The things that will never make it in the baby books and other musings from a stay at home mom

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

What do you mean it's Tuesday already?

Three days in a row of Memorial Day weekend BBQs made for many fun times, but nary a minute to blog. If I never have another hot dog again, it will be too soon. As for writing about all of the things I've been thinking about all weekend, well, it sure aint happening today. Summer has unofficially begun, and with it, the hectic frenzied schedule of nothing in particular which somehow seems to consume my every waking minute. When I find a chance, I want to write about:

- Julia's first (failed) sleepover party
- My failure to raise adventurous eaters
- Rowena

And a whole bunch of other stuff, too. But not now. The sun is shining...

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Just call me a Grammar Bitch wannabe

The following handwritten, xeroxed note was waiting for me in Julia's mailbox when I dropped her off at school this morning:

Dear Mommy,

Can you please trace a handprint of Daddy's both hands. We are making a father's Day project we are sure he'll enjoy!

Thank you -
Miss Masha

I try very hard not to be too judgmental in these situations, as I realize that grammar need not be every single person's forte. (OK, this is bullshit -- I'm terribly judgmental, but I try not to broadcast it too much.) But seriously? How can I not be horrified here? THIS is who I am paying to teach my highly impressionable, currently grammatically accurate child?

It's a good thing Julia doesn't talk much in class. If she did, I'm fairly confident that she'd end up correcting her teacher's grammar. And as much as I want her to respect her elders, I'm afraid I'd have to cheer her on for that kind of insubordination.

Daddy's both hands. Sheesh.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

In which my daughter and I play the same game on entirely different levels

"Look, Mom... my dress up doll is going to a costume party!"

"She looks great. What's she dressed up as?"

"A princess. She's Cinderella."

"How hip of Cinderella to recognize that jeans are appropriate evening wear these days."

"Yeah. She's not wearing any shoes, though."

"Wow, Cinderella's got an unexpected bohemian side, huh?"

"Uh huh. This one's going to go as Cinderella, too. Would sweats be appropriate?"

"Why not? Princesses set the trends, after all."

"They have to ride the elevator to get to the party, so this microwave is going to be the elevator."

"Wow. That's going to be one hot party."

It's kind of sad the lengths I'll go to in order to entertain myself along with my 3 year old, but at least we're both having fun...

Tuesday, May 24, 2005


I had a fun opportunity to edit a friend's writing this afternoon. I know she thought she was asking for a favor, but I got just as much out of the experience as she did -- possibly more, if she ends up disliking my edits. I could feel the adrenaline begin to flow as I started to redline, and my fingers flew as I got into the rewriting groove. I spent much of Julia's quiet time on the project, but I didn't mind a bit -- it was far more enjoyable than picking up the house or trolling eBay for cute kids' clothing. I had fun. And yet, the experience left me feeling down.

I feel down because I just can't get the same rush I get from writing or editing when I'm taking care of my kids. I feel down because as much as I love the job I'm doing right now, I miss my old job, too. I feel down because I've rehashed this struggle countless times already and yet here I am dwelling on it again. And I feel down because I was helping a friend to pursue a dream that I share, yet I can't seem to find the drive to pursue it myself.

I've wanted to write for as long as I can remember. I have the basic skills to freelance. I have the knowledge to freelance. And I probably even have the time to freelance if I make it a priority. So why, nine months after I started this blog to build up a portfolio of stuff that I could later edit and shop around, am I editing friends' work and ignoring my own?

When I grow up, I want to be a writer. But when, pray tell, am I going to grow up?

Monday, May 23, 2005


I get more sleep at home than I did on vacation, thanks to some late nights and a clueless husband (not mine) who called our room at 6:45 a.m. on Saturday to ask how to make coffee. ("And did you know Barney's not on TV on Saturday mornings?" the foolish man apparently continued after being lambasted for not knowing how to push an "on" button. "What are the kids supposed to watch?") Nonetheless, I had a wonderfully enjoyable, relaxing weekend.

