In this interview, the good doctor was asked how she could recommend living on one income to a couple who needs two incomes in order to make ends meet, given the horrible state of the economy.
Unsurprisingly, she side-steps the question, says that it's really the rich who are suffering because of the economy and not the middle class, and then says she's "happy as peach pie," (because she's "all about the children and the happiness of a woman") that "nannies, day cares, and babysitters are all collapsing, which is forcing moms and dads to raise their children at home."
Yes, you read that correctly. She's happy that nannies, day care workers, and babysitters (most of whom are the very women whose happiness is allegedly so important to her) are losing their jobs, and that parents must now scramble for alternate means of childcare. Apparently, she doesn't care too much for the happiness of the children of those nannies, day care workers, and babysitters, who are now suffering because their mothers lost their income. She goes on to say that less cash seems to make people happier. Hmm... not in my house. Less cash makes me worried and cranky, and generally does not make for a happier mommy.
According to Dr. Laura, women hesitant to leave their jobs are "spending too much time thinking about what they have to give up, and feeling angry about not being valued." She has this advice for those women: "When your husband comes home, wrap your body around him at the door and look at his eyes" and says that "Kids who don't have moms suffer a lifetime," which is Dr. Laura-speak for "Kids who don't have moms who stay home with them suffer a lifetime."
I think it's this charge that irks me the most. The implication that children are being irreparably damaged by their working mothers is flagrant misogyny. There have been so many times in the past 1.5 years since I quit my full-time job to freelance that I've thought I would make a much better mother to my children if I worked outside the home. I would have more patience. I would have more tolerance for the constant crying that is as much a part of my household as the cat hair and dust bunnies. I would make Playdoh cookies, read the same book seven times in a row, and draw pictures of Clifford much more willingly, because I hadn't done the same tasks just an hour before. I have many, many friends who were raised by working mothers, and guess what? They are some of the most well-adjusted, successful, and (GASP!) happy people I know. Dr. Laura is a working mother herself, which makes her assvice all the more comical.
And then there's this interview, where "Dr." Laura talks about a letter she received from a stay-at-home mom whose middle child was tragically killed in a car accident when he was 22. The woman writes to encourage "Dr." Laura to never stop preaching to women that they should stay home with their children because you never know when they'll be taken from you. What happened to this woman is incredibly sad, but Dr. Laura uses her letter to make this caustic, judgemental, and sarcastic point:
"I’m sure the überfeminists would recommend that the touching alternative would be to stockpile reports and videos taken by day-care workers, nannies, and baby-sitters, so that if the worst does happen, and a child is lost, you still have those memories … just through the eyes of other people."
Because of course, if you're a working mother and your child passes away, you would have no memories of him and no special moments to treasure. The implication that a mother who works outside the home is not a full-time mom, is no more present in her child's life than the UPS man, and is being selfish by working either a.) because she has to in order to make ends meet, or b.) because she loves her career and finds it fulfilling, is nauseating to me.
I've said this many times on this blog before: feminism is about choice. You are not a bad mother because you work, and you're not a hero because you stay home. Making the choice for either path is a decision that each woman or family makes for herself (or themselves). Staying at home with kids is not something every woman is cut out for (and even though I'm home and working, I put myself in this category. It is by far the hardest thing I've ever done and most days, I don't think I do it very well.) To lecture women that this is the path they should take regardless of their individual economic situation, temperament, and desires is not only incredibly short-sighted, it's shockingly ignorant as well.
Do we really need another book that pits mothers against each other? I think not.
She tells elaborate and imaginative stories with multiple characters and plot lines when we ask her to tell us a story (rather than the reverse, which she asks of us often). She's memorized quite a few books and "reads" them to herself. She's also becoming very fond of adverbs. We must do things "very, very quickly" or she'll tip-toe upstairs "very, very softly" since the babies are sleeping. She also has a flair for the dramatic, as she likes to tell us she has a "terrible, terrible cold" as an excuse for why she doesn't want to give us or someone else a hug or kiss (when she's actually perfectly healthy). A fake cough often accompanies this statement.
Today, Isabella went with the hubs to school for Bring Your Daughter to Work Day. He woke her up early, and instead of being a grouch as she usually is when awakened prematurely, she was happy and excited and gave me some huge hugs from her bed. I dressed her, put her hair in pigtails, helped her with her coat, and on her way out the door, she strapped on her Dora backpack that she's taken to carrying everywhere she goes. In that instant before she left with him, I saw the "big girl" in my baby. In September, she'll head to her own school, where she'll have a whole world open up to her-one that I'm not a part of. And as much as I'm ready for her to spend some time apart from me, it makes me sad that my baby is growing up so fast.
