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


Recovery Week

On Monday, I dreamed that I was sitting at a round table at a wedding reception with editors from various magazines and newspapers. I kept passing them pitches that I had jotted down on the back of cocktail napkin pitches.

That’s how I knew that I was burned out.

So, I took the week off. Two big projects are off my desk. I have to answer some e-mails and poke one last guy that isn’t responding to my requests for an interview. But I’m working on 1/10 capacity at the moment. And it FEELS fabulous.

Sorry if I haven’t responded to e-mail or blogged this week. I really needed some recovery time.

The article that I wrote about a 2020 presidential candidate was republished and was seen by more people. The New York Times linked to my articles, when they did a run-down of the candidate’s policy positions on education. (Yes, I’m vague blogging. I don’t want anybody to stumble across this blog, while googling key words. I enjoy my underground status.)

I think I’m going to do more political writing this year, but we’ll see. I’m still too tired to think about my next move.

For the rest of the day, I have nothing but house-wifey chores on my list. I have to hunt down some after school activities for Ian. I need to hire someone to clean our foul bathrooms. I have to fill out some disability paperwork from the state for Ian. I have to get to the gym.

Being a freelancer sucks in many ways — always hustling, no health plan, low pay — but one of the good things is that I can just declare a vacation week and not have to check with anyone.

I’ll be back later this afternoon.

Twitter Mobs

screen_shot_2019_01_22_at_3.09.07_pm.0.pngOver the long weekend, I checked into Twitter many times, like I always do, and caught that story about the kid from Covington High School in Kentucky. I showed the video to my family over the dinner table on Saturday night. I believed the false narrative around the video. I did think that the kid was being an asshole and harassing the nice old Native American dude.

But I still thought that the reaction on Twitter was insane. Grown adults, with professional jobs in the media, said that they wanted to punch this 14-year old kid in the nose. They relived their own traumas from high school bullies. They doxxed the kid and his family and tried to get him thrown out of school and forever barred from college and work. They made blanket statements about ALL white people and ALL boys.

I tweeted out some mild commentary about forgiveness and perspective, but I didn’t say too much because I didn’t want to get destroyed by the mob. Over the dinner table, we explained to Ian what “tarring and feathering” was, and then got sidetracked with a discussion on Huckleberry Finn and the Royal Nonesuch.

Then it turned out the narrative was all wrong. I’m not gong to go into that. Read Megan McArdle and Caitlin Flanagan for more.

I have to say that I’m deeply ashamed of my side. Smart people should behave better. Leaders on my side didn’t quell the insanity. Enough people aren’t apologizing and admitting their they were manipulated and misled. Even now, I’m reading commentary that says, “okay, they weren’t guilty of X, but they were probably guilty of Y, so it’s okay to hate them all and destroy them.”

Steve’s convinced that hatred levels are so high that we’re going to start to see riots.

When did thing get so crazy? Yes, it’s mainly Donald Trump’s fault for elevating insanity and creating a toxic climate, but social media itself is an excellent highway for craziness.

I almost walked away from it all this weekend. I almost deleted my account, because I didn’t want to constantly be bombarded by hatred. Hatred causes wrinkles.

But I need Twitter. I’m absurdly connected to my virtual friends and our inside conversations that we’ve been having since the early aughts. We’ve moved from blogs to Facebook to Twitter and continued our same silly conversations for over 15 years. I can’t walk away from that. So, I used the mute function to hide the most annoying people, who keep showing up on my feed, because my friends “like” their remarks or because Twitter think I’ll like them. And I’ll keep looking for solutions and supporting people who refuse to join the mob.

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Education links. Another small liberal arts college — Hampshire College — might close. Georgia State is using Moneyball style number crunching to keep kids in college.

Rural areas are in such desperate straights that there aren’t enough volunteers to drive ambulances.

A really nice, long form article in Wired about a couple who struggled to fight against a rare disease.

Girls outperform boys in school. Research shows that it’s because boys feel pressure to be jocks and tough. Doing well in school is seen as a girl-thing. Asian American boys feel this pressure, too, but respond to it later than other boys. There’s a whole lot more in this Upshot article.

I made this black bean soup last night, with some minor tweaks.

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I watched the first episode of Marie Kondo’s Tidying Up show on Netflix last night. After Hoarders, I think I’m spoiled for organization shows. Unless you are living amongst garbage bags of your own poop, then you’re a minor league sloppy person. So much about Kondo’s show is about how we can deal with having too much crap and coping with the guilt about throwing stuff out. What weird period of history we live in.

KJ Dell’Antonia writes a post about why she doesn’t answer her e-mail and spawns a whole bunch of nasty comments. Honestly, I couldn’t get past her second paragraph. It didn’t help that I once pitched her a story topic back when she was an editor at the New York Times and she never responded. Not that I’m holding a grudge or anything. (The comments are good.)

More on the cuts to liberal arts departments at Wisconsin colleges.

Hostess Gifts, Tutor Gifts, and Other Littles: Gift Guide 2018 #6

Around this time, we are always in need of little gifts for school aides and therapists, as hostess gifts, and as Secret Santa gifts. Here’s the hit parade of little (under $20) gifts for this year:

IKEA’s Succulent plants in a cute pot

Crate and Barrel’s chocolates are all on sale right now. So are there adorable candles.

Wine. It’s always a good thing.

Wine or booze accessories.

Dish towels. With a wine theme.

Cute candles always work.