Thanks for everyone’s comments on the frugal living/early retirement post. It’s a fascinating topic, and one I might write more about. (Though I did write a whole book once, called All the Money in the World. Please check it out!)
I realized — as I was analyzing my negative response to some FIRE literature — that I particularly dislike the anti-paid childcare bent of big chunks of it (the idea that it is regrettable to work and pay someone else to care for your children…because shouldn’t all parents, by which we mean mothers, want to stay home with their kids?). I firmly believe that women’s ambition is not a bad thing. That ambition need not confine itself to the home front. There’s nothing wrong with building up assets — that’s a good thing and sometimes it can help with ambition if it allows you to take risks — but too many women already get the message that work is a horrible thing taking them away from their families. If you love what you do, you don’t need to stop to be a good parent. And if your co-parent also doesn’t want to stop, then you’ll need paid childcare. It’s a good tool for building a satisfying work/life fit.
But the anti-message is definitely out there. I get a reasonable number of letters from people who want to share their schedules with me because they’re proud of the convoluted things they have done to minimize or not use paid childcare. I think they want me to applaud their time management, but I don’t buy the premise. This pride in not using childcare is kind of like saying “Look at all the money I saved by not going to college!” Well, yeah, but there are also trade-offs in terms of long term career opportunities.
Now, on to the miscellany part! I started the week in Miami with a great run along the beach in between thunderstorms. These little adventures are always a fun part of work travel.
On Tuesday I had my 9- and 7-year-old help me cook dinner. They did a good job chopping the vegetables, though my 9-year-old really suffered with the onions. He was tearing up like crazy! I am protected by my contact lenses! I am intrigued by their interest in cooking breakfast, as then they could make me breakfast in the morning, and that would be awesome.
On Wednesday I flew to Milwaukee to give a speech on Thursday (two, actually). My husband covered the first grade in-class party, where he got to hear our daughter read a book she wrote and illustrated called “May’s Allergies.” The irony is that May, with her name, loves spring, but is very allergic to pollen. She is self-conscious about this, and the medicine she has to take at school, until a little girl named June helps her see that it’s all OK.
I posted on Twitter on Thursday morning that I was looking for a new book to read, since the one I’d planned on reading on the trip just wasn’t working out. A few hours later, Neil Pasricha, author of The Happiness Equation, stopped by my speaking venue and handed me a copy of his book. Turns out he was speaking in the room next door at the conference. He’d seen my name and info on the sign, looked me up to do the standard follow-each-other-on-social-media thing, and then saw my plea. Social media can be fun that way.
Now today is the last day of school for my three big kids. We have successfully made it through 6th grade, 3rd grade, and 1st grade. My veteran-parent tip: have your kids clean out their backpacks as soon as school is done. We’ve let them fester for a week or so in the past, and then discovered that there was fruit or something ridiculous in there and “festering” turned into the right word. This year summer vacation doesn’t start until it’s done!
Photo: Chicago, which we flew over on the way from Milwaukee to Philadelphia