Opting Back In

Thank you to everyone who responded to my call-out back in February for moms who'd been home with kids for three to 10 years and either had returned or were looking to return to work. Based on an assignment from More Magazine, I interviewed more than three dozen women ages 35 to 55, went to conferences at top business schools for "on rampers" and interviewed recruiters and hiring managers across the country. The results were reported this week in the June issue of More Magazine, Back in Business, and in Newsweek's Trying to Opt Back In.

Based on conventional wisdom, women can't leave work for more than a few months without jeopardizing their pay levels or their entire careers.

Right?

Well, the moms I talked to said WRONG: I was not able to find a single college-educated mother who was unable to return to full-time work within twelve months.

"I always felt, women are going to live at least five to 10 years longer than men anyway, so what's the big deal if we take a few years off?" says Lori DiPrete Brown, 45, who lives in Madison, Wis., with her husband and three children ages 13, 10 and 8. After six years as a stay-at-home mom, Lori resumed her career in public health. "Returning to work has taught my kids the beginnings of reciprocity," she explains. "I sacrificed for them for years. Now they ask me at the end of each day, 'Mom, what did you do today?' "

This is not to say going back to work is a cakewalk -- or that you're a failure if you have a tough time. First, it's far easier to find full-time jobs than flex or part-time ones, which presents a tricky tradeoff since a lot of moms quit in the first place because combining full-time work and raising kids proved too stressful, exhausting or chaotic.

Second, returning is easier if you stay in the same field and geographic area, so your network can vouch for your talents. You may face a "pay penalty," at least at first, but moms and human resources experts report that on-rampers can make up for lost time in terms of salary (although there is no way to make up for lost Social Security earnings).

Last, you need to be determined that returning to work is right for you and your family so you can stare down prejudice from interviewers who may not respect or understand why you stayed home and so that you can manage the inevitable adjustment period your children and husband may experience.

Good news for working and at-home parents -- or anyone looking to add a little more "balance" into their lives. Especially if you've got skills, a good education, are determined to return, and are willing to work full-time when you come back. Five or 10 years ago, it may have been tougher for employees to take time off without significant penalty. Employers seem to be loosening up in terms of accepting non-linear careers, not just for moms, but for all employees. Julie Daum, who has placed more than 300 women on corporate boards as head of executive search firm Spencer Stuart's Board of Directors practice, explains in the More article: "Leaving for a few years is very different from dropping out."

Not a fairy-tale ending -- we won't have that until there's a cornucopia of flexible, well-paid, part-time work for men and women in all segments of the labor force -- but far better news than we've gotten in a long time.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  May 23, 2007; 7:15 AM ET  | Category:  Workplaces
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Comments

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first

Posted by: me | May 23, 2007 7:27 AM

second

Posted by: fiddle | May 23, 2007 7:43 AM

second, dammit!

Posted by: Jack Bauer | May 23, 2007 7:43 AM

As I've said before, it's been my personal experience (and that of many women I know who returned to the workforce after being SAHMs) that it is not difficult to return to work after taking a hiatus to raise your kids for a period of time. It just isn't. It's all about compromise and reality. I'm sure there are SAHMs who are having problems finding work, but I would ask whether you're being reasonable in your expectations and diligent in your search.

Off topic alert: To clarify a post I made late yesterday, I do not have any strong feelings about vegans or vegetarians, whether it's right or wrong, etc. In the post, it looked like I was the one who said something about babies/children needing meat, but it was a quote from the NY Times article. Sorry for any confusion it might have caused. I just thought it was an interesting perspective.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 23, 2007 7:51 AM

Lori DiPrete Brown is a real airhead who let her name be published along with her foolish quotes. Leslie has to know how silly this woman comes off in her article.

"I always felt, women are going to live at least five to 10 years longer than men anyway, so what's the big deal if we take a few years off?"

"Returning to work has taught my kids the beginnings of reciprocity," she explains. "I sacrificed for them for years."

Sacrifice? Huh? Sounds like another marytr type!

Posted by: Elaine | May 23, 2007 7:56 AM

sixth!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 8:00 AM

I will be here early this a.m.

Posted by: Tiger Shark | May 23, 2007 8:04 AM

I see my complaint has already been aired. I don't know if Lori is an airhead but her "sacrifice" comment is irritating and revealing.

Posted by: cmac | May 23, 2007 8:09 AM

Wow! Is that really Leslie's photo in the
Trying to Opt Back In article?

She looks like she had a facelift gone wrong.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 8:22 AM

I find this interesting. I have no reason to believe that it is difficult for many college educated women to return to the workplace after a few years off. However, I think it totally varies by the kind of work that women do. There are some professions (albeit, maybe not most) for which it is simply not possible to take off years and then return to a comparable job.

I, for example, am a university professor at a large state university. The reality of my job is such that I can't leave for more than a semester - maybe two at most. If I did, I would lose my job. And tenure-track university positions are VERY difficult to come by. When I was ready to return I could likely find myself a job teaching at a community college or teaching as a visiting professor somewhere. But, I seriously doubt that I would ever find another permanent, tenure-track position at a large university. What does it matter as long as I can still teach as a professor? It matters a GREAT deal in terms of salary and benefits, in terms of having the resources to conduct research as well as teach, in terms of job security, and in terms of the respect and status given to the employee. While I would really love to take off two or three years after the birth of my (upcoming) children, I simply can't do it unless I want to have a substantially different career track afterwards. And I've already invested 4 years of college, 6 years of grad school and 4 years on the job. I can't do that.

While academia is its own crazy world, I know that there are still other professions out there that have similar constraints. So, please don't make it sound like ALL well-educated women could take off from work and then return without much problem. It's simply not true.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 8:31 AM

Leslie,
Did you interview engineering/computer scientists and other high tech fields? I bet your results would have been drastically different in technical fields, especially those with higher degrees (MS, PhD). High Tech companies want people with specific technical skills or those directly out of college. These skills must be current within one year. If you have greater than one year gap, then all the experience/training is out the window. You won't even be put into the 'consider' pile. I have heard many hr people tell me this.
As an aside, I consider this hiring practice to be a tragic waste. Companies chomping at the bit to increase the H1B levels for technical skills when there is a pool of local women with almost-current skills that would love those positions.

Posted by: dotted | May 23, 2007 8:34 AM

"I think I am in some sort of 'job limbo'--too qualified for an entry-level position, but not able to work full time at a management-level position either" From the article.

Actually, you should start at entry level after being out for six years. You think people didn't learn new skills in the six years you were out?

Posted by: anon | May 23, 2007 8:34 AM

anon at 8:31 -
I concur with your post.

Posted by: dotted | May 23, 2007 8:37 AM

Thanks for this. As much as I love being at home right now, I confess I've been worried about how it's going to impact my legal career in the long run. I'ts good to know that at least some women are able to go back.

Did any of the women you interviewed dicuss whet, if anything, they did to keep current in their fields while they were at home? I suspect it would be easier to find work in the long run if, say, I got involved in my local bar association now. Did you speak to anyone who's had that experience?

Posted by: NewSAHM | May 23, 2007 8:38 AM

I was also bothered by Lori's "sacrifice" comment. I never felt like I was sacrificing anything when I was home with my sons, and I didn't make anyone feel like they were all making some big sacrifice to me when I went back.

Now, I gave up those years of earning potential -- and, gee, you know how much teachers make ;)

But I wanted to be home, because I wanted to have that time with the boys. I knew that time would end soon enough, and I didn't want to miss it. Also, I didn't think anyone would take care of them the way I wanted, and I had some definite ideas about the ideal environment for children in early childhood. Yes, a little control-freakish and selfish, but I figured I was lucky -- what was good for me was also good for them.

I never felt like I was a martyr to my family!

When I went back to work, I did sit them down and explain that there were some things that would need to change. They weren't big things -- they already had chores, so when I added a little more, it was not such a big deal. And I told them I would not have quite so much free time to spend (they were certainly OK with that). We already viewed ourselves as a family, and part of being a family is pitching in for the common good.

Lori's kids need to strap in -- they are in for one long guilt trip.

Posted by: educmom | May 23, 2007 8:42 AM

"I sacrificed for them for years. Now they ask me at the end of each day, 'Mom, what did you do today?' "

Hmmm. Sounds like she's one of those moms who will remind her kids 20 years from now how long she was giving birth to them.

And all of those damn diapers she had to change.

Hey lady, it was your choice to spread your legs. Get over yourself.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 8:50 AM

Back in January, the agency that I work for ended my division. There were forced reallocation of jobs. Not all jobs transferred very well. I got stuck working for a group that is not family friendly. I was working part time and was told I would have to go full time in 6 months. I started juicing up my resume and started looking for a new job. In the mean time, I did everything that I could for the new project. I took on a project that no one seemed to want and ran with. I actually found I liked it a lot but it only took up about 10% of my time. The rest of my time, I finished up my research from the previous area. Now my papers are going to be published next month and I would be left with only 10% work load. The whole time I have been begging for more work because I knew that my work load would end mid year. Well, I did find it hard to switch jobs going part time. I could not find anything that would allow me to do that. But I worked out a new deal with the new job. I would take all the less then desirable jobs (production) but remain part time till they can find enough work for me to justify full time. My guess is they really don't care if I ever go back full time. But only time will tell. Here is the deal, I get all the bad assignments, get huge flexibility, and it is basically a dead end career choice. It is not a problem because I personally don't want to move up. I reached a level that it is hard to move around because there are simply less jobs at this level. And it seems like no one wants part timers on great and interesting projects. It doesn't bother me to be doing work that no one else wants to do, if I can do it and leave at the end of the day. I did turn down a very interesting and career promising job last week because it involved late nights and travel. This is just one of the compromises you have to make when your a parent. I don't think you can have it all at once. Once the kids are out of school or older, you can take on more demanding jobs. But it is not so bad to take a mommy track position. I personally love it. Best of luck to all returning moms. I also wanted to say I wondered if the 97% of women who take time off includes maternity leave. I don't really consider 8-20 weeks of maternity leave as taking time off from work. A lot of women are even getting paid during that time.

Posted by: foamgnome | May 23, 2007 9:04 AM

foamgnome

Your post is too long.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 9:05 AM

Foamgnome -- That's a great story. It's wonderful that you've found a way to make compromises so you can have what you want. Good for you!

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 23, 2007 9:08 AM

"I sacrificed for them for years"

Lori,

You stayed home from work on someone else's dime for years!

Jesus made the sacrifice!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 9:08 AM

In the engineering technology field, entry level positions almost always ask for both education (4 years preferred, 2 year technical school degree bare minimum) as well as experience (preferably at least 2 years current). My wife ran into this after getting the 2 year CET degree; where was she to get the experience if she just spent the last two years in school?

After months of taking temp work whereever she could get it, she finally landed a position in a small growing consultant firm, where she is now their senior designer. Additionally, her boss has said that when she does go on maternity leave, while he may hire someone temporarily to fill in while she's out, if she wants to return the position will be there for her.

Posted by: John L | May 23, 2007 9:09 AM

foamgnome

Your post is too long.

Posted by: | May 23, 2007 09:05 AM
Sorry.

Posted by: foamgnome | May 23, 2007 9:11 AM

"Hmmm. Sounds like she's one of those moms who will remind her kids 20 years from now how long she was giving birth to them. "

And wonder why they never visit her in the old folks home!

She is probably a royal pain in the butt to her husband and friends, as well.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 9:12 AM

foamgnome - no need to apologize to the anon at 9:05. his/her post is out of line. We've gone through this "I'm sorry" Remember?? My first response to someone criticizing tends to be "I'm sorry" way way too often myself. Confidence woman! Ha ha ha! Have a great day!

Posted by: dotted | May 23, 2007 9:22 AM

I don't really understand all the reactions to the use of the word "sacrifice" partly because in Latin America "sacrifice" does not carry a bad connotation. La Familia is the primary social unit in Latino culture. Family gives meaning to the individual's life and he/she serves his/her family with pride. We take pride in keeping family together, no matter what occurs. Therefore, sacrifice does not mean that children are not looked upon as a burden, but rather they are looked upon as a blessing and something to be cherished, and worth sacrificing for.

Posted by: ellenb | May 23, 2007 9:25 AM

The moms who responded were somewhat self-selecting. They were successful in their aims and happy to talk about it. Those who did have difficulty (such as those in certain fields--tech, academia, what-have-you), may not have been as willing to talk about their struggles.

"Sacrifice" swings both ways. Quite a few of my friends "sacrifice" and work as the primary bread-winner, when they tell me they wish they could be home with their kids instead. If the child knows he/she is truly loved, that is most important.

Posted by: DINKgrrl | May 23, 2007 9:27 AM

I liked Leslie's post, actually, and take it as a sign that times ARE changing. Maybe not in all fields, but we have to start somewhere and hopefully the effect will widen. I also appreciate that Leslie mentioned men at the end in her ultimate wish for "a cornucopia of flexible, well-paid, part-time work for men and women in all segments of the labor force".

Improving mothers' chances of on-ramping is great, but keeps women chained to the primary caregiver and housekeeper roles. If neither parent actually had to re-enter the workforce (because they never left it, but flexed down to manageable hours instead while their kids were young), that's when we'd really see the world change.

Posted by: equal | May 23, 2007 9:34 AM

You guys are judging Lori Diprete Brown too harshly, based on that one quote. Some of the other things she said in her interview included, "I never resented the sacrifices I made for my children." But she's clearly happy to be back at work now. That's not putting a guilt trip on her kids. I think you are projecting your own insecurities onto her, unfairly.

I agree that the challenges in academia are different than many other fields. I hear frequently that university-level academic fields are notoriously family-unfriendly, for many reasons. The hope is that universities will start losing some of their most talented staff to more innovative employers, and they will (eventually) start to change.

The challenges in tech-driven fields are unique as well -- an extreme case of what I saw in most workplaces. Your skills do get outdated astonishingly quickly. But that doesn't mean you can't brush up -- the same aptitude that led you to tech in the first place will serve you well when returning.

