Round-up: The happy road warriors

I did not set foot on an airplane from mid-March, 2011, to mid-April, 2012. It wasn’t that I never left town during that 13 month period — I had several business trips to New York and Washington DC — but I always took trains. It was a strange streak, which has now ended rather abruptly as I find myself increasingly well-acquainted with the Philadelphia International Airport.

Anyway, this rash of travel has inspired a few CBS MoneyWatch posts. One of my favorites from this week is “4 secrets to staying happy on the road.” What veteran road warriors know is that business trips can present luxurious opportunities for me-time if you use them right. You can get up early and go run or walk without having to negotiate who’s getting up with the kids (or dealing with a partner’s expectation that you’ll have breakfast with him/her). Yes, you often have evening activities planned (team dinners or drinks with a client) but sometimes you can sneak away and read a book. And then go to bed nice and early. Or even watch TV! When I was in Chicago recently, I turned on the TV between a conference session and dinner, and watched some show on HGTV about first time home buyers. It was the first time I’d watched non-TiVo’d TV since I’d been in the hospital having Ruth (and then it was Steve Jobs around the clock, since he’d passed away that day). I got a great anecdote out of that show. Namely, both young women who were buying their first homes looked at homes that cost far less than the mortgage amounts banks approved them for. It showed my frequent point that overspending on housing leaves you with less cash for other things. One woman said this specifically: she wanted to keep going out with friends, shopping, etc. A cheap mortgage (in relation to her income) let her do that. Very refreshing. I’ve now mentioned that anecdote on a few radio interviews.

I’ll be traveling next week for a project. While I’ll have my computer with me and have several assignments that need to get done, one of the things I’m looking forward to is having time to think. Hopefully I’ll come back with some deep thoughts about my career and what I want to be when I grow up. (I talk a little bit about finding one’s passion in another post from this week: “How do you find your career passion?“) What’s my next big project? I don’t know, but I hope to have some ideas!

In other news:

* Oil and Garlic is in the midst of reading All the Money in the World, and (mostly) enjoying it.

* My friend Naomi Schaefer Riley seems to have gotten fired from the Chronicle of Higher Education over a blog post critical of a few dissertations in the field of African American studies. She writes her side of the story in this post for the Wall Street Journal.

* Cali Williams Yost writes a moving tribute to her mother for Mother’s Day, called “I Dare to Dream, Because My Mother Couldn’t.” The most striking image to me is of young Cali bringing her mother peanut butter sandwiches as her mother typed academic papers late at night. She was going back to school after finding herself divorced, with three daughters to raise, at age 35, with no work history. She told Cali, “Promise me you’ll never be in this position. Figure out what you want to do professionally, and make sure you like it enough to not hate leaving your children every day.” Excellent advice.

* Time magazine takes on attachment parenting this week, by showing a young mother breastfeeding her 3-year-old on the cover. People are a little shocked, and I’m sure that’s what Time was going for, though I’m all in favor of normalizing public breastfeeding. My baby doesn’t like to eat with a blanket over her head and frankly, neither would I.

16 thoughts on “Round-up: The happy road warriors

  1. I don’t think the TIME cover is going to do much to normalize breastfeeding. 🙁 It actually irritates me the way the media attempt to create a controversy where there is none.

    Meagan Francis just blogged about this and asked her readers if she thought these attachment parenting mommy wars existed. My answer was no. I have friends who did some of the things I did: extended breastfeeding (yes I’ve nursed a 3 year old and it didn’t look anything like that picture! I was also a La Leche League leader for 6 years and never saw a mom nursing like *that* either), babywearing… I’m the only mom I know who has had babies at home, but it really doesn’t figure into my friendships.

    Honestly the topic of “how we mother” rarely comes up in conversation.

  2. Having a nice little internet break catching up with your blog (see, we can’t say we never have time for ourselves!). A few random thoughts on some of the links above:

    (1) What happened to Naomi Shaeffer Riley was a lynching and, frankly, makes me a bit ill. I don’t necessarily agree with everything she wrote in her original blog post. Frankly, I’m not in much of a position to either agree or disagree as I have zero experience with black studies departments. But that’s what gets me – most of the people spewing hatred on her probably don’t either!!! They just don’t like an opinion that differs from the “sacred cow” accepted wisdom.

    (2) Time cover freaked me out. I didn’t read the article, but as a strong supporter of breastfeeding, I thought it sent exactly the wrong message. And, you know what, here’s another opinion that is potentially unpopular. I don’t like it when women breastfeed 3 year olds. I can’t say I have an appropriate cut-off age, but at a certain point, it starts to feel weird and icky to me. Not planning to try to make it illegal or anything – really don’t care all that much – but if I think about it, I don’t like it. Maybe it’s because I feel like those women are doing it for themselves or to prove something to society than for the child. (Waiting for lightning to strike…nothing…phew!)

    1. @Rinna- no lightning strikes! My kids haven’t been interested in breastfeeding until age 3, and neither am I, so I guess that worked out. Once they could walk, they didn’t want to sit and nurse — they preferred to go do other things. What I think I object most to is the cover line: “Are you mom enough?” As if whether you breastfeed for a certain amount of time shows you’re macho enough in the mothering sphere. I have no interest in comparing my level of macho-ness. Probably because I’m a total wimp.

