Thursday, May 26, 2011

blogger commenting

Is anyone else having trouble with commenting because of Blogger? I've lost tons of comments I've written for ICLW because Blogger keeps asking me to log in (even though I'm already logged in). And then, after logging in, it erases my comment and brings me back to the log in page.

Frustrating. And I suppose no one will be able to comment on this message because of the Blogger mess. Ugh. This is putting a serious cramp in my ICLW week; I may extend ICLW past the 28th to make up for all my lost comments.

Just had to rant for a moment. I just lost three comments in a row on some awesome blogs I found from the big list. Boo, Blogger!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

staying motivated while working at home

I cannot imagine how people who work from home full time do it. I admire that they have so much motivation and focus. I, however, am a mess when working from home.

As I've mentioned in the sidebar, I'm a college professor (non-tenure track if you know anything about the academic life--it's not relevant to this particular post, but I'll talk about the non-tenure track someday, I promise). Summer is both a blessing and a curse for me. I love that I have a flexible work schedule. This week, for instance, I went in yesterday from 9-2 and that's it. I can work from home all the other days. And my work load? It's much reduced from the load during a regular semester. I'm not currently teaching, so there are no students to confer with or grade papers for, and my work projects aren't due in any immediate fashion. I can work on them slowly and over the next few weeks/months whenever I feel like it.

The problem: I just don't feel like it. I can find a million other things to do. I'm halfway through the second book in the Hunger Games trilogy, I'd love to work on the backyard, I have plenty of trashy tv on the dvr to catch up on, and there are movies to get to, both in the theater and on dvd. Man, those work projects seem pretty low on the list! I haven't even mentioned the internet (my most significant time suck). I have done almost nothing today. I conducted one phone interview with a potential instructor for fall and that's it.

I suppose I need to learn some tricks of the WAHM trade, like making myself a schedule, planning my long-term projects by breaking them down into smaller pieces (and giving myself interim due dates for these pieces), and limiting my "fun" time during the day. I've done this before...when I wrote my dissertation, I broke the chapters into little chunks and did what my friend and I called "hits," which were small increments of time to write that, if I met my day's quota, would be rewarded with a matinee or a take-out dinner. Without this strategy, I would have remained ABD forever. Not so incidentally, it was during this dissertation-writing time that I discovered I had adult ADD, and this "hit" strategy is one that I've since read about in books as one strategy that works well for people with limited attention spans. I wish I had realized the ADD thing earlier in my adult life. (Strangely, I don't think I had problems with ADD as a child/adolescent...could it have developed in college sometime? Hmmm.)

Let's just start today. Here is my list of things to do before 4:30 when I pick up W from daycare (none of which are work-related, I know, but at least they'll get me up off my butt):
- clean up the deck in the backyard, but don't linger. Just get it done. Tomorrow, I'll work on planting some flowers in the deck planters.
- vacuum. sigh.
- clean up kitchen (mostly clean, but needs a sprucing)
- grocery shop (milk, butter, cookies?)
- do my ICLW comments for the day (joy!)

That's an easy list, right? For crying out loud, I can do this! If anyone has suggestions about how they manage to get things done when they're working at/around/from home all day, they'd be sorely appreciated. I am clearly not good at this timte management thing and could use all the help I can get.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sensitivity in the Supermarket: How to be sensitive in public with a kid (or kids)

One of my favorite things to do with W is go to the supermarket. He LOVES it. His little squeals echo down the aisles, there are many things to touch and see, and the aisles are perfect for an almost-running toddler to practice his stride.

However, and paradoxically, one of my least favorite things to do with W is go to the supermarket because it reminds me of what life was like when W wasn't here and I was in a difficult place with babymaking. I remember all too well how it felt to go to the market, a place I *had* to visit to buy food and toilet paper, and see someone's bratty little kid running around giggling. Why? I didn't have a bratty little kid of my own. And during a miscarriage, the last thing I really wanted to see was a happy mother and baby in public. I felt like a horrible person about it--why couldn't I just be happy to see them? Why couldn't I delight in the idea that maybe I would one day be that mother? Answer: I just couldn't and it was okay and fair to feel that way. Even now, I feel that same sting, sometimes even as I'm holding W in my arms.

