Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Weekend in Washington

I spent last weekend in Washington continually bumping into ghosts of my decade-younger self.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Obarbieama: You Can't Make This Stuff Up

So, the other night Eight and BioMom were gone and I was priming Big for bedtime; bath, snack, teeth, reading, the whole thing.

I was stepping in and out of the bathroom, doing laundry, picking up, etc., when I overheard him saying something to the effect of "I love you, Obama. . . . I love you, Hillary."

And went in, to see this:

Sunday, September 07, 2008


Economists often attempt to measure the value of a homemaker's services.

The exercise is not unlike measuring the value of any non-market activity such as volunteer hours or leisure time.

Another comparison is any non-market commodity like the environment. Often policy discussions involve attempting to place value on programs in order to perform cost-benefit analysis to project the value of a policy. Or often such exercises are used in court to place present and future value on people's efforts. For example, in a divorce case, the homemaker may need to attempt to value her efforts in order to justify a particular outcome.

"This market oriented predilection for using prices to measure value not only drives the methods currently used, it is the source of the problems in measuring, and perhaps the source of the courts often reluctance to rely on 'economic' measures of worth. To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, economists often know the price of everything, but the value of nothing"
(Dr. Allen,

Economists have used two different methods to measure the value of a housewife:
1. the opportunity cost method (what does the household sacrifice by having one individual stay home to work?" and
2. the replacement cost method "how much would it cost to replace the services of the homemaker?".

Both methods have their problems.

I've got a better method.

Spend two years doing 90 percent of the household labor between you and your partner. Take on a leadership position at your kid's parent-teacher association and keep working, but arrange childcare for only the time that you are AT work (for me, less than 16 hours per week), while expecting yourself to do the rest of your work (class prep, grading and researching) while your youngest is napping (1-3 hours per day). Juggle this with lawn-mowing, shoveling, laundry, grocery shopping and the other usual homemaker activities. Have in the back of your mind some research expectations knowing that when you do go back to work, you'll be a bit behind and have nothing in the "pipleline" (i.e. a research project started, initial work done, draft papers and presentations ready, a paper out at a journal for review).

Add to that an extremely active toddler moving into young boyhood. Someone that needs nearly constant supervision and at least two hours outdoors every day in order to both stimulate and wear him out.

After having done this for some respectable amount of time--enough so that you have nearly forgotten what life was like before this schedule--decide to go back to your old schedule.

Last Friday, the end of my first full week back at my "real" job where I have 120 students, 100 percent faculty research requirements, and service duties which started a few days before school did, as well as what turned out to be eight hours of commuting in order to juggle a surprise trip that BioMom had to make for work mid-week, Big and I went to pick up Eight after school.

I ran into a parent-of-four who also happens to be a neighbor of ours.

She looked EXHAUSTED.

It was palpable.

And even she wondered aloud about her condition given that three of the four were now attending school.

In comparison, I felt like a hot-air balloon. Floating. Weightlessly.

Like my duties have been halved.

Like there were now 32 hours in a day instead of 24.

Now THAT is the measure of a housewife.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

A Great Welcome Home

I saw this billboard on the way home last night on 494!

Monday, September 01, 2008

A New Era and My 800th Post

Tomorrow starts a new era for our family.

Well, really, it is back to an old era, but only part-time.

Two years ago (two years and three months to be exact) I stopped working at the university 2 hours away and took a leave to be with our then five month old baby boy.

BioMom had started back to work part-time at my spring break that year; I had him on Mondays and Fridays while she had him Tuesdays through Thursdays. After school let out, I took an entire semester off to be home with him, and then worked part-time at a local college. I was given the opportunity to replace a faculty member on sabbatical the following year and worked full-time there last year but it felt like part-time because I didn't have the commute, the service expectation or nearly as many students as I normally have.

I feel like we were able to cobble together a pretty amazing gift for him. Very little childcare (relatively speaking for two people with 'big girl' jobs, and what care we did provide for him was exceptional: Mother-of-Four's undivided attention.

So it feels a bit weird to be going back now, although it is for only one semester (as an aside, I found out that the vote to make that schedule permanent is not the 'done deal' that I thought it would be and occurs on the 12th. While I would very much enjoy doing this forever (i.e. a one-semester per year tenure track position) I am trying to make peace with the fact that it might not work out and that I might have to figure something else out. Alas.). I'm excited to be getting back to my colleagues and have that tune "It's the MOST wonderful time of the year" (via Cousin!) from those Christmas commercials going through my head.

But it's also a little sad.

I don't think Big knows what's up yet. It's a double-blow for him as Eight will be back at school tomorrow too. He and I left MRM#1 and MRM#2's house after dinner last night without BioMom and Eight (they and MRM#1 went to see the American Idol tour believe it or not) and Big was completely distraught to be without her, craning his neck out the back window with the hopes that their car would be following ours.


He will be turning 33 months this September 9th and I feel like we're turning a corner behavior-wise.

Maybe that is just hopeful thinking.

BioMom is convinced that he's just not getting enough sleep and that that is contributing to it all.

This seems to be true so far.

One last tidbit as to what he's up to lately.

He reminds me of that character of Kristen Wiig's on SNL who always has to one (or many)-up everyone around her ("I own a bigger pool table. . . I INVENTED pool! etc.). Big picks up words from conversations around him and turns them into these huge stories, usually beginning with "when I was a baby. . . ." Everything is bigger and better than whatever anyone around him is saying. And it is hilarious.