February 28, 2012

I'm definitely in Texas

After a short, windy walk, Brex and I arrived at daycare. While passing a van in the driveway, I noticed my slightly damp, slightly wavy hair had flipped out in every direction during the walk. I shrugged, who will see me to care today?

We walked into the daycare room and all the toddlers called out, "Brex! Hi, Brex! That's Brex!" or some variation. And then, from the little brunette who'd once solemnly told me, "I'm Daddy's Princess", I hear a clear little voice pronounce, "Your hair is messy."

I smiled at her, "Do you know why?"

She shook her head while staring up at me, "Because it's really windy outside and it just blew my hair all over the place."

She nodded, "Can I touch it?"

I nodded. Solemnly she reached over to feel my hair and then ran over to help the other kids pick up toys before breakfast.

It's kind of sad to be working from home, married to a guy who just doesn't notice visual details (like the specific state of my hair) and have to consider doing my hair for the sake of a two-year old!

February 17, 2012

A Working Post

I found this really interesting quote today.

Dorothy L. Sayers has pointed out that it is no wonder that modern women desire to work outside of the home, as the modern home has shrunk:

"Let us accept the idea that women should stick to their own jobs - the jobs they did so well in the good old days before they started talking about votes and women's rights. Let us return to the Middle Ages and ask what we should get then in return for certain political and educational privileges which we should have to abandon.

It is a formidable list of jobs: the whole of the spinning industry, the whole of the dyeing industry, the whole of the weaving industry. The whole catering industry and - which would not please Lady Astor, perhaps - the whole of the nation's brewing and distilling. All the preserving, pickling, and bottling industry, all the bacon-curing. And (since in those days a man was often absent from home for months together on war or business) a very large share in the management of landed estates. Here are the women's jobs - and what has become of them? They are all being handled by men. It is all very well to say that woman's place is the home - but modern civilisation has taken all these pleasant and profitable activities out of the home, where the women looked after them, and handed them over to big industry to be directed and organised by men at the head of large factories. ...

The fact remains that the home contains much less of interesting activity than it used to contain. ... It is perfectly idiotic to take away women's traditional occupations and then complain because she looks for new ones. Every woman is a human being - one cannot repeat that too often - and a human being must have occupation."

I still haven't posted much about the decision to go back to work vs. stay at home. What I do know is that opting to walk away from design would have involved figuring out a new identity. Not necessarily a bad thing, but design fits me as nothing else has professionally. It may be selfish, but I'm glad to have that still be part of my occupation.

What do you think of that quote?

February 15, 2012

Need your advice!

We took Brex to get his head examined on Tuesday morning. No, really!

When he was a month old, I noticed a big flat spot on the back of his head. I asked the pediatrician about it at his 2-month appointment. It's a common problem now with baby's being placed to sleep on their backs so she told us some ways to counteract it: reposition him at night using towels to help him get off the flat spot as well as hold him in our right arms and get him to turn his head the other way. She didn't think his neck was overly tight (another reason for a crooked flat spot). I'd have been more ok with it if the whole back of his head was flat, but it was more pronounced on the right side. I really didn't want him to have a crooked head for the rest of his life.

At his 4-month appointment, after religiously torturing the kid for two months, he still had a bit of a cone head and a flat spot in the back right. She referred us to Cran1al T3chnolog1es to see if he needed to get a helmet. Tuesday was his examination.

They just called back to say that he does fit the insurance's criteria for a medically necessary helmet (his head is 7 mm crooked and flattened in back at 3.7 on a scale where 0-2 is normal). The company is out of network, but BCBS will cover up to 60% of the cost after a hefty deductible.

My dilemma is this: am I being silly? I've put his pictures below. Note how hunched his shoulder is in the top two pictures. That's not from how we were holding him, it's how he holds himself. We have a bunch of stretching exercises to do with him to get that to stretch out. The flat spot is on the lower part of his head, so it doesn't really show in the bottom photo.