The place we stayed had more than a few kinks to work out, but we were too happy to be away to let them get to us too much. The issues we encountered just gave us something to laugh about and a free night's stay when we complained. The spa was to die for, the food in a nearby town quite good and the company unparalleled. I got a sunburn on the beach, indulged my burning need to know how Angelina stole Brad away from Jen and wore dry clean-only clothing. Life was good. And when I got home on Sunday, I was delighted to be reunited with my children, my husband and my deluxe coffee machine which actually makes a decent cup of Joe. I had missed them all -- but not necessarily in that order.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Escape: not just a song about pina coladas

In just under 6 hours (not that I'm counting or anything), I will tuck my last child into bed and slip out the front door, where my friend Cynthia will be waiting in the getaway car. We'll drive away as fast as we can to our destination -- a beachfront resort and spa only 45 minutes from here physically, but a lifetime away mentally. The rest of the group will meet us there.

It's raining today and the rest of the weekend's forecast is looking sketchy at best, so reading a book on the beach may have to be crossed off of my agenda. No big deal -- maybe I'll take a nap instead or, more likely, we'll just start drinking earlier in the day. My hot stone massage is scheduled for 10:30 tomorrow morning and my facial for 12:30 on Sunday. In between, fattening meals, a nearby town with great shopping, the bar and the spa facilities should keep me busy. I look forward to talking to the interesting and intelligent women I usually enjoy mothering with about things that have nothing to do with mothering at all. I can't wait to share some adult beverages with the friends who I usually see sponging up spilled juice boxes. I'm curious to see a side of these people I've never had enough uninterrupted time to explore. And in between the laughter and the good conversation, I look forward to some moments alone, when all I have to think about is me. We all do. Six women sprung from the daily demands of stay-at-home-motherhood are bound to feel one heck of a high as we sip our morning coffee in peace and read the paper cover-to-cover without sticky fingers ripping it away to make confetti.

Yes, a fine trip is in store for us, and I can't wait for it to begin. And yet, I must confess that I'm a little sad about the prospect of a weekend without sloppy kisses, clingy hugs or the ever-present closeness of the children whose persistent demands really just signify their love for me. I'm going to miss my kids. I can walk away from motherhood for the weekend, but I know I can't just leave it behind. And that, when it all comes down to it, might the best part about getting away -- it makes the coming home and the mundane days that follow all the more sweet. It's going to be a great weekend. But next week, when I'm reenergized by some time away and the joy of reconnecting with my children? It's possible that I'm looking forward to that even more.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005


Evan's 3rd tooth broke through this week. At 15 1/2 months of age, he will finally be sporting an "upper" to go with his 2 bottom teeth.

Alas, this new tooth will do him not an iota of good because it is off center -- one position to the right (left? His left, my right) of the place where his 2 front teeth belong. There is nothing beneath it for the tooth to connect with, so the poor kid still won't be able to chew with anything other than his gummy jaw.

Next on the horizon in this painfully slow crawl towards dental development appears to be the top tooth one position to the left of middle, which will break through any day. And there we will stay for a good long while, because nothing else looks even remotely close to making an appearance.

If Evan were my first child, I'm sure I would find this all very unsettling and I'd be obsessed with the long term ramifications of slow-to-arrive baby teeth. Fortunately, the experienced parent in me could give a damn less when his teeth come in -- I know he'll have a full set some day even if a cosmetic dentist has to create them for him. But aesthetically, the perfectionist in me takes serious issue with the fact that my beautiful son is about to be sporting a serious set of fangs. And so I confess to finding this all a little unsettling anyway.

Fortunately, humor trumps perfectionism in my book. You can bet I’ll be taking lots of pictures of his weird looking smile to print in his high school yearbook some day. If he still looks like this come October, I figure I can just throw a cape on him and call him Dracula for Halloween. And by this December, he’ll probably be old enough to sing “All I Want For Christmas Is My 2 Front Teeth” himself. We could have so much fun with this that we might never want those teeth to appear. Except for the chewing thing. I can see why he might want to do that some day.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Just like the pioneers did things

Last night, just as we were putting the kids to bed, the power went out. We hurried them through the end of their bedtime routines and then went outside to investigate. The streets were full of gossiping neighbors with the latest news -- a tree had come down on some power lines a few blocks away and sparked a huge electrical fire. It didn't look like we'd be getting our power back any time soon.

