age of six and/or an invalid. Otherwise, you don’t get a pass in my book. I’ll share with you, but you need to uphold your end of the bargain.

Last but not least, Tanner asked: Why don’t we allow jurors to do their own research? Because the judge has already carefully ruled on what the law is that governs the case and what evidence can and will be admitted. And, if jurors were to “go rogue” and find that different law applies, or different evidence is relevant, it could very-well jeopardize the defendant’s constitutional rights. Of course, the judge may have gotten everything wrong and violated the defendant’s constitutional rights, anyway…but at least there is a record of it. Since no one knows what is going on in the jury room, it is extremely important that the jury follow the judge’s instructions and not do their own research — on the facts or the law — so that everyone knows exactly what evidence and law the jury heard, received, and deliberated over.

That being said (a perfect use of the phrase, I might add), I agreed with both of you that: (1) it was an abysmal use of resources to try that poor transient man over a $20 meth exchange; and (2) that he very likely was not tried by a true “jury of his peers.”  The first point is easily solved: Stop prosecuting and jailing harmless homeless people for non-violent offenses and offer rehab and resources instead. The second point, however, is a bit more problematic and difficult to solve. I agreed with the points you made about finding a way to include more caretakers on juries. Still (and this is coming from someone who skipped out on jury duty, because I was the full-time caretaker of my 10-ish month old), I’m not sure I’d be super keen on leaving my child with government-paid daycare workers whom I’d never met or seen in action. So, I think there would need to be some choice involved on the part of caretakers, because otherwise it might feel a bit like forced child-napping. Not all young children are easily separated from their parents (SC1 being one of them) and it could be traumatic for some children to be away from their caretaker for days, or sometimes weeks, on end.

Econ-Mom:  I also really enjoyed listening to Law-Mom on Barbarian Noetics! Law-Mom and I have a lot to say, people!  It’s now already been a crazy week-ish since I listened, so I don’t remember all the brilliant points I had here, but as someone who has taught Introductory Economics, I feel compelled to say something about bartering. Law-Mom and Conan talk a lot about a more cooperative society and end up talking about bartering.  I’m not against bartering, I think it’s great when it works!  And for what it’s worth, I believe it should be studied more (for example, how and why people revert to bartering in economic crises, such as what’s going on in Venezuela right now).  But it can’t scale up that well because if you have N goods, it means you have to somehow keep track of N*(N-1) prices.  [Law-Mom: I do not understand this at all, Econ-Mom. Please do elaborate in another post.] For example, if you have apples, oranges, and pears, you must have some kind of going rate for apples in terms of pears, apples in terms of oranges, and oranges in terms of pairs, and vice versa. More importantly, when you get to the point where you have thousands of goods (which we do currently have – if not millions!) you run into almost zero chance of finding someone to make a mutually agreeable trade with.

And regarding Law-Mom’s point above about making jury duty optional for parents of young children I absolutely agree!  For sure neither of my kids could have gone with a strange caretaker, and that goes double (or times 100) for kids with more severe autism or other conditions.  But it’s just sort of food for thought.  And I do think that people abuse the chance to get out of jury duty to some extent.  I just had someone tell me that she was still using the ‘caretaker’ excuse even though her daughter was now 16.

Finally, regarding laziness…. Well, I think I’m just going to have to write a separate post about universal basic income because it’s a very interesting topic that economists are really getting into these days!

Be Careful What You Wish For…

So, now this song is stuck in my head. Because in one day, I did two mini yoga sessions with SC2:

 

and

And then I was voted on to join a Board of Directors (on a volunteer basis) for a Foundation with a mission to support young dancers pursuing dance careers.  So, I guess I am volunteering now, too. It’s not the exact type of volunteering I had in mind (I want to do something to help children at the border) but at least it is meaningful and something I can easily do from home.

Amazing what can change in just two days.

And to our MOE Readers who celebrate: Happy Rosh Hashanah!