Here's the don't bother list:
  1. First world problem. It's a privileged question: should I correct what are relatively minor imperfections?
  2. It's not that bad so maybe I'm making a tempest in a teapot.
  3. We have to drive to north Dallas once a week to get the helmet fitted. Through downtown Dallas during rush hour. UGH.
  4. Am I buying into some baby industrial complex by getting him a helmet? I don't think he's disfigured or that most people would notice anything wrong with him. The repositioning has definitely helped compared to what it looked like two months ago. I think we've taken it as far as we can though.
  5. Am I just buying into a trend? Is it a slippery slope that will end up with me buying him acid washed jeans for $500?

On the pro helmet side:

  1. I prayed that if we shouldn't do it, the insurance answer would be no.
  2. The back of his skull is somewhat compressed. His ear isn't in the middle of his head.
  3. Compression of the skull can narrow the sinus cavities and cause snoring and sleep apnea (I asked her if she knew whether Asians are more prone to both things given the culture of putting babies on their backs in swaddling for thousands of years. She didn't know. Seems like a good control group to me...)
  4. The ears are slightly crooked, ditto his eyes. Again, within the realm of 'acceptability'.
  5. If we get the helmet started before his fifth month, he only has to wear it for 6-8 weeks. If we wait until he's 6 months and up, he has to wear it for 18 weeks or so. So now is the time to decide, especially if the answer is 'yes'.
  6. If he's going to earn millions as an actor, he'll be very grateful we did this for him.

So, I need opinions. To helmet or not to helmet, what say you?

February 8, 2012

How we roll

Thank you all for your kind comments on my last post. Not to worry, I've already hired a mother/daughter team who come and scour our house every other week. They've come twice now and have done way more than I expected. I'd asked them to just vacuum, mop and clean the bathrooms. The rest seemed to be stuff we could handle. Instead when they come, they dust blinds, clean ceiling fans, wipe baseboards, clean the stove top, and more. It's already provided a much more restful environment.

Last night after dinner (Jrex made a fantastic veggie stir fry while I put the baby to bed), we were chatting a bit more about my blog post. He mentioned an article from the NY Times (will link if he sends it to me) about making marriage work. A group did surveys of long-term couples to find out what the common threads were; they found three key elements.

1. A great sex life
2. Good communication
3. Generosity

As Jrex put it, he's never liked that 'give 100 percent' quote. He doesn't think it's a useful or realistic metaphor, but the idea of generosity made a lot of sense to him. Doing the unexpected kindness, giving a surprising complement, creating moments of joy for each other. It resonated for both of us.

So at the end of the night, when he looked exhausted (he's been sick for over a week), I said, "Why don't you go to bed?"

"I will, I just have to put the food away."

With a grin, I said, "I'll do it for you. Look, I'm being Generous!" He laughed, "Oh, is that how we're going to play this?"

"Absolutely! 'Watch how generously I'm taking out the trash'."

With laughter. That's how we roll (eventually).

February 6, 2012

Negotiations and Love Songs

Advice. It pours out when you go through a life transition. Marriage. Death. Birth. School. Moving. New Job.

“The key to a happy marriage is for each person to give 100 percent and expect 0 percent.” The most counter-intuitive advice given when we were getting married, it’s what echoes most true as we muddle along this path together.

We’re trying to work through this new pattern of parenting and owning a house and both working demanding jobs. In Baltimore, Jrex was sucked almost completely dry by his onc0logy fellowship. He had very little left for me or us, and hardly anything for a house. In Baltimore though, I had a job where I worked four days a week, usually had lots of time for surfing the internet, and was only stressed in small spurts. My California job gives me rare slow days and is creatively and emotionally draining.

Now, again, he’s being sucked dry. He loves the new job and is working hard to figure it all out, but it’s challenging to be an entrepreneur inside a big institution. Not only to measure up to his own expectations (high), but to also not disappoint all the people who have believed in him, granted him space, given him advice and who want him to succeed.

In the midst of all that, who takes out the garbage?

Who wakes up and stays up to engage with the baby when he’s up for the day at 5:30 AM?

Who makes dinner?

Washes dishes?

Picks up socks?