It is really tough to stay current and network, especially given the exhausting demands of daily life with children. What I recommend is staying in touch with your friends from work, attending a handful of work-related events a year, and keeping a few industry-related subscriptions. Do the minimum in terms of networking -- otherwise it's too intimidating to keep up and you may just give up.

Also, I talked with women who chose their volunteer actitivites to sync up with their work skills. For instance, a former wash post sales rep has run her school auction for the past few years -- and double the revenue every year. This is a realistic achievement she can use in future job interviews, if/when she goes back.

Posted by: Leslie | May 23, 2007 9:38 AM

I agree, it is a lot harder to return to an IT or engineering job after taking time off. I don't understand why companies do not offer more flexible/part time jobs for whoever wants them. We have a few people in my (engineering) department who do this and it seems to work out great for everyone.

Posted by: Millie | May 23, 2007 9:43 AM

It is really tough to stay current and network, especially given the exhausting demands of daily life with children.

So the rest of us who work and have children must be close to death as compared to the SAHMs. Geeze.

Posted by: DC Lurker | May 23, 2007 9:45 AM

Leslie

"You guys are judging Lori Diprete Brown too harshly, based on that one quote."

Nope, "sacrifice" and "reciprocity" are martyr buzzwords. Don't need any more grounds.

Posted by: June | May 23, 2007 9:48 AM

Foamgnome, I'm sorry about your division closing and all the subsequent hassle. It sounds like one of the best things is that you've been able to keep your skills up-to-date and take on a variety of projects. While it doesn't apply to every field, as you note in your and some other cases, "Once the kids are out of school or older, you can take on more demanding jobs." Best of luck!

Posted by: catlady | May 23, 2007 9:50 AM

"It is really tough to stay current and network, especially given the exhausting demands of daily life with children."

Ha, ha ! How hard can it be?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 9:52 AM

Hi June. You've got the issue here. To me, sacrifice and reciprocity are a wonderful part of family life. Why have these concepts struck such a nerve for you?

Posted by: Leslie | May 23, 2007 9:52 AM

It is really tough to stay current and network, especially given the exhausting demands of daily life with children.

Now try doing it while employed full-time.

Hear the world's smallest violin going?

Me too.

Posted by: Bedrock | May 23, 2007 10:03 AM

I don't understand why people get so bent out of shape if a mother says she feels like she sacrificed. I really don't get it. I was on a totally different career trajectory before I had children, a much more lucrative and professionally exciting one than I'm on now, and I chose to take another path. Was it a sacrifice? YES. Do I mind? Not usually.

Why is sacrificing a bad thing to do? Have you never sacrificed for a spouse, sibling, parent, child? And what's wrong with expecting her children to be understanding and deal with the fact that mom is going to return to work? I really don't understand the vitriol on this board, but then, I usually don't. There are a lot of frustrated people out there . . .

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 23, 2007 10:06 AM

Part of the reason it is hard to stay current and network - at least if you are talking about staying in touch (in person)with the people I used to work with full time - is that those activities would have to occur during the day. What to do with the two kids???

I am lucky that I am allowed to work part time from home with my current firm. A friend watches them two afternoons and I work at night. I only go to the office about once a quarter. But then again, I earned this credibility with the amount of work I did back in Y2K both at the office and at home.

I could transition back to full time seamlessly as long as my group is working on the current contract. When it is up - things get much more problematic since I am a dinosauer in the computing world (COBOL).

What to do... and when... is the question...

Posted by: Robin L. | May 23, 2007 10:08 AM

Leslie,
Your comment about brushing up on tech skills shows you don't know much about tech skills. Learning the latest software/hardware packages (e.g., MS Visual Studio 2005, asp.net), networking protocols, enterprise systems, etc. etc., isn't something you can 'brush up on.' You can't brush up on tech skills by reading a book. You have to work on a project...which means a job, which you can't get because you don't have the current tech skills. Companies want either newbies out of school (aka those who will work insane hours) or people with 1-2 years experience in specific skills. Brushing up on a skill won't give you the experience needed to get yourself considered for a job. Networking via friends will get you considered though.

I have a friend that was rejected for volunteering to work with the computer network at the local school system...they wanted only volunteers with current skills. She'd been out for 5 years.

Posted by: dotted | May 23, 2007 10:10 AM

To NewSAHM -- I am a lawyer in a firm responsible for some of the hiring. Although I have never come across this issue, I have some ideas to break back into the practice. You can try staying current with the ABA and any industry specific group to learn of any new areas in your practice area. But perhaps you should write an article on a hot topic in your field once a year or right before you come back. This would show an employer a current writing sample and will show you are abreast on hot topics. Like I said, I have never seen this, but it would impress me.

Also, I have a boss who says (privately of course) that he likes hiring moms because they can multitask better than anyone else and never get flustered no matter what comes at them!!!

Posted by: Lisa | May 23, 2007 10:10 AM

Well, semantics do matter in oh-so-many ways.

For example, telling a child that his/her conception was "an accident" or "a mistake" is a far cry from saying "you were a surprise".

"Martyr" does not have the same connotation as "supporter".

I don't know why anyone would have a problem with reciprocal. As long as those who strike the bargain agree to its terms, and neither feels as though they didn't have bargaining power, of course. If you don't feel as though you can walk away from the deal, then you have other problems to address.

Posted by: Maryland Mother | May 23, 2007 10:12 AM

And yes, the word "sacrifice" is often used by those who looking to bludgeon others into doing their bidding. It involves guilt, it involves obligation (and mind you, there is NO WAY a child can ever truly re-pay the incurred "debt" owed to their parent. They start in the hole, they stay there!).

vsac·ri·fice (săk'rə-fīs')
n.

The act of offering something to a deity in propitiation or homage, especially the ritual slaughter of an animal or a person.
A victim offered in this way.

Forfeiture of something highly valued for the sake of one considered to have a greater value or claim.
Something so forfeited.

Relinquishment of something at less than its presumed value.
Something so relinquished.
A loss so sustained.

Posted by: Maryland Mother | May 23, 2007 10:17 AM

Another reason it is easier to stay current and network when employed is that seminar fees, association dues, meeting costs, etc are often paid for by your employer. This doesn't include any in house training you may recieve. Costs many SAHP's may not have budgeted for when they decided they could live on one salary.

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | May 23, 2007 10:17 AM

Leslie, those school auction things are ridiculously demanding! It really is like a full time job. I tried to do that while parenting a toddler, pregnant, and holding down a full time job and even with 40 volunteers (or maybe because of the effort of supervising 40 volunteers!) I was disappointed by how little money was actually raised given the effort so many people had put into it. Unless you have kids in school so hours of REAL free time (taking toddler to park may look like free time, but it really isn't) handling these types of events takes massive organization and hours and for seemingly little money.

But it IS a fun evening!


Posted by: JEn S. | May 23, 2007 10:18 AM

I stayed at home for two years with my son and only went back that early (I would have liked to stay home for at least 5 years) because I was 39 and worried I would find it difficult to get back into the work force if I waited any longer. I would definitely had stayed off work longer if I had been younger.

On the positive side, even though I had moved from the UK to the US in that time, I did get a job at a level that almost equated where I had left off with a salary that exceeded the salary I had been on.

Posted by: ladyjanegray | May 23, 2007 10:23 AM

I was disappointed by how little money was actually raised given the effort so many people had put into it.

It's kind of like those "walk-a-thon" events. If you knew how little money actually goes into the research for the disease (for example), you'd simply by-pass the event and write check directly to the AHA, or whatever.

As Foamgnome knows full well, the devil is in the details. This applies to accounting as well.

It's also a great example of why I do NOT buy things that purport to be fund-raisers for the school. I simply write a check directly to the PTA, or whatever, with a notation if there is something I would like it to be applied to directly. The school library, for example. I don't send in cookies to the bake sale, I send in a check.

I can buy my kids schlock almost anywhere, if I wanted to do so.

Posted by: MdM | May 23, 2007 10:23 AM

Clicksters, just ignore Leslie when it comes to academia, because she doesn't know what she's talking about.

Leslie wrote: "I agree that the challenges in academia are different than many other fields. I hear frequently that university-level academic fields are notoriously family-unfriendly, for many reasons."

No, Leslie, the difference is that being a tenure-stream academic isn't just a job, it's a way of life, a mind-set, a calling. Most academics have a natural inclination, dedication and passion for it. Those who don't often de-select themselves sooner or later.

Leslie wrote: "The hope is that universities will start losing some of their most talented staff to more innovative employers, and they will (eventually) start to change."

Here Leslie exhibits her often barely-concealed hostility toward and ignorance of the nature of academia, by explicitly wishing universities ill ("hope [they] will start losing... their most talented [faculty]").

Leslie, the most talented faculty would rather be in academia than in the corporate world, because academia affords a range of other freedoms that typical workplaces can't or won't, in terms of academic freedom -- the biggie, covering what one can teach in the classroom or do for research, within reason, or course -- scheduling, telecommuting, even dress and grooming. Faculty positions often have some built-in flexibility of hours beyond classroom and lab time, e.g., professional reading and writing don't have to be accomplished just at one's workplace on weekdays from 8-5; it can be done just as well if not better, say, at home after children are asleep. Now that IS family-friendly.

And, Leslie, the innovative employers you mistily imagine may offer lots of great on-site and other benefits, but they also tend to work their employees like dogs (think of Google, MicroSoft, etc.). Nothing family-friendly about that.

It's true that a tenure-track faculty member can sometimes return after several years out of the workplace in a non-tenure-track instructor/lecturer, adjunct or visiting faculty capacity or as a glorified lab technician, but those tend to be insecure, lower-paying, short-term and/or often dead-end jobs, and may depend upon "soft" money beyond the employee's control. Plus, if the you haven't kept up your reading in your field, it typically takes a lot more than mere "brush[ing] up" to get your chops back.

Posted by: catlady | May 23, 2007 10:24 AM

Volunteering can be a great way to stay up with developments in your field -- or a complete waste of time. I've had a fair amount of experience with multiple moves and here are some things I've learned:

1. It's always better to volunteer with an established group that has training, a system for documenting what you did and a clearly established hierarchy of volunteers in which you can move up into progressively more responsible positions. (For example, with Girl Scouts you can run an entire summer camp as a volunteer; serve as the Service Unit Chairman, basically supervising all the girl scout troops in your town, get free computer training, attend national conferences, write articles for their newsletter and so forth. With my child's preschool, I can cut things out of construction paper.)

2. Try to find volunteer jobs that either help you make connections (a friend of mine who's a hospital administrator routinely volunteered on weekends at a hospital while home with her kids) or allow you to do projects that demonstrate your expertise in your field (i.e. a grantwriter can write a grant for the preschool, a landscape designer can work with the architects to plan the landscaping for the new addition at the children's school).
However, I had a real problem at one of my children's schools where they had a policy of never letting volunteers do "substantive work". At one point, I looked around and there were three women with Ph.D.'s cutting things out of construction paper. Go figure. That's when I discovered the joys of volunteering elsewhere.

3. Lately, I've become involved with several volunteer boards and commissions related to our town government. I've done some projects for them, and most importantly, now know lots of important people in our current town (we move a lot) who can write me letters of recommendation and make phone calls on my behalf. Wish I'd know about these types of positions sooner. I also have an inside track on city jobs and jobs available at city contractor's.

Posted by: Armchair Mom | May 23, 2007 10:25 AM

I would imagine that being a member of your local chapter of a professional organization (for me it would be the society of technical communication) would help keep you in the loop, especially if you attend all the meetings and maybe even volunteer to be the treasurer or minutes keeper or something. Lots of professional organizations have presentations about new innovations in the field and might have conferences.

Posted by: Meesh | May 23, 2007 10:28 AM

Wow Armchair Mom -- great suggestions.

Posted by: Lisa | May 23, 2007 10:35 AM

Speaking of academia, I just found out that a friend of mine, an associate professor, and an M.D./Ph.D earns LESS than I do. By a cool 10%. I have a bachelor's and work in a fairly specialized area...but still! This university has provided her with an incredible match to her 401K, which is pretty much the only reason she is still working there. For now.

Anyone looking to hire a physiologist who has a strong biochemistry background? She's a steal, evidently.

Posted by: anon for this one | May 23, 2007 10:35 AM

Since I missed yesterday's discussion, including going off-topic onto vegetarianism -- for the record, I still eat dairy and eggs, so am not a vegan -- I'd like to contribute the following easy recipe, which proves there IS such a thing as a delicious vegan baked dessert. Of course, if pATRICK wants to put meat on top of his cupcake, who am I to stop him ;-)))

NON-DAIRY, EGG-LESS CHOCOLATE CAKE

1½ cups flour
1 cup sugar
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1/3 cup mild-flavored vegetable oil
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Grease a 9"x13"x2" cake-pan, or line two standard-sized 12-cell cupcake tins with paper cups. In a large bowl, mix together and sift the dry ingredients. Add the liquids, beating till just combined (do not overbeat). Pour the batter into pan(s). Bake 40-50 minutes at 350°F, or fill toothpick comes out clean when inserted in center of cake. Cool on wire rack.

COMMENTS:
Very easy recipe. Produces a lightweight, not-too-rich devil's food-type cake. Tasters won't realize it doesn't contain any eggs or dairy products. Suitable for a wide variety of vegan toppings, e.g. sifted powdered sugar, melted bittersweet or semisweet chocolate for coating, raspberry jelly, cherry-pie filling, and/or non-dairy whipped topping.

Posted by: catlady | May 23, 2007 10:38 AM

Catlady, that does sound good. Thank for reminding me - someone asked yesterday was SDA is - Seventh Day Adventist.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | May 23, 2007 10:48 AM

I think a lot of the ease of returning to work has to do with what you do for your career while you aren't working full-time. And I believe it is totally career specific how easy/hard it is to return. As a journalist who stays at home, I try to keep my resume fresh by writing freelance stories, but I also attend writing classes and (some, not enough) networking events to make sure I keep my skills and contacts fresh. I don't want to return to entry level when I go back full-time, and this is why, among other reasons, I do these things. I guess I sort of agree with an earlier poster that if you've been out for several years, you might have to start at the bottom because the skill set required for a job may have changed. I certainly couldn't afford day care if I had to start at an entry-level salary. I think moms and dads who stay at home for a time with the idea that they want to return at some point need to plan for how they'll do that. You can't afford not to!

