Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Better Off?

All day I've been thinking about that rambling Flanagan article. It starts off with a story about her mom who stayed home with her kids, as moms did back in the old days, until the montony of housecleaning and the semi-attention to the kids got to her. She finally said "to hell with all that" and got a job as a nurse. The article then described how the twelve year old Caitlin felt about her mom's exit.

At the end of the article, Flanagan muses whether kids are better off in daycare or with their mothers (no mention of dads). Even if they are better off with their parents, what about the toll on women who have to forgo promising careers to do the right thing?

Typically, she has no answers, but perhaps that's reality. For women with kids and careers, it's all anxiety, regret, tension, and unresolved questions.

Today was one of those days without a babysitter or a mom to help out. No playdates. No school. No adventures planned since there was a doctor's appointment smack in the middle of the day. Just me and the kids. And that question looming overhead... are my kids better off with me?

Now if I was like my sister, a 100% committed stay at home mom, there would be lots of organized games, perhaps a craft project, and a network of other mom friends. Her kids are in good hands.

What did we do today? Well, after Steve left for work, I dressed them all up and marched them to the playground. But having a short attention span, I grew weary of slides and swings, so we went to the local diner for brunch. Mostly because I think short order cooks in NYC are the smartest human beings on the planet. How do they keep track of twoeggsbaconcheeseonaroll, twoeggwhiteslightlyscrammbledbaconhomefries, coffeeregular to go. (Coffee regular = coffee with milk no sugar.) The three of us sat at the counter and chowed down on greasy carbs.

We came home for Ian's nap and Jonah watched Playhouse Disney. Good parents watch with their kids and discuss subplots. Me, I answer e-mail.

After the doctor's appointment, we got bathing suits and squirting toys to play at the local water fountain. After an hour of Ian falling over and over on the pavement turning his knees to veal, we left. It was fine. My eyes were rolling up into my head with boredom anyway. Then we did what I do best. We got ice-cream and took a hike through the park. Dinner. Bed.

Are the kids better off with me rather than some professionals who would be making duckies and shit out of yarn and a soda can? With lots of other kids around them?

In between the calorie filled treats of the day, I kissed Ian's bloody knees about a hundred times. Since Jonah's obsessed with numbers, I asked him what was 3+4, 2+3, 8+2, 0+10. Not because it's good for him, but because he likes it. We cheered for Ian when he pointed to the right letters on the billboard. I helped Jonah lay out train tracks (after I finally put down the New Yorker). I ran with a shreaking Ian through the sprinklers. I talked with Jonah about soccer camp, being a train conductor when he grew up, and a future trip to the beach.

Duckie crafts and friends v. treats and kisses. I don't know. Maybe it's a draw.

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