When sick, who gets to rest? When?

These are ordinary negotiations around a new pattern. Nothing out of the ordinary except the compression into the same few months of so many new things.

While on maternity leave, it felt ‘fair’ that I do all the laundry and deal with all the house stuff. That felt like my ‘job’. Focus on the baby and deal with what I can around the house. No problem. I was able to mostly give cheerfully.

Now that I’m back at work, it’s been hard to not keep tally. Not on a daily level, but over time, feeling like I’m giving 110% and getting 30%. Knowing he’s giving as much as he can, but feeling overwhelmed, tired and increasingly resentful. Behind it all lies a fear that if I give 110%, it still won’t be enough (since my 110% still doesn’t match what his Mom was doing when she stayed with us). A fear that he’ll take my actions for granted and ask for still more. That as much as I’ve flipped a switch into being a Mommy (Moms wash laundry, Moms cook dinner, Moms are available for their kids and keep house and make the world a better place for everyone around them...), maybe he’s switched into being a deadbeat Dad (easily frustrated, lashing out, stressed, no emotional resources, sitting on the couch watching TV while the Mom does everything without complaining, impatient with children, waiting to be served).

The fear that the cup of love just sprang a leak and all I can give will never be enough.

Knowing it’s a lie, yet being driven by that fear into self-protection and counting the cost. Demanding more from him. Beating a winded horse and getting impatient when it won’t pick up the pace.

“The key to a happy marriage is to give 100 percent and expect 0 percent.”

But if I do that, I’ll die!


I’ll die. I have to die to my ‘right’ to whatever it is I’m demanding from him. Yet, behind that. When I give up that demand. When I open up my fist, turn my opening hand up and let the ashes of what I was clutching blow away. When I trust that behind every true death, there is a better resurrection. Well. Then. Then there is life. Then he turns towards me and towards us. Then there’s room for him to give, in his way. And for me to be grateful instead of thinking, “That’s it?!” Usually then, he gives more then than I could have ever demanded.

Somehow, that lesson is the hardest part of marriage. I stop on a threshold filled with fear, need and disappointed expectations. How could I give MORE? How can I let him get away with IT (whatever that IT might be)? And in that place, our marriage begins to shrink and shrivel from bitterness and resentment. Knowing this secret of the resurrection, that there’s a joy set before me that outweighs the death required right now, it’s not enough. Somehow, on the threshold, that hope seems like a tiny little liquid light. Barely weighing anything, certainly not heavier on the scale than this current NEED.

Hands open before Him. Crying again. Breaking open. Waiting. The light gets bigger, brighter and heavier until my life fills again with a golden light that is warm, thick and filled with love.

Welcome home. Be at peace. Be still and know that He is God and this marriage, this child, this home is His. We are not alone here left to our own devices and our own capacities. There IS more. And it IS good. Take the key, open the door, and rest.

February 3, 2012

Rush, rush, rush

Every day is full of adrenaline. Normally at work (back in the day), I'd only get a stressed rush the days I had to get an RFP out the door. Nothing like having to hit a 4 pm deadline to make you work lean and hard. Well, now every single day has a 5 pm deadline. Any interruptions or delays mean I can't get it all done. So I spend the day in overdrive. Stopping in order to gaze lovingly at a video of my son while the pump whirrs ineffectively for 20 minutes is driving me crazy! Doing that 2-3 times a day is torture. I only have 8 hours and also have to fit in eating, phone calls with clients and pit stops.

Phew. Then after the baby is asleep, it's time to do laundry, make dinner, talk with Jrex. MAYBE I have enough juice for a phone call with someone, usually I don't.

Yet, I like working. I'm a much worse Mom full-time. When he was with me all day, all week, I kept trying to avoid the Mom gig. As much as I enjoyed him, I kept trying to get tasks done so I'd leave him happily talking to the ceiling fan, or in his bouncy seat, bumbo seat, doing tummy time. He's getting much more stimulation and interaction at the day care. So ironic, right?

Anyway, this post is just to say, I'm alive! It's nothing personal if you haven't heard from me in a while...