What Being on Mountain Time Has Taught Me

Hi MOE Readers! Law-Mom here. I know I’ve been  a bit absentee for awhile, learning the lay of the land in my new state out west. We’ve all been adjusting to a new rhythm out here which, by and large, is a pretty pleasant rhythm, if I must tell you. I am working 7 to 3 from home now. I knew, as an Early Bird, that I’d love the schedule. And I do!

It’s funny, though: you would think working those hours I’d have so much more time during the day to get things done. I do. And I don’t. I do seem to have more time to clean my home (what are lunch breaks for, ‘eh?) and to take care of the kids and the new puppy. (Did I mention we got a puppy, too, in the past month?) What I don’t seem to have much time for still is myself.

I was just saying to The Hub that I’d really like to incorporate yoga into my day. But honest-to-goodness, I cannot tell you when I’d find the time (when I was actually functioning) to do it.

For example, while I was writing this, I just got significantly waylaid to help SC1 with a math homework problem (that she conveniently forgot she was supposed to do until right before bedtime).

I could try to do it in the morning, but even waking up early (between 4 and 5 most days) I can barely find the time to go for walk or bike ride. Could I squeeze in some yoga? Maybe. But I’d have to forego my daily morning talk with my parents; taking the puppy out to go to the bathroom a few times; chasing the puppy around the house to stop him from chewing on things;  brushing the girls’ unbelievably tangled hair; reminding the children 100 times to brush their teeth; picking up shoes and hairbands off the floor to prevent the puppy from chewing on them (am I getting repetitive?); hanging up wet laundry to dry (yay, solar power!), cleaning up the kitchen from the night before (because I don’t do dishes after 7pm)….all before starting work at 7am. Am I making excuses? Maybe.

[I just had to tell my child to stop doing her homework on the floor, where the puppy was trying to chew her pencil and paper, and to move to a desk. Because. Problem-solving. Is. Hard.]

The afternoons/evenings are also quickly filled with the girls’ activities, picking up the house (it is always a mess now that we only have a great room — everything pretty much collects there), taking care of the puppy, helping with homework, making dinner (I have time to cook now, so I have been actually cooking and grilling!), and…our nightly pool swim. I gotta tell you: I love our nightly pool swim.

But, when to do yoga?

“You could be doing it now!” you say. But, if you bother listening to Conan Tanner’s podcast, you will understand that after 8pm, this body does very little other than read. After 4am wake ups, I’m pretty sure, you’d say the same. That’s like doing yoga at 10pm, after waking up at 6. Maybe there are some MOEs out there who enjoy working out at 10pm after a 15 or 16 hour day. More power to you! (And, what are you taking, by the way? Can I have the name of that supplement?)

Anyway — I might sound like I am complaining. I’m not. I’m just sharing that even when working what are, quite frankly, ideal work hours from home, there is still not  a lot of time to do everything that I want to do. This may sound like common sense. I guess I’m always mildly surprised by how little time there is in the day.

I’m also not volunteering right now. I feel a bit (okay, a lot) guilty about this. (The Hub tells me I’d make an excellent Catholic.) But, much like doing yoga: I cannot force myself to jam anything more into my already full schedule. I’m enjoying my down time (nightly family pool swim) just too much to change anything.

[SC2 is asking me how many minutes she should put in her reading log, because she spent some of the time looking at the pictures.]

[Now I have to sign the homework, to indicate that she completed it.]

I cannot

[That sentence was interrupted by the puppy vomiting and my needing to call the vet to make sure he was not having a bad reaction to his vaccine today. Yes, really.]

I was going to say, I cannot tell you how many times per day my thoughts are completely interrupted. I have oft said that parenting is quite a bit like that short story, “Harrison Bergeron” that I remember reading in 8th grade. It’s so bad that now my speech patterns frequently imitate my thought patterns: I will begin a sentence, only to then repeat “um, um, um” quite a few times before I am finally able to complete my train of thought.  I think Econ-Mom can attest to this from the last time we spoke on the phone.

Anyway, should I feel badly about not doing yoga and not volunteering and enjoying my relaxing family swim time? I am thinking no.

