Happy Almost New Year!
I wanted to drop a quick note to let you know that I’ll be taking next week off, but will be back with new content on January 12. See you in 2023! 🎉
The dilemma of babies on airplanes (The Atlantic)
I’m guessing this one is gonna resonate… As any parent knows, traveling with young children is—at best—stressful and—at worst—a complete shit show. As the author points out, air travel is made worse by the tricky social dynamics that ensue when families are trapped in an “enclosed, flying metal tube” with fellow passengers who are less than understanding (and sometimes downright hostile):
“The actual needs of the child are all too often absent from this tricky social calculus. But that’s what happens when the job of a parent in a shared public space is principally to ensure that the child isn’t a nuisance. It demands a style of parenting that is at once hypervigilant and overly permissive, where kids are given constant attention but no agency. Ironically, it works against the long-term goal of raising competent, well-behaved kids. Hamstrung by the need to make sure their kids don’t inconvenience anyone else, parents can’t do much parenting at all.”
Screaming on the inside (Culture Study)
Continuing on the theme of raising children in a world that is inhospitable to families, I’m sharing this interview with Jessica Grose, The NY Times parenting newsletter writer—who just wrote a new book about the unsustainability of American motherhood. There are a lot of valuable nuggets in here, including the fascinating (and nefarious) history of myth of a “glowing pregnancy”, but I wanted to highlight this quote:
“We have this cultural idea of motherhood that it’s supposed to sand off our rough edges — to be transformative [. . .] I think that’s a dangerous idea, because moms aren’t some new category of human. We are still just people, with a range of human emotion, and it leads to a lot of guilt and shame.”
Are your kids mean — or are they just acting their age? (Washington Post)
When my son was young, a friend jokingly advised that I should never hang out with a parent whose children are younger than mine, because the parents of a sweet, gurgling infant will never understand the terror of a toddler. I thought of this as I was talking to a mom at a birthday party a few weeks ago, who had her toddler along with her. The toddler was acting like… well, a toddler. Which is to say, she was cycling between frustration, joy, rage, hysteria, and exhaustion. In other words, totally normal. This mom was so embarrassed, but I was standing with a group of fellow veteran moms who took the whole thing in stride. It was FINE, we assured her. And we meant it.
Sometimes we wonder if our kid is an unreasonable monster. Occasionally the answer is yes, but most of the time, the answer is that the child acting in a way that’s developmentally appropriate. I appreciate that this article breaks down reasonable expectations by age.
The motherhood penalty and the fatherhood premium (Wellesley Centers for Women)
Did you know that college-educated women, between the ages of 35-39, who have children make 42% less than their male peers with children? This article summarizes a working paper on the wage gap between mothers and fathers for the National Bureau of Economic Research (you can find the full report here). Using a longitudinal sample of ~13,000 individuals—almost unheard of for social science research—they delineated three factors that drive the wage gap:
General gender pay inequity: Regardless of parenting status, women earn less than men.
The motherhood penalty: Mothers earn 11% less than non-mothers.
The fatherhood premium: Childless men make about 20% less than men with children. There are a number of hypothesized reasons for this so-called
fatherhood premium”. What’s interesting is that the authors found that the fatherhood premium was particularly pronounced for college-educated men in jobs deemed “time-intensive”.
I sincerely hope that you won’t need this article, but I always think it’s better to be prepared in uncertain times. This article offers practical advice on understanding separation agreements, navigating insurance transitions, and beginning a new job search. I would reiterate their suggestion to intentionally structure your days during your job search. Otherwise, it can be easy to fall into the vortex of sitting around watching Netflix or spending hours in front of the computer without doing any meaningful work. The other suggestion I would add is to allow yourself space to process the loss. Getting laid off can trigger a grief response—denial, anger, and sadness are not uncommon. Allow yourself a bit of time to grieve, so that you can refocus your energy on next steps without being distracted.
This month’s suggestion for connection was inspired by a recent HBR article about writing notes of appreciation. According to the authors:
A note of appreciation isn’t the generic thank-you note we’ve all received or, let’s be honest, written a hundred times. It demands specificity. The author must offer real-world examples that clearly explains the attribute or action that is appreciated and why it’s appreciated.
I’m a big fan of thank you notes. I try to write them often (although I could certainly write them more), and I have both a hard and electronic copy of meaningful thank you notes I’ve received. This month, consider writing a heartfelt expression of gratitude to a colleague, a family member, and a friend. Bonus points if you write one to a former mentor, teacher, or boss to share the impact they’ve had on you.
Why do you work?
I’m not looking for the obvious reason—"to make money" (although, that is—of course—very valid). I want you to reflect on what you get from working.
For me, I get a sense of competence. I’m good at what I do, and I feel good when I feel capable.
I work for the relationships I make. Throughout my career I’ve formed meaningful relationship with colleagues, mentors, mentees, and students. Now, in my coaching work, I draw such inspiration from the people I coach—thoughtful, intelligent, motivated, and kind working parents. It makes me hopeful both for this generation of kids who will benefit from having these strong role models, but also for our current workplaces, that benefit from their multidimensional lives.
I work because I feel energized when I’m intellectually engaged. When I feel like I’m learning and continuing my own development, I am a happier person. In turn, I’m a more engaged mother, wife, and friend.
I work because it’s important for me to feel like I’m making a difference in the world. Yes, I make a difference by virtue of being a mother, but I appreciate that I have multiple venues to feel this sense of purpose.
Why do you work? And how does it benefit you to tap into this larger perspective?
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