Posted by: writing mommy | May 23, 2007 10:50 AM

I simply can't do it unless I want to have a substantially different career track afterwards

Oh, that's right. I want to have children and I want my life to stay exactly the same as it is. Good luck with that.

Armchair mom. How very sad that volunteering is about what you can get out of it, not what you can give to someone else.

Posted by: Sheba | May 23, 2007 10:52 AM

anon for this one at 10:35 AM wrote: "Speaking of academia, I just found out that a friend of mine, an associate professor, and an M.D./Ph.D earns LESS than I do. By a cool 10%. I have a bachelor's and work in a fairly specialized area...but still! This university has provided her with an incredible match to her 401K, which is pretty much the only reason she is still working there."

This reminds me of posters from a few weeks ago who lamented short-sighted young employees who'd rather get a slightly larger paycheck right now while giving up more lucrative benefits (including toward retirement).

One of the great advantages of academic life, or even working for a college or university in a staff (i.e., non-academic) capacity, is some of the fringe benefits. E.g., tuition benefits for self and family -- talk about family-friendly! -- generally excellent retirement plans (like TIAA-CREF, with employer matching contributions), and typically more holidays and vacation time than in the corporate world.

It's not always just about the $$$.

Posted by: catlady | May 23, 2007 10:53 AM

What writing mommy said, er, wrote -- excellent!!!

Posted by: catlady | May 23, 2007 10:56 AM

"La Familia is the primary social unit in Latino culture"

Sorry, we live in America, so in our culture sacrifice must mean a different thing than it does in yours.

Posted by: anon | May 23, 2007 11:02 AM

She has TIAA-CREF, but here's the rub. Her child will be going to college for free, elsewhere. Her husband already has his Master's and doesn't want or need a Ph.D.

Actually, I matriculated from this university, for free, as one of my parents worked for the university hospital and that used to be a perk offered to the spouse and children of a full-time employee (after so many years). That has now gone the way of the dodo, except for those who are under the "Grandfather clause".

So the benefits are outweighed by the costs, in this instance.

Again, I outearn her by more than 10%. I receive a pretty decent match on my TSP account, but not as nice as hers. But I outearn her, and I fork over 15% or more per year, and I have the cradle-to-grave health benefits, etc.

Posted by: anon for this one | May 23, 2007 11:02 AM

RE my 10:53 AM post, let me add that (for FT employees, at least) health insurance for the employee and his/her family is usually included in the benefits at colleges and universities, which is definitely a valuable family-friendly benefit.

Posted by: catlady | May 23, 2007 11:03 AM

catlady

"RE my 10:53 AM post, let me add that (for FT employees, at least) health insurance for the employee and his/her family is usually included in the benefits at colleges and universities, which is definitely a valuable family-friendly benefit."

Also, doctors and lawyers in academia can usually practice in addition to teaching.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 11:10 AM

anon for this one wrote: "She has TIAA-CREF, but here's the rub. Her child will be going to college for free, elsewhere."

Your friend sounds like just a lucky exception.

I'm not clear on your implied connection between TIAA-CREF and her child attending college for free. Is TIAA-CREF somehow paying your friend's child's way through college? Or did you mean to say that her child has received a full scholarship from another institution or program? I'm not sure where "the rub" is, other than that your friend's child is one of the rare few who have no need of his/her mother's job-related dependents' tuition benefit.

While their child's full scholarship is wonderful news for your friend and her family in any event, the fact is that most folks's children aren't so fortunate. Not only that, but paying for college is a major issue in most families' financial planning (regardless of whether they pay the child's entire way, or none of it, the parents or children take out loans, or somewhere in between). So for the rest of the families, an employer-provided tuition benefit IS a big deal.

Posted by: catlady | May 23, 2007 11:17 AM

I always thought professors had a good deal. They can teach a few classes a day for a few hours and be home at night with their family. My classes were never longer than an hour and a half. The rest of the day they spent doing research, meeting with students, etc. Most of my professors took the summers off except for maybe one class. I only went to a state school but it was ranked 6th in the country for technical writing, so I think the professors were top notch.

Anyway, it looked like a good deal to me and that is why I am back in school.

Posted by: scarry | May 23, 2007 11:22 AM

Catlady,

You say tenure tracked, not know much about academia, does this mean the person has tenure or on track to get it? If the latter, I can understand losing the position; you are in the middle of a process that must be completed or you must go back to the beginning.

What about tenured professors, do you think they would have the same problem?

Posted by: devils advocate | May 23, 2007 11:22 AM

11:10 AM correctly states: "Also, doctors and lawyers in academia can usually practice in addition to teaching."

While numerically doctors sometimes comprise the majority of faculty at a university with a med school, they often aren't in the tenure-stream, only on multi-year contracts instead, so don't always have as much job security as their non-medical counterparts who are tenured. Generally they're in their med school's practice plan. Of course, if they leave (for whatever reason), plenty of other clinical employment opportunities are still available (non-teaching hospital, private practice, etc.).

And an academic lawyer can presumably get hired by a private law-firm, or as an in-house for a large employer, or hang out his/her own shingle in private practice.

Posted by: catlady | May 23, 2007 11:23 AM

OFF TPIC ALERT -- Does anyone else just want to leave work and sit outside in your bare feet and sip a cocktail?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 11:27 AM

I agree the school auctions are incredibly demanding -- nearly a fulltime job by themselves. However, at my school the auction raises 25% of the school's financial aid budget -- pretty gratifying work. And one of the former auction co-ordinators, a mom who'd stayed home for five years, recently parlayed her experience into a job that doubled her pre-mom salary! Not too shabby.

Also agree that tech skills -- as well as many others like Sarbanes-Oxley, internet marketing, etc -- become obsolete quickly. However, your skills can become outdated even when you work fulltime. This doesn't mean you can't refresh them. People do it every day, and it's just a reality of the world we live (and work) in today.

Posted by: Leslie | May 23, 2007 11:28 AM

scarry

"I always thought professors had a good deal. "

I agree. And no dress code!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 11:29 AM

devil's advocate asks: "You say tenure tracked, not know much about academia, does this mean the person has tenure or on track to get it? If the latter, I can understand losing the position; you are in the middle of a process that must be completed or you must go back to the beginning. / What about tenured professors, do you think they would have the same problem?"

You're exactly right, tenure-track or tenure-stream means either that the faculty member already has tenure, or has a position in which s/he will be up for evaluation for tenure after a finite period of time (typically 6 years, though YMMV). It's not entirely unlike a lawyer who's an associate at a firm being considered for partner.

A tenured professor who takes leave from a position generally can expect to have it held open for two years, and if s/he doesn't return after that s/he loses the job (including the tenure). A famous case occurred with Henry Kissinger's position in the Nixon administration, when Harvard gave him a return-or-lose-it ultimatum; he chose to relinquish his tenured position in favor of government. Typically, a visiting professor will fill in while a permanent faculty member is away on temporary assignment.

Posted by: catlady | May 23, 2007 11:32 AM

I was unclear. The TIAA-CREF is very nice. But her child won't be using the academic benefit at this university. She will be going for elsewhere, for free.

She earned her M.D. in Spain, so she isn't a practicing physician here in the States (Who wants to go to medical school twice?). So that knocks out that source of additional revenue.

My point was simply that it's weird to be outearning her, despite her having far more education. And that academia can have great stuff to offer, but not for everyone.

She's working on finding something else, of course, I'm just really surprised at how little she earns given how many hours she puts into teaching and research and grant applications, etc. Honestly, I thought professors would have a higher gross salary. Academic perks are nice, but they don't pay the day-to-day bills. Not everyone's child is college material either--honor roll bumper stickers notwithstanding!

Posted by: anon again | May 23, 2007 11:33 AM

OFF TPIC ALERT -- Does anyone else just want to leave work and sit outside in your bare feet and sip a cocktail?

ABSOLUTELY!!! When are where?

Posted by: KLB SS MD | May 23, 2007 11:33 AM

OFF TOPIC ALERT -- Does anyone else just want to leave work and sit outside in your bare feet and sip a cocktail?

ABSOLUTELY!!! When are where?

Posted by: KLB SS MD | May 23, 2007 11:33 AM

NOW and how about Margharitaville :) Ahhh I can almost feel the wind and smell the salty air

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 11:36 AM

What is TIAA-CREF?

Catlady: Thanks for the support. Actually I like the position I am in currently. It was not as statistically rewarding as my prior position but the flexibility is there and actually a little better. But then again, I actively choose to Mommy Track. Some of my colleagues did not fare so well. Especially if they had no intention of Mommy tracking (not Mothers, no children, or just disinterested). Our current reallocations do not allow for any fast rising stars to shine. It was an ugly situation. But hey, if were in the private sector, we would be out of a job regardless if the division fell apart due to the higher ups. That is the nice thing about government. Job security rocks.

Posted by: foamgnome | May 23, 2007 11:38 AM

Scarry, I can't really comment on being a full-fledged professor but I taught ONE class ONE semester at Maryland and then said "Sayonara" to that. The amount of time spent prepping is unreal, worse than with middle school by far, and I only got paid for the number of hours spent in class, not prep or grading or anything like that. At the time, I did attempt to determine how much I was making an hour, but it was too, too depressing. Granted, this was a while ago and only for one semester (and I was a nervous, first-time college teacher), but my friends who are tenured professors are not wealthy people (except for one, who came from money to begin with). While they've got some flexibility, I think it's really a case of the grass looking greener. But I would enjoy hearing from those on this blog who know better than I do.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 23, 2007 11:39 AM

"I always thought professors had a good deal. They can teach a few classes a day for a few hours and be home at night with their family. My classes were never longer than an hour and a half. The rest of the day they spent doing research, meeting with students, etc. Most of my professors took the summers off except for maybe one class."

In a lot of ways professors do have a good deal. They have tremendous autonomy and control over their own work. But, there are a few misconceptions here. Professors may only teach a couple of classes a day. But at most state universities, teaching comprises LESS than 50% of their job. And, teaching is not what gets someone tenure. Unless you are a REALLY bad teacher, your research is all that matters. So, for the first 6-7 years of your academic career, its all about squeezing out as much research time as possible. Many professors don't teach in the summers, but that's when they do a substantial amount of their research. It is most definitely NOT a summer break. Most faculty (especially pre-tenure) are working substantially more than 40 hours a week. They may be able to do some of that from home, but they are not just lounging about with their families.

Professors who already have tenure may have the ability to curtail their hours to a more normal level. I don't know that they would have any more ease at coming back to the workplace after a long break than a non-tenured faculty would. Furthermore, the average professor does not get tenure until the late 30s/early 40s. Waiting that long to start a family is risky.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 11:39 AM

To Scarry: I don't think it's quite as cushy a life as you depict. Would that it occasionally were, though ;-)))

But Scarry's correct that there is a degree (pun intended) of flexibility in scheduling one's work-load beyond the fixed classroom and meeting times with students, faculty and on committee work. Professors who are supposedly off work during the summer may well be spending a good bit of that time catching up on academic reading/writing, though.

Re dress codes: This can vary by institution, or even by discipline within a school, or be influenced by the local culture. On a typical day you might find a professor of law or business more dressed-up than one in, say, the humanities or social sciences. And, if you're working in a lab or clinic where it can get messy, you don't normally wear your best clothes under your lab coat -- duhh!

Posted by: catlady | May 23, 2007 11:42 AM

"I always thought professors had a good deal. They can teach a few classes a day for a few hours and be home at night with their family. My classes were never longer than an hour and a half. The rest of the day they spent doing research, meeting with students, etc. Most of my professors took the summers off except for maybe one class."

It is a good deal, if research is really what floats your boat. I hate research and, after adjuncting for my advisor while he was off doing his own research in Asia for a year, I learned that I hate teaching, as well. Well, actually, I love the lecturing; I hate the prep.

There are professors out there who, after they're granted tenure, never write another thing. They're looked down upon, though.

A lot of professors have to teach at night, too. Hard to eat dinner with the family when you're running a seminar from 6-8 Monday and Wednesday.

Posted by: Lizzie | May 23, 2007 11:48 AM

http://www.denverpost.com/headlines/ci_5962165

"Marriages Working Because Wives Are"

Another interesting article . . .

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 23, 2007 11:51 AM

To anon again: Sometimes it's not solely about the money -- beyond a certain point, of course. And your friend's case (with a child receiving a full scholarship) is the rarest of exceptions, not at all the rule; for most academics, tuition benefits for family dependents are a big deal.

Foreign-born doctors and dentists are somewhat limited in their ability to practice. I can't speak generally here, but know that at least in some cases they can practice provisionally while a clinical faculty member for up to five years in a given region of the US on a temporary basis: one individual I know of has parlayed this into a career of sorts, moving every five years to a different university in a different part of the country! Most foreign-trained clinicians either suck it up and go back to school, take a lesser job, or return to their homeland (with some good American experience under their belts).

Posted by: catlady | May 23, 2007 11:51 AM

clarification to anon at 11:39
It is the amount of research money and publications that matter most in gaining tenure. Teaching credentials only count in marginal cases. -- from this tenured faculty member (who then gave up her tenured position)

Posted by: dotted | May 23, 2007 11:51 AM

WorkingMomX


"While they've got some flexibility, I think it's really a case of the grass looking greener"


Depends on where you work. I am strictly forbidden to practice law outside of my government job.

Many lawyers who work in academia earn additional income by practising law outside of their day jobs.

Posted by: Norma | May 23, 2007 11:53 AM

Leslie,
Perhaps the quote in your post didn't give a good sense of Lori's outlook on staying home. If that's the case, the fault is with the person who chose the quote ; )

However, given her statement, it seems clear to me that she was unhappy staying home with her children when they were young. For her, it seems to have been some sort of prison sentence she had to serve or trial she needed to endure, not a freely-made choice.

Lori seems to have been toting up what she's done for her kids, with an eye to seeing how much she can then get out of them in return. I find that somewhat disturbing.

