Thursday, May 27, 2010

Summer's A-Comin'

I love summer in Southern California.  It's hot, dry--perfect for lounging by the pool.

And since we are so lucky to have a pool, this is where I plan to be sitting for the next 12 weeks.  Kids LOVE swimming.  Whole afternoons can go by in the pool, resulting in water-logged, sun-tired kids.  Bedtime is a bit breezier when they're exhausted.  But a mom's gotta watch those kids every afternoon as they create underwater worlds of mermaids, diving contests of Olympic proportions, and splashy, fishy games.  So what am I going to do?  Read.

There is pretty much nothing I love more when I'm off in the summer than reading.  It brings back memories of my childhood when I curled up in a massive chair and devoured animal books like One Hundred and One Dalmatians, Bambi, and Where the Red Fern Grows. 

So in the spirit of summer, here is my reading list for this year:

To Kill a Mockingbird  by Harper Lee (because it's the 50th anniversary)

Honolulu  by Alan Brennert (because reading about Hawaii of the past will be a great escape from the present)

I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron (because I'm an older mom--enough said--except that I think Nora Ephron is tremendously funny)

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion (because Joan Didion is so smart, and this memoir of the year she lost her husband promises to be a brilliant look at love and grief)

Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver (because it's a beautifully written, sexy look at nature and all the sensuousness that summer can spark)

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch (because my husband gave me this book 2 Christmases ago, and I haven't been able to bring myself to read it.  I think it's time to appreciate its beauty)

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See (because I think Lisa See is a fantastic, contemporary writer, and my niece says this is one of her favorite books)

What's on your reading list this summer?  I love comments.  Let me know what you're reading, and maybe I'll get inspired to add a few more to my list.

Happy Summer!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Day Care -- Is It Risky? Stop the Guilt Already

Just when I was thinking I was okay in the balance of working and child care, this study comes out in the Los Angeles Times this morning.

A comprehensive study of behavior of children who were in a day care setting as toddlers reveals that they are more likely to engage in risky behavior as teens.  Great.  Just what us moms who work outside the home need. And while the data and findings are marginal--there is only a slight rise in risky behavior in teens who spent a lot of hours in day care and those who mostly spent their toddlerdom at home--this feeds my paranoia and adds more worry to my already exploding head that is constantly spinning with blather like, "am I spending enough time with them?" "Are they learning bad habits after school?" "Will they learn the social skills necessary to fit in in school while still learning academically?"

See how this works?  The study was about day care centers and toddlers, not school-age children.  But does that stop my worry?  No way.

I have a tremendously flexible job, one that allows me long breaks in the year with time to spend with the children, yet I focus on the 3 days a week, 2 hours a day,  9 months a year that they're outside school and my care. 

"Whatever" to this study I say.  My favorite quote in the article (you gotta love journalists who cover all sides of a story) comes from Ellen Galinsky, author of "Mind in the Making" and president of the Families and Work Institute in New York, "Risk-taking, thinking creatively, taking on a challenge, trying something new -- all these aspects of impulsiveness and risk-taking can be a positive thing."  She this may be helpful to tomorrow's workforce.

If my kids' experiences at their marvelous Child Development Center taught them anything, I hope it's that it's okay to allow lots of people to take care of them and teach them different perspectives of the world.  Go ahead, jump in and take a risk.  Just don't ask me to stop beating myself up about it.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Beautiful Boy

I go into this same Starbucks almost everyday on my way to work.  I swear to God; every time I go in there John Lennon's song Beautiful Boy is playing.  And every time, I get choked up.  I shed tiny tears thinking about my own beautiful boy (and my girl too) waltzing off to school while I drive 21 miles down the LA freeways to my job.  I have a brief moment of remembering them--their faces flashing across my mind as I hurry to get my espresso and be on my way.  And I, like many mothers who work outside the home, swallow any guilt that might come up, reassuring myself that they are fine, I am fine, and we'll be together soon.

But more than that, I think about Sean Lennon.  He was 5 when he lost his father.  John Lennon said when promoting the album Double Fantasy that he loved being a "house husband."  He loved being with his child.  And to have it all taken away after only 5 years is heartbreaking.  As I listen to the song, I can feel his hopes for his son--the boy's life playing like a film in his imagination. 

"I can hardly wait,
To see you to come of age,
But I guess we'll both,
Just have to be patient,
Yes it's a long way to go....."

He never got that chance.  But I do. 

This morning as I was leaving the house for work, I was running really late.  I threw all my stuff in the car and yelled back at the house, "BYE..."  Then I went back inside.  I hugged and kissed my kids.  I told DG I loved him.  My family is the apex of my happiness, and I don't want to miss a moment of letting them know it.