We hadn't cooked dinner yet and our evening plans included the Desperate Housewives/Grey's Anatomy lineup. Clearly, a new plan needed to be improvised. So we lit some candles, called out for delivery on the cell phone, popped a NetFlix DVD into the laptop with the extended-life battery and settled in for a quiet electricity-free evening, 21st century-style. Roughing it has never been more fun.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

In need of an attitude readjustment

We never went through much of a limit testing phase with Julia. She accepted the word "no" cheerfully at 1 and was motivated to please us with good behavior at 2. The "what to expect" books kept telling us to expect conflict and tantrums, but very little of that ever materialized. The small amount of disciplining we did have to do was accepted and adhered to fairly easily. We had it made, and don't think weren't damn smug about it.

And then, in the past week or two, it all came crashing down. After 3 1/4 blissful years of cheerful cooperation, Julia turned overnight into... an average kid.

It's not like she's been doing anything all that shocking -- refusing to nap, taking toys away from her brother, forgetting her table manners, ignoring my requests, not cooperating... all little stuff, really. But our expectations of her are so high at this point that it all seems terribly naughty, and the fact that it's been clearly willful, obviously calculated and rapidly escalating was both upsetting and concerning. I've always been terrified of raising a poorly behaved child and I wanted this nipped in the bud. So I went right to the hard-lined approach. Julia's logged countless hours in time out this week, had quite a few toys and privleges taken away and been the recipient of numerous lectures and stern looks from me. How's it been working? Not at all, thank you very much.

It's easy to understand at least some of the motivation behind this little phase -- Julia's (incredibly drop dead cute) little brother is 15 months old and thinks the word "no" means "smile charmingly, giggle and then go do that naughty thing." He gets a lot of immediate attention when he embarks on his life-endangering antics, so it's not difficult to understand why Julia decided to give the disobedience thing a whirl. Intellectually, I know the best tactic here might be to give Julia lots of individual time and love and show her that there are better ways get my attention. And I am trying to do that. But when Evan has scampered onto the picnic table again and is attempting to practice his swan dive technique, saving his neck has to be my primary goal. Julia is old enough to wait until he's been safely retrieved, reprimanded and moved to safer pastures before I return my attention her way. And if she chooses to take that moment to look me in the eye and then deliberately spill my drink? Her frustration is understandable, agreed, but the behavior is simply inexcusable. Time out.

If this sounds like me making excuses for punishing my kid so much, it is. I hate being a hard-ass. I wasn't having any fun anymore and neither was Julia. Even worse, all of this punishing wasn't changing the behavior -- it seemed to be making it worse. So the other night, I laid down with her for a heart-to-heart. "I hate that we're not having any fun any more," I told her, "but we just can't have fun together when you're being naughty. What do you think we can do to make it easier for you to be good? And why do you think you've been so naughty lately?" She thought for a good long minute and then offered up an answer. "I don't think I'm getting enough opportunities to be silly," she told me.

Count on Julia to stop me dead in my tracks. Was I being manipulated by a 3 year old or was I really expecting so much of my well-behaved kid that I'd stopped letting her just be a child? Hard to say, but I was willing to give the idea a try. "OK," I told her, "fair enough. Starting tomorrow, whenever you feel like you've got the urge to be naughty, stop what you're doing and tell me that you need to be silly, and we'll come up with a better plan than misbehaving."

In the past 2 days, Julia and I have made up silly sound effects as we hustled to get in the car, raced back and forth to the fence in our back yard to let off steam, made up new song lyrics to describe our actions as we got chores done and competed to see who could make the smallest mess while eating. It's been a hell of a lot more work for me than usual, but it's paying off -- the time outs and bad behavior aren't completely gone, but they sure are drastically diminished. It's still unclear to me who's manipulating whom here, but I'm not sure I care. Julia's behaving better and we're both having more fun. It's pretty obvious that an attitude readjustment was called for here. Whether it was the child or the parent who needed it remains up for debate.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Thanks for the memories

The list of things I haven't been able to blog about thanks to this week's terribly annoying and not yet fully resolved cable modem outages is long. I haven't documented Julia's sudden and dramatic descent into misbehavior or my resulting urge to pull all of my hair out and then move on to hers. Her body has been covered with hives all week because of an allergy we haven't yet pinpointed, but I haven't mentioned it. Evan got his first time out and I never wrote about it. Not a word has been recorded about any of the ordinary, yet notably funny or thought provoking things that happened to me this week. I know there were quite a few times in the past few days that I thought "I'd blog about this if only I could get online." But I've already forgotten all of them. A couple of days of not writing things down and they're gone forever.

