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.

In Defense of Bottle-Feeding

I was raised that “breast is best.” I think my mom was on the “breast is best” kick even before it was a thing. I knew I really wanted to breastfeed for altruistic (good for baby) and selfish (help me lose the baby weight) reasons. But my breastfeeding journey – much like a lot of pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting has been for me – did not live up to any of my expectations. Here’s why:

After SC1 was born, she was in the NICU, because she was not breathing well. She also developed jaundice. Because I was induced 3 weeks early, my milk did not come in right away. And SC1 had a poor latch. After 3 days of trying to nurse, SC1 was still jaundiced and not passing the meconium, which they said she had to do before she could go home. With no advice or direction from the hospital staff, who only told me that if I wanted to nurse, I should avoid giving her a bottle, but if I wanted her to poop and get off her I.V., then I might want to consider supplementing with formula, I finally decided to supplement. Once I made my decision, a nurse said: “You did the right thing.” I just wish someone has come right out and told me the right thing to do while I waited impatiently and anxiously for my baby to thrive.

SC1 never did figure out how to latch and suck, and she loved the bottle. I pumped for 6 months until my milk ran out (which it often does when pumping rather than breastfeeding). I loved it when strangers would tell me: “You know, it’s better to breastfeed than give them a bottle.”

After my “failed”  breastfeeding experience with SC1, I was determined to breastfeed SC2 (as if I had total control over these things). Despite a second C-section (preeclampsia + dysfunctional cervix = C-section), this time my milk came in faster. SC2 knew how to suck and latch and did an extremely good job of basically SUCKING MY NIPPLES OFF MY BODY. Without getting graphic, it was awful.

After that, it was all about clogged ducts. I’d experienced clogged ducts with SC1, and I knew and did all the tricks to try to unclog them. And finally, around two months, things stopped clogging and hurting and I was breastfeeding! Woohoo! Victory! I was also pumping and storing breastmilk. And SC2 was both breastfeeding and bottlefeeding! Ha! What do the experts know about nipple confusion?!

And then, something truly mysterious happened: SC2 stopped bottle-feeding. She just decided that she liked breastfeeding best and completely stopped taking the bottle.

That was the end of my sanity and freedom.

In addition to stopping taking the bottle, SC2 also decided that the only way she liked to, and would, breastfeed, was while lying down. There are numerous positions for breastfeeding, which they teach you, and I knew every one of the them. And I tried every one of the them. Numerous times. And guess what? Wasn’t gonna happen. SC2 (who remains an incredibly strong-willed child to this day) WAS. NOT. GONNA. HAVE. IT.

There is a moral to these stories (though, I am by no means done with my tales of breastfeeding woes): But the short of it is: 1. There is no such thing as nipple confusion. 2. Your kids are gonna do what they are gonna do. 3. Your body is gonna do what it’s gonna do. 4. You might be able to breastfeed, or you might not. and it will likely depend on what your kid and your body decide to do. And 5. Whatever happens, it’s not your fault and you did your best, and it’s ALL OKAY.

After 4 months, my clogged ducts came back, and I was never able to unclog them, so that breastfeeding for the remainder of 12.5 months that SC2 nursed was painful every single day. Each time she would latch, it felt like someone was threading needles through my breasts. You can imagine my exasperation when SC2 was nearly impossible to wean. And I tried often and as early as I could. She wasted all of the 100 ounces of pumped breastmilk I had frozen. She would chuck sippy cups filled with chocolate milk (tried vanilla and strawberry flavored, too) across the room when I would give them to her.

I don’t make this stuff up.

So, you can understand my appreciation for articles, like this one from the Atlantic, that talk about the challenges and costs of breastfeeding. My personal favorite line from this piece that stuck with me (though, I paraphrase): “Breastfeeding is only free if a woman’s time is worth nothing.”  Yes!

