October 2006


I think all women should have good nails (call me old fashioned).  So I almost died and went to heaven when I came across this. It’s called the Manicure Pen and it professes to fix all nail issues on the fly. Perfect for business travel and moms on the go. As a woman obsessed with my nails, I can’t wait to try this out. I should be receiving it in 2-3 weeks, so I’ll let you know how it is.

In shameless self-promotion, the Washington Post adapted my 30 Going on 13 post here for the On Balance blog.  Thanks to all for the support!

Yet another article in the ongoing saga of inflexible employers. The Christian Science Monitor reports on a new study that just came out last week on the “opt out revolution”  of women leaving the workforce earlier this century.  The study finds that women didn’t really “opt out” during recessions in 2001-04. Rather, women were leaving the workforce because of inflexibility of their employers who needed face time and wouldn’t bend.   Flexibility at work increases employee engagement.  Engaged employees are more than twice as likely to want to stay with the company and invest their discretionary effort. (According to the fine folks at Towers Perrin.)  Employers- you get more if you give back- give your moms flexibility. Trust me, they’ll work harder AND be happier.

And you thought office politics were bad.  I’m in the middle of a play group coup d’etat. The play group I put my heart and soul into creating during my maternity leave is currently caught in a management overhaul. And I’m the management getting overthrown.  Apparently during one of the groups that I couldn’t attend a decision was made to switch our play dates from people’s homes to a gym class. And not just any old class, but a class that I tried the week before where my son cried at the teacher’s shrill voice (ok, he’s a bit of a wuss, but still.). The decision was made by two alpha NMFs of the group whose kids are older and more mobile. The decision was made behind the scenes. No outside consultants were engaged. Boom- one day, an innocent email went out and then play group as we knew it was over.

But why demand change now? Why rock the 3 month detailed calendar I created which had the play dates set through November? Why pay to sit at a smelly gym and watch my not-yet-crawling son cry at the teacher? NMFs I ask you- are we not engaging enough? Is the carpet on our floors not soft enough? Do we not have enough toys?

One of the other underlings in the group called me shortly after we received notice of the change in direction of our play group.  We comiserated at the loss of innocence, the new focus of our organization, the shleping we’d have to endure.  So what’d we do next? Called the gym and signed up.

Being a new mom is a little like being in middle school. You have bad hair days all the time, you hate your body and are nervous that you won’t “fit in.”  For me, the fact that I work part-time exacerbates this situation. I need to be proactive about my “mom” days off; otherwise my work alter-ego will haunt me all day. I need to fill my day with mommy-baby classes and play dates for me and my son. Otherwise conference calls and the blackberry will rule the day. I will not fulfill my mom role. I will be but a wallflower at the school dance of new moms. I need to plan to have new mom friends (NMF).  

This need to plan and program myself to do “mom” things on my days off is reminding me of what I was like as a young teen: insecure and needing to be busy every minute so I don’t sit around feeling sorry for myself that I won’t get asked to the 8th grade dance. So being the new mom that I am, last week, I contacted (one by email and one by phone) two of my NMFs. (No, I didn’t pick them up in a store.) I asked if they wanted to meet my son and I in the park. We all agreed 3:45ish (nap time unpredictability expected) would work.  Of course, being the anal mom I am, I whisk my son out of his crib as soon as he makes a peep, feed him and we’re out the door at 3:50.  I’m doing great. I have 2 NMFs to meet in the park, the sun is out, my kid’s fed, had a nap. Couldn’t ask for more.

I put my son in the swing and I’m ready to face the world. 15 minutes go by. Then 25. I talk to another mom in the park who tells me her kids are 362 days apart (Britney anyone??).  We push the babies on the swing. 30 minutes. My son has clearly had enough swing time. Where are my NMFs!?? And here’s the kicker about having an NMF- you’re good enough friends to call and MAKE the plans, but the follow up if they don’t show up on time? No no. I don’t want to be a stalker. so I never follow up on a new mom friend if she’s late. Kids are unpredictable, and NMFs even more so. 40 minutes. I put my son back in the stroller. I’m ready to leave. Just then, NMF #1 shows up.

NMF#1: “Oh, are you guys leaving?”
Me: “Oh no, no, we’re just taking a break.” [put son back in swing]
NMF#1: “Great! He’s so cute.”
Me: “So’s yours. Isn’t this great?” [my son gives me the evil eye.]

Then 5 minutes later, NMF#2 shows up.
NMF#2: “Ugh, she wouldn’t nap.”
NMF#1: “Don’t you hate that?”

Ten minutes later I have to leave; clearly, the 50 minutes my son has spent in the swing is getting to him and I’ve officially crossed the line of being a good, “proactive” mom with making my son unhappy. And it’s then that I realize that being a new mom is nothing like being in middle school. Because now it doesn’t matter how bad my hair looks or how ugly I feel in my body. Now I have something bigger and better to be concerned about- even if it means I never get asked to the dance.

Are older women worse mothers? According to a new study, published by ABC News, the answer is no. The study, conducted by researchers at USC, compared stress levels and physical health of older mothers versus their younger counterparts.  (Note: all the older women had their children using Assisted Reproductive Technology).  Apparently, there was no difference in stress levels or physical issues between the two groups.
I can understand why many women want to put off having children until later in life because they don’t want to “get off the escalator.” I get it. But, I think the key part of this study, as it notes, the women who do wait until later in life are usually more well-off financially (since they can afford these assisted reproductive techniques).  I also have to imagine that these older women having babies also have lots of help because they can afford it, and because they need it. They must. Working and taking care of a baby is exhausting. 

Even my mom (of childbearing age according to these researchers) is beyond exhausted after spending one day with my son. And she didn’t birth him! Memo to researchers- please put into better perspective your research results so women over “normal” childbearing age don’t get their hopes up too much that it will be as easy for them as their younger counterparts. Ok, I’m off my soapbox now.

Check out this interesting idea- a “Mamaponcho” to cover you and your baby in a sling.  Conceptually, I like it- I mean, baby can get cold in the Bjorn in the winter. It’s midly fashionable (although I really would only get it in black).  As far as slings go, I like the Peanut Shell. It comes in awesome, fashionable patterns and is very comfortable. A life saver when my son was born.

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