Sunday, October 27, 2013

politics of parenting

I just read a fabulous post by  Kelly Hannum at As a mew mom, struggling to manage the chaos of work and home, I have a newfound interest in the discussions about Leaning In (Sheryl Sandberg's book) or being Maxed Out (Katrina Alcorn's book).
Kelly says it SO perfectly when she says in her post: “We need to examine why women (and frankly a lot of men too) are opting out and what they are taking with them when they leave… We need to ask ourselves (and each other) what we need to do differently in order to support healthy people and families AND productive as well as sustainable work environments. One can’t happen without the other.”
I think that there are some well documented answers to those questions… paid maternity/paternity leave, part-time career paths work, flexible schedules, telecommute options, quality affordable childcare…. I could go on and on. Even WITH all of these things, which I am so very incredibly lucky to have, it is HARD to be a parent who works outside the home. I wonder everyday how my friends and colleagues who don’t share the level of support that I have manage to function.
We can do better. 
We must do better. 
Why do you think that parents are 'opting out', what are they taking with them? More importantly, what do you think we must do differently to support healthy families and a productive workforce?

Friday, October 25, 2013

Birth and Infertility

The Pail blog prompt this month is to write about our experience with birth. Our actual birth story is posted on my previous blog so I won't rewrite it here. In summary we'd planned a homebirth, but decided to induce as we approached 43 weeks. Labor was beyond intense, with contractions that took over my entire body. After nearly 24 hours I was still only 1 cm dilated. As my birth team began considering a section delivery, I was begging for a stronger epidural. It turns out that in less than an hour I'd fully dilated and had a baby descending the birth canal. 

Mr. Fox and I were talking just the other night about the things that stand out in our memories. He said that he remembers being grateful that we were at the hospital and not at home - the mess was much more than he expected! I remember the point at which I looked into his eyes and asked for help after which I think I may have blacked out from the intensity of the pain because I don't have any memory again until well after the epidural was working.  I remember so well the feeling that I'd been run over by a train, the feeling that lasted for months after the actual birth. 

There were a few things that I didn't expect. That surprised me then, and continue to catch me off-guard today. Everyone talks about love at first sight, and that is what I expected. Instead of love, I felt confused and shocked that a baby was actually in my arms. I really think that I had convinced myself that we would never become parents. I think that the journey through infertility had scarred me so deeply, that it prevented me form believing that I had actually given birth, that our baby was really truly here. I was anxious during the pregnancy, kind of just going through the motions, but on some level just waiting for the other shoe to drop, waiting for the bad news to come. It was what I was used to, what we had experienced at nearly every step of our journey to become parents. I was braced for it to continue. 

In fact even after we were home, in bed with our little fox, I dreamt that we were just waiting to find out if we could keep him, if he was really ours. I had this feeling for weeks that someone was going to show up at our door and tell me that there had been a mistake and take him away, and therefore I had to wait before I really got attached. 

I have no doubt that the grief and pain of infertility impacted our birth and bonding experience. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

20 minutes - vulnerabilities

Little Fox just went down for a nap. I'm setting the timer to write for 20 minutes, then move on to try and get everything else on the list done before he wakes.

I work with some really incredible people. Professionally they are awesome, and every so often we get to connect on a more personal level. Facebook has really opened up the level of relationships that I have with some of these folks.

Since I had Little Fox, and have made it a priority to integrate him as much as possible into my professional life (thank you Boss!) I've seen the lines between professional and personal blur even more. There are definitely benefits to sharing the vulnerability of being a mom to be seen by colleagues. It opens the door to deeper personal connections that ultimately support our professional work. (I'm sure that there are others who disagree with my approach to work-life balance and will argue that it negatively impacts our work, but I'm not having that conversation right now.)

Through Facebook, I've stumbled upon the somewhat anonymous blogs of three professional peers. Clearly not totally anonymous, but maybe posted, or referenced during a time of vulnerability. I found myself devouring their words, their posts, their most personal thoughts, seeing them in a whole new light, deepening my respect for their life journey, understanding and knowing them on a while new level. Yet feeling a little bit like maybe I was violating some sort of unspoken rules by reading their blogs and not sharing mine with them, not even commenting to let them know that I'd viewed theirs.

The first was a profoundly powerful personal account of a colleague who was undergoing the transformation from a woman to a man. I was of course observing the outward transformation, but to read the inner experience seriously moved me. When I see him now I want to hug him and tell him how deeply I respect the choices he has made, but instead simply look for random opportunities to support him and his work.

The second was a newer blog of an older woman who has been recovered from an eating disorder for many years. Her blog reveals that it remains a daily struggle for her. I did write to her to express my admiration for her work, for her writing, and for her bravery in being so open about her experience. I told her that I too Have a blog, but didn't offer to share. I ultimately hired her to do some contract work for the non-profit that I was board chair of. There were other equally qualified individuals, but I felt a connection to this woman, because she had revealed her vulnerability.

Most recently, another colleague indirectly posted a link to the old blog that she wrote during her battle with cancer. Again, I knew about her experience as a result of working with her while she lost her hair, and underwent treatment and recovery, but reading her posts about the personal side of the experience was really incredible. She is someone who I've wanted to connect with on a more personal level for years, but haven't been able to make the leap from professional to the personal. Except now, I have an intimate knowledge of her most significant life struggle. She may know that we fought hard for our little fox, but has no idea the extent of our struggle or the scars that it has left behind.

So, my question today.... What do I do with this most personal knowledge of my peers? How do I respect their most private and personal thoughts, while knowing that I am not prepared to share my own? And significantly, are there people in my life who stumbled across my blog and are sitting in a similar position wondering if they should reveal their knowledge to me or not?

my disaster of a kitchen calls.