It's been 9 months since I started this blog, so I guess my "baby" here is full-term by now. It's amazing to look back at the several hundred entries and to realize how much of the past year of my life is captured here. Keeping a blog has been catharctic and energizing for me and has given me perspective and humor at times when I desperately needed them. I feel more like myself when I take the time to write, and I revel in the time spent doing something that comes easily and makes me feel good about myself. All of that being said, you'd think I would have simply written offline this week if I couldn't access my blog. And yet, I didn't write a word.

As much as I love writing and value the work I've done here, I was surprised to realize this week that it didn't seem worth bothering to write if no one was going to see my words but me. I'd love to be able to say that I'm doing this for me as confidently as others have, but I can't. In all honesty, it's the potential that my work might find an audience that keeps me coming back. This is probably not the world's most flattering admission about myself, but the validation -- the steadily increasing stat count numbers and the handful of comments I get -- are a very large part of what really keeps me writing. I've always wanted an audience for my writing, but have never had enough drive to seek it out professionally. I don't need drive to self-publish a blog, though; I just need to write when I find the time and then push a button to publish my thoughts to the world. I can just put things out there and people find them. And surprisingly, it turns out that the part where people find them means just as much to me as the part where I put stuff out there.

Without the immediate gratification of seeing my words in print and maybe even getting some fun feedback, writing suddenly wasn't a priority for me this week. And maybe that's why blogging works -- because in the same way theater actors feed off an audience, writers draw inspiration and encouragement from their readers. So if it makes me narcissistic, so be it, but I'm glad to be back online documenting that narcissism in this blog. Down the road, I'm sure that I'll reap countless benefits from the memories I've stored here for safekeeping. In the meantime, I hope that you folks enjoy what you read here -- apparently, you're a good part of the reason that I keep writing.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

How many words can you make with the letters I-N-T-E-R-N-E-T -O-U-T-A-G-E?

I'm trying to post this quickly before my cable modem goes kaflouie again. I've been offline more than online this week, as have most of my local friends, yet Comcast swears up and down that there have been no outages in my area. Could've fooled me.

On the up side, ... Nah, forget it. There is no up side. Not having access to the net is making me certifiably crazy. Only a person cut off from the civilized world would be reduced to playing word games while sitting on hold with Comcast indefinitely. So far, I've found a few dozen words, but OUTRAGE is really the only one worth mentioning...

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

I can't wait for the curfew battles

The new naptime rules as I've laid them out the past few days are quite simple. Julia must stay in her bed and rest for half an hour. If she is not tired after half an hour, she may get up and play quietly in her room for the next hour. Then she can come out. Any early departures from her room or unnecessary calls to me before then result in 5 minutes being added onto the clock each time. Plain and simple, I keep telling her as she tries desperately to offer me "deal" after "deal" that will result in a shortened naptime: this is how it is. Some days, she naps. Some days, she stays quietly in her room. Other days, she's a pain in the ass and I add time onto the clock. At least now we both know what to expect and how to react. Until today.

Each day, when I tuck Julia in bed, we look at the clock and figure out where the hands will be when she can get out of bed and where they will be when quiet time is over. "When the big hand is on the 12 and the little hand is on the 3," I told her today, "it will be 3:00 and you can come out." Less than an hour later, she called to me. "It's time to get up," she yelled loudly. "Come on, Mommy -- the big hand is on the 12 and the little hand is on the 3!" Up to her room I stomped, hands on hips, ready to scold. And there she was, holding her clock, which she had re-set to 3:00. Round and match: Julia.

Next time, I think I'll stick with the fantasy and skip the reality

It was Balloon Day in our town today. Hundreds of preschool children, each dressed in a special color to designate their school, each carrying a matching balloon, gathered at the gazebo in the park for a special concert and parade. The entire park was in bloom, with flowering trees everywhere, and the masses of children and balloons set against the park' backdrop were visually striking. You could hear the sounds of laughter echoing through the park as the children ran and played, the shrieks of joy as they enjoyed the music and the chance to be outside with their friends. It was one of those beautiful, small-town moments I was dreaming of when we bought a home in this community, the kind of day I longed for during the many months when we were trying to conceive.

