The other night watching the potential first woman vice president give her speech at the Republican National Convention, I had such conflicted emotions. I wanted to say, “You go, girl,” in my least cheesy of voices. But as young Piper licked the palm of her hand to slick down 4-month-old Trig’s baby locks I wanted to scoop them up and shield them from the storm.
Electing Hilary was putting a woman in the white house. Electing Sarah is putting a mom in the white house. Hillary’s child is grown and no longer depends on her the way an 8-year-old and a 4-month-old depend on a mother, not to mention three other children one of which is a 17-year-old mother to be. And while a mother’s work is never finished no matter how old her children are, her role in their lives changes dramatically over time.
With Palin we’re asked to re-examine a mother and father’s role in the family and to develop new standards and expectations. And I’m not saying this is a bad thing necessarily. But in general a mother’s role in nurturing is much more involved than a father’s. In general, fathers tend to be able to say I have a late meeting or I’d like to go do X and slip on out. While mothers IN GENERAL have to solve the kid puzzle if they have a late meeting or want to go do X all by themselves … arrange pick-ups, drop-offs, meal plans and often still cook, lay out pajamas, etc. And maybe it is not so much that mothers are actually expected to handle all of this, but more they feel like they should or feel like it is expected of them. (more…)
What in the world do you pay a babysitter?
Of all the parenting things that I am completely clueless about paying a babysitter somehow tops the list. It seems like when I was a kid the going rate was around $5 an hour. If you washed the dishes and bathed the kids you might be able to expect a little on the top. But now that I am the payer and not the payee I have no clue what to shell out. What is an acceptable per hour amount for an evening on the town without the kids? And if you are going to have a babysitter come for more than just date night what do you pay? Like if you were going to be in a wedding and needed someone from noon to midnight. Or if you were going away overnight. What do you pay then?
- Lindsey Johnson
I love food so much that at lunch I go to the gym and run 4 miles on the treadmill just so I can watch Rachel Ray and the Food Network. Today Paula Dean, the butter diva, was cooking healthy. And she gave some tips at the end of her show. She had an ingenious idea. It was one of those really simple, why-didn’t-I-think-of-that ideas. But here it is. A quick and easy AND healthy snack for the kiddos.
Take a single serving container of yogurt put it in the freezer for one hour then stick a popcycle stick in it. Pop it back in the freezer for 6 hours to over night. When you’re cooking dinner and the mama-can-I’s start give the plastic a little whack on the counter, which not only loosens the frozen yogurt from the container, but is also a little bit of strategic intimidation – back-off-or-you’ll-be-next. Slide the frozen yogurt popcycle out of the plastic. Smile and hand it over. Your kids are appeased and just the right amount of scared to leave you alone while you finish cooking.
What a wonderful way to use up those almost expired Dora yogurt cups my daughter insists on but never eats.
It’s great ya’ll
- Lindsey Johnson
Today the film “Tropic Thunder,” opens. The New York Times reports that the Special Olympics along with various other disability organizations will be boycotting the film due to its derogatory use of the word retard.
I get it. I get satire. I get that the point was to make fun of the lengths that Hollywood will go to win awards, the boundaries of exploitation they do not respect for a statuette and the insane tactics to win roles. I get it. And it is a good point.
And I really want to not be disappointed in Ben Stiller, who I once was willing to convert to Judaism in order to marry. And if you’ve started rolling your eyes already at this post, I’m not an oversensitive or easily offended person. I was on a cheerleading squad (a detail about my life that I don’t let slip often) for five years with girls whose grossness knew no boundaries and defied imagination. If you don’t believe me ask your friendly neighbor cheerleader.
What I think Ben and apparently every other person who made the movie, and many people who don’t have someone with a disability close to them, fail to get is the power of the word retard.
I hate to ever compare anything to the n-word because I don’t think that any other word in the history of words has been filled with as much hate. But if you ever saw my brother’s face when someone called him a retard, you might understand how close the word comes. His little face emblazoned with all of the characteristics of Down syndrome cringe in pain .