It is her attitude, not the description of her time at home with the word 'sacrifice,' which really struck a nerve with me. We ALL make sacrifices for our families. We're just not all martyrs about it.

If some of us have come to a faulty conclusion, posting some additional comments from Lori which would correct the impression some of us got from the original quote would be helpful.

Posted by: educmom | May 23, 2007 11:59 AM

Armchair mom said, "However, I had a real problem at one of my children's schools where they had a policy of never letting volunteers do "substantive work". At one point, I looked around and there were three women with Ph.D.'s cutting things out of construction paper. Go figure. That's when I discovered the joys of volunteering elsewhere."

I think Armchair mom made some great points and that there's nothing wrong with having an expectation that one's talents will be used wisely. I don't mind doing some grunt work (I shelve many, many books!), but the construction paper work is pushing it. Why not have middle or high school students do that type of work?

It's the same with the volunteer hours requirements for students these days. People often don't recognize that volunteers need to be managed and trained too and that someone on staff will have to forfeit time at another task to spend time supervising. I suspect that's why some school staff end up assigning some pretty lame tasks to volunteers (both student and parent). Organizations that make the best use of volunteers usually have a paid volunteer coordinator.

When a student (especially one younger than working age) has to do six or twelve hours of volunteer work, the organization that is accepting that volunteer likely is providing more of a service to the volunteer than the volunteer is to the organization. That's not necessarily a bad thing. After all, it takes a village. . .

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 12:00 PM

That was me at noon.

Posted by: Marian | May 23, 2007 12:01 PM

educmom

"If some of us have come to a faulty conclusion, posting some additional comments from Lori which would correct the impression some of us got from the original quote would be helpful."

No, I didn't come to a faulty conclusion based on the quotes.

It's too late to go back and edit the story now.

If you really are a teacher, you know that Leslie should do her own work!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 12:04 PM

I already have a family, so that is not a concern of mine. I don't recall any night classes in my area of English at my college. I took one poetry class at night, but that was about it. Most of my professors had tenure, except for the teacher with the master's degree. She was in charge of STC and we did have those functions at night, but not all the other professors came to every function.

I like research okay, it's not my favorite thing to do, but to teach what I want to teach, I have to be in a college environment. I would like to teach more and do less research. I've always wondered though what literature professors do research on? All of my professors had a decent work/life balance. We even discussed it in class a time or two.

Posted by: scarry | May 23, 2007 12:06 PM

I looked around and there were three women with Ph.D.'s cutting things out of construction paper. Go figure. That's when I discovered the joys of volunteering elsewhere."

I think Armchair mom made some great points and that there's nothing wrong with having an expectation that one's talents will be used wisely. I don't mind doing some grunt work (I shelve many, many books!), but the construction paper work is pushing it. Why not have middle or high school students do that type of work?

I didn't know that PhDs were so above cutting anything. Sometimes the paper just needs to be cut. Would you rather the teacher do it, maybe in the evening after grading papers and answering parent emails for $40 grand a year? Middle and high school students are I think at school learning when most of this stuff goes on. They aren't employees. If you want to do statistics, then go back to work. If you want to help your school or organization, then help them. I'm pretty sure they have employees working on the "substantive stuff". So glad you aren't at my school - pathetic.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 12:08 PM

"Professors who are supposedly off work during the summer may well be spending a good bit of that time catching up on academic reading/writing, though."

Sounds pretty good to a pig farmer's daughter! Where do I sign up?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 12:09 PM

Re: Sacrifices
I find it odd when people talk able making sacrifices for their kids or family. Lori implies she sacrified a part of her career for her kids. But it was her choice to have kids and to stay home with them. Yes, it may have benefitted the kids but since she chose to have kids, i'm guessing that it benefitted her as well. My husband and I have decided not to have kids. While I know I will be missing out on a lot of great things, I still see it as a choice not as a sacrifice. Why then, is parenting a sacrifice and not a choice?

Posted by: chloe | May 23, 2007 12:10 PM

40 grand a year

Where do you live that this is all teachers make? Really, I am wondering.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 12:11 PM

"40 grand a year

Where do you live that this is all teachers make? Really, I am wondering."

I didn't write the first comment, but I'll tell you in Florida many/most teachers make less than 40 grand a year! And, I know for a fact that in Durham, NC starting teachers make in the mid-20s!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 12:15 PM

scarry

"I don't recall any night classes in my area of English at my college."

I took 4 evening English courses dealing with motion pictures, "Sherlock Holmes and the Movies", The Movies of Mae West and W.C. Fields", etc.

No books to buy or study, multiple choice exams, no mandatory attendance. Easy, easy A.

Posted by: Madame | May 23, 2007 12:16 PM

Average teacher salary nationally is $47,602 and in Virgina it is $45,377. An elementary teacher with 20 years of experience has a median salary of $53K. This is from the American Federation of Teachers. Most teachers I know work during the summer teaching summer school to help make ends meet or take courses to keep up to date on their skills.

Posted by: Sheba | May 23, 2007 12:25 PM

"Middle and high school students are I think at school learning when most of this stuff goes on. They aren't employees."

Well, the parent volunteers aren't employees either. Middle and high school students get sent out into the world after school to do all kinds of "community service hours." Why can't some of them do their hours for the schools? The work could be left for them to do.

BTW, I have used scissors and paste while volunteering (helped with decorating a bulletin board). Of course, I only have a Master's. ;-) I don't mind doing it in a pinch, but if that was the main use of my volunteer time, I would go elsewhere in the community. My time is limited (you can't take a pre-schooler with you to volunteer). I don't think it's pathetic for me to assess my own skills and use them where I think I can be of the most help.

Posted by: Marian | May 23, 2007 12:32 PM

OFF TOPIC but wow -- Joe Paterno (coach of the Penn State football team) shows true leadership. (Summary -- a number of his players got into a fight in the off season so he is making the entire team clean the stadium after home football games next season)

http://sports.yahoo.com/ncaaf/news?slug=dw-paterno052207&prov=yhoo&type=lgns&expire=1

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 12:33 PM

But just try finding out how much JoePa earns. It's like a state secret even though Penn State is a state-related school, so newspapers have had to take the case to court to see if they can find out.

Posted by: In da 'Burgh | May 23, 2007 12:36 PM

"I've always wondered though what literature professors do research on?"

Critical theory. There's a lot of critical theory research and work going on in graduate English departments; my husband has done nothing but study it for the past two years. Marx, Foucault, Derrida et al. At the graduate level, you are expected to have a solid grounding in the actual literature and are now expected to start contributing to the scholarly debate about what a group's literature says about its position in the larger society.

And all of his classes except for two have been at night.

"I like research okay, it's not my favorite thing to do, but to teach what I want to teach, I have to be in a college environment."

Unless you're thinking of teaching at a community college or a limited number of liberal arts colleges, this is going to be a serious problem for you. Colleges hire on the basis of your research. They expect you to keep it up while you're teaching.

Posted by: Lizzie | May 23, 2007 12:38 PM

Everyone thinks that they are such a valuable volunteer. YOu cannot just walk into an organzation and expect to do the most substantive work a couple of hours a week. #1 - sometimes there are confidentially issues, and they can't allow every Tom, Dick and Mary access to sensitive information. #2 - there are often procedures and/or software/technical issues - they don't want to train a gillion people for a couple of hours a week who could quit on a dime. #3 - there are potential liability issues as well.

It seems like some people expect to be treated like the Queen of well, Sheba when they deign to bestown their valuable, skill laden time on an organization. Sometimes in volunteering, just like the real world, you need to prove yourself. If you don't want to do the kind of work that they say they need done then DON'T DO IT. Everyone would be happier if you did something else with your super valuable time.

Posted by: Sheba | May 23, 2007 12:39 PM

"I've always wondered though what literature professors do research on?"

Technically, literature professors don't do "research".

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 12:41 PM

"I've always wondered though what literature professors do research on?"

Did you ask them?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 12:42 PM

I will probably try to teach at a state school. I don't think research will be a problem for me, I just like teaching more. I am half way through my masters so I have a while to worry about it.

All my master's classes are at night, but my undergrad classes were not.

Posted by: scarry | May 23, 2007 12:45 PM

Did you ask them?

I thought I just did.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 12:48 PM

"I will probably try to teach at a state school. I don't think research will be a problem for me, I just like teaching more."

This is truly scarry. Hw could this ever happen? The mind boggles.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 12:50 PM

Flatly stating that Technically, literature professors don't do "research" isn't a question, it's dissing.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 12:53 PM

"Average teacher salary nationally is $47,602 and in Virgina it is $45,377. An elementary teacher with 20 years of experience has a median salary of $53K."

Ok...so this means that approximately half of all teachers in VA earn less than $45k. What is the average salary for a teacher who's worked for 10 years? For 5 years? What percentage of teachers in the U.S. have been working for 20 years or more?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 12:53 PM

"In the post, it looked like I was the one who said something about babies/children needing meat, but it was a quote from the NY Times article."

I didn't really think you came off that way. What I thought was that you were simply giving us some food for thought. The family that was feeding their infant vegan food was using veganism as a cover for abuse. Even we vegans and vegetarians are not blind to the fact that humans are mammals, and as infants, need milk (human breast milk, if possible) to survive. Thanks for the clarification, though.

I too am curious to find why people jump at the word "sacrifice." Mothers DO sacrifice for their kids, as do fathers. But they should. Parenting means sacrificing and giving up other things that you COULD have if you didn't have children. You can't always have both. What's wrong with sacrifice? It's not a dirty word, just a fact of life.

I never plan to opt out (careful with the "nevers," Laura/Mona), and I always planned on just using my maternity leave if/when I have children. BF surprised me with "you have to take a year off after they're born, and you'll be older, so you'll probably have to take two years off and have them close together." WHAT?!?! A year off for maternity leave? That just seems excessive. I thought maybe a month to heal, then he could stay home for paternity leave. Per child. That's it. I don't think I could handle being at home that long--it's just not in my personality. And I don't think we could afford to live as comfortably as we would like on only one salary (here is where all you "I sacrificed for my kids, you should too! How dare you put money first!" people tsk-tsk me).

I know there have got to be many mothers out there who weren't lucky enough for extended maternity leave and had to go to work soon after giving birth. How did you handle it? Do you wish you could have had more time at home, or were you happy with your arrangement? What is the standard length of maternity leave?

(Luckily, after spending half a day at the aquarium surrounded by screaming kids, he mentioned that he might be okay with just one. :-))

Posted by: Mona | May 23, 2007 12:56 PM

"Average teacher salary nationally is $47,602 and in Virgina it is $45,377. An elementary teacher with 20 years of experience has a median salary of $53K."

Definition of MEDIAN

me·di·an

3. Arithmetic, Statistics. the middle number in a given sequence of numbers, taken as the average of the two middle numbers when the sequence has an even number of numbers: 4 is the median of 1, 3, 4, 8, 9.

So is it median or average?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 12:58 PM

This just in: Hugh Laurie (House, Bertie Wooster) is getting knighted!

Posted by: catlady | May 23, 2007 1:02 PM

This is truly scarry. Hw could this ever happen? The mind boggles.

What are you talking about?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 1:03 PM

"YOu cannot just walk into an organzation and expect to do the most substantive work a couple of hours a week."

I don't. I'm a professional research librarian. I volunteer to shelve books at a school library. People paid to do this task in public libraries don't need a high school diploma. Book shelving is not a difficult or highly-skilled task, but it does need to be done with care. Other parent volunteers do need to be trained to do it. It doesn't take much training for a small library, but there's a reason most public libraries don't want you to re-shelve your own books. You criticize because I don't want to use the bulk of my volunteer time to do paper cut-outs. I can't draw the line at how I use my time?

If the school custodian calls in sick, should the parent volunteers clean the bathrooms? Would you? Actually, I have cleaned the bathrooms in an office during a custodial union strike. The professional women in the office decided we would take turns and not ask the administrative support staff to pitch in (though some of the admins did volunteer to help as they were using the bathrooms too).

Posted by: Marian | May 23, 2007 1:04 PM

"I volunteer to shelve books at a school library. People paid to do this task in public libraries don't need a high school diploma."

I know. I shelved books in the school library when I was in the 4th grade. It is far from rocket science.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 1:15 PM

Just to clarify on that last post--the women cleaned only the women's bathroom. I have no idea how the men in the office dealt with that particular situation.

Posted by: Marian | May 23, 2007 1:15 PM

This reminds me of the unemployment line bit in History of the World Part 1. Had to find it:

Dole Office Clerk: Occupation?
Comicus: Stand-up philosopher.
Dole Office Clerk: What?
Comicus: Stand-up philosopher. I coalesce the vapors of human existence into a viable and meaningful comprehension.
Dole Office Clerk: Oh, a *bulls#!7* artist!
Comicus: Hmmmmmm...
Dole Office Clerk: Did you bulls#!7 last week?
Comicus: No.
Dole Office Clerk: Did you try to bulls#!7 last week?
Comicus: Yes!
.....

Posted by: Chris | May 23, 2007 1:17 PM

"Average teacher salary nationally is $47,602 and in Virgina it is $45,377. An elementary teacher with 20 years of experience has a median salary of $53K."

Ok...so this means that approximately half of all teachers in VA earn less than $45k. What is the average salary for a teacher who's worked for 10 years? For 5 years? What percentage of teachers in the U.S. have been working for 20 years or more?


Posted by: | May 23, 2007 12:53 PM
No an average is if you summed up the salaries for all VA teachers and divided it by the number of teachers in VA.
The median (probably the more insightful statistic) is what you just said. That 50% of the VA teachers make above the median and 50% make below the median. States rarely post a median figure. Probably because they don't know the statistical difference between a mean and a median. Means are hard to interpret because they are often compromised by very large and very low numbers in the data.

Posted by: foamgnome | May 23, 2007 1:19 PM

"I will probably try to teach at a state school. I don't think research will be a problem for me, I just like teaching more."

This is truly scarry. Hw could this ever happen? The mind boggles.

Hopefully, she won't have to teach idiots like you or your children.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 1:19 PM

I shelved books in the school library when I was in the 4th grade. It is far from rocket science.