As my experiences illustrate: To breastfeed or not to breastfeed sometimes is NOT a choice: It’s the inevitable consequence of how your child’s genetics and your body’s response to those genetics align. And, as this pediatrician notes: “The experience [of breastfeeding] made me deeply aware of how much this advice I give is asking of women, and how hard it would have been to do this if my own life were less privileged and less well supported.” (emphasis mine).

For some women, breastfeeding might be like falling off a log. (These tend to be the women who have large families, I find.) But for others, it can be a huge challenge. However, for whatever reason a woman chooses not to, or just can’t, breastfeed, the response should be one of support and understanding, not judgment and shaming. There’s a reason we invented formula, and I, for one, am super grateful for its existence.

Econ-mom: Oy, breastfeeding.  I’m sure we could go on all day about this.  My first thought is, “UGH, THE SHAMING. MAKE IT STOP!”  I wish I could say I was shocked that strangers commented on you bottle-feeding your baby.  But once you’re pregnant or have a child in tow, it’s open season on judgey comments. I once read an article by a mom who had had BREAST CANCER and got comments from strangers about how she should breastfeed!  And P.S. some kids are adopted! Sheesh, people.

As for myself, I fell into the extended breastfeeding camp (both kids breastfed until 3) which gets its own judgment. (I consider myself fortunate that I experienced relatively little of this living in Seattle – I talked to a women from eastern Washington who said she was asked to leave a restaurant because she was nursing a toddler!) Basically if you breastfeed too little or too much you’re WRONG.

This is such a complex and loaded subject, but I will try to distill my opinion on breastfeeding into a couple paragraphs. I think that breastfeeding is (often) a lot of work. It can be painful. It can not go well for a variety of reasons. It’s time consuming. However, I think it is great that people are making an effort to breastfeed more, because there are probably some health benefits (though some sibling studies indicate that some of these effects are much smaller than previously thought) and it can be a very special (not perfect! but special) experience for both mother and child. Workplaces should support it, because the option to breastfeed your child is a human right. (Note: clearly they don’t, given that women who choose to breastfeed for six months or longer suffer large earnings losses.) Personally, I had a fairly positive experience with breastfeeding (and happened to be very lucky in terms of keeping my supply up while pumping at school.) That being said, I sometimes wish I had pushed harder to get my babies to take a bottle from dad. (It seemed impossible and yet when push came to shove they both were able to transition to taking bottles at daycare. It just involved a lot of crying for a day or two.)

As far as health care providers, I think historically many places have pushed supplementing when it’s not really necessary, but nowadays more places probably push too hard the other way. The bottom line is that those decisions can be tough, and nurses/doctors should try to give information without pushing values. In a way it’s analogous to a birth plan, and I think the best nurses/doctors/midwives do try to figure out what the patient’s priorities are and tailor their advice accordingly, while also gently reminding moms that some things are out of their control.  And as for anyone who is not your nurse/doctor/lactation consultant? 

It’s About Time!

I just want to say “YES!” to everything this article says about the gender pay gap, as well as “YES!” to everything this article says about women’s bodies after childbirth. I’ve been saying (asking) for years: “Why don’t women automatically get physical therapy after C-sections, when everyone else gets physical therapy after even minor surgery?” I have a friend who had physical therapy on her pinkie finger after surgery. I only had my abdomen cut open and sewn back together twice – and, nothing.

I am resolving to start yoga soon. My lower half desperately needs it. Everything is out of whack and out of joint. I used to dance, so I am well-acquainted with my body and how it functions – and can function when everything is working together properly. Some of it is getting older, I know. Some of it sitting ALL. THE. TIME. But I do believe a lot of it is from the terrible post-C core muscles that have been putting strain on my IT bands for years, and now that pain/strain is affecting my hamstrings and knees.

Anyway, regardless of my own personal issues, I am grateful that we, as a society, are finally acknowledging that: (1) asking about past salary history reinforces the gender pay gap; and (2) women should be prescribed PT after childbirth, regardless of whether you had a vaginal or C-section birth.