So justify the use of the word in the name of satire all you want, it will never be funny to me. I get satire. But I’ve also got an understanding of how deep the word retard used in certain context can cut.
So while this is in the news it is a good opportunity for parents, if they choose to take it, to explain how painful words can be.
- Lindsey Johnson
What is it with the time between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.? It totally moves at warp speed? Like it’s running for its life from rabid Russian mob bosses carrying venomous snakes and that dancing baby from “Ally McBeal.” Noon to 3 certainly doesn’t move that fast. Noon to 3 is like 6 to 9’s hippie cousin. I need noon to 3 from 6 to 9. Noon to 3 would sit lazily in his beanbag chair reading Daniel Quinn books and coloring with 6 to 9’s 3-year-old, while answering the little kid’s rapid fire questions all cool, calm and collect. Hey hippie cousin why are you wearing Jesus sandals? Because they are made of hemp and it is sustainable. What is sustainable? It means that it will keep things going and if we are not sustainable then we’ll use up every thing and there won’t be any fish left in the ocean for your grandkids to eat sushi. Do you like to fish hippie cousin? Sure I like to fish little dude. Will you take me fishing hippie cousin? Where will we go? What color will your fishing pole be? How come that beanbag chair is purple? …
6 to 9 tends to be irritable, short-tempered and just plain ugly. 6 to 9 says stop asking me questions I need to get X done. I don’t have time to color right now we have to be at X place by X time. No I can’t go fishing with you, I have to go to work. Now go to bed.
But why? Why on God’s beautiful green earth does 6 to 9 move so incredibly fast? It takes everything in me to get home, food down my kid’s throats, baths, books, some semblance of play in and to bed before 9. And really a 3-year-old should probably be in bed by 8.
Some nights I get them all tucked into bed and realize that we didn’t even play. We didn’t laugh. We didn’t just do nothing together. No one chased anyone around the couch and down the hall. No one found a frog or firefly. No one did something for the very first time.
So, Universe here is my plea. Please speed up noon to 3 because you are aware of how much nothing I can cram into that span of time and put the breaks on 6 to 9 so that I have more time to do nothing with my family.
This morning my husband left the house at 6:30 a.m. to take the MCAT. You know the Medical College Admissions Test. Just as he was leaving he said, “Sorry I won’t be here to help out with the girls.”
This was coming from a guy who spent the last two years working a full-time job, taking organic chemistry, physics and other masochistic classes and drove me to the hospital to have a baby in his spare time. Last semester he had class three nights a week, worked during the day and studied for the MCAT the rest of the time. He still managed a trip or two to the zoo and the laundry. Yes the laundry. My husband does the laundry. He sprung up to Colorado Springs to help his mom out when she was sick. And since school got out in May, he’s kept our 1-year-old with him at home while he works and studies. He juggles babies willingly in restaurants and if a child needs a change he is the first to jump. And not that I’m-jumping-to-make-it-look-like-I’m-really-going-change-the-baby-but-know-that-you-will-anyway jump. It is a sincere, honey-you-eat-I’ll-take-this-one jump. He can make pigtails with hair pretties. He can remember to have fun when I’m totally irritated that our 3-year-old won’t listen or the baby is screaming because she is tired. He recently rolled three suitcases and carried one child on his back through two airports, while I carried my 3-year-old’s Dora backpack. And he is always goofey, onery him. No matter what we make him do, he always stays him. This week he climbed onto the roof to clean out our dryer vent thing, did laundry, picked our dog up from the vet, took our 3-year-old to swimming lessons a couple of times, and today he is taking the MCAT. The biggest test he’s taken in his whole life to date. And he says to me, “I’m sorry I can’t help with the girls this morning.”
So this morning honey, I guess I’ll let that go. I’ll get them ready by myself this morning. I think you’ve done your part.
Yep. That’s my husband.
- Lindsey Johnson
I have always said that the first child doesn’t change much, but the second child changes everything. And I’ve heard that the third child really throws a hitch in things – a three bedroom house and standard-sized vehicle just don’t cut it after that.