Posted by: | May 23, 2007 01:15 PM

Maybe more like brain surgery?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 1:19 PM

Mona -- I believe standard maternity leave ("to heal" as you put it) is 6 weeks for a vaginal birth and 8 weeks for a C-section. Of course, some women go back sooner, and others take quite awhile to recover. It depends upon the difficulty of the birth and, frankly, what kind of sleeper your new child is! The women I know that went back to work after less than 6 weeks were all on child #2, #3, or #4 -- they had experience in managing those difficult first weeks and were more prepared.

I prepped for my maternity leave (I took 12 weeks) by purchasing 6 novels, and worried that I'd run out of reading material halfway through my leave.

I didn't read any of them. My house looked like a tornado hit it for the first 3-4 weeks. DD slept for 90 minutes to 2 hours tops before demanding to eat again. Honestly, that first week I was happy if I had time to shower. Of course, I'd had an emergency C-section and subsequently developed every breast-feeding complication known to man, so my experience may be more extreme than most. DH did say home with us for the first 2 weeks (and did a tremendous amount of work -- I literally never changed a diaper the entire two weeks), then my Mom visted for a week and helped out some. Even with that help, I can't imagine going back to work after a month. I was just starting to get a routine going and dig through the pile of baby gifts in the dining room after a month.

Lots of moms told me I had unrealistic expectations, and I didn't believe any of them, so I don't expect you to believe what you hear from me or others on this blog. I guess some things just have to be experienced to be believed! I would take advantage of as much maternity leave as your employer offers once you're at that point.

FYI, I agree that a year seems too long to stay home if you want to work and are eager to get back. By the end of 12 weeks, I was ready to go back. DD was finally "sleeping through the night" (read, sleeping from midnight to 5:30am) and we'd figured each other out. I had a sitter I was comfortable with. The house had been dug out and we'd found a cleaning lady. I'd hit the treadmill.

But don't get complacent -- just when you think you've got it all figured out, they go and change, and you're back to square one!

Just my 2 cents.

Posted by: Vegas Mom | May 23, 2007 1:23 PM

Mona,
It wasn't necessarily the healing after childbirth, but the exhaustion of being a new parent that got me. I didn't feel like a "normal" person until about 6 weeks after giving birth. At 8 weeks I started doing some part-time work from home and by 12 weeks went back to work (albeit I only worked a 30 hour week at the time). My DH took off 4 weeks (from about weeks 3-7) to be home with us. It was really great to be home together for that time period.

Posted by: Nameless poster | May 23, 2007 1:23 PM

Chris

"This reminds me of the unemployment line bit in History of the World Part 1. Had to find it:"

Features two greats: Bea Arthur & Mel Brooks!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 1:24 PM

DId they give you a trophy for being the 9th-best parttime book shelver too>

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 1:25 PM

Mona, they have done studies on lengths of maternity leave and leave prior to birth. Actually for prior to birth, the more education a women has the longer she works up to the delivery date. The opposite is true for maternity leave following the birth. The more education a women has the longer the maternity leave. Here is the theory. Educated women generally have non physical type jobs. So the employment duties are less taxing on the body during the later stages in pregnancy. Following the birth, the reason educated women tend to take more time off is simply finances. Educated women have more cash reserves and better paid maternity benefits. I have not heard of many educated women taking less then 8 weeks. Unless your husband is going to take care of the baby (or another friend or relative) you would be hard pressed to find day care for a 4 week old baby. The more select day cares often won't take a baby before 12 weeks in this area. Some will take an 8 week baby. Don't know of any that would take a 4 week child. Also depending on if you have C-section, you won't be cleared by your doctor to go back to work till 6 weeks. I felt great after 4 but could not go back technically till 6 weeks. Even with all this, you may surprise yourself and not be ready to leave your infant any time soon. I was bored at first but by the end of maternity leave, it was a huge struggle to leave my daughter.

Posted by: foamgnome | May 23, 2007 1:29 PM

Vegas Mom, thanks for the info. Your story is making my uterus want to shrivel up and disappear! But I don't doubt that it's as difficult for most moms as you say. I'm sure I'm just nursing my Superman complex right now, and I'll change my tune if/when I give birth. 12 weeks seems like a good compromise to me, and I'm glad it worked for you. Right now I THINK I'll be champing at the bit to get back to work (much like right now I'm champing at the bit to start law school), but if/when I give birth, I'll probably want to stay at home a bit longer than I say now--but definitely not a year. What's he thinking?

And I'd still like to know how those minimum-wage-earning single moms who don't have maternity leave do it...but they're probably not on this blog.

Posted by: Mona | May 23, 2007 1:30 PM

Is he saying you CAN stay home for up to a year if you want, or that he EXPECTS you to? There's a difference.

Posted by: To Mona | May 23, 2007 1:35 PM

The point was that I'm willing to do some simple tasks in a volunteer position. You're right--shelving is far from rocket science, but if it's done carelessly library users can't find things.

What I object to is the implication that a SAHM volunteering time is selfish to decide that some tasks aren't worth the time. Armchair mom brought up excellent points about volunteering in the context of on-ramping. Someone slammed her for wanting to "get something" out of volunteering.

I don't expect that many working parents would be thrilled to carve out time to volunteer to cut out construction paper either. As I said earlier, organizations that best manage volunteer hours recognize the need to organize that time. I think those organizations have the right to expect a certain commitment from the volunteer too. It's not worth it for an organization to invest time training a volunteer who cannot commit.

I think most people "get something" out of volunteering, even if it's as simple as a warm fuzzy feeling about helping someone else.

Posted by: Marian | May 23, 2007 1:38 PM

Re: Teaching Salaries ... Earlier this year, our local NPR station reported on a strike at Philadelphia Community College. It was reported that the salary for a full time professor with PhD in hand was $38,000 a year. That's really sad. No wonder the faculty went on strike!

Posted by: Murphy | May 23, 2007 1:40 PM

Oh Mona, I didn't mean to scare you. It's hard, but it's manageable. You just need to set the bar lower, LOL.

I will say that for me, those first couple of weeks were just H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks.

But then she smiled. That changed everything. I know it was probably just gas, but getting feedback made all the difference. It got easier managing the fatigue and craziness after that.

Posted by: Vegas Mom | May 23, 2007 1:40 PM

volunteer is just what it says. A choice. So the volunteer has the right to say no to certain tasks that he/she does not want to preform. On the other hand, if having a volunteer is more on the paid staff then the return, the organization has the right to say no to a volunteer request. As far as cutting up construction paper, I know a number of working moms that do that sort of task because they can take the work home and do it on their free time. It also is a no brainer that does not need any training or outside instructors. They get the good feeling of volunteering, the school gets all the little shapes or whatever they wanted, the non working parents can volunteer at times that are best for them, and the kids get what they need. Everyone is happy.

Posted by: foamgnome | May 23, 2007 1:44 PM

BTW, I have used scissors and paste while volunteering (helped with decorating a bulletin board). Of course, I only have a Master's. ;-)

I have BS in BA, so I was only allowed to watch people using the scissors!

Marian, did you catch the CTOTD yesterday?

Posted by: Fred | May 23, 2007 1:45 PM

Foamgnome astutely observed: "[The volunteers] get the good feeling of volunteering, the school gets... whatever they wanted, the non working parents can volunteer at times that are best for them, and the kids get what they need. Everyone is happy."

But Foamy, if we've learned nothing else from this blog-board, it's that the trolls loathe nothing more than win-win situations. They live to stir up dissension where sweet reason ought to prevail.

Posted by: catlady | May 23, 2007 1:54 PM

Good points too, foamgnome. I expect it's hard for a school to turn away parent volunteers, and schools probably don't have the resources to manage a large number of volunteers. A school that has take-home volunteer work sounds pretty well-organized.

When I applied for a volunteer position using my professional skills, it was like any other application process. I submitted my resume and interviewed. It wasn't the most rigorous interview I've ever been through, but it was a serious one. There was a minimum time commitment (it couldn't really have been enforced, but the organization appealed to one's sense of professionalism). I certainly didn't leave the interview thinking that my acceptance was a given.

Posted by: Marian | May 23, 2007 1:55 PM

Fred, for those of us who missed it, could you re-post yesterday's CTOTD?

Posted by: catlady | May 23, 2007 1:56 PM

Because I have certain specific education and specific experience, I have found it not difficult at all to find work. I was so surprised it didn't take any time at all - because I had planned for it to take months, yet I had a job in a matter of weeks!

As for volunteering, there are plenty of organizations that would take whatever you'd be willing to give, however you'd be willing to give it.

I was home for 3 1/2 years and by the time I was home for that long, I was itching for something more. The time went by in seconds, and my kids are wonderful, but we're all better off with mom working :)

Posted by: atlmom | May 23, 2007 1:58 PM

To Mona, I think he just doesn't realize that most women don't stay home that long. I think he expects me to because he figures every woman does. His sister is due in July; I'll be interested to see if he has any opinions on her leave choices (though it may not apply, she wants to stay home full time and her husband says she "can't"). I probably COULD stay home a year, but I don't think I will want to. Whether I CAN or not, really will depend on our salaries, debt, and savings at the time.

Posted by: Mona | May 23, 2007 1:58 PM

My worst volunteer experience was delivering food baskets one holiday. There were 45 food baskets. There were suppose to be 8 volunteers plus an organizer. Guess how many showed up to deliver them? One. Who? Foamgnome. Even though I really enjoyed delivering them to the needy families. It was an awful lot of work for one person and it took me 5 times as long to do it. But then again, volunteerism is a choice. Some people honor their obligations more then others.

Posted by: foamgnome | May 23, 2007 1:59 PM

Fred

"I have BS in BA, so I was only allowed to watch people using the scissors!"

Same here. I have a big, big bag of B.S degree.

How dare they squander your talents! Don't they know that you have been working on an exciting, fresh translation of Proust's Remembrance of Things Past since Sputnik?

Posted by: Ninotchka | May 23, 2007 2:00 PM


I went back to work when DD was 2 1/2. Partly because my benefits severance pay and unemployment ran out but partly because I thought she needed more friends
and stimulation than I could provide.

I have also tried to not give her guilt trips. At her current age she has asked about when she was young. The first year of her life was difficult on us all.

She was up at least 18 hours a day and most of it crying not eating, peeing or pooping. I just tell her she cried because babies do and she wanted her Mommy a lot. I said that is why she is so sweet and loving today (but fortunately
much more independent).

Posted by: shdd | May 23, 2007 2:00 PM


I went back to work when DD was 2 1/2. Partly because my benefits severance pay and unemployment ran out but partly because I thought she needed more friends
and stimulation than I could provide.

I have also tried to not give her guilt trips. At her current age she has asked about when she was young. The first year of her life was difficult on us all.

She was up at least 18 hours a day and most of it crying not eating, peeing or pooping. I just tell her she cried because babies do and she wanted her Mommy a lot. I said that is why she is so sweet and loving today (but fortunately
much more independent).

Posted by: shdd | May 23, 2007 2:01 PM

"" WHAT?!?! A year off for maternity leave? That just seems excessive. I thought maybe a month to heal, then he could stay home for paternity leave."

MONA you might be better suited just to buy a couple of dogs. I think you have no idea the level of commitment and sacrifice required for raising children.

Posted by: pATRICK | May 23, 2007 2:01 PM

Cultural Tidbit of the Day.
(repost from yesterday)

I mentioned that I have some paintings in my house. I just took inventory and post hurricane I have only 1 painting now. But, it is of a pueblo of the Acoma Indian Tribe in New Mexico.

What makes this place and the Acoma tribe so interesting is that the pueblo is longest continually inhabited city in the United States. This city may have been inhabited since 1150 A.D.

Posted by: Fred | May 22, 2007 05:21 PM

BTW, I do not know who the artist is but it is a local woman who obviously visted the pueblo once.

Posted by: Fred | May 23, 2007 2:03 PM

pATRICK, I keep hoping I mature in time. Clearly I am pretty selfish and not ready for children at all. But I'm assuming once I'm in my thirties, things will change. That's what I hope, anyway. We'll see, won't we?

Did your wife take off that long after she gave birth? Oh, wait, I bet your wife doesn't work, does she? Correct me if I'm wrong...

Posted by: Mona | May 23, 2007 2:05 PM

I may not be allowed to use scissors as a volunteer but I did shelve books while at college as my work-study assignment! $1.70hr!

Posted by: Fred | May 23, 2007 2:06 PM

Thanks, Marian. THat's what I'm talking about -- an organization that requires a commitment from both the volunteers and the organization, that provides a job description, and that demands a certain level of professionalism on both parts.

I'm not saying that my time is "oh so valuable" and I spend lots of time doing mundane stuff (like raking leaves at my kid's school). What I AM saying is that this particular school was paying a professional grantwriter when there were numerous people in the parent community who had these skills that would have done it for free. And in at least one case, a "dad" who was a website designer was asked to design a website, while a "mom" who was a website designer was handed, you guessed it, scissors and construction paper.

Posted by: Armchair Mom | May 23, 2007 2:06 PM

Good afternoon, pATRICK. Please check out my vegan chocolate cake recipe, posted at 10:38 AM today with a special shout-out just to you! It's an easy recipe, and the cake turns out so yummy that you really can't tell there are no eggs or dairy products in it. Sorry I missed the festivities with you yesterday afternoon (meow).

Posted by: catlady | May 23, 2007 2:08 PM

"This city may have been inhabited since 1150 A.D. "

Nope, the Mormons were there way before 1150 A.D.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 2:08 PM

I went back to work when DD was 2 1/2. Partly because my benefits severance pay and unemployment ran out.

Unemployment for maternity leave?

Posted by: DC lurker | May 23, 2007 2:09 PM

I did see the CTOTD and almost posted. I've visited Acoma Sky City. It's incredibly beautiful. I loved the story the guide told about the priest who hit an Acoma child and was thrown over the edge of the mesa. I'm not sure if this is a Sky urban legend or if it's true.