I am thinking that it is really okay to just be a “Mom on 9” for a change. I feel the shift in the time zone has also slightly adjusted my feelings about “doing everything” all the time. For now, not doing yoga and not volunteering is fine. Because someday, I WILL have time for those things again. My kids will be grown, and I will miss them like crazy. But I will have the time. For now, I think I will just swim with them.

Econ-Mom: First of all, LOL to your Hub’s comment about making a good Catholic.  I was raised Catholic and decided to go back to the church a couple years ago, and there really is a decent amount of guilt messaging.  Even some of the songs are like “we’re all sinners, etc.”  One time I was filling out a questionnaire and it was asking if I had experienced different moods/etc, and one of them was “excessive guilt.” I was like… I’m sorry, is that a thing? How could any amount of guilt possibly be excessive?

But seriously, yes, of course, just enjoy your swim time!  And also be more like me and just don’t clean your house!  I should honestly take a picture of our ‘great’ room right now. The floor is literally covered with dinosaurs and coloring books. That being said,** I do totally feel this post.  I really like to go to jazzercise twice a week, but between jury duty and DH being out of town, I haven’t been able to go in weeks.  (So now I get to feel guilty about not exercising AND about paying the monthly jazzercise fee!) I do feel compelled to share one tiny “life hack” I have recently figured out: I have noticed that I am super inflexible and it ends up causing lower back pain for me, so I’ve gotten into the habit of stretching on the floor next to Peanut’s bed as I sing lullabies to him. We have a routine where I sing him 5 songs, and usually during the first 4 I am lying next to him on his bed, but for the last song I’ll move to the floor and stretch. I feel semi-ridiculous sharing this because it sounds like one of those satirical ManWhoHasItAll tweets about how working men need to squeeze more into their day, but hey.

P.S. Thank you for reminding me why getting a dog is NOT on the table in my life right now.  Luckily we’re renting so I have a built-in excuse!

P.P.S. Volunteering?!?!? Thanks for mentioning that, because now I feel guilty for not feeling guilty about not volunteering!  (That is, except for not volunteering at my son’s school.  Of course I feel guilty about that!)

 

**Note the perfectly correct use of the phrase “that being said.” This little aside will only make sense to those who listen to the podcast. LOL.  -L.M.

The Big Transition

Finally, after a long, stressful job search I got a job! I just started last week – and in typical crazy Econ-Mom style, I started the day after we got back from a family vacation.  My younger son, Peanut (4), doesn’t handle travel super well, so in hindsight, I should have negotiated for a little more time before I started. But I figured it’s going to be a big transition no matter what, so why not approach it like a cold pool and just jump in the deep end?

Thankfully, we had a wonderful sitter for Tuffy (7) who was able to go to full-time for the rest of the summer, and Peanut was already in daycare.  So our new routine is that DH handles the morning routine so that I can leave home by 8, and then I leave work at 5 to pick up the kids.  As far as extracurriculars, Tuffy’s sitter is able to bring him to his gymnastics class, and on Thursdays, when he has his social skills class, she’s able to bring him there and I meet them there.  (Peanut was also doing gymnastics, so we moved his class to Saturday.)
My first day of work was a Wednesday, but DH has an 8am teleconference every Wednesday. Normally I would never ask him to take the kids on a Wednesday morning, but I had to meet with HR at 8:30, so…. I just left! DH said “I’ll have the phone on mute for the teleconference and the kids can watch tv, and it’ll be fine.”  And guess what? It was actually fine.
Of course not everything was fine.  Peanut had a HUGE tantrum when he was dropped off at daycare. His teacher even told me about it after school, because she had to bring him back to the classroom early (they spend the entire morning out a a park). I have to say, I’m not *happy* that this happened, but a little part of me was happy that DH got to experience the screaming and clinging. I could hear the worry in DH’s voice when I talked to him, and I was thinking “Hi, welcome to the anxiety and stress that I have been dealing with for YEARS.” Of course, Peanut did live to tell about it, although he’s still gradually adjusting. When I picked him up after my first day he said “Mommy, is your job done now?”
Tuffy on the other hand is having a blast with his sitter.  Last Friday she sent me pictures from a playdate with two of Tuffy’s friends. I felt a little bit sad that I wasn’t there, but honestly overall I am feeling really good about my new job. The thing I am loving the most is that I don’t have to expend a bunch of mental energy to try and carve out time to work. It’s just 8:30-5 every day, period. If something is happening during that time, I won’t be there. I am realizing now how much brain space that effort took up for me, and despite spending more hours a day away from home, I’m actually more relaxed. (Of course, I’m still ramping up in the new job so we’ll see in a few months how relaxed I am!)
Law-Mom: Econ-Mom, this all sounds so strangely familiar. : ) That is how The Hub and I used to divide and conquer: He did mornings, and I did afternoons/evenings. (Now that we are both working at home, we just share everything, which is nice after single-parenting through years of home improvement projects.) Also, I 100% agree with you: I found life got so much easier (in many aspects, anyway) when I went back to work full-time. There will still be some big-time hassles and challenges (mainly related to school-related activities and childcare) but the day-to-day mental-load is easier if you like to, and are good at, compartmentalizing, which it sounds like you are. Good luck, and congratulations on the new job!!