I also want to say that, in response to the article that mentions Kate Middleton post-childbirth: Although I am admittedly jealous that she could look so beautiful just seven hours after giving birth, I also feel badly for her. I cannot imagine the pressure of having to look that “perfect” for all the world to see, so soon after having a baby.

But, she is also just lucky. Can we, as a society, please start acknowledging the luck factor of good genes? Luck plays a huge factor in your looks, your ability to stay thin [I will find the article I read about this and link it later], how you give birth, and your health. Kate is extremely fortunate that she *could* stand just seven hours after giving birth. I was hooked up to magnesium sulfate for 24 hours after giving birth and bedridden. Magnesium sulfate is a nervous system suppressant and you cannot walk without assistance when it is in your body. It was in my system for three days (two days before SC1’s birth and one day following.) Thereafter, I still had an IV hooked up to me for another three days. I was so swollen post-partum that none of my XL maternity clothes fit me. I had to wear my father’s shirts. I have a picture of myself one week post-partum, bloated as a whale, that I’d love to post on here if this wasn’t an anonymous blog, to prove that I am not exaggerating.

What if Kate Middleton had had severe pre-eclampsia and nearly died, as other women experience? What then? Would we acknowledge, as a society, that asking a woman to “snap back” to her pre-pregnancy body and self almost instantaneously is fantasy? And why does Kate “have” to look so beautiful for the adoring public?

She’d be doing everyone a favor if she just gave a press statement: “I would like to acknowledge all the MILLIONS of women from the dawn of creation until now who have given birth. Out of respect for those who have died in childbirth; out of respect for those whose bodies have been disfigured and/or taken longer to return to “normal”; out of respect to those women who suffer from post-partum depression and eating disorders: I am not going to appear right now to prove to the world that with enough money, make-up artists, hair dressers, and good fortune, one can  look as stunning as any woman can possibly look after having a baby. Instead, out of respect for the women who cannot, I am going to ask that you please respect my privacy and my decision. Let’s give a round of applause for all the women who have given birth.”

If she gave some sort of public speech like that, then I might be impressed with her. But I refuse to be impressed with her just because she can look pretty.

Econ-Mom: Hear hear to this! Ok first of all, I am guilty of reading way too many articles about the royal family.  I honestly cannot even explain why – I’m not a big celebrity gossip person in general but I somehow got sucked into royal family mania.  (I am always shocked when I realize that my husband’s Google news feed has nothing about Princess Kate or Meghan Markle.)  So, I weirdly sort of love the royal family but I 100% agree that wearing stilettos mere hours after giving birth is ridiculous and does not send a good message.  How you handle pregnancy, labor, and the post-partum period does have a lot to do with luck!  (And by the way, I was honestly shocked when I started learning about stuff like perineum tears after I was already 6 months pregnant.  Maybe I really had my head in the sand but I have honestly wondered if women just hide this information from the younger generation to ensure the survival of the species. My point being that there are a whole host of health issues that can arise during pregnancy and delivery that many people are not even aware of.)

Anyway, I do have very mixed feelings when I see high profile women like Marissa Mayer or Tammy Duckworth going back to work almost immediately after having a baby.  On the one hand, it’s so fantastic that they are opening people’s minds to the idea that a women can be pregnant and then have a baby while working as a CEO or congresswoman.  On the other hand, I worry that it can set up an expectation that all women are capable of jumping right back into work after only a couple weeks.  I think it just reveals a deeper issue in our society which is the lack of appreciation for the fact that having a baby is a BIG FREAKING DEAL.  Maybe this is a really radical thing for me to say but I would like to see a world where NO ONE goes back to work 2 weeks after having a baby. No man, no woman.  Not if you work at McDonald’s, not if you’re the CEO of a company.  Of course Marissa Mayer and Tammy Duckworth aside, many low income women cannot afford to take much time off of work, which is frankly a bigger and more shameful issue.  I feel like I’m beating a dead horse but I’ll say this again – I’m tired of women fighting to be “just like men”.  Instead we need to fight to push men away from the current equilibrium where work is above all.