Fred, are you sure it was your degree and not your "Runs with Scissors" t-shirt that kept you on the sidelines? :-)

Posted by: Marian | May 23, 2007 2:11 PM

Fred wrote: "This city may have been inhabited since 1150 A.D."

Ah, the irony for you, living in an area that was (at least) semi-abandoned in 2005.

Posted by: catlady | May 23, 2007 2:12 PM

"This city may have been inhabited since 1150 A.D. "

Nope, the Mormons were there way before 1150 A.D.


Posted by: | May 23, 2007 02:08 PM
How can this be if the founder of LDS church (Josheph Smith) published the book of Mormon in 1830?

Posted by: foamgnome | May 23, 2007 2:13 PM

Fred would never do anything subversive like wear a "message" t-shirt under his dress shirt like Greg House M.D. does!

Posted by: Fred | May 23, 2007 2:14 PM

Did your wife take off that long after she gave birth? Oh, wait, I bet your wife doesn't work, does she? Correct me if I'm wrong...

MONA, You stand corrected, my wife does work, too hard unfortunately. She was off 14 weeks because that is all her vacation and sick time and flex time we could buy. It may be hard for you to understand but when you have your kids, those sacrifices won't seem as bad and your interests won't seem as important, you will adjust. Just like everyone else. Just roll with the flow.

Posted by: pATRICK | May 23, 2007 2:14 PM

Good afternoon, pATRICK. Please check out my vegan chocolate cake recipe, posted at 10:38 AM today with a special shout-out just to you! It's an easy recipe, and the cake turns out so yummy that you really can't tell there are no eggs or dairy products in it. Sorry I missed the festivities with you yesterday afternoon (meow).

Can I add a tasty bloodmuffin to it? ;)

Posted by: pATRICK | May 23, 2007 2:16 PM

pATRICK --

Mona is a smart woman and I'm sure she'll rise to the occasion when and if the time comes. She doesn't strike me as the type to take on something like this unless she's done some research and is sure it's the right decision. Why else would she hang out here asking all these questions?

I don't think anyone is fully prepared for the changes brought on by their first child -- from the time commitment to the complete change in lifestyle to the overwhelming love you feel for this little bundle. That first week I thought I'd made the biggest mistake of my life, that I'd never be able to manage parenthood.

We managed, and we're still managing. If Mona and Mr. Mona decide that they want to be parents, they'll manage too. They have more going for them than many new parents (such as the minimum-wage earning single mom Mona mentioned -- don't know how they manage either and have the utmost respect, FYI).

Posted by: Vegas Mom | May 23, 2007 2:17 PM

If God gave women the responsibility to give birth to all children (both theirs and, consequently, his as well), I fail to understand how any human being can question a woman's ability to return to work after having a child. You would think that the highest authority's recommendation known to man would be enough to tip the scales her way and ensure even a chance. That's The Giddy Gander Company philosophy anyway. www.wumblers.com

Posted by: Laura | May 23, 2007 2:17 PM


Catlady,

How true!, still a lot of abandoned houses here, I only have to look next door to see one!

Foamgnome,

I suspect someone was having a bit of fun about 1150 A.D.

Marian,

I will have to go to Sky City one day. Until then I will look at my painting, it evokes such a feeling particularly if you know the back-story!

And the creepy van is alive and full of building materials today!

Posted by: Fred | May 23, 2007 2:19 PM

pATRICK asked: "Can I add a tasty bloodmuffin to it?"

pATRICK, dear, that's just between you and that little voice called your conscience.

Posted by: catlady | May 23, 2007 2:20 PM

Can we stop with the bloodmuffins? I keep having flashbacks to my grandmother serving bloodsausage at breakfast during a visit. I think in Ireland it's called blood pudding. My grandmother made the stuff herself.

And I'm a meateater (though I aspire to reducing my quantity of meat intake).

Posted by: Marian | May 23, 2007 2:20 PM

BTW, I don't think that the creepy van has ever had a library book in it.

Posted by: Fred | May 23, 2007 2:22 PM

"I think in Ireland it's called blood pudding. My grandmother made the stuff herself"

So did mine when she was boozing it up! Small world.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 2:23 PM

Foamgnome,

I suspect someone was having a bit of fun about 1150 A.D.

Fred, do you think so? Or is there some kind of theological back dating that occurs. I know there is something about Mormonism belief that says it is the reincarnation of the ancient church started by Jesus Christ and some other story about Native American Indians. I was trying to figure out what the theological issue behind that statement or someone was just making a joke. Or really bad at dates.

Posted by: foamgnome | May 23, 2007 2:23 PM

"Can we stop with the bloodmuffins?"

And the muffin tops! Please! Don't people look in the mirror???

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 2:27 PM

To pATRICK, Marian, et al.:

Although I've been a ovo-lacto vegetarian (i.e., still eat eggs and dairy products) for nearly 17 years, I grew up with the ethic that the only reason not to have meat or fish or seafood as the main course for dinner every night was poverty.

Then DH started reading about the health hazards of high dietary cholesterol and asked if I thought we should start lowering the amount of meat in our diets, especially fatty meats. I did some reading -- let's hear it for checking out lots of cookbooks from the public library! -- collected some tasty-sounding low- or non-meat recipes. Then, without mentioning anything to DH about what I intended to do, I fixed main courses with little or no meat for dinner for a week. That weekend I asked DH how he'd liked that week's dinners, and he said they were some of the best I'd ever cooked (no cheap shot involved here, BTW). I then revealed to him that in planning that week's menus I'd taken his recent concerns re dietary cholesterol to heart (pun intended). He replied that he hoped I'd continue chiefly making such main courses, because he preferred them on their own merits as well as for their likely health benefits.

As to the matter of transitioning from less meat to meatless, an SDA I knew in Takoma Park told me that was the hardest part for their converts, and that if a person seriously wanted to go vegetarian, the ultimately most successful way to do so was to change slowly, rather than going -- dare I say it -- cold turkey (bad catlady, bad baaaad catlady!).

Posted by: catlady | May 23, 2007 2:33 PM

Yuck, the blood puddings references almost made me ill.

See, I don't like everything Irish.

Posted by: scarry | May 23, 2007 2:36 PM

catlady

What do you feed your cat?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 2:36 PM

Study: 38 Percent Of People Not Actually Entitled To Their Opinion

CHICAGO--In a surprising refutation of the conventional wisdom on opinion entitlement, a study conducted by the University of Chicago's School for Behavioral Science concluded that more than one-third of the U.S. population is neither entitled nor qualified to have opinions.

"On topics from evolution to the environment to gay marriage to immigration reform, we found that many of the opinions expressed were so off-base and ill-informed that they actually hurt society by being voiced," said chief researcher Professor Mark Fultz, who based the findings on hundreds of telephone, office, and dinner-party conversations compiled over a three-year period. "While people have long asserted that it takes all kinds, our research shows that American society currently has a drastic oversupply of the kinds who don't have any good or worthwhile thoughts whatsoever. We could actually do just fine without them."

In 2002, Fultz's team shook the academic world by conclusively proving the existence of both bad ideas during brainstorming and dumb questions during question-and-answer sessions.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | May 23, 2007 2:39 PM

"While people have long asserted that it takes all kinds, our research shows that American society currently has a drastic oversupply of the kinds who don't have any good or worthwhile thoughts whatsoever. We could actually do just fine without them."

Ha, Ha! Well done.

Posted by: June | May 23, 2007 2:42 PM

The cat is not a human, notwithstanding his conviction to the contrary. So, yes, the beast eats catfood containing meat. But he also loves certain non-meat people-food treats -- like melted cheese, melted vanilla ice cream, buttered bits of toast, etc.

I find that most vegetarians are not the ideological hysterics that a few omnivores seem to have a need to make us out to be. We're just ordinary folks who get our protein from sources other than dead animals.

Posted by: catlady | May 23, 2007 2:43 PM

Anyone for haggis?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 2:45 PM

Robert Burns - is that you with the haggis?

Posted by: KLB SS MD | May 23, 2007 2:48 PM

Ummm, FWIW, 2:17 was not me.

Foamgnome, I believe the Mormon reference was to their belief that Jesus Christ returned and visited the people of the Americas a long time ago -- in this context, suspect it was a joke.

Posted by: Laura | May 23, 2007 2:49 PM

catlady,

catlady,

I have tried to be a vegetarian many times when I was younger. I just don't have it in me. I would hate for you to see what I have been eating since my pregnancy started. All I have had is meat, meat, meat. This time is so different from the last time.

Mona will be a fine mother if she can ease up on baribe, snow white, and sleeping beatuy. :)

Posted by: scarry | May 23, 2007 2:51 PM

Do you mean to say that Mitt Romney really believes that? And wants to be our President? He already held up his hand to say he doesn't believe in Evolution. I shudder to think what his administration's science policy would be like.

Posted by: To Laura | May 23, 2007 2:52 PM

I find that most vegetarians are not the ideological hysterics that a few omnivores seem to have a need to make us out to be. We're just ordinary folks who get our protein from sources other than dead animals.

Posted by: catlady | May 23, 2007 02:43 PM

True, but its not the ordinary folks that get noticed. But from my point of view, most also don't let an opportunity slip by to show their superiority to us omnivores. Kinda like you did by using the term "dead animals" where the much shorter and less incendiary word "meat" wouold have sufficed.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 2:53 PM

"I would hate for you to see what I have been eating since my pregnancy started. All I have had is meat, meat, meat. This time is so different from the last time."

Reminds me of that episode of Friends when Phoebe (the vegetarian) was pregnant and frantically craving meat.

I had no food cravings when I was pregnant. In fact, the first three months, everything I ate tasted like cardboard. I went to great lengths to cook/order food that I could taste. Dumped lots of hot sauce on stuff, spiced everything to death, etc. I finally gave up and prayed my tastebuds would return.

Made it easy not to gain weight during that first trimester, but I was SO glad when I started tasting my food again!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 2:56 PM

To 2:52: I suspect they'd be kinda like the current Administration's.

Posted by: Laura | May 23, 2007 2:57 PM

Scarry, You're an adult, so you can eat whatever you and your doctor agree is best for you, especially during your pregnancy when you're eating for (at least!) two. No judgments being passed here. Just stay healthy.

Posted by: catlady | May 23, 2007 2:58 PM

The taste-bud-free 2:56 post was me . . . .

Posted by: Vegas Mom | May 23, 2007 3:00 PM

catlady, I didn't mean to imply you were judgemental. You aren't at all. I could just picture having to eat lunch with a vegan, I think they would die from the shock. I have had four chili dogs in the last 4 days. I have not gained a pound either. I do have a new doctor though, so I can't wait to see what she says.

Posted by: scarry | May 23, 2007 3:01 PM

I saw a picture of Paris Hilton coming out of a bookstore with a Bible. The Lord truly works in mysterious ways. I think I would have been less surprised if she had a headless goat under her arm.

Posted by: pATRICK | May 23, 2007 3:02 PM

I craved lettuce (not salads just lettuce), McDonald's french fries, and soda when I was pregnant with #1. Who craves lettuce--I think that was weird.

Posted by: Nameless poster | May 23, 2007 3:03 PM

"Dead animals" is simply a descriptive of what meat is. Nothing incendiary there.

Posted by: catlady | May 23, 2007 3:03 PM

vegas mom I have been eating hot stuff, meat, and bags of apples. I am even eating things I don't like. I hope they subside before I blow up.

Posted by: scarry | May 23, 2007 3:04 PM

Scarry, my dear, I have no problem with your eating 4 chili dogs -- except that I can never forgive you for not gaining weight ;-)

Posted by: catlady | May 23, 2007 3:07 PM

My mom said she craved oatmeal when she was pregnant with me. That's almost as weird as lettuce!

I'll never forget seeing a MacDonald's commercial when I was early pregnant and taste-free. I had this sudden incredible craving for a Big Mac. The fact that I had a craving made me think my taste buds might be back, so I immediately jumped in the car and drove to the nearest MacDonald's and bought a Big Mac at the drive through. When I got home, I was all ready for a taste sensation.

Nothing. I threw it away after two bites. So disappointing.

Posted by: Vegas Mom | May 23, 2007 3:07 PM

So sacrifice...

I'm ok with moms using the term sacrifice in general. Life is hard, and I think there always is a prioritization and giving up of some things in return for higher valued things.

I agree that the light of the original post does seem to show the mom felt she'd done her time and now was ready to get onto the important thing- and I certainly don't think the posters here are projecting their insecurities!

I only have issue with the sacrifice term when it's overused to make kids feel guilty, to gain sympathy for your own choices, or used as a weapon towards NON baby makers to suggest we're somehow "too selfish to make the sacrifice."

On the job thing- my partner chose to change career tracks completely when we moved last summer and he's over 40. It's a long slow difficult path for us both, but completely worth it to know he's really doing what he feels is best for him.

Posted by: Liz D | May 23, 2007 3:07 PM

Keziah: No thanks, I'm a fruitarian.
Max: I didn't realize that.
William: And, ahm: what exactly is a fruitarian?
Keziah: We believe that fruits and vegetables have feeling so we think cooking is cruel. We only eat things that have actually fallen off a tree or bush - that are, in fact, dead already.
William: Right. Right. Interesting stuff. So, these carrots...
Keziah: Have been murdered, yes.
William: Murdered? Poor carrots. How beastly!


This was truly funny! From "NOTTING HILL".

Posted by: pATRICK | May 23, 2007 3:07 PM

catlady

"No judgments being passed here"

Right. Then why do you manage to slip your lifestyle choice into so many posts.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 3:08 PM

mona, you fascinate me. you've skipped more than a few steps. you have maternity leave all figured out, and yet you still need to get that guy to marry you.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 3:09 PM

pATRICK, please remember that that was *just* a movie, a satirical movie at that. In real-life I've never met even the strictest vegan (i.e., not even eggs or dairy) who believed what you posted.

BTW, I only use dropped apples from our tree, but not out of any political belief. It's just that the previous owner of our property had headed the tree high enough that he could've grazed giraffes underneath it!

Posted by: catlady | May 23, 2007 3:13 PM

Then why do you manage to slip your lifestyle choice into so many posts.