I picked her up at 11am today from the hubs' school, and Isabella came running toward me, arms outstretched, and gave me an enormous hug. She wrapped her arms around me, put her head on my shoulder and said, "I told you I'd come back." Keep reminding your mama of that baby. This growing up stuff is hard on her too.
Current Likes: Dora, bubbles, paint-with-water books
Current Dislikes: Staying inside, keeping her shoes and socks on
As it is with most major events, holidays, car trips, early mornings, mid-afternoons, evenings, and anytime I desire a photo of myself with one or more off my offspring, crying greeted the Delicious! and Not At All Gross! rice cereal I served. Lots and lots of crying.
Break out the sharp sticks to poke into your eardrums following your viewing of the following, which documents not only Luci's extreme dislike of her rice cereal, but also her mother's annoying mommy voice and her big sister's love of the spotlight.
Nicholas is much more interested in eating solids than Luci. He gobbles, and she often acts as if I'm attempting to shovel pureed cockroaches down her throat. With Isabella, I introduced 10 or so veggies before any fruits, but this time around, I've already tried banana in an effort to encourage Luci's eating. I think it's working.
Their fine motor skills have really developed over the past month, with Nicholas just a bit ahead of Luci. They can both pick up toys and play with them, and Nicholas especially is chewing on just about everything.
Also, several friends with twins have told me that twins who share a room learn to sleep through eachother's cries. I haven't found this to be the case at all. When I hear one of the babies crying (or even moderately fussing) on the monitor, I'm busting into their room faster than you can say, "Please dear God, don't let the nap end!", to grab the awake twin and sprint with him/her down the stairs in order to preserve the sleep of the other twin.
Luci's sleeping still remains a mystery to me. At times she seems to fight sleep. She's exhausted, and crying with her eyes closed, but she just will not settle, no matter what we try to do to help her. I'm very anxious to hear what her pediatrician says this week when we visit for their six-month checkup.
Other changes this month include more enjoyable tummy-time, both babies rolling from tummy to back (no back to tummy rolling yet, though), and the start of solid food. More on this to come later.
After a winter that seemed to last six years, spring is inching its way into upstate NY, so I am getting them outside, along with Isabella, as much as possible. I have been cooped up much too long inside a fast-becoming-waaay-too-small house, so anytime the weather is even moderately nice (Read: Not hailing and thunderstorm-free) I bundle up the kids and head out. We're taking lots of walks now, and with Isabella, Luci, and Nicholas (and the twins' infant carriers) loaded onto my gigantic, 35-pounds-when-empty stroller, I'm pushing close to 100 pounds, so hello future gun show! I've also taken a few more trips with just the kiddos and no extra help, and surprisingly, the world kept spinning on its axis. As this is essential to my freedom, the more trips like this I can take, the better.
The festivities began on Saturday, when we left the babies with my mom and headed over to the hubs' parents' house for egg-dyeing and an Easter egg hunt with Isabella's cousins.
Once Isabella went to bed, we filled some eggs with money (the little girl's a fan of cold, hard cashola these days), a few chocolate bunnies, and some jelly beans, and stashed them around the house. We also put out her Easter basket for her to find on Sunday morning.
Then it was time to get dressed and force the children to pose for an obligatory family photo. The ones of the five of us were very bad. Very, very bad. In every holiday photo we've attempted to take together, someone is always crying. So it was with the Easter photo.
Oh, and I managed to make these two trifles (Strawberry Cream and Lime Berry Mousse) while the kiddos were napping for dessert at my grandma's. I may not be baking anywhere near as much as I used to, but my friend gave me these Pampered Chef recipes and they were easy...especially considering she dropped by halfway through to drop off Easter presents for the kids and helped me make them!
Happy Easter and Happy Passover!
Click on over to my blog on Grow Together to read my thoughts on this topic. I'm interested to hear what you think, so please comment there (you'll need to fill out a quick registration form first-it only takes a minute) or come back here to leave your thoughts on this blog.
