Archive | January, 2010

Is the Recession Pushing Super Mom to the Edge?

21 Jan

There are things that scare me: bears, lion, Ebola virus, and Super Moms.

When I write Super Mom, I mean those mothers who use their masters in liberal arts or marketing to create spreadsheets for household chores; insist that their children go to dance, baseball, soccer, and piano class after school everyday to “balance out” their education. Those moms who wanted children so badly that they ended up using fertility treatments, but only after they served on the board of trustees for 10 years to find their eggs were gone. Then once pregnant with twins, forget their accomplishments or resent their children for not having a life anymore. personally feel it is a backlash to our feminist mothers, combine with too many choices – resulting in a trip back in time where housewives were all the rage. While we are at it why don’t we bring back dowries.

So it is no shock to those who know me best, that I was opalled by a Huston TV report (carried by Headline News) that a mother had… “Planned all the family meals for a year to save money.” This is Super Mom to the extreme. And thanks to the recession this is now headline news. Along side updates on the death toll in Haiti and the Republicans taking Massachusetts; Leslie Chisolm gets airtime because she made a spreadsheet of her families meals “to cutback on spending.”

Sorry KTRK, but this is not news.

Not only is this not news it adds to the Super Mom hysteria. There is so much pressure on mothers already. To parent their children better than they had been parented, make sure their kids are active, have their child out performing the other children in the neighborhood, constantly reminding their children that they are “unique” and “special,” that now adding yearly meal plans will push them over the edge. Competition with mothers is rampant, especially with stay-at-home-moms. If you ever want a picture of this go to a Gymboree class, where mothers are asking each other what percentile their infant is in.

Leslie Chisolm explains it best, “Dinnertime has to be organized.”

Who told her that? Why?

How about starting with the fact that feeding your children is an act of a “good mother.” Forget if it is a bowl of cereal at night, or a grilled cheese sandwich for breakfast, or that it is unbalanced. You can make it up later in the day. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to be so structured that there is no room for mistakes.

Come on people, don’t blame this on the recession; there is something deeper here. Maybe like the housing market, this can be used to reset what it means to be a “Super Mom.”

Those people who take care of your kids

7 Jan

Both my parents worked, which put me in the hands someone else before and after school. It was great. There were snacks, friends to play with, and the punishment if you got into trouble was never the horror that my mom or dad would have doled out.

Today reminded me that with all the horror stories of abuse at childcare centers and schools, or drunken bus drivers there are still some great people out there taking care of generations of children, and doing a damn good job at it. The dedicated crew at Berkeley’s Live Oak park are wonderful. Though the use the facility for rentals now, a few years ago it was teaming with children every weekday.

While growing up Marvin and Pat took care of not only me, but my brothers as well. They looked out for us, along with 30 plus other children, the kids who flocked to the basketball and tennis courts, and a slew of random stragglers. In the summer, Live Oak served as a pickup and drop-off location for summer camps, including Camp Winnarainbow and Camp Tuolumne. I remember the afterschool program at Live Oak was so coveted that my mother, along with dozens of other Berkeley moms, would arrive at 5 a.m. with lawn chairs to claim their child’s spot.

Marvin and Pat are still on site at Live Oak and remember almost every face, no matter if you are out for a walk or taking your own kids to the park. I was pleasantly surprised when Marvin asked about my mom, my brothers, and the boys from across the street (though they still show up to shoot hoops every weekend). After 30 years these two are still at it, using patience and eagle eyes to make sure nothing “goes down on the playground.”

There are still good people out there Fox News!

Recession Lunch ala Costco

3 Jan

Since loosing my job in October I have had a lot of time on my hands with a very active 1-year-old. It has made me become very creative with my outings, not to mention finding stuff to do out of the house on cold day has become essential to my mental survival. I leave the house by 9 a.m. to drop off my daughter at school, that leaves me with three whole hours before “nap time” or lunch and an attempt at “nap time.” With more than two months of practice I have created a wonderful collection of activities to do with my son that are entertaining for the both of us.

1) Walking around the block. With a baby this could take a good half an hour, but if it is cold out that leaves me moving over to plan B.

2) Library time. There are great libraries around the Bay Area, four on my way back home from dropping Celia off. There is one (El Cerrito) that I avoid when the boy is awake, some librarian shooshed him the other day, leaving a bad taste in my mouth.

3) The mall or Ikea. I know that this sounds horrible, but he can run all around and no one is stopping the kid from climbing up a short set of stairs or running up and down the wheelchair ramps. Not to mention the kid’s sections of department stores.

After killing time in the morning hours, this makes way for my favorite activity of the day: Lunch at Costco. Since I am on unemployment, I no longer can drop $7 on a good lunch, but at Costco samples are free. All I have to do is flash my Costco card (or an old one, since I am not buying anything they won’t know if I have paid my membership or not). I strap the kid in the cart and we are off.

Sure I would love to sample that cracker; oh, can I get one for the baby? Is that salmon? Are those cookies on sale?

It is that simple. Sure I might not be full, but the baby is. And by then he might even lie down for a nap.