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How Motherhood Makes Us Smarter

The Mommy Brain Blog

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

the world's a mess, and so's my house

I've been getting a lot of email from old friends and strangers since Saturday, when my op-ed on climate change ran in the New York Times. On Saturday morning, I was reading a note from a well-known film director who's planning to launch a "War on Global Warming" marketing campaign while my kids were making war on each other in the kitchen. As I was trying to read another email from a mom asking why I didn't start a mothers' movement for action on climate change, one of my sons came up and started in with the "You promised! You promised! You promised!" rant, demanding time I didn't want to give him on the computer. Swatting at yet another of the moths that have infested some hidden cereal box in my kitchen, I started to feel like Dickens' Mrs. Jellyby, indulging in her "telescopic philanthropy," while her own home sunk into chaos. Part of the problem is that my husband, who actually does help out from time to time, has been traveling. But the fact is, what with the end of school year panic (every item on every memo from my kids' classes has the requisite triple exclamation points), my older son's approaching adolescence, the ever-present obligation to, as our president would have it, put food on my family, and still no reliable sitter (though I'm making some progress here), I am in no way in any condition to launch a mothers' movement. For now. What I do recommend for mothers and others who want to learn more and do more about the very real threat of climate change and the glaring bipartisan lack of leadership on this issue is that you first study up on Ross Gelbspan's excellent website, which should answer any climate question you have, and then link up with the climate crisis coalition, an energetic group which is supporting the kind of big-picture thinking our children deserve. Meanwhile, I'll be doing my best to keep up with developments and write about them as much as I can in between shlepping groceries and supervising homework.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Gearing up for Mother's Day

I got this by email and want to share it, even though we all know by now we should be making $724,000/year in a fair and just society........on the subject of a-little-bit-hokey, I saw Akeelah and the Bee with my kids tonight and really loved it. It's a story you want to believe....

Mother, Mom, Mama, Mommy, Ma

Long term, team players needed, for challenging permanent work in an often chaotic environment. Candidates must possess excellent communication and organizational skills and be willing to work variable hours, which will include evenings and weekends and frequent 24 hour shifts on call. Some overnight travel required, including trips to primitive camping sites on rainy weekends and endless sports tournaments in far away cities. Travel expenses not reimbursed. Extensive courier duties also required.

The rest of your life. Must be willing to be hated, at least temporarily, until someone needs $5. Must be willing to bite tongue repeatedly. Also, must possess the physical stamina of a pack mule and be able to go from zero to 60 mph in three seconds flat in case, this time, the screams from the backyard are not someone just crying wolf. Must be willing to face stimulating technical challenges, such as small gadget repair, mysteriously sluggish toilets and stuck zippers. Must screen phone calls, maintain calendars and coordinate production of multiple homework projects. Must have ability to plan and organize social gatherings for clients of all ages and mental outlooks. Must be willing to be indispensable one minute, an embarrassment the next. Must handle assembly and product safety testing of a half million cheap, plastic toys, and battery operated devices. Must always hope for the best but be prepared for the worst. Must assume final, complete accountability for the quality of the end product. Responsibilities also include floor maintenance and janitorial work throughout the facility.

Virtually none. Your job is to remain in the same position for years, without complaining, constantly retraining and updating your skills, so that those in your charge can ultimately surpass you

None required unfortunately. On-the-job training offered on a continually exhausting basis.

Get this! You pay them! Offering frequent raises and bonuses. A balloon payment is due when they turn 18 because of the assumption that college will help them become financially independent. When you die, you give them whatever is left. The oddest thing about this reverse-salary scheme is that you actually enjoy it and wish you could only do more.

While no health or dental insurance, no pension, no tuition reimbursement, no paid holidays and no stock options are offered; this job supplies limitless opportunities for personal growth and free hugs for life if you play your cards right.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

bright spot

In the midst of a long siege of gray weather, bad political news (what else is news?), and friends of friends dying, this morning arrived lovely and sunny, with my 10-year-old actually getting out the door to walk to school on time and with a smile on his face. I put work aside and took a walk with the hand-me-down iPod (it's engraved "Joey Rules!") from which I'd finally figured out how to delete the Green Day and Clash in favor of Joao Gilberto. My walk included a brilliant green view of Mount Tam and a grove of trees where I recently saw hummingbirds courting.
If we really are the sum of our experiences, how can I reap dividends of these last few hours?