It has been so, so hard to process last week's events in the City of Roses. There are some who have defended the white supremacist Jeremy Joseph Christian. We have gathered to memorialize the two men that were slain; we...

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"urbanMamas" - 5 new articles

  1. Dear Portland: Where do we go now?
  2. Mother's Day Reflections - 2017
  3. My tale of two IUDs
  4. A day without women: teens included?
  5. Back-Up Childcare: keeps careers moving
  6. More Recent Articles

Dear Portland: Where do we go now?

It has been so, so hard to process last week's events in the City of Roses.  There are some who have defended the white supremacist Jeremy Joseph Christian.  We have gathered to memorialize the two men that were slain; we consider them heroes.  One of the victim's last words were: "Please tell everyone on this train that I love them."  And, the surviving victim encourages us to focus our attention on the teen women who were the subjects of the attack: "We need to remember that this is about those little girls."

Racism and hate is nothing new to Portland.  It now the time that we will acknowledge this history?  How are we to move on and grow closer after this?  Are we a community divided, whether overtly or subtly?  Are we less progressive than we thought?  

In the name of our children: how do we work to build networks of compassion and inclusion?  How do we discuss these current events with our youngest community members?  How do we insist, in the name of the generations that will be after us, that we disable networks of hate and violence?  How do we cross boundaries to strengthen the deepest threads of our community's fabric and how do we dismantle the institutional barriers that oppress us?

For me, I found some grounding in this statement from a Portland-based community organization: the road is long and journey will be difficult; we must remain steadfast in our commitment for progress and equity.


Mother's Day Reflections - 2017

Our traditions for Mother's Day continue: breakfast in bed followed by a family hike.  Toward the end of our hike yesterday afternoon, I realized that I was starting to feel antsy, the Sunday blues starting to set in: Do we have enough groceries for the week? Do we have clean clothes? What are the schedule commitments and any special arrangements that need to be made? The list goes on.  One friend commented on Saturday that she had done all the grocery shopping and laundry already so she didn't need to worry on Sunday.

Why can't we have a Mother's Day on a Saturday?  I feel like I could relax a bit more if I didn't have to start stressing about the next week on that holiday.  I think 25% of my day on Mother's Day is eroded by those Sunday worries that start to eat into my Sunday afternoon.

I'm missing the point?  Should I put the responsibility of the chores onto my kids and partner on Mother's Day Sundays and let myself go worry-free?  Well: been there, done that.  I've done it a few different ways: refuse chores for the few days before and after Mother's Day to see if they will get done for me, how and when I like them done.  This works fine: the kids fold laundry and clean the sink, and it is what it is.  But, let's face it: no one does it quite like Mom.   Also: I mind it so much less if I have the time to get the chores done and if I get oodles of love for it!

Last night, in the last moments of Mother's Day 2017, I did the dishes and scrubbed the sink.  My heart felt light.  I am happy doing the things that I do for my family, it's what I do.  I can't help it.  And, to me, the contribution they bring to my day is acknowledgement and full appreciation for all it is that I do.  Says one of my kids: "thank you so much for making us food, doing our laundry, cleaning our bathrooms and more."  (not that I do it ALL, mind you.  These kids DO have chores!) and says another "There's so much that you do for our family that goes unnoticed.... " and "P.S. We didn't pick out a gift for you, but if you want me to do a really gross chore, I'll do it!"

In the meantime, I think I might just switch our family's celebration to a Mama's Day Eve to offset a bit of that Sunday evening stress that usually accompanies the event!


My tale of two IUDs


At this point, this photo has gone viral.  I've received the photo via numerous personal texts, direct messages, and posts to my Facebook wall.  And, so, I figured I'd better come clean and share with you all: my tale of two IUDs.

Over a dozen years ago, I wrote about deciding on my first IUD, and this is one of uM's most trafficked post on the site.  I eventually decided to go with the Paraguard [copper] IUD, and I didn't regret it.  

Five years after its insertion, I knew something was up.  I peed on two sticks and I knew it wasn't wrong.  The IUD had floated way up into my pregnant uterus, unable to be retrieved, and I proceeded to fend off worries that I'd have pre-term labor, infection, miscarriage, or something else horrible.  My OB at the time frightened me with these risks every time I saw him, and I felt like he scribbled "malpractice risk" everywhere in red ink on my chart.  When he told me "C-section at 36 weeks or else....", I left him for another doctor.  I met my new OB at 38-weeks pregnant, and he helped me deliver a healthy baby boy, vaginally, at 39 weeks and 5 days.

