Slip Sliding Away

I am 100% sure that this amazing contraption would have kept me working happily at my lawyer job a whole lot longer. And by “working,” I mean making worker’s comp claims while I lay on my living room floor with a ruptured disc. It is a wooden human-sized hamster wheel, designed to keep you moving while you’re shopping online typing your super important work emails. Bonus: it also offers the chance of an unexpected faceplant into your laptop. If you work in one of those hip “no walls” office spaces, imagine the entertainment this will provide your co-workers!

Are there really people who are coordinated enough to type and maneuver a human hamster wheel at the same time? I can’t even imagine. After having kids, I lost any coordination I may have had, and that is saying something. For example, before kids I routinely tripped when boarding the metro during rush hour. Embarrassing? Yes. Bloody? Not so much. Flash forward to after I had my son, and my embarrassing stumbles turned into unintentional gymnastics. During rush hour, it was totally normal for me to slip and slide down the escalators during my commute, and not in a cool, rebellious way.

That is not me.

That is not me.

Once I slid down an entire set of escalators in a splits formation when my front leg slipped right out from under me. But that’s not all: while doing my sliding splits, a college-aged dude near me got tangled up in—that’s right—my breast pump bag, and I took him down with me. When we reached the ground, I untangled my boob horns from his backpack, pulled my shit together, and walked my bloodied legs onto the nearest train car. Where everyone promptly avoided eye contact with me.

But even in my clumsiest moments, I know that I’m still a badass, and here is why. When J was really little, I bundled him up and headed out during an ice storm because I was determined to have him in the voting booth with me while I cast my ballot for a lady president in the primaries. Because babies love voting, duh. I knew that, in between drooling and playing with his toes, he would appreciate the significance of the moment, and years later we could reminisce about what a formative event it was in his life.

We never made it, though, because I wiped out on an ice patch on the top of our front steps with my baby sitting on my hip. Instead of diving head first down the steps, I somehow twisted around in mid-air, wrapped my arms around J’s gigantic baby head, and landed on my back. J never even touched the ground. My whole body hurt, but I was so worried about my son seeing me freak out that I laughed and looked into his worried baby eyes and said, “Wheee, that was fun!”

For the record, it was NOT fun at all and I lied right to my little baby’s adorable face. But we were fine. For the next few days, I kept running over and over in my head how badly it all could have ended. I scolded myself for not being more careful, and for risking my child’s safety to do something he wouldn’t even remember. I felt terrible—until my husband pointed out my mid-air ninja maneuvers that had kept my son perfectly safe.

So, no, I may not be able to gracefully walk down stairs or, um, stand still on escalators like a regular person any more. But when it matters, I’ve still got some moves.

But that dude I ensnared with my boob horns might disagree.

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On Nuggets and Ear Holes

I haven’t blogged here in almost a year, and I have no real excuse other than having to wash my hair, learning how to grocery shop (I am serious), trying to get some freelance stuff going, and just life. Oh life!

So what made me come out of my retirement, asked no one? Well, let me tell you. It is this article describing the “motherhood penalty” and the “fatherhood bonus.” Take a deep breath: after controlling for variables like hours, types of jobs, experience, and salaries of spouses, research shows that men’s pay increases around six percent when they have kids, and women’s pay decreases around four percent when they have kids. And, you guessed it, the majority of this motherhood penalty is because of “discrimination” and “a cultural bias against mothers.”

Mother effer. I wrote about some of this nonsense four years ago here and it’s hard to see where we’ve made much progress. But maybe this hard data—and giving the motherhood penalty a catchy little name!—will help. Maybe?

For one, it should answer questions about why women leave the workforce more than men after having children. No, it is not because our ovaries flip some maternal switch in our boobies, causing us to prioritize nap schedules and diaper changes above all else. It is because, for many families, after paying hundreds, even thousands, of dollars a month for childcare and then dealing with an actual monetary penalty in their paychecks, quitting may be the most rational choice. Throw in the stress of, say, pumping milk in a supply closet in between client meetings, or knowing that your daddy colleagues are getting high fives while you are getting eye rolls, and the decision becomes even more reasonable.