I smeared sunscreen on my children, tried to coerce them to eat their lunches, chased them down again and again through the crowds, dried suddenly-hysterical tears and finally schlepped us all back to the car, hot, exhausted and cranky. Balloon day, it turns out, is beautiful to behold, fun to anticipate and reminisce about and maddening to experience in the here and now. Well, aint that parenting in a nutshell?

Monday, May 09, 2005

Mother's Day 2005

One hand painted tissue box cover with Julia's picture on it, wrapped in wrapping paper she made herself: PRICELESS

One machine sure to satisfy even my greatest craving: PRICELESS

Cards from the people who love me, with a hand-written "Happy Mother's Day" on Julia's and sweet words of praise for the job I'm doing with our kids on my husband's: PRICELESS

A day when I didn't have to make a single meal myself: PRICELESS

A gorgeous hanging basket of flowers from my family and a bouquet from my mother in law: PRICELESS

The fact that Julia managed to keep every last bit of this a secret for well over a week: SCARY ON SO MANY LEVELS

Friday, May 06, 2005

Who writes those positive parenting manuals, anyway?

I employed every single parenting technique I abhor today as Julia and I went yet another round in the now-daily nap battle. I ignored her, I instructed her without discussion, I hissed through gritted teeth at her, I yelled at her and I forcibly returned her to her room. When she woke Evan with her complaining, I finally just left her there crying and walked away. As I soothed Evan back to sleep, I felt like just about the worst mother in the world. And do you know what the end result of all of that awful parenting was? Julia is now sleeping peacefully, taking the nap she so desperately needed and so vehemently fought.

I'm completely unclear on the lesson I'm supposed to take from all of this. When I practice positive parenting, the kid resists and rebels. When I pull the "crazy mom" crap, she does what I want her to do. So what, pray tell, am I supposed to do at nap time tomorrow?

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Insult, meet injury

Julia is not napping for the 3rd day in a row. She is in her room making noises that sound decidedly unrestful, and if the past 2 days are any indication, she should be a holy melted terror by 6:00 this evening.

As if that wasn't bad enough all by itself, our cable modem has been out virtually all day. No Internet for me today, except in tiny little useless doses (one of which will hopefully enable me to actually post this entry).

I realize there are wars to worry about and terrible social injustices throughout the world and starving children in whichever country it's in vogue to cite these days. And really, those are far more pressing problems in the grand scheme of things. But in my totally myopic self-absorbed world, today pretty much constitutes a worst case scenario. Not THE worst case, but definitely A worst case.

Is it bedtime yet?

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

"It's a boy"

The moment when my OB told me that Evan was a boy will always stand out sharply in my mind, not just because of how surprised I was to hear those words but because of the instant conflict of joy and panic that they sparked in me. I was overjoyed to know that we had a healthy baby, delighted to hear that we were going to have the opportunity to raise a boy, thrilled that each of our kids would have the special status of "only" son or daughter in our family. And at the same time, I was completely, totally and utterly terrified of what laid ahead.

If I'd had a son first, I don't know that it would have fazed me as much. But two years into the parenting thing, I had some pretty serious gender biases going. I'd watched little boys run wildly around a room while my daughter sat happily in one place and played with her toys. I'd seen the way they could foil a childproofing expert in seconds while Julia was content to be told "no" and move on to something more appropriate. I'd seen their frustration and ensuing tantrums as they walked later and talked later than their female peers. And time and time again, I'd smugly though "thank God I don't have to deal with any of that." Don't bother to send me your "not my kid" stories here -- I know that for every boy who fits into these stereotypes, there is one who defies them and I know that girls are equally likely to be exuberant handfuls. I grew up on Free To Be You And Me and gender equality and I hated myself for having these silly stereotypes. But I couldn't shake them. I felt for some of those boy mommies. I wondered if I was up to the challenge. And I wasn't entirely sure I wanted to find out.

In the early months of Evan's life, when I was still doing a double take every time I opened his diaper and saw that thing sitting there, I quickly realized that Evan was notably more loving and attached to me than Julia had been. He would gaze at me forever, his need and adoration stronger than anything my independent daughter had ever exhibited. "Boys are special -- they love their Mommies," people told me again and again, and before long, I started to say it, too. More stereotyping, I know. But I was head over heels in love with my new baby and I thought everything about him, even his gender, was worthy of comment and celebration. I was also, truth be told, still feeling a little guilty about my ambivalence about raising a son, and anything that I could say positively about the experience put that guilt to rest a bit. So I proclaimed the joys of the mother/son relationship, all the while worrying about whether I really felt that way. Infant boys were lovely for sure. But toodler boys? The thought still made me shudder.

