Campaigning a no go

I’m bummed, but I got stuck doing mom stuff and was too tired to fight it, so I’m at home and not campaigning for Kerry in the city. I feel bad, but there just was suddenly too much going on all at once and I couldn’t deal. But . . . I am getting my poll watching training tonight. I really don’t quite get what my affiliation is, but hey, anything I can do to help. My neighbor and I are the only ones with Kerry signs in our yard. The other neighbors are still talking to us though, so maybe . . .

Single parenting sucks

If you are a single parent, I worship you. I have been on my own since last Friday and I’m dying. I suppose I’d get used to it if I had to do this all the time, but I don’t, so I’m pooped. Parenting is the one area where Mr. Geekymom actually wins points. He really does do 50%–at least–of the parenting tasks. It’s just nice knowing that every other night I don’t have to make sure the kids have brushed their teeth, had baths and are tucked in for the evening. On weekends, we trade off soccer games.

Today was hectic. Work was killer and then I had to pick up my son at chess club (future geek), then go to soccer practice, now he’s on his way to Cub Scouts (which I don’t approve of, but will let him figure that out himself) riding with a friend. Little Geekymom (aka my daughter) and I are going to have a girls movie night and watch Home on the Range. Thank you Netflix!

I know you don’t really care, but hey, just had to share.

Tomorrow, I’ll be out canvassing for Kerry. I’m working my polling location on the 2nd and I get my training this weekend–pretty excited. My neighbor is some kind of election leader and she wanted a Democrat on the inside. Apparently, the Republicans were up to no good last election. We’re in a swing state, so I could end up being on tv, checking ballots for hanging chads–yes, we use punch cards.

Look for a new design this weekend.

Open Letter to Theresa Heinz Kerry

Dear Theresa,

I’m on your side, really. I don’t think your comment about Laura Bush was meant to be mean. I think your comment says much more about our society than it says about you. The Republicans like to flaunt their family values agenda and claim that they value women like Laura Bush who choose to stay at home and raise children. But they don’t put their money where their mouth is. There’s no tax incentive for a woman to stay at home and while she does, she loses money because she puts none into Social Security and none into a 401(k). And the Republicans are constantly trying to make her into a second class citizen. We want you to stay at home, they say, but we don’t want you to make decisions about your own body. The Democrats are not much better. They, too, haven’t come up with any economic incentives for women who stay at home.

The fury over your statements reveal, too, that the media and the campaigns are still encouraging a rift between working moms and stay at home moms. Most of us (and I’ve been in both camps) have come to respect each other and understand the difficulties of both sides.

There’s not much help for the working moms, either. Schools still function on the concept that someone is home at 3:00. Maternity leaves are still woefully short and often unpaid. The long hours required for upper-level positions and for elected positions means that there are fewer women as Executives, Senators, Congresspeople.

I hope that the Democrats can find a way to make this controversy into something positive, into something that fosters a real discussion about how to support women in their efforts to raise children and participate in our economy and our democracy. Don’t let the Republicans spin this into another “family values” fiasco. Let’s do something about it.

Sincerely,

Laura, working mom

On the Mom/Woman Front Again

This week’s Newsweek includes an article by a mom about the whole soccer mom/security mom. If you’ve read my posts here, here, and here, you know that women’s issues are rather important to me. I think Leach, author of the Newsweek article, makes a good point. She says,

While political strategists play up the fear factor, the moms I know are worrying about how they’ll pay for their kids’ college education. We don’t want our children to be burdened with five-figure debt from school loans. We want to be reassured that good health care will be available for our families. We work hard, and we are smart. We know that we are paying more in premiums but getting fewer benefits.

Most of the mothers I talk to have given up on the prospect of Social Security, so we try to put a little extra into our retirement accounts. We want to help take care of our aging parents when the time comes, but the money just isn’t there. And we’re saving for a trip to New York. We want our kids to see the Statue of Liberty and the Museum of Modern Art. We are not afraid.

(bold mine)

Sure the war on terror (defined differently by each candidate) is important, but it shouldn’t be the only issue. If you haven’t read The Price of Motherhood by Ann Crittendon, you should. This country doesn’t do much for mothers, whether they stay home or work outside the home. We all (women, mothers and others) work hard, don’t get paid enough and don’t get enough general credit for our contributions.

