Archive | August, 2013

Working mama

4 Aug
I like getting to dress like a grown-up again

I like getting to dress like a grown-up again

I never pictured myself as a stay-at-home mom. My own mother is a lawyer and writer and always took great satisfaction from her career. I have been lucky enough to find work over the years that stimulates me, challenges me, and also reflects my political and moral values. I know how lucky I am to have a job at a labour union only a 5-minute bike ride from my house. I work with progressive, creative and hilarious colleagues who I count as dear friends. And my workplace is incredibly family-friendly. So needless to say, I wasn’t dreading my return to work last month.

Still, I did surprise myself with how much I enjoyed the slow pace of maternity leave. Even though I was often tired, I rarely had to get out the door to go anywhere before 10 am. If I felt like I was wandering through a fog of sleep deprivation, I could just nurse my cup of coffee and sit on the floor while my baby handed me blocks. I got used to the easy camaraderie of the neighbourhood baby drop-in and the hilarious exchange of text messages with my fellow mat leave mama friends. I looked forward to Daphne’s weekly music class, mostly because it meant lunch afterward with a few of my favourite women and their children. Despite my initial fear that mat leave would be boring or isolating, I wasn’t in a rush for it to end. I probably could have continued for a few more months, but I would have eventually started missing the world of adults and ideas.

Overall, it’s been a smooth transition. We found a truly amazing daycare provider, so I have complete confidence that our baby is being cared for in a nurturing and stimulating environment. And one of the very best byproducts of day care has been the way that it’s shifted and consolidated Daphne’s sleep cycles. Now that she is down to one nap a day, it is easy to get her to sleep for her nap and for bedtime at night. She still wakes a couple of times a night and drinks a few ounces of milk some time between 1 and 4 am. We’d really like to stop having to get out of bed to feed her. But we are trying to make the change as gently as possible, given how much adjustment our baby has had to endure over the last few weeks. Overall, Caitlyn and I are doing a good job of making sure that each of us gets at least some decent sleep. But the dream of eight hours solid is still elusive. We continue to wait it out.

So far, a year of parenting has taught me that it’s not worth it to try to parent by a book. I have little patience for orthodoxy in general. While I feel some affinity toward Attachment Parenting, I don’t feel the need to define my personal and political philosophy through the lens of motherhood. In fact, it’s quite the opposite for me. They way that Caitlyn and I parent our daughter is an extension of our feminist, queer and social justice values. I worry that even the most “gentle” of parenting trends lean on essentialist notions of gender and continue to place the entire burden of child-rearing on to women. Parenthood doesn’t exist in a vacuum. The way we model justice in our home needs to reflect the ways we fight for it in the broader community (and vice versa).


In addition to returning to work, a lot happened in the last couple of months that I meant to blog about:

1. Our friends in the U.S. can now have their same sex marriages legally recognized. There are so many other struggles left to fight, but this win was a big one. My heart swells for people like Larry Kramer and David Webster and for our dear friends Maddie and Rachel. This is not the end of the queer movement, it’s just one major achievement. Now it’s time for universal health care — what do you say Americans?

2. The brutal oppression of queers in Russia continues. But once again, we need to be careful before supporting unilateral calls for boycotts. Dan Savage is telling people to boycott Stolichnaya vodka, when in fact the company is based in Latvia (not Russia) and is outspoken in its support of the LGBT community. Do your research and listen to the voices from within the Russian LGBT community before taking action.

3. The awesome Offbeat Families picked up my blog post on raising a kid downtown. to all of the new readers who found me through OBF, welcome!