Touchy much?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 3:15 PM

Catlady, I was just pulling your tail (so to speak). Just thought it was funny given our off topic.

Posted by: pATRICK | May 23, 2007 3:16 PM

No one is forcing you to read her posts. Just skip them, like I should have skipped yours.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 3:17 PM

To pATRICK: (purr)

Posted by: catlady | May 23, 2007 3:18 PM

In the spirit of KLB and pATRICK's jokes yesterday, I'm posting this,
which was just sent to me by a co-worker (who's a woman, by the way).

The FBI had an opening for an assassin. After all the background
checks, interviews and testing were done, there were 3 finalists. Two
men and a woman.

For the final test, the FBI agents took one of the men to a large
metal door and handed him a gun.

"We must know that you will follow your instructions no matter what
the circumstances. Inside the room you will find your wife sitting in
a chair.. Kill Her!!"

The man said, "You can't be serious. I could never shoot my wife."

The agent said, "Then you're not the right man for this job. Take
your wife and go home."

The second man was given the same instructions. He took the gun and
went into the room. All was quiet for about 5 minutes. The man came
out with tears in his eyes, " I tried, but I can't kill my wife."

The agent said, "You don't have what it takes. Take your wife and go
home."

Finally, it was the woman's turn. She was given the same instruction,
to kill her husband. She took the gun and went into the room. Shots
were heard, one after another. They heard screaming, crashing,
banging on the walls

After a few minutes, all was quiet. The door opened slowly and there
stood the woman, wiping the sweat from her brow. "The gun is loaded
with blanks" she said. "I had to beat him to death with the chair."

Moral:
Women are evil.
Don't mess with them

Posted by: Vegas Mom | May 23, 2007 3:19 PM

ha catlady, I am waiting or someone to tell me I am gaining weight and that I am lying.

Posted by: scarry | May 23, 2007 3:20 PM

Vegas Mom,

A small technical correction to your joke. The FBI does not have assassins, it is the CIA!

Posted by: Fred | May 23, 2007 3:23 PM

I stand corrected Fred.

So should I assume you agree with the conclusion that women are evil, LOL? :>)

Posted by: Vegas Mom | May 23, 2007 3:26 PM

The FBI does not have assassins, it is the CIA!

That's just what they want you to believe.

Posted by: To Fred | May 23, 2007 3:26 PM

Vegas Mom, I laughed out loud when I read about your purchase of 6 novels in preparation for maternity leave. I brought THREE books to the hospital when I went to have my first. My mother saw them on the table in the hospital room and said, "do you want me to bring these home now?"

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 23, 2007 3:27 PM

To Vegas Mom and To Fred

Well, it depends it the operation is within the US or another country and also depends if bullets are available

Posted by: Fred | May 23, 2007 3:36 PM

"Dead animals" is simply a descriptive of what meat is. Nothing incendiary there.

Posted by: catlady | May 23, 2007 03:03 PM

Do you really believe that describing meat as dead animals is not incendiary?

It is just like calling a woman who has a first term abortion a baby killer. While technically correct, it certainly isn't the most respectful choice of words.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 3:37 PM

WorkingMomX, that's funny. I didn't bring any books to the hospital, but I did bring pre-pregnancy clothing to wear home.

Really, I was so in denial.

Posted by: Vegas Mom | May 23, 2007 3:38 PM

Anonymous, why do you think describing meat as dead animals IS incendiary?

Posted by: catlady | May 23, 2007 3:41 PM

Study: 38 Percent Of People Not Actually Entitled To Their Opinion


Ah, The Onion is just a riot.

Posted by: Nameless poster | May 23, 2007 3:47 PM

"Study: 38 Percent Of People Not Actually Entitled To Their Opinion"

How did so many members of my family get into this study?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 3:50 PM

I did read Gene Weingarten's "I'm with stupid" when I was induced at Fairfax. A quick read and even more funny under the circumstances.

Posted by: Re: Books | May 23, 2007 3:52 PM

Anonymous, why do you think describing meat as dead animals IS incendiary?

Posted by: catlady | May 23, 2007 03:41 PM

The choice to use the words "dead animals" was a concious choice on your part to imply that meat eaters are murderers.

Someone like you knows the power of words, the fact that you chose that "descriptive" in place of the much simpler term "meat" shows that you made a concious choice to offend.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 3:53 PM

Vegas Mom

"I didn't bring any books to the hospital, but I did bring pre-pregnancy clothing to wear home. "

Ha, ha! Little did I know that I would be wearing maternity pants for a year after my daughter was born!

Posted by: gutless coward | May 23, 2007 3:53 PM

Anonymous, What's offensive to you about calling meat "dead animals"?

Posted by: catlady | May 23, 2007 3:55 PM

Little did I know that I would be wearing maternity pants for a year after my daughter was born!

Posted by: gutless coward | May 23, 2007 03:53 PM


You had plenty of gut.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 3:57 PM

Anonymous, What's offensive to you about calling meat "dead animals"?

Posted by: catlady | May 23, 2007 03:55 PM

Did you miss my post above?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 3:58 PM

Okay, a confession: I have a pair of maternity shorts that I still wear -- and my daughter is 2 1/2!!! But I'm in training for a marathon, so I won't be wearing them for much longer.

Posted by: Anon for this post | May 23, 2007 4:02 PM

"Do you really believe that describing meat as dead animals is not incendiary?
It is just like calling a woman who has a first term abortion a baby killer. While technically correct, it certainly isn't the most respectful choice of words."
Posted by: | May 23, 2007 03:37 PM

Actually, this is a poor comparison. There is an ideological dispute about whether a fetus equals a baby. There is no dispute about whether meat comes from animals.

Posted by: worker bee | May 23, 2007 4:05 PM

Anonymous, What's offensive to you about calling meat "dead animals"?

Posted by: catlady | May 23, 2007 03:55 PM

Did you miss my post above?

Posted by: | May 23, 2007 03:58 PM
Catlady, she finds it offensive because it is implying that meat eaters are murderers and no one wants to hear that.

BTW, I tried a meat substitute a few weeks ago. It was suppose to be like beef strips in a stir fry. I added it to my stir fry and it was the worst thing I ever tasted. Seriously, I tried but you could not pay me to eat that again. The only faux meats I like are fake chicken nuggets, garden burgers, and soy protein that you make like a meat loaf.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 4:06 PM

4:06 was me. Also I don't mind if you call meat a dead animal. I was just trying to explain why anon did not like that.

Posted by: foamgnome | May 23, 2007 4:08 PM

I actually like some of the meatless stuff, but I have been trying to stay away from it because I heard on the news that a lot of the ingredients come from China.

But then again, I read in the Post that the US government is about to let China import chicken meat or "dead animals" into the country, so I guess you can't win.

I mean it's not like they have the bird flu or anything over there.

Posted by: scarry | May 23, 2007 4:09 PM

Anonymous wrote: "...the worst thing I ever tasted. Seriously, I tried but you could not pay me to eat that again."

All my omnivorous life, I felt that way about liver. Not all meat is wonderful, either!

Posted by: catlady | May 23, 2007 4:10 PM

Foamy, Anon is just a troll who's trying to act wounded like some drama queen.

Posted by: catlady | May 23, 2007 4:12 PM

Did anyone read Hax today? Somewhat apropos to our post-child life-change discussion.

Posted by: Vegas Mom | May 23, 2007 4:15 PM

foamgnome, I think I get it. I was quite curious on this one as Mr Bee, who does eat meat and is my main source of carnivore opinions, routinely says "Yum, dead cow" while grilling for himself. He knows quite well what he is eating. He rants sometimes about how sanitized our culture has become, with kids growing up thinking meat comes in styrofoam packages. I wondered if this was what the anon commenter meant.

Posted by: worker bee | May 23, 2007 4:18 PM

Anonymous, What's offensive to you about calling meat "dead animals"?

Posted by: catlady | May 23, 2007 03:55 PM

I don't think it is the most offensive thing I have ever read, to be honest, it barely registers on my offensive meter. But my first statement was in response to your original post:

" find that most vegetarians are not the ideological hysterics that a few omnivores seem to have a need to make us out to be. We're just ordinary folks who get our protein from sources other than dead animals."

Posted by: catlady | May 23, 2007 02:43 PM

You criticized onmivores for having the "need" to make vegetarians ideological hysterics, implying omnivires have a problem with vegetarians. Then followed that statement with the dead animal quote. Both of these statements have the tone of superiority. I just wanted to point out thatwhile you may not be hysterical, you certainly are an ideologue.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 4:19 PM

Fred,

I have a picture in my head of the creepy van refitted as a bookmobile. :-)

Posted by: Marian | May 23, 2007 4:21 PM

If an Anonymous troll can't distinguish between witty writing and ideology, then the Anonymous is just a cranky scold. To the sage green cave with you!

Posted by: catlady | May 23, 2007 4:23 PM

I agree with anon's assessment of catlady, who is the kind of idealogue that vegetarians and vegans who DON'T have an agenda should steer clear of. She shoots herself in the foot every time.

Posted by: lurker | May 23, 2007 4:24 PM

Actually, this is a poor comparison. There is an ideological dispute about whether a fetus equals a baby. There is no dispute about whether meat comes from animals.

Posted by: worker bee | May 23, 2007 04:05 PM

Yeah, I know but it is the most incendiary one I could come up with. ;)

Ideological dispute or not, left alone, the fetus will one day (most likely) become a baby. So, maybe it is not that bad after all. My point was to highlight the fact that words matter, not start an abortion debate.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 4:26 PM

To Anonymous and Lurker, Go eat some more mad-cow infected beef.

Posted by: catlady | May 23, 2007 4:28 PM

Foamy, Anon is just a troll who's trying to act wounded like some drama queen.

Posted by: catlady | May 23, 2007 04:12 PM

Why, just because I was anon?

Posted by: devils advocate | May 23, 2007 4:29 PM

Don't worry, I have no interest in starting that abortion debate either! Only wanted to point out how incendiary the comparison was.

Posted by: worker bee | May 23, 2007 4:30 PM

Leslie, if the auction brought in 25% of the school's budget, I would HATE to be the next auction chair at that school. talk about pressure-- "So this is your goal. Now, if you don't make it, don't worry. We'll just lay-off a few teachers, maybe the janitors will lose their health insurance-- and those kids that really want to attend but their parents can't afford it-- I'm sure they'll be just fine elsewhere. Now you have fun with this little project!!

I had nightmares over the auction I was coorditating and it didn't have anywhere close to the expectations of the auction for your school! yikes!

Some volunteer jobs seem way more stressful than an actual paid job.

Posted by: Jen S. | May 23, 2007 4:30 PM

Devil's advocate, You just admitted what I said.

Posted by: catlady | May 23, 2007 4:31 PM

To Anonymous and Lurker, Go eat some more mad-cow infected beef.

Posted by: catlady | May 23, 2007 04:28 PM

Wow, took you longer than usual to get to the personal attack. Wishing mad cow disease on someone isn't very nice.

Posted by: devils advocate | May 23, 2007 4:32 PM

catlady, thank you for proving my point.

Posted by: lurker | May 23, 2007 4:32 PM

If an Anonymous troll can't distinguish between witty writing and ideology,

-catlady

The two are not mutually exclusive.

Posted by: devils advocate | May 23, 2007 4:35 PM

It could be suggested that catlady go eat some e coli tainted spinach...but then that wouldn't be nice.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 4:36 PM

Jen --

I have one friend who volunteered to run her school's auction (a two year commitment). After the first year, she asked her husband to look for a job in another state so she could get out of the commitment! You are right that for some people (me included) it's just too much pressure and too much work. But I know a lot of auction volunteers who love it, and are honored by the responsibility.

Posted by: Leslie | May 23, 2007 4:36 PM

Actually, it was Anonymous and Lurker who proved my point.

Posted by: catlady | May 23, 2007 4:36 PM

I believe she said that it brought in 25% of the scholarship budget.

Posted by: Re: auction | May 23, 2007 4:40 PM

Devil's advocate, You just admitted what I said.

Posted by: catlady | May 23, 2007 04:31 PM

Huh?

The words on the screen should have the same value regardless of who says them. Anon or not, my word were not just being a cranky scold, I was honest in my opinion that it was offensive and incendiary. The fact that they weren't excessively so, just keeps you out of the hysterical category.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 4:41 PM

that was me at 4:41.

And catlady, you can have the last word,as I am out of here to go to my kids soccer game.

Posted by: devils advocate | May 23, 2007 4:43 PM

Conundrum: If one person tells another s/he has the last word, then who truly has the last word?

Posted by: catlady | May 23, 2007 4:47 PM

me!

Posted by: Last | May 23, 2007 4:48 PM

catlady, what people often fail to realize is the difference between obligate carnivores and omnivores. Cats, for example, are obligate carnivores--cannot subsist without a steady diet of meat, and the only vegetable matter they eat is in the form of offal or an occasional grassy snack. Some dogs, on the other hand, can thrive on a vegetarian diet. Then there are obligate herbivores, such as cows, chickens, iguanas, etc. Humans fall somewhere in the middle, allowing us to partake in both, though our ancestors were obligate herbivores until a famine forced them to evolve. Sorry if that offends any creationists out there, but I tip my hat to science.

"mona, you fascinate me. you've skipped more than a few steps. you have maternity leave all figured out, and yet you still need to get that guy to marry you."

BF is a planner, and it's starting to rub off on me. These things are nice to know now that I've started to consider having a little human someday, and I find comfort in knowledge, since I'm a little panicked at the idea still. I'm glad I've captured your fascination, though.

"It is just like calling a woman who has a first term abortion a baby killer. While technically correct, it certainly isn't the most respectful choice of words."

That's actually NOT correct. No babies die in abortions. Killer would be correct, but there are no infants involved.

pATRICK, I almost agreed with you about Paris Hilton. Then I saw your "Lord works in mysterious ways" comment. There is no mystery here. Did you notice how perfectly her books were propped up in her arms, the titles completely visible? She wanted the paps to see the books so she can come off as the poor little innocent victim. I know when I carry books, the cover is facing me, and as far as I know, most everyone else does as well. Why would you hold your book backward; wouldn't it be awkward to read that way?

