The Persistence of Parenting

When I first starting blogging 15 years ago, I had two really little kids, a brand new PhD, a hubby with a temp job on Wall Street, and $70K in student loan debt. I blogged a lot about parenting at the time and the difficulties of combining it with a career. We couldn’t afford much childcare, so that complicated matters enormously.

Fast forward to today, I spent the morning fact checking an article that is almost done, waiting for another one to pub, and developing three proposals for articles. I’m combining all that with mom jobs, like processing some paperwork for Ian and buying plane tickets to visit the in-laws in April.

And all work will cease when Ian walks in the door at 3:30.  I’ll tidy up the kitchen, and take him to an autistic teenager social function at the bowling alley.

This patchwork life of paid and unpaid work is working for me. I have no regrets about how things turned out.

But I wasn’t the only one that was semi-obsessed with work-family balance 15 years ago. It was a front page topic on The Atlantic and the New York Times Magazine. Feminist blogs agonized over the choice to stay home. I don’t see people talking about it much anymore, even though the number of SAHM has stayed constant for decades. The hot topics in parenting lately have been universal childcare and whether helicopter parenting works.

It’s funny how the chattering class chews up topics for months and then the topics get stale and boring and they move on. Right now, I think Donald Trump is steering the conversation too much. We shouldn’t be responding to craziness, but making craziness respond to us.

What should we be talking about more?

It’s when I’m on twitter, reading the comments of other education writers who are all twenty years younger than I am, that it brings back all the drama of those early years. Stitches and stomach bugs. TV time. First steps. Even though we’re not talking about parenting struggles in the press much anymore, those little tweets remind me that raising babies never changes.

Here’s what I looked like back then. Sigh. 15 years took its toll on my face. IMG_0453.jpg

22 thoughts on “The Persistence of Parenting

  1. When I first started reading blogs about fifteen years ago (I’m not sure when I started reading yours but it was around then), I was living in a “two-bedroom” DC apartment. My bedroom was a converted sun porch with barely enough room for my full-sized futon and computer desk, but I loved it anyway. I had decided to move away from grad school for my fifth (and then sixth) year, since I was done TAing, friends had moved, and I thought living in a big city would be fun while I was finishing my dissertation. I think I did one campus interview in 2004. In 2004-05 I had three adjunct prof gigs, and in the spring of ’05 I landed a non-TT job at the place I am now.

    Fifteen years later I’m sitting in my wonderful, very inexpensive house in a tiny rural college town. My mortgage payment is less than what I paid in 2004 for that bedroom. Student debt replaced with debt for some excellent siding. I’m a full professor and I published a book in 2017. Nice friends, nice students, nice colleagues, nice SO, a prof in the music dept, nice life overall, if only the university were solvent.

    Is this your blogoversary? If so, happy blogoversary!


  2. I started reading here over twelves years ago. I’ve been in the same house the whole time and I’m still ABD. Maybe I should send them an email?


  3. Its so great when a really judgy blogger or instagrammer has a kid. Even Leigh Lezark of Misshapes (a very serious hipster) has a kid with plastic toys who is not dressed head to toe in black and I think I even saw a pacifier! I love hearing them complain about having to get up in the morning and express a love of princesses! The only thing is some of them really need ot keep their kids off instagram.


  4. I have a lot of co-workers with young kids and I hear them talking about the same things we talked about 15 years ago all the time. The difference, to me, is that they aren’t reading blogs or NYtimes articles. They communicate through IG stories and snapchat and YouTube channels. Same worries – different mediums.

    (and it took me at least a week to figure out what baby shark was and why they were all singing the same damn annoying song.)

    And is that an actual camera in your picture? My, how times have changed….


    1. Yeah, they’re not reading blogs. (RIP the feminist blogosphere.) but I do follow the discussions of the 30 something writers on twitter. But I’m not on Snap or YouTube. Maybe that’s where the real conversations are happening.

      Ian told me about the baby shark song yesterday. He hates it!


  5. I had to go back and find my first comment here to know when I first started reading this blog. It was 2009, there was a recession, my wife and I were both worried about our jobs, and our daughter was starting tenth grade.


  6. I had to do a search for my first comment to know when I first started reading this blog. It was 2009, there was a recession, my wife and I were both worried about our jobs, and our daughter was starting tenth grade.


  7. It seems like I’ve been reading your blog since it started and I had just discovered blogs. I may have mentioned this before, but something you wrote that still makes me laugh was a raising-kids-post about having to plan kid parties.

    You were wondering, really, why couldn’t those little guys just sit on the couch and drink their drink and discuss politics like normal people at a party??

    Since it seemed like we spent a ridiculous amount of time either attending kids birthday parties or planning and hosting them I really liked that observation. Because why did our kids require so much time and attending too? About stuff I really didn’t care much about?

    Anyhow, glad things are working out for you and I agree with kristennel that the discussions are still happening with the same intensity, it’s just that the “Young People” don’t use our very old-fashioned means of communication like print magazines, online magazines, blogs. They have moved on.

    Also, you look great. 🙂


    1. “Before anyone comments, though, I require you to watch Season 2 of the Netflix animated show Big Mouth.”



  8. You once looked up my first comment for me on this blog. It wasn’t as early as I had thought it was, I think.

    At the time, I was working full time, but my life was starting to change. I was never anti-kid (like some of those hipsters), but as you described, I somehow imagined that kids would fit into my life. I’d read too many fantasy depictions of people bringing their child to their office and having them play while they worked. Maybe that worked with some kids, but not mine. Instead, they completely turned my life upside down and around. As you also say, I like my life and how it’s balanced out and am truly happy to have had the time with the children in a way I wouldn’t have if my life hadn’t been turned around.

    I do find it frustrating that think the women with young children are still discussing the work/family balance, in many of the same ways. One of the issues of child raising is that the times change so fast. Everyone ends up finding their own solutions and there’s no long term coalition to effect change.


    1. That’s funny. I used to have this fantasy that on the weekend, my daughter would come to the library with me and sit and read children’s books while I read my book. Needless to say, she turned out to be an active, not terribly bookish child, and our weekends were given over to travel team soccer, playing in the park, etc. No library time. Now she’s on her own, and I can go to the library every Saturday. But I don’t know if it’s better.

      Now, remembering Anactoria when she is away,
      I would rather see her sweet walk
      And the shining sparkle of her face
      Than all the chariots of the Lydians
      And the foot-soldiers in their armor.


    2. My first boss would bring her daughter into the office sometimes when she was there briefly. Pro tip: a toddler can open a binder clip enough to get her finger caught, but will not be able to open it.


    3. Just looked it up (it turns out that I’d blogged my relationship with your blog on my family blog :-): My first comment on your blog was in March 2006, on a post on Work: Yes or No. It feels like a big meta meta circle.


  9. I’m thought I got here via invisible adjunct, around 2003 or 2004. long time ago, eh? I adjuncted at a cc from 2000-2006 and then got hired there. been online only for almost 10 years now. kids are grown, but one is close-by and still needs a lot of help. I’m seeing the academic mamma conversations in a fb group of thousands.


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