Something to Make You Laugh and Something to Make You Cry

Hello “Moms on 11” Readers! Econ-Mom and I have been busy not blogging, because I have been busy moving with my family across the country (goodbye Illinois taxes!) and Econ-Mom has been busy applying for jobs and/or otherwise planning her future. (At least, I think that’s what she has been up to. 😉 )

Today, I present you with a video and a blog. 

This video made me laugh out loud.

Probably because I can relate to it a little too well. (What parent does not have a similar vomit story?) Also, I really like the Holderness Family. They have a lot of very funny, very relatable material. Thank you, Holderness Family, for always making me laugh.

The second link is a blog post, courtesy of Econ-Mom, who found this (doing goodness knows what!) in her free time. (Just kidding, Econ-Mom. I know you don’t have any free time. 😉 ) This woman did not make me laugh; and likely, neither will you.

I hope you “enjoy” both links. Feel free to share in the comments what you find either funny or horrific about both. Cheers!

Law-Mom

 

How to “Grow Your Career” — Someone Please Tell Me

Law-mom: I (mostly) liked this article, and mostly agreed with it (especially the paragraph “Role Models Aren’t Everything.”) But I found it lacking in actual advice about how to “grow your career” as a working mom. This all sounded more to me like: “How to just deal with the juggle.” What do you think, Econ-mom?

Econ-mom: Yeah exactly, that was an article on how to survive.  Which is fine, but doesn’t actually address the question of how to grow your career.  It’s funny you bring this up now, because I recently got a job offer – after being on the job hunt for six months! (Which, by the way, has sucked so much.)  This offer is for a pretty good job, but honestly, it doesn’t even require a PhD, and sometimes I just can’t believe that this was the best job I could get. (OK, perhaps I’m not in the best mood to be blogging about this right now.  This morning my 7 year-old asked me why his younger brother is still going to daycare, but he’s out of school, and I said, “The patriarchy.”)

Overall, this is the way I try to think about it: Maybe if you have a nanny for 12+ hours a day you can grow your career.  But I’ll just go ahead and impose my opinion on the world: No one (including men!!!) should want to be away from their young child for 12 hours a day. (Can you imagine a world in which men with young children refused to work 12 hour days?? Me neither.) Anyway, in my experience, working while my kids were young was really just about treading water. But when I’m feeling optimistic, I look at this new job as a foot in the door. It’s not my dream job, but now my kids are older and my husband is going to stay home and run the household. There is a lot of ageism in economics (and probably in a lot of fields), and the whole experience of going on the academic job market really feels like a one-shot game. But I have to hope that it’s not too late, and I can shine in this new role and eventually get closer to where I wanted to be career-wise. So, my answer to ‘how to grow your career as a working mother’ is wait until your kids are older. I think that is realistic in the sense that you can’t literally do everything all at once, but I’m not sure how realistic it is in terms of career outcomes. I am not sure that “leaning out” for a few years doesn’t permanently hurt your career, but let’s hope it doesn’t have to!

Law-mom: I agree with you on all of this, Econ-mom.