Also, maybe it will encourage supervisors to be aware of what messages they’re sending to their employees and what cultural biases they’re reinforcing. I’ve spoken with plenty of women about that intangible shift that happens in the office when they are preggers. Some of you know what I’m talking about: suddenly finding yourself out of the loop on projects you used to manage, supervisors assuming you don’t want challenging work anymore, people asking if you’re really going to come back to the office after maternity leave. I’ve talked with two women in different fields about supervisors who explicitly said they expected them to have one foot out the door if—IF—they came back from maternity leave. Sigh. I want to believe that these supervisors think they’re being supportive of a massive life change. But assuming that moms don’t care about their careers anymore isn’t supportive, it’s ridiculous. Also, um, discriminatory.

Speaking of that, I will leave you with this little nugget. Sorry, it is not Chuy from Late Night with Chelsea Handler, which I miss.

Picture from TMZ.com.

Picture from TMZ.com.

FYI, that is Chuy (a.k.a. Little Nugget) in a nudie suit swaying slowly back and forth on a swing while Sia, overcome with stage fright, sings “Chandelier” with her back to the audience and her shirt on backwards. It is the most confusing and life affirming thing I have ever seen on television.

I digress. Here’s my little nugget: this summer I was small talking with someone I’d just met while on vacation. Turns out he was a law firm partner. When I told him I had worked at a big firm and was taking some time off, he seemed sympathetic to my decision. And then he said, “Look, I hate to say it, but 30-something moms working in a law firm are the worst. They’re so entitled and think they should get treated like the men, and then they need all these breaks during the day and want to go pick up their kids early. It’s just non-stop drama.”

MOTHER. EFFER. I was enraged, and I am pretty sure smoke came out of my ear holes. But then I used my highly trained analytical thinking skills and realized something: that dude was old. Like, super old. And the fact that he was saying shit like that out loud to lady strangers shows some extremely bad judgment. He is (literally) the old guard, and his days of passing over talented women because he’s sexist (oh yes he is) are numbered. And then what will happen? Well, all of us more enlightened folks will take over, and the motherhood penalty will just refer to something else less devastating. Like when your skinny jeans don’t fit and your youngest child is 7—it’s not baby weight anymore, it’s the motherhood penalty. Or when you hear yourself yelling fancy shit like, “The next person who talks about diarrhea is sleeping in the woods tonight!” you guessed it; that’s the motherhood penalty talking. Sidenote: the fatherhood bonus is obviously balding, and cannot ever be used to refer to penis size. Just needed to establish that now.

Don’t Squeal If It’s No Big Deal

Approximately four thousand times a day, I say to my kids, “Just worry about yourself.” For example: “Mom, J told you he was going to READ AND NOW HE IS DRAWING! He is DRAWING on PAPER with a PENCIL!” Um, OK, just worry about yourself. Or “MOM, L is doing ballet REALLY LOUDLY and in ballet you are supposed to land SOFTLY!” Oh my god, just worry about yourself, and for the record, you were doing the running man while making fart noises with your armpits earlier. Or “MOM, J just found your black eye make-up and is coloring in his eyebrows HUGE!” Sweet Jesus, just worry about yourself, and excuse me while I sneak up on him to take some video.

But now, thanks to the wonder of the intranets, instead of feeling frustrated when I say “Just worry about yourself,” I giggle a little. All because of this little jewel.

I wish I could have that little girl in my pocket and just pull her out when my kids need to calm themselves. She would totally handle them. Also, I can imagine her telling her dad, “Snitches get stitches.” Very soon. I hope he is ready.

And here is a more grownup and slightly more pleasant-sounding version of just worry about yourself. Kacey Musgraves was born about 2 minutes ago, sings “new” country music about trailer parks and gay marriage (I’m kind of serious), and reminds me of my Missouri roots even though she’s from Texas. I love this song – it is catchy, and sad, and lovely. Please enjoy.

Panda Tales

Have you guys heard the news about the baby panda born at the National Zoo? Well, it’s very exciting, although my kids’ reactions were strange. When I told them the girl panda had a baby, my son immediately said, “THEY SHOULD NAME IT MICHAEL.” When I asked why, he said, “I don’t know, I just want a panda named Michael to live at our zoo.” Um. Then I told my daughter about it, and she asked to see a picture. Here is the picture I think she was expecting to see:
BabyPanda
SO adorable, right? Well, here is the picture I showed her:
BabyPanda2
She said, “That is not a panda.”