The supermarket (or, the world) is a contradictory place.

So yesterday, while we were wandering the supermarket aisles, I started mentally compiling a list of things that I could/should do when in public to be sensitive to others, especially fellow infertiles who might need or wish for a little space. This is certainly not the first time I've thought about this--I think about it almost every time I'm in a public place with him.

Here is the list--feel free to add other thoughts or suggestions in the comments!

1. Be humble and apologize if the kid runs right up to someone else's cart with joy, even if I'm not sure whether the cart-pusher is unhappy or not. Humility never hurt anyone and it can ease the mind on both sides. I remember appreciating parents who did this when I was TTC or going through a rough time. I hope I can do the same for someone else.

2. Try to keep the kid in the cart (or calm and not squealing) as much as possible. For me, it's possible for almost 3/4 of the supermarket trip. But at some point, W squirms and whines to run and play. I think parents should always do the best we can to keep the child in our control in places like supermarkets.

3. Don't force interaction between the kid and other shoppers. I've been the unfortunate recipient of a forced interaction where a mother was encouraging her son to say "hi" to me, and all I wanted to do was get away. Instead, I had to wait as the cute kid attempted to say hello, and I had to be cheery and sweet in response. Ugh. If a shopper wants to interact with my kid: fine! If the kid is starting the interaction, lead him away unless it's absolutely clear that the shopper is welcoming the interaction. Otherwise, remember #1: humility.

4. Remember that supermarkets do not belong to children and families. I know this seems like common sense, but toddlers think that everything belongs to them, and so it is the job of the parent to teach the child where and when those feelings of entitlement are appropriate. This means that one or two squeals down the aisle are enough. Then, it's time to redirect and let others have space. Singing songs in line is cute for a minute, but then it's enough. Bring toys and open the bag of cookies to fill the kid's mouth with something to (quietly) pacify him. Supermarkets and other very public places should be safe for all people, and it's a parent's job to make it so.

5. Smiling and being happy with the kid is fine. But don't be obnoxious about it. There are 23 other hours of the day to grin with joy at my child, and I don't need to do it so openly in public places like supermarkets.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

having it all?

I'm working on my big post about being a work-out-of-the-home mommy, and it should be ready soon. I'm writing it mostly for me so that I can keep figuring out who I am as a mommy, as a teacher, and as a person. But in the meantime, I have a confession to make: although I am an English professor who teaches writing, I am a terrible blog writer. Want a 25 page academic article on an obscure pedagogical theory? Give me a weekend and I'll bang it out. Want a one paragraph blog post every few days? Hmmm.... Let me work on it and I'll get back to you in 10-15 days. Ugh. How do you people do it so well? I'm in awe of those of you who post regularly and write so beautifully on the fly.

For today, I'll just share one thought about being a work-out-of-the-home mommy. Even though I love working, and it feeds my soul in so many ways I can't imagine not doing it, I desperately miss my baby when I'm not with him. This thought is brought home today because W is in daycare and I'm working from home (my car is in the shop and I couldn't get to campus easily). In other words, I'm home and my baby is in daycare singing little songs with his friends and doing arts and crafts.

I miss him so much. I couldn't keep him home because I really had work to do, and I knew I wouldn't get it done if he were here. But oh, man, do I miss him. When I'm at work, it's not that palpable--I'm busy, I'm working with colleagues, and I'm speaking to students in my office. I think about W every few minutes when I'm at work, but I'm able to remind myself I'll see him soon. At home? It's a different story. I see his toys, I miss him. I make lunch and realize I don't have to make him lunch, I miss him. I check email without having a 17-month old toddler wailing for the computer mouse, I miss him. I'm literally counting the hours until I can go get my car and get him. It happens when my husband takes him to the park or something to give me a break--I usually end up not enjoying my time alone and instead, I spend my time wondering whether W is enjoying the swings or if they're stopping for ice cream.

I suppose this is the paradox of working outside the home and being a mommy: many of us want to work and enjoy being out of the home and doing non-baby-related things, but we also desperately want to be with our kids. I never wanted to "have it all," and in fact, I used to make fun of people who claimed to want it all, but I think I finally get what that phrase means.