Meanwhile, over at misbehaving.net, there’s a debate raging about women and blogging. As a scholar of literature, I think there’s a subtext there about what women write about vs. what men write about. Private writing (women) vs. public writing (men). It also has that weird feeling of being back in the late 60s/early 70s feminist movement–the personal is the political. I feel a watershed coming. Stand back!

Gay Marriage in Ohio

I am so horrified by Issue 1 in Ohio. I saw a report on it on the news tonight and then found this article in Salon. I just don’t understand why these people are so insistent upon legislating our relationships. Marriage is a religious institution first and foremost upon which we have based certain rights like obtaining health benefits and inheritance. Whatever happened to separation of church and state? The worst thing about Ohio’s amendment is that it makes it illegal to grant any rights to any unmarried couples. Which means that even heterosexual couples who choose not to marry can’t get health benefits from their partners or may not be able to speak for them in a hospital. I don’t live in Ohio, but as the article points out, many states are considering similar legislation on Nov. 2 and Bush seems intent upon pursuing a U.S. amendment to ban gay marriage. I feel like we’re going backwards here to times when the government legislated our private lives. I also find it odd that a party that promotes smaller government when it comes to health care and economic issues wants to play big brother on issues related to our sexuality and our bodies (gay marriage and abortion). Do they not see the hypocrisy of that?

I’m canvassing on Saturday and poll watching on Nov. 2nd. I’m still anxious. Issues like these make me more anxious still.

Geeky Mom among the Normal Moms

It was book club night. First, let me just say that I feel a little weird being in a book club at all, but it gets me out of the house. I really like the women in my book club. They’re fun, intelligent women, but they are definitely not geeky. They’re not Martha Stewart either, obsessed with perfect houses, perfect children, etc. However, most of them would probably not think an iPod was a good anniversary present (my 10 year anniversary present). What’s nice about this particular group of women is that we all have our oddities. I’m into gadgets and the internet, someone else is into reality tv, another writes, another is a little obsessed with cleanliness, another with organic food. I’m the only full-time working-out-of-the-house mom. Two others work part time; the rest are at home full time. What we all have in common is the experience of raising kids and the chaos that brings to our lives.

Book club almost always breaks down into conversations about this chaos, often because we read books about that chaos or that at least touch on it. We tend to read books with female main characters and sometimes those characters are moms which we always find something in common with. Somehow we always find a way to turn the book we’re discussing into an opportunity to share the story of breaking down in the grocery store with our kids. “When she did that, it was like the time . . .” We know we’ll get sympathy and not judgement

Since I’m surrounded by men at work, it’s nice to share these stories with other women. Although they may not always understand my particular concerns as a mom who also works full time, most of the time, our situations are similar. We all have moments of guilt, moments of joy, moments of sheer craziness.

Despite the commonalities and the enjoyment I get out of their company, being with them does make me long for more women like me. I am sure they are out there, nearby; I just haven’t found them yet. I want to be able to talk about the grocery store breakdown and talk about my iPod and the blogs I’m reading. Right now, I’m having the, “My kids are driving me crazy” discussions with the moms and the geek conversations with the men I work with–and my husband. I can live with that, but maybe someday . . .

Food for thought–literally

New York Times magazine features several articles related to food in America. The first one that caught my eye confirms my own personal theory that if you enjoy what you eat, you won’t gain weight. It also discusses the idea of Americans eating different food each generation rather than sticking to a culturally determined cuisine. This idea plays into a friend of mine’s theory that you should eat the food of your ancestors. In his case, things like cabbage and potatoes. For me, beef and lamb. I have never felt guilt over food. Lots of other things, but not food. But then again, I am lucky to not have to worry about my weight. I just think about losing 5 pounds and it happens. My favorite evening out is to go eat a good meal with a good bottle of wine. I’ll eat just about anything, though I’m partial to Indian and Thai food–since I can’t make them easily at home.

The other article is about food on the campaign trail, the common foods eaten on the road as a way of proving your American enough to be president. Here in PA, we had a little battle of the cheesesteak vs. Primanti Brothers sandwich. I have a friend who hails from my home state, Tennessee, and we argue over Kansas City vs. Memphis style barbeque. Food can be just as partisan as health care plans–which you’re gonna need after your cheesesteak.