Can we all agree that pandas should not exist? Really. If they weren’t so adorable (after their hair comes in, I mean, and they stop looking like a smiling hairy penis with tiny claws), we would not go to such ridiculous lengths to keep them alive. I read a New Yorker article recently about all the horrifying lengths zookeepers go to to help the pandas reproduce – including building platforms and weird plastic cylinder structures to help them, um, get comfortable. Some even dress up in panda COSTUMES so they can go in the enclosure and, I don’t know, get them in the mood or something? I hope zookeepers get paid a lot.

ZookeeperPanda

Also, if the pandas are fooled by that crappy costume, then they really are doomed.

I imagine that someday we will find ancient cave drawings about unicorns that are exactly like our modern day panda story: all the cavemen thought that unicorns were so adorable and magical, and then the unicorns stopped reproducing, and the cavemen were all “Ohhg og grunt what the hell grunt?” and used all of their caveman know-how to save the unicorns, and eventually said, “Eh, what are you going to do.” And bam, no more unicorns. Yes, I am basically an anthropologist.

My father-in-law is Chinese. He visited us once shortly after the National Zoo got its first panda years ago, and we asked him if he wanted to go see it. And he said, “No. I’ve already seen a panda in China. They all look alike.” Which is TOTALLY TRUE.

So I guess the point of this is: when the pandas all die, they really had it coming. The end.

Bee-yoo-tiful

Before school started this year, we squeezed in one last summer trip out west to California. We started in San Francisco and drove down the Pacific Coast Highway to Irvine. I don’t know why everyone thinks San Francisco is full of hipster-artsy-weirdo types; it is not like we saw a group of interpretive hula hoop dancers performing to tambourine music in the park. Oh wait.

HulaHoopers

[Note: that picture is blurry because I was worried if I got too close they would sense my incredible hula hooping talent and try to steal me away.]

The roadtrip was fun. We saw family and friends, and also, gigantic snorting elephant seals:
ElephantSeals
They were smelly and made obscene noises and fought constantly. I am talking about the seals, not the family and friends we saw. Just to be clear.

The hubz and I had done this road trip nearly a decade ago, right after I took the bar exam. That time we stopped at every charming coastal town along the way, drank wine, stared at the ocean, and wandered through boutiques and galleries with nothing but disposable income and free time. I knew the trip would be different this time with the kids in tow – less wine, more whine (ba dum, ching!) – but I couldn’t wait for them to see the coast. Because don’t all 4- and 6-year-olds appreciate scenic natural beauty? Answer: no. No, they do not.

I spent the first hour or two of our drive demanding calmly suggesting that they look out the window and enjoy the view. Here is a good example of the scenery:
Binky
That is a picture taken high above the ocean, while the marine layer rolled in over the water and melted away as it hit the mountains in the morning sun. The kids did a nice job of faking it, but they were not impressed. (And yes, that is a fake binky in my daughter’s mouth. The kids entertained themselves by pretending to be babies and “baby talking” for most of the drive, which did not drive me insane at all.)

Here is some more beautiful scenery from our drive:
Waterfall
You can just make out a tiny, thin waterfall splashing down onto a pristine beach, near turquoise ocean waters crashing into beautiful, rugged rock formations. Did my kids like that amazing scene? Sure, for about two seconds, and then they saw this:
Tunnel
That is a drainpipe/tunnel. They ran through that thing, laughed, made fart noises, giggled, and were thrilled to be running through a huge rusty pipe.

So after the tunnel o’ fun, I backed off and let them enjoy the car ride however they wanted. And along with enjoying the view and having uninterrupted conversations with the hubz (what?!), I was able to appreciate that my kids were cracking each other up in the backseat of our rental car for mile after mile after mile. They were whispering, and giggling, and saying totally naughty things, and making up silly games, and it was beautiful.

Not as beautiful as that freaking waterfall, but still pretty good. And now they’re back to school and I miss them like crazy. Even the baby talk.