For my husband and I one child didn’t really change anything. We still went hiking, biking, traveled and hung out with our friends, who most had their first child about the same time. We out-fitted ourselves with some cool new gear and just continued our lives as normal.
We’d sit at a restaurant eating leisurely dinners with friends and when it was time for the baby to eat, I’d feed her because you don’t get crusty looks in Colorado for nursing your baby at the dinner table … or anywhere really including sitting at the bar where it is not illegal for a baby to be. A couple of weeks after our first was born we drove to Moab, Utah to hike around Arches National Park with my mom. I attached a cart to the back of my bike for my commute to work and she rode and smiled. We took her to the movie theatre. She slept through church service and post church service breakfast. She slept through the night at six weeks. Of course I understand that I had a very easy baby – she didn’t even cry when she was born, which is exactly what made all this possible. And right now if you are saying to yourself, “that is so unfair,” my kid peed on my rotisserie chicken last Sunday so don’t tell me what is not fair. I’m getting mine now.
I was reading George Lang’s column today about Mates of State, who my husband first heard about in 2003 from a good friend and trusted source of good music information, fell in love with and very soon after decided that we too could be a musical traveling couple.
I can understand why my husband might think that. Mates of State are a married former teacher and cancer researcher who did so well creating music that they were able to quit their day-jobs to pursue it full time. Now I’m all about quitting my day-job to travel the world, I just don’t want to have to sing to do it. But I can definitely see how he could dream that we might be them. They are easy to relate to. Mates of State got married in 2001 and so did my husband and I. They have a 4-year-old and a baby; we have an almost 4-year-old and a baby. They used to live in Lawrence, Kansas and so did my husband. So our lives appear to be on similar paths or at least it is fun to imagine they are anyway … Them with their glamorous rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle and us with our suburban, day job having, make our kids laugh with backporch sing-a-longs lifestyle. You can see the similarity there can’t you?
So I found it interesting that they said that having the first child threw everything out of wack, but the second child smoothed everything out.
I found it completely opposite. Maybe it is different for rock stars. How did it work for you? And please indicate if you are a rock star … just for reference.
- Lindsey Johnson
My mom once told me about a time when she picked me up from daycare and my breath smelled like mayonnaise. She made some remark about it and the lady who kept me said, “Oh, Lindsey loves mayonnaise.” My mom apparently cried all the way home. She didn’t know that I liked mayo much less loved it. I think she even stopped working after that.
I always thought this was so hilarious. It’s just mayo, Mom. But then this weekend at a birthday party I was helping my 3-year-old make a hot dog. I asked her if she wanted mustard or ketchup. She said, “Ketchup. I don’t like mustard.”
I didn’t know that she didn’t like mustard. I almost started crying.
What’s your It’s-hard-to-be-a-working-mom story?
- Lindsey Johnson
OK. So here’s my keep-it-all-together trick. My secret sauce. It’s actually a little trick I learned in Lamaze. And I’m glad I got something out of that because once the contractions kicked in, that breathing bologna went right out the window. Hook me up and let her drip. Although I did get a few massages from my husband during the help-her-relax-through-the-most-excrutiating-pain- a-human-being-can-feel-without-going-into-shock-and-dying portions of our classes. And it was also during this portion of our weekly class that I learned my little trick. Our instructor would turn down the lights, we’d close our eyes and she’d give us the description of a serene locale.
“You’re walking on the beach,” she’d say. “You can hear the crashing waves. A gentle breeze is blowing on your face.”
Then all of the sudden I could taste the salt in the air and feel the sun on my shoulders. I could hear that crunching squeak the sand makes when it slides under your feet. The way the sand feels cold between your toes but hot on the soles of your feet. The squawk of seagulls. This was powerful stuff because we were in the community center in Durango, Colorado.
I noticed this afternoon that CNN is doing some special coverage on busy moms. The microsite is well organized and easy to look at. So add that to your arsenal of places to get good advice.
- Lindsey Johnson