I didn't realize until we were sitting at the restaurant table enjoying our food how truly relaxing it was to be able to focus on enjoying my meal and talking with my husband. No one was screaming or whining. No one was asking me to cut up their food into tiny bird-size pieces or to get them more milk, more Parmesan cheese, more bread, and no more broccoli. I didn't have to beg and plead anyone to please at least try the chicken, or have to cut my meal short because someone needed to nurse, or to be walked around the house in the Bjorn.
I liken the experience to a two-hour vacation, even though we were a mere 30 minutes from home, didn't pack a suitcase, and were sober the entire time.
We ate and ate and ate until we were stuffed. We had dessert, something we rarely do when we go out, and it was awesome. And of course, we brought home two slices of chocolate peanut butter torte for my two incredibly generous, selfless friends. Jenny and Kellie, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!
The twins were...the twins. We put them to bed before my friends arrived, and just before we left, Luci woke up. So we left her to be rocked back to sleep (which ended up not happening until she received a bottle about an hour or so later). Nicholas slept until it was time for his bottle, so at least he was good for them.
This morning the hubs made pancakes, and afterwards I went for a run outside in perfect, sunny, 40-degree weather with The Smiths' "Sing Your Life" playing on my iPod.
And even though everything in my life went back to its normal insane state today, I feel more like me right now than I have in quite some time.
With my husband.
In a shirt that doesn't feature streaks of baby puke and pants with nary a speck of smeared applesauce or yogurt on them.
And without my three little darlings.
Two of my nearest and dearest friends made the impossible dream a reality. For my birthday, they bought me a gift certificate for dinner at our favorite restaurant. They are watching the Triple Threat so that the hubs and I can go out to celebrate my birthday.
They have been warned, and they are accepting the challenge anyway. They are either the best friends on the planet or certifiably crazy.
My level of excitement for this event borders on the manic. We have not been out to dinner sans children for over six months.
I'm contemplating locking them inside my house to prevent them from fleeing in terror or exasperation...Right after I kiss them and hug them and promise to name my next child (ha!) after both of them because I am grateful beyond words.
I have three articles in this month's issue:
An article highlighting the benefits of play-based preschools over academic preschools
An article on how to enjoy spring break with your kids while sticking to a budget
And an essay on my experience with motherhood after infertility.
Let me know what you think, either by commenting on Root & Sprout, or right here.
And if you haven't yet joined Root & Sprout's own social networking, Grow Together, where parents can interact with each other to share stories and advice, please consider doing so!
Thanks for reading.
I immediately thought of the twins' nursery, where we made just slightly more effort than creating cribs out of dresser drawers lined with shelf paper. And I felt...guilty.
Partly for financial reasons, partly because we were still in denial about the fact that we would indeed be bringing home two babies following delivery, and partly because said delivery was early, unexpected, and an emergency, we did next to nothing with the twins' room.
This was Isabella's room, ready more than a month before her birth:
And here's what the twins came home to.
Granted, they slept in our room for the first four months of their lives. Their cribs are now set up with bedding, and I thought it was a good idea to remove the piles of clothes and plastic bags from their mattresses before they slept on them overnight, but other than that, the room essentially looks the same. There is nothing on the wall for Visual! Stimulation! There is no rug on the floor, which is very, very bad because insomniac twins + old house creaky floorboards = sleepus interruptus. The hubs just removed the full-size bed that was in the room when it was a guest room this past weekend. And there are no books, stuffed animals, or anything else (other than the cribs and the changing table, which is actually a 30-year-old dresser that belonged to my grandma, identifying the room as belonging to two babies.
But it's more than a sub-par nursery that brings on the bad mommy guilt where the twins are concerned. I spent so much one-on-one time with Isabella when she was a baby. Even thought I was working from home FT, I spent hours playing with her, reading with her, taking her to the library for storytime, taking her shopping to introduce her to lights, people, and the thrill of retail therapy. We went for long walks (before she began hating the stroller), we visited friends' houses. We interacted with the world.
Luci and Nicholas are getting none of this. I'm so overwhelmed with caring for the basic needs of three small kids that I have very little time left over to feed their brains, and I should be doing all I can to help them along, given their prematurity and possible developmental delays. I wonder if they'll be as verbal as Isabella is if I'm not able to spend the time I did with her with them.
Do second (and third, and fourth) children always get the shaft from their parents, or is this a multiples-following-singleton thing?
And please tell me Luci and Nicholas won't spend hours on a therapist's couch as adults attributing their life's problems to a mother who left their growth and development up to their two-year-old sister and three geriatric cats.
Thanks for all the birthday wishes!