Re: "dead animals." While some people say "I don't eat dead animals" to get a reaction (I'll admit I usually say "I don't eat animals," because it eliminates confusion as to whether I am ovo-lacto or vegan, though you'd be surprised how many people still ask "So do you eat fish?" as if fish aren't animals), there is one thing I'd like to add here. I've noticed that people who know where their food comes from, for example, that an animal gave its life for your nourishment, made them that much more appreciative of what they ate. They tended to not overeat or waste food as much, and if they hunted for themselves, they didn't waste any parts. I was raised near the old stomping grounds of many Amerindian tribes, so that may be where this culture came from. So maybe there is a trickle-down effect of such a connotation in that we have to face what happens for us to get that burger or steak. Even if it converts no one, it may make us think about our food, instead of wolfing it down without a second thought.

And many thanks to those who ran to my defense as a future mother; maybe I am planning too far ahead, but I don't take motherhood lightly, and I want to be as prepared as possible. I know it's impossible to be completely prepared, but I'd like all the info I can get. And I even appreciate pATRICK's gentle snarking because it reminds me that I have a long way to go and a lot of mentality changes to make before I can be the kind of mother I want to be.

Sorry about the novel I've written here. Hope I didn't bore you all to death! :-)

Posted by: Mona | May 23, 2007 4:55 PM

Mona, You have a bright, inquisitive and analytical mind, which should serve you well in the Law as well as in life in general. Sometimes a group of topics accumulates, so it's easier to address them all in a single post.

Posted by: catlady | May 23, 2007 5:13 PM

Catlady,

I know a vegan who will only eat raw food, because cooking the food is too harsh and, as I understand it, painful for the fruit and vegetables.

Posted by: carrot | May 23, 2007 5:15 PM

Mona -- I think the fish question comes up because I've heard of vegetarians that eat fish and dairy. So, I think the carnivorous questioner thinks the distinction is being made by the vegetarian, and is merely trying to categorize where you fall on the spectrum of vegetarianism. I don't think they believe fish aren't animals. At least, that's what I'm thinking when I ask that question.

ARE there vegetarians that eat fish (or, better question, can you be a fish-eating vegetarian?), or is that an urban myth?

Posted by: Vegas Mom | May 23, 2007 5:21 PM

pATRICK said it better at 3:07.

Posted by: To Carrot | May 23, 2007 5:21 PM

pATRICK, I almost agreed with you about Paris Hilton. Then I saw your "Lord works in mysterious ways" comment.

But MONA you have to admit that is a weird sight. I would tend to agree with you, nothing is beyond Paris but the Lord does work in mysterious ways. ( Besides it would take an act of GOD to turn Paris around) pun intended.

Posted by: pATRICK | May 23, 2007 5:21 PM

Vegas Mom, there are people who call themselves vegetarians but eat fish (chicken, sometimes, too). They should not call themselves vegetarians, as technically vegetarians eat no flesh. But I forget what the correct word is, and no one really uses it, so I guess those people use "vegetarian" as a shorthand to ensure they don't end up with a big plate of beef.

Posted by: worker bee | May 23, 2007 5:29 PM

To to carrot - Yes, but I'm talking about a real person, not a character in a movie, and catlady said in real life that she never met a vegan who believed that. I have.

Posted by: carrot | May 23, 2007 5:32 PM

school auctions aren't allowed around here because it discriminates against the poor.

The private schools my kids attended elsewhere had school auctions (usually silent auctions combined with a grand ball) netting 100-200K every couple of years.

Posted by: dotted | May 23, 2007 5:32 PM

Shame this column on getting back into work was hijacked by vegies vs nonvegies. I would have liked to hear how people returned to work

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 5:36 PM

Worker Bee- LOL I do that all the time, too! Dead cow, dead chicken, dead fish, yum yum!

I also don't get the not eating alive things- plants are alive, they are just easier to hunt.

Posted by: Liz D | May 23, 2007 5:42 PM

"Shame this column on getting back into work was hijacked by vegies vs nonvegies. I would have liked to hear how people returned to work"

Then read the 150+ repetitive posts that preceded the off topic. Yawn

Posted by: pATRICK | May 23, 2007 5:46 PM

Liz D. -- I think the distinction between plants and animals is sentience.

There, my vocabulary word for the day!

Posted by: Vegas Mom | May 23, 2007 5:46 PM

the 150 posts before concerned academics and volunteerism. There was one good post by Armchair Mom. The vegan talking began at 7:51am.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 5:54 PM

Sentience--now there's one of those words that looks incorrectly spelled no matter how I spell it. It's kind of like commitment--I always want to type an extra T. How embarrassing! I never had this problem when I used to compose longhand back in the dark ages.

Posted by: Marian | May 23, 2007 5:57 PM

Right now I THINK I'll be champing at the bit to get back to work (much like right now I'm champing at the bit to start law school), but if/when I give birth, I'll probably want to stay at home a bit longer than I say now--but definitely not a year. What's he thinking?

Posted by: Mona | May 23, 2007 01:30 PM

Mona,

What he's thinking is that moms take a year off to stay home with their babies. Ignore or underestimate the significance of this assumption at your peril. I am not suggesting he should not value moms staying home, but I suspect he should have kids with a woman who has the same assumptions. If the two of you marry and have kids, he may well misinterpret your assumption that you're headed promptly back to work as indicative of some lack of feeling for your child.

In terms of the length of your maternity leave, the lack of a good night's sleep may determine whether or not you are even capable of doing your job. I could not have done my job for at least the first four weeks after each delivery not because of any lingering physical restriction, but because I was getting 3 - 6 broken up hours of sleep per day (1.5 hours here, 1 hour there), and my job requires that more than a few synapses be concurrently firing. If your career plan remains as it is now, you doubt you will be able to write a patent application on 3 hours of sleep either.

Just my 2 cents.

Posted by: MN | May 23, 2007 6:08 PM

I'm sorry for the tangent into volunteerism. Actually, my personal experience is that volunteer positions can be quite useful for the return to work in some circumstances.

I used volunteering to test the waters in both the public and academic sectors after working in private industry. I wasn't sure if I would want to work in a not-for-profit environment. Volunteering gave me the opportunity to experience new environments, refresh and build new skills, and prove myself and make contacts.

I was able to volunteer on weekends, so I didn't need to pay for childcare. As Armchair mom emphasized, it's important to approach volunteering for the purpose of aiding a return to paid work as a professional pursuit. I eventually was hired by an organization for which I volunteered. It was win-win. I felt more confident going into a new environment and my employer got an employee with whom they had a trial run.

Posted by: Marian | May 23, 2007 6:10 PM

ARE there vegetarians that eat fish (or, better question, can you be a fish-eating vegetarian?), or is that an urban myth?

Posted by: Vegas Mom | May 23, 2007 05:21 PM

Vegas Mom,

On more than one occasion, I've had a new acquaintance inform me that he or she is vegetarian; then, upon further gentle inquiry, they admit to not only eating fish, but also chicken. Until we come up with a short-hand for, "I don't eat the products of animals with hooves, but everything else is fair game" (Ha!), the term, "vegetarian," will continue to be(mis?)used by a great many persons.

Posted by: MN | May 23, 2007 6:12 PM

From the Ask Dr. Sears website (make what you will of the authority of the source--his definitions sound pretty reasonable to me):

1) A strict vegetarian, a vegan, avoids all foods of animal origin, including meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, and eggs.
2) Lacto-vegetarians include dairy products in their diet. Lacto-ovo- vegetarians also eat dairy products and eggs.
3) Pesco-vegetarians eat fish, dairy products, and eggs along with plant foods. (We believe this is the healthiest diet for most people).
4) Finally, there are semi-vegetarians, who cheat a little and eat a little poultry along with fish, as well as dairy products and eggs. Most veggie lovers are not strict vegans.

Posted by: Marian | May 23, 2007 6:17 PM

And, along the lines of MN's post to Mona, you can't assume that your spouse will change after marriage.

As in, "She'll change her mind after the baby arrives."

Or, "He'll change his mind once he sees how much I love my job."

Assume nothing will change. Can you still marry him/her?

Posted by: Vegas Mom | May 23, 2007 6:22 PM

"Assume nothing will change. Can you still marry him/her? "

Or assume everything will change. Can you still marry him/her?

Posted by: pATRICK | May 23, 2007 6:27 PM

Vegas Mom, What about the things in life that one can never anticipate? Like, one of us is a Lostie, the other one isn't. Can this marriage be saved?

Posted by: catlady | May 23, 2007 6:27 PM

Both Vegas Mom and pATRICK raise excellent questions, which Mona -- as well as the rest of us -- should heed.

Posted by: catlady | May 23, 2007 6:29 PM

"Both Vegas Mom and pATRICK raise excellent questions, which Mona -- as well as the rest of us -- should heed."

MONA, how doe it feel to have so many wise, all knowing, marriage counselors? ;) HAHA

Posted by: pATRICK | May 23, 2007 6:32 PM

pATRICK,

You've really grown on me. I liked Vegas Mom from the beginning. :-)

Posted by: Marian | May 23, 2007 6:57 PM

Thanks Marian.

Have I mentioned that I wanted to be a librarian when I was in middle school? Before DD was born, I actually took a few classes toward an MLS, but eventually dropped out of the program. Nothing to do with the career, just that you can't get an MLS at the one and only U in this town. I was working on it via distance education with the University of Arizona, but they decided to make the program virtual, and I wasn't sure I would like completing an entire degree online. As it was, I would attend "classes" at the UNLV library, which involved watching taped classroom sessions for UofA with a UNLV librarian around to facilitate discussion among the 6 or so students. The format just wasn't my cup of tea.

If I ever relocate to a city with a real MLS program, I might start again.

Posted by: Vegas Mom | May 23, 2007 7:07 PM

Mona, While I dispensing unasked-for advice, and assuming you haven't already, read Carolyn Hax's column today. With the disclaimer that I am a devoted fan of Hax and her shoe addiction, it's an awesome job/life description.

No surprise, but I agree with pATRICK and Vegas Mom's comments above, too. I tend not to think that, "everything will change" if you fundamentally know what makes your intended tick, though. Start with a large bottle of each of your favorite beverages and discuss, if you won the lottery tomorrow, what would you do?

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | May 23, 2007 7:13 PM

Vegas Mom--
I can't imagine doing the degree in a distance-learning program. I was in a big city and worked in many settings even while enrolled in the MLS program.

I've really loved the work. Right now, it's a matter of finding a situation that can work with raising young children and having a husband with a demanding career. Relocations have made this difficult too. I know I'll figure it out. It's just a bit soon with the latest move and the children's ages.

I knew several women in library school for whom this was a second career.

Posted by: Marian | May 23, 2007 7:16 PM

oh, and on-topic: I agree with those who noted early on today that the answers to whether and how long anyone can be out of a certain industry, no matter the reason, are highly industry-specific.

In my area of practice, taking two years off would be a practice-ender, no matter how much reading and /or networking or bar work one might do in the meantime. My practice is highly dependent on recent deal experience with similar technology. Reading, publishing and attending seminars and webinars is no substitute for hands-on work. In other practice areas, particularly those which rely on knowledge of state law (criminal, family, DUI, breach of contract claims), I suspect that taking 2 or 5 years off wouldn't be a deal-breaker, particularly if someone returning to the market sought in-house positions.

Posted by: MN | May 23, 2007 7:37 PM

Well, thanks for all the great comments and advice! Once again I've hijacked the blog. But I do love the advice. It's true that people may do a complete 180 after marriage (or without any provocation at all), but probably safe to assume that they don't change by and large. BF and I will have to have a serious talk about this whole leave thing, because as ambitious as I am in wanting to return to work after three weeks, and as sure as he is that I should stay home for a year, I have a feeling that the reality will fall somewhere in between. I know he's never wanted a stay-at-home wife; it's just not in his personality. But maybe he underestimates the groove (or rut, whichever you prefer) people settle into when they lose inertia. I know I do, at least. I build momentum on something, take a short break, and then poof! motivation is gone. Taking a year off would be a fast track to SAHM-hood, something I don't want, and couldn't afford, not with the student loans I'll have!

Posted by: Mona | May 23, 2007 8:23 PM

Instead of calling meat "dead animals," I'll refer to them as "animals who have passed over to the big feedlot in the sky."

Posted by: catlady | May 23, 2007 9:17 PM

Mona --

He may not want a "stay-at-home-wife" but he may want a "stay-at-home-MOM."

While you may interpret those roles as one in the same, he may differentiate.

I agree that a chat is probably in order.

Posted by: Vegas Mom | May 23, 2007 9:19 PM

So maybe there is a trickle-down effect of such a connotation in that we have to face what happens for us to get that burger or steak. Even if it converts no one, it may make us think about our food, instead of wolfing it down without a second thought.

-Mona

But it is not your responsibility to "make me think", it just comes off as preaching. (Ideologue) Imagine if everyone did this, on every subject, how wonderful our lives would be. Especially since a third of us have no right to an opinion (according to the Onion).

I guess I get the last word after all. ;)

Posted by: devils advocate | May 24, 2007 9:43 AM

this discussion continues on Huffington Post -- we dig into why the media does not cover the good news about SAHMs returning to work:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/theblog/

Posted by: Leslie | May 24, 2007 12:09 PM

Leslie:

I agree with at least one of the previous writers that had you interviewed women in the sciences/high tech positions your results would have been different.

All too often, as a scientist, I have been frustrated with "career" seminars that focus on business. There's a whole other world out there -- one that I was a part of for many years, and one that I am about to re-enter. Science and technology change at a rapid pace, and unless you are there day-to-day it is VERY hard to re-enter.

With a Master's degree, I am re-entering the corporate scientific world in a lower level (after a period of staying home for family and health reasons during which I taught, volunteered, edited dissertations). It is frustrating to come in at a lower level, and yet, I hope the learning ang growth potential I am promised pan out.

There is NO way with a scientific or technology career you can "opt out" and expect to "opt back in" as if nothing has changed!

Posted by: Holly | May 29, 2007 10:15 AM

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