Well, that boy, our miracle baby, is now 7.5 years old.  I promptly got my next Paraguard within a couple of months of delivery.

When I got that irksome feeling in my uterus again, five years after the insertion of the most recent Paraguard, I couldn't do anything but laugh.  I was nauseated and bloated and...  blessed.  There was no other way to dice it.  I was lucky to the Nth degree, chosen by some higher power, to defeat those odds that were so hard to defeat the first time around.  My partner tells me, however, that the odds aren't any higher the second time around; the odds are statistically the same as they always were: really freaking low.

And, yet, it happened.  Again.  This time around, no scare tactics would bother me.  I enjoyed my pregnancy as much as I could, relished what I knew would be my last - and fourth - gestation.  And, it was the perfect pregnancy.  I felt healthy, energetic and ever-fertile.  We didn't know the gender of our baby until the moment he emerged, in the early morning of his due date almost two full years ago.  And, now, we felt complete.  Really we did.  Period.  End of story.  With a vasectomy to punctuate it.

I can go into many details of those two pregnancies, which I documented in full to close family and friends via FB.  For now, let me just go on record to say: I have two IUD babies, and - I swear - yours will work!


A day without women: teens included?

My girl, a junior in high school, has been talking to us about how she can participate in tomorrow's events for International Women's Day.  Should I stay home from school?  Can I write senators?  Should I volunteer at the local Planned Parenthood?  Could I take a hike?

...... * screeeech!* .....

"Take a hike"?  Yes, this was one of the proposed activities she offered up as an act of resistance for tomorrow.  I'm not sure what the impetus is around this hike, for she surely refuses my many invitations to take a hike on any other day.  

I support our girl taking a stand, using her voice, engaging in acts of resistance.  To be sure, I was brought to tears when texted me, two days post-election 2016, when she and her peers walked out of their school, joining many other high schoolers around protesting.  Our words to her on that day: use your voice, follow the instructions, please don't destroy property.  Also: "we are proud of you."

Sometimes I wonder: are these teenagers rising up to make a statment or are they joining forces to hang out for the day?  Does that matter?  Should it matter?  Should we audit the activities of the day, if they are staying home from school tomorrow, and expect only to see acts of resistance?  Should we stand by and also watch them hang out, goof off on snapchat, or take a hike?

So: are your teens thinking of participating tomorrow?  In what way? 


Back-Up Childcare: keeps careers moving


(photographed here, November 2015,  presenting at a conference with my 5-month old at the hip.  This, after he had a major blow-out poop that I changed on the floor in a corner in the front of the room, hopefully out of view of the session attendees)

Many of us have the privilege of making our own choices as it relates to the work-life balance as a mother.  For our family, work has been a financial necessity but also a personal decision as I forged ahead with my career.  I first became a mother 16 years ago; I continued to build a career at the same time we decided to build our family.

I joined my current organization 2.5 years ago.  Within my first six months on the job, I had to have that awkward conversation with my boss to let him know that I'd need to take family leave six months later.  (It wasn't a planned thing.)  Once I returned back to work on a full-time basis five months later, I resumed a robust schedule of travel.  Working for a national organization headquartered in DC, east coast travel was frequent as well as travel to events and conferences.

I was rather flabbergasted to unearth an underutilized benefit: back-up care.  The Bright Horizons Back UP Care Advantage program was offered to us by our employer: 20 days per year for our dependents (whether our children, an aged parent, or any other dependent).  This means I could use it when:

  • There was a random "no school" day when I had to work (i.e., parent-teacher conference days or what not)
  • My child was sick and could not go to school, and I still had to work
  • My regular nanny was sick and could not care for my infant, and I still had to work
  • I had to travel overnight and could not leave the baby behind since he was still nursing through the night

I could think of many other uses for this program:

  • A former colleague would have to miss out-of-town meetings when he could not line up care for his spouse, who suffered from very advanced multiple sclerosis and who required round-the-clock assistance
  • A friend who lived with and cared for her aging mother, who often could not attend professional development events due to her care responsibilities
  • And more

This is something too good to not share.  I haven't even shared the best part.  This program is subsidized by my employer: I pay either $20 per day for using a drop-in Bright Horizons center or $5 per hour for using a nationwide nanny placement service.  This year, I've used this service in 6 different cities nationwide, toting my boy along knowing he'd be well cared-for during the day while I attended events and meetings.  

What do you think: useful?



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