      1. I think the point is more like … it is nice when you both wean at your own pace when you want .. and when your body adn your breasts are given their due and not like relegated to being covered up b/c they bother someone else…

      2. also it is important to remember that in a society with no maternity leave and a c section rate that hovers at 40 percent, obesity adn diabetes in pregnancy etc. most women will never have the opportunity to breast feed to the point it is enjoyable or to make t he choices that are being discussed on here and I thinkt hat is what we as women who are privdged need to advocate for… you don’t have to breast feed if you dont want to but if you want to you should be able to and supported as long asyou and your baby want to … there are a lot of societal benefits..

        1. I’m confused about what C-sections have to do with breastfeeding rates? My own anecdata includes successful nursing for 14 months after a C-section and I’ve never read/been told there might have been an issue.

          1. @Anandi
            C-sections are correlated with premature delivery (failed inductions often fail and turn into c-sections because the EDD was actually wrong, or the u/s said the baby was a lot bigger than it actually was– I saw both a lot on my PCOS board because PCOS causes irregular cycles and u/s aren’t as accurate for obese women), meaning the baby may not have yet developed the suck reflex, which makes breast-feeding extremely difficult. The mom has to pump and syringe or drip feed, and if a bottle is used there’s a higher chance of nipple preference that’s a PITA to get rid of, all of which lead to lower bf rates.

            So it isn’t necessarily the c-section itself, but there’s a correlation because c-sections are correlated with prematurity which is correlated with difficulty nursing.

        2. @Cara- one of the great things about working from home is that there hasn’t been a trade off between nursing and working. You can do both. Yet another reason for companies to allow telecommuting — your employees will have an easier transition back from maternity leave.

  3. OMG I love you!
    – My husband and I got up early Wed. and wen tot the hotel pool… by ourselves without kids or any fights about who is doing or not doing what with kids.. we also drove to washington together and it was just us for like 24 hours.. it was really good for our marriage!
    -Naomi Riley is probably one of the best journalists out there… this political correctness has got to stop.. she is most definitely not a racist and as someone who works in Hispanic media can tell you she edited more than a few projects that have helped fund our Hispanic media company in our early days.. she is a tremendous working mother who doesn’t sugar coat things and by far one of the best editors out there… glad to see she is having her say …
    3. public breastfeeding is beautiful but it is very interesting to see how many men find it sexual and how many folks in general are uncomfortable with it.. i’ve experienced this conversation even from men whose wives have breastfed how they do not like it .. I am still breastfeeding my 15 and a half month old and I never thought that would be the case and I do not consider myself an attachment parent.. but i do let them sleep with me whenever they want … i worked through both pregnancies and never had any maternity leave and I love dropping them off at childcare … but I love breastfeeding and being able to wean my son at my own pace ven though it means I am more reluctant to work travel… it has been by far one of the great joys of my life and i wish it for everyone… my breasts are not as perky but I love them and my post kids body … and I think as a society we have to be more ok with breastfeeding and desexualizing things about women’s bodies that to be frank are just not sexual… !!! loved this post.. enjoyed seeing you this week!
    can you post the cover of that time on your blog.. i’m so buying the magazine !
    I do think that it is so very hardto think strategically… or even ask for some things you want when you are so busy.. my husband asked me hey what do you want for mother’s day and I said nothing then thought about it and said.. foursome family outing to early morning members walk at the zoo.. and he was like ok fine ! … sometimes you just have to ask for what you want but you have to have space to figure out what that is

    1. @Cara- thanks, great to see you too! And I agree that often one has to know what to ask for in order to get it. And you have to spend time thinking about what that is — which takes effort. And if you’re burnt out, you don’t want to put effort into it. Vicious cycle.

  4. Whatever works for mom/baby is fine by me in terms of BF-ing, and I’m also all for normalizing public breastfeeding (hate fussing with those stupid nursing covers & blankets especially now in the heat). BUT I hate the headline on the Time cover (as if anyone NOT bf-ing until kindergarden is less of a mom?) and also the whole set-up of the picture—so defiant and in-your-face and not at all the nurturing mother-child bonding experience of breastfeediing.
    [Also, seems my youngest baby was born the same exact day as yours.]

    1. @Ana- congrats on your new little one (albeit 7 months ago!) I think the in-your-face headline on the cover is definitely the most objectionable part. I don’t like the idea of comparing if one is “mom enough” about anything.

  5. Why is Naomi Schafer Riley picking on graduate student dissertations in the first place? That’s like kicking baby kittens. If she wants to go after a field she should go after the big guns in it, not the graduate students.
    Regardless, the academic community seems to be fairly sure she’s going to get a nice hefty raise working for some conservative organization now that she has PC/liberal victim-cred, so it’s win-win for her. I wouldn’t feel too bad for her.
    (Also, I would like to know more about black midwives! That’s kind of an important and interesting piece of under-explored history. Even if she thinks it’s worthless.)

    1. @N&M – so I must admit, I found the black midwives one fairly interesting as a concept. I think one could come up with a fascinating history on how medical knowledge was transmitted — especially if you go back 100 years or so to when reading and writing weren’t being encouraged. Of course, the post referred to “natural birth narratives” which implies more recent. Before modern medicine people didn’t refer to it as natural birth… just as birth. I’m not sure that modern midwives would make for as interesting a dissertation, whatever color they are.

  6. Did it with DS 1. At about 1 week. Was having lhtacing issues and lack of confidence with it all. It showed me that he was getting enough which put my mind at ease and allowed me to relax which helped us both be able to start a breastfeeding relationship that has continued longer than I ever imagined it would. At that same appointment we did the kangaroo approach and he latched on like a champ. Once I stepped back and let him take the lead everything fell into place. The entire appointment truly saved my breastfeeding attempt and I am so thankful for it!

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