A year later, Evan has lived up to some of my stereotypes and disproved others. He's definitely done most things later than Julia did, but his early verbal skills have been a pleasant and unexpected surprise. He's got move overall energy and exuberance than she's ever had, but he's not one to take out his aggression on other kids or cause problems in a group. While his interests are more physical than cerebral, he can still be reigned in pretty easily. For the most part, I've been pleasantly surprised that this whole parenting a boy thing hasn't been so tough. In fact, I was even starting to get smug again, feeling grateful that I didn't end up with one of "those" boys. And then Evan got really steady on his feet.

In the past month, Evan has developed a love of the toilet bowl, a passion for shaking the heavy fireplace screen to within an inch of his life and an unmistakable glee for getting himself into dangerous situations. He's amazingly fast, shows absolutely no fear and finds nothing more motivating than the word "no." If you blink, he's gone from your sight, and if you can't see him, odds are very good that he's up to no good at all. This week alone, I've watched in horror as he's thrown sand will nilly in a crowded sandbox, banged wooden maracas on my window panes and broken several childproofing devices I had sworn were indestructible. In short, at 15 months, my son has suddenly become become my stereotype. Big time.

Amazingly enough, I don't seem to mind at all. I'm tired of chasing him, yes, and I continue to wonder a bit about what he'll be like in a month or a year or ten years. But he's just so happy and devilish and full of life that I can't help but laugh at his exploits. He's more of a handful to corral than Julia, but he's also less complicated in a lot of ways. I shake my head at him a lot and I bemoan the physical work of keeping up with him. But truth be told, I'm having far more fun than I ever expected to have with a boy.

When I first got pregnant with Evan, I confessed to a hairdresser that I didn't particularly care if I ever had a boy. "It would be lovely," I told her, "but I won't feel cheated if I never get to raise a son." "Oh, I hope this is a boy, then," she told me. "It's the women who say that who always end up having the most incredible love affairs with their sons." I smiled when she said that and admired the picture of her adult son hanging on the wall. But I didn't really know that I believed her. Now I do.

Monday, May 02, 2005

I don't know whether to laugh or polish up my resume

I got my first job out of college because I had a small amount of knowledge of the Internet and a whole lot of bravado. It was 1994 and I wasn't 100% sure exactly what the words World Wide Web meant. But I had taken a college course that involved using newsgroups and I was reasonably skilled at talking a good game even when I had no idea what the hell I was talking about. Between the two, I managed to carry on a somewhat intelligent conversation about interactive publicity during the interview process. The job was with a tiny NYC-based PR firm, and my boss-to-be was pitching big media companies with a fairly new idea -- promoting themselves online. I knew enough to know that his plan had promise. He knew enough to recognize the fire his ideas lit in me. And pretty soon, I had myself a job.

The grassroots interactive publicity I did in the next few years was rudimentary at best. In addition to my traditional PR job responsibilities, I started fan discussion groups on AOL, CompuServe and Prodigy (remember CompuServe and Prodigy?) to promote upcoming movies, visited special interest sites to promote niche cable networks and used online news and information outlets to garner editorial publicity for print publications. I encouraged my clients to create websites and develop an online presence and I managed to position myself and my firm as interactive experts, though in truth I often felt like I was barely half a step ahead of what I was talking about in these meetings. I faked it quite a bit at first. But I turned out to be pretty good at faking it and eventually I got pretty good at interactive publicity, too.

Taking that college course on newsgroups turned out to be the smartest thing I'd ever done, because all of my subsequent employers ended up hiring me for my (now genuine) interactive experience. I left the PR firm to work for a cable network, where I made managing the corporate website as important a PR function as writing press releases and pitching reporters. A few years later, I moved on to a "real" dotcom -- a now-defunct social networking site that was way ahead of its time. I stayed there for a year, talking about things like viral marketing and analyzing daily stat trend reports in impromptu 9pm meetings with 24-year old geniuses before I'd had quite enough of that. Then I moved on to a "name brand" television network as the PR liaison to the new business development team, which meant that I sat in on countless meetings about investing old media dollars into new media technology and promoted the resulting deals. After the dotcom bubble burst, my role expanded to include traditional business development promotion, as well as HDTV and other technology-focused business ventures. It was a very cool job, and a neat culmination of my previous work experiences. My initial gamble that I could fake the interactive thing had paid off.