My Kids Give Me Perspective – Or Do They?

Once, a few years ago, I was lamenting to a classmate how little time I had to work on research.  She said something like, “Well, at least your kids give you perspective. Sometimes it feels like my whole life revolves around my dissertation.”

I’ve thought about that comment often over the years. It is, of course, very true that there is much more in my life besides my PhD. My boys do bring me immeasurable joy (along with a hearty dash of frustration and just general craziness.) But getting a PhD does come with a lot of emotional attachment and some pretty big ups and downs – for example that time a few months ago when I got an email saying that my paper was accepted to a conference, only to be followed a few hours later by an email stating that the earlier email was sent in error. Honestly, it is so hard to put on my June Cleaver face and say, “What can I get you sweetie?” when one of the boys says, “Mooooom, I’m hungry!” and I’ve literally JUST FED THEM, and I’m still trying to process some horrible rejection letter that I received earlier that day. In fact, I will admit that I almost never succeed at channeling my inner 50s mom in those situations. Instead, I snap at my poor unsuspecting child and then later feel badly about it. So, that’s fun for everyone. I guess what I’m trying to say here is, on the plus side, kids give you no time to wallow. On the minus side, kids give you no time to wallow.

Sometimes I’m really not sure if my kids are “giving me perspective.”  It’s not like I’m able to just immediately shrug stuff off and say, “That’s OK, at least I have my children!” And for another thing, when things aren’t going well with my PhD, I not only feel badly about whatever is going on with school, but I also have the joy of asking myself why I have been spending thousands upon thousands of dollars to put my children in daycare this whole time?

A perfect example of this happened just over a week ago. Tuffy and I were in the airport when I had my Erin Bartram moment. (I highly recommend reading her post – she describes the feeling of being forced out of academia much more eloquently than I could.) As we were waiting in the airport security line on our way home, I checked my email and found out that I had not been accepted for the one tenure-track position that I had gotten a fly-out for. But we barely had enough time to make it to our gate, buy some fast food, and shovel some of it in our mouths before we had to board the plane, so I had no time to do anything but speed us along (albeit in a much grumpier mood than I had been in before reading my email). As we boarded the plane, I didn’t even notice that Tuffy was checking out the cockpit, but one of the flight attendants told him to come in and meet the pilots. The flight attendants and pilots were all smiling and laughing and they had Tuffy – and me – sit in the cockpit and took pictures of us. It was silly and fun and Tuffy loved it a lot.

Clearly this wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t had my child with me (OK maybe, but it seems like it’s somehow not as cute when grownups try to look into the cockpit). It was a nice, almost immediate reminder of how much else there is to life besides professional success. But have no fear, I did spend a little time wallowing – I broke down in tears the next day on my way to Target. (Yes, I went to Target by myself. You gotta treat yourself a little bit after a day like that!) I knew that my job market paper wasn’t fantastic, so none of this was incredibly surprising. But it’s hard not to get teary-eyed thinking about all the amazing papers that were in my head that I was going to write (including one about the child care market) and wondering if I should just tweet out all my research ideas since I have no need for them anymore.

Sometimes I just wish there was a way to say in my cover letters, “Look at what I was able to accomplish with one hand tied behind my back! Look – I got through my PhD coursework and wrote a few halfway decent papers while raising two kids. While breastfeeding for SIX YEARS. While taking one son to speech therapy, occupational therapy, development pre-school, and ABA therapy. While enrolling the other son in multiple autism studies. While dropping to part-time after my young toddler had been sick for weeks and was losing weight and then got a staph infection. While my husband left town for weeks at a time. But the hardest part is over now, and if you give me a chance at a job, my husband is going to take over as the lead parent and just imagine what I could do then!”

Unfortunately for me, the world doesn’t work that way. But I am at least on track to finish this PhD soon, which is still an accomplishment. And my boys are thriving, and once in a while I get to pretend I’m a kid and sit in the cockpit of an airplane; so, I guess I can say that while it’s still hard, some perspective has been given.

Law-mom: Econ-mom – I so feel your pain here: “if you give me a chance at a job, my husband is going to take over as the lead parent and just imagine what I could do then!” My job search situation is a little different from yours. I haven’t been writing about it on here, but I am on the look-out for a new job (preferably one in which I can earn what a J.D. should be earning) and it is discouraging. I sometimes feel like I will never economically recover from my years of parenting while side-lining my career. I once had a man say to me, when I mentioned the effect the “mommy penalty” had on my salary: “But you should be recovered from that by now.”

REALLY?!?! 1) Thank you for the disguised insult; and 2) How would you know?

Anyway — kudos to you for continuing to plug away. Getting a PhD while breastfeeding for six years and taking care of special needs kids is a HUGE accomplishment. Congratulations! Even if the job market cannot see what an amazing person you are, I certainly can.

Understanding Food Allergies

I tend to read articles about food allergies, because my oldest has five severe food allergies that we have been living with since she was diagnosed at 13-months old. (At one point, she had seven. She outgrew her allergies to egg and sunflower. Thank you, God!)

If you have been reading this blog, you am not a huge fan of the uniformed opinions of friends or strangers who tell me, directly or indirectly, that if I had just fed SC1 peanuts earlier in her life, she would not have a life-threatening allergy to peanuts.

Please note what the above-linked article says: “…the suggested clinical guidelines on preventing peanut allergy, which is the leading cause of fatal anaphylaxis from a food allergy, now include introducing peanut-containing foods earlier than we used to give them; children with severe eczema or egg allergy need to be evaluated first for peanut allergy, and depending on the results, the doctor may recommend introducing peanut-containing foods at 4 to 6 months.” (emphasis mine).

SC1 had both severe eczema and egg allergy. In fact, it was her allergic reactions to eggs and hummus, before the age of one, that prompted allergy testing. Also, let the record show: SC1 started getting solid foods at four months. Guess what her first solid food was? Peas. Guess what SC1 had an almost anaphylatic reaction to at 15 months? Peas.

Another point about uniformed opinions: People love to tell me that SC1 will outgrow her peanut allergy, or point out that there are ways to help her outgrow them. There are treatments to help children with severe allergiesI invite you to read that full article in its entirety (it is very long), and then tell me if you would be super eager to put your child’s life at risk doing the treatment. As I have told friends and family: (1) SC1 would need to want the treatment and be 100% on board with it; (2) I have already asked her doctor about it, and he does not recommend it for her, because of her multiple allergies to peanuts, tree nuts and peas. Peas and peanuts are related: They are both legumes. There is too much risk involved in trying to just treat for peanuts. We’d have to tackle all three at once. And there is too much risk involved in that.

You will note that the families that go for these treatments are the ones with even worse allergies than my daughter’s: They suffer the kind of severity where they cannot go into a room with the allergen or get it on their skin. Such a severe disorder (if you will pardon the term) makes it next to impossible to lead a normal life. They also tend to be allergic to milk and wheat, which, IMHO, are worse to suffer than nut allergies because of the ubiquity of the allergens. (The worst allergy that SC1 suffers is sesame. Sesame is in everything. It’s not as bad as sunflower, which is also in everything. But sesame is a food that other foods are cooked with and in. Baked goods are not safe. Asian food is not safe. A lot of Mediterranean foods are not safe. Candy is not safe. You have to be super vigilant, and you cannot rely on allergy warnings on food labels, because it is not one of the allergens that required bold warnings on packaging. I invite you to just pretend for a day that you have a sesame allergy and see how it affects your life.) But we are fortunate: SC1 can still lead a normal life. She can fly on planes. She can do things without worrying about skin contact with her allergens. She just has to be super careful not to ingest anything that is “poisonous” to her.

Anyway, I know this blog post does not reach many. But if you know anyone with food allergies, it is important to understand that their allergies, like any medical condition, are not always preventable. Thank you for reading this post and increasing your own awareness and understanding.