And then I got pregnant and started having babies and everything I've just written about became completely, totally and utterly irrelevant.

I left Professional Me behind to become Mommy Me and I embraced the Gymboree circuit and the when-to-start-solids debate and the sleep training skill set without a backwards glance. I do think about my old career sometimes, and I do miss the pace and the intellectual stimulation and the opportunity to wear dry clean only clothing. But I love being home with my children more. I enjoy keeping my writing skills sharp and my memories preserved in this blog, but sharing my family's exploits with a small online audience is the closest I come to interactive publicity these days. Even though I know it would probably be wise to keep a toe in the door, I've frankly been lousy about keeping my contacts and my industry knowledge fresh. It just doesn't seem important right now -- my kids are still too all-encompassing, and I've let myself get sucked in to playground politics and the PTA to the exclusion of all else. When I do contemplate rejoining the workforce, it makes me a little nervous to think about how much my old area of expertise has probably grown and changed and how little I've done to keep up. I've frankly assumed, when I bothered to think about it at all, that when the time comes that I'm ready to work again, I'll be such a dinosaur that I'll just have to find a completely different line of work.

And then I was in the pediatric dentist's office yesterday and the cover of BusinessWeek caught my eye. I used to pitch BW regularly, but I haven't even read a copy in, oh, exactly 3 years and 4 months now. But this was a headline that made me look twice, because the story was entitled Blogs Will Change Your Business. There was no point trying to read a magazine in a waiting room with two small energetic children underfoot, so I waited until they went down for their afternoon naps and then pulled the article up online. And suddenly, I was immersed in a world I had nearly forgotten about. It turns out that understanding and penetrating the blogosphere is where it's at in the world of interactive publicity these days. There were links to all of these names I used to know and I found myself nodding in recognition as I read what they had to say about what blogs will mean to businesses as they market and position themselves for the future. PR experts are serious about blogging now, I discovered hungrily -- hell, even my first employer has a blog these days.

Suddenly, I felt that same fire I'd felt in that job interview years ago. Figuring out how to use blogging as a PR tool is heady stuff, its potential both exciting and rich with possibility. And everything these marketers are struggling to understand, this new language they're speaking? It's all stuff I know, or at least know how to fake knowledge of, thanks to my little personal experiment in self publishing here. Clearly, I can't just walk into an interview and proclaim that my silly little Mommy blog qualifies me to re-enter the workforce. But some of the things I'm learning because of this blog might just be keeping me fresh and cutting edge enough to be able to speak the language of future employers. Just the idea makes me laugh. But for the first time yesterday, I began to think that I might be employable again someday. And I was shocked to discover how almost appealing that sounded.

I opted to stay home and raise my kids in large part because I knew myself well enough to know that I don't do things halfway. There was no way I was going to be able to be the kind of employee I wanted to be and the kind of mother I wanted to be all at the same time, and the idea of doing anything less was unthinkable to me. The realities of that balancing act still exist, and I know I'm not rushing back to my career any time soon. But it's worried me a bit over the past few years that I might have become so immersed in this mothering thing that the professional side of me might not even exist any more. The urge I felt yesterday to get back in there and do something both surprised and pleased me. I have every intention of burying it again for the time being. But I'm glad to know that it's still inside of me waiting until I'm ready to dust it off and put it to good use again. And in the meantime, I think I'll add some industry blogs to my current reading list. It can't hurt to stay informed.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Tomorrow's lesson: the meaning of the word "moral"

It seemed like such good, positive parenting. Rather than get visibly annoyed at Julia's eight millionth request to leave the dinner table to go potty, Paul calmly told her the story of the boy who cried wolf. Julia listened attentively, the pressing need of her bladder suddenly forgotten. "Do you understand?" Paul asked her when he'd finished the story. "Yes, I do," she replied. We both smiled proudly at her. She smiled back. And then without missing a beat, she pointed out the window. "Look, Daddy," she cried excitedly. "I see a wolf!"