Responsible parenting and leadership are a start. In between reaching for the sky (Toy Story rocks).

Screw the darkness. I prefer the lightness of Pop.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

If Mr. Bay Area Mom can do it, anyone can

We watched Mr. Mom this week and I've forgotten how cute it was, and how eerie the parallels from the early 80s economic slump and today's unprecedented meltdown.

I'm very thankful that I have a job. Even though our firm only does as well as our clients do (and we've already seen our share of company death knells), there are those staying alive, even growing, in the human resource and senior care marketplaces.

My heart goes out to those who aren't as fortunate. The number of Americans collecting unemployment benefits has almost hit 5 million. And according to an article I read last week, government data shows that:

The numbers are startling: More than 80 percent of pink slips handed out since the recession began in December 2007 have gone to men, thanks to their disproportionate slice of jobs in hard-hit fields like construction and manufacturing.

I remember what it was like to be out of work after the bust. But that was different then; Amy and I didn't own a home that plummeted in value and we didn't have any children to care for. We were more footloose and fancy-free and could absorb the monthly revenue hit. In fact, besides some freelancing, I was heavily involved in online fiction and poetry workshops at Zoetrope, honing my writing craft.

I hit some tough times during that work-at-home stint. Feelings of inferiority, of being a failure, of not knowing who the hell I was. Alcohol became a comrade, a medicating brother in arms, and almost came between my wife and me (don't overbearing co-dependent friends always do that?). However, I was stronger that I gave myself credit for, and we worked it all out; the mindful living I experienced even then threw me a life preserver, as did my lovely wife. (Here's a great read for fathers on centering oneself.)

On a lighter note, one of my good buddies always teases me. "That poetry gig didn't really work out, did it Kev."

No, it didn't (although I miss it terribly at times, the writing that is).

Now we have a house and a child and we're so very thankful we have jobs. Amy works four days a week, so we have childcare three days a week and then on Friday's, it's daddy's turn.

I'm also thankful my mother activated my nurturing gene decades ago, because otherwise, there would be no daddy daycare on Fridays (with the exception of one Friday so far when I was with the boyz). We've actually got it mostly worked out, Bea and me, with her morning nap coinciding with my Friday morning Webcasts and sales meetings, and then again in the afternoons so I can catch up on the millions of administrative mind-benders crawling all over my skin.

We play in between the working lines – tummy time on the boppy pillow while anything in her reach goes from hand to mouth. I read to her (stop, do not hop on pop) and we watch eebee and Sesame Street and nursery rhymes of all kinds with unending glee.

And we've started a sweet tradition of the afternoon rockfest. Yep, I flip on an iTunes Genius mix and we boogie to everything from Bowie to Spoon. (One of these days I'll get it on video.)

But it's difficult at times as well. If baby has a meltdown, which she did last Friday afternoon, there's nothing I can do to make it all better. When the wailing continues unabated for 30+ minutes, you begin to see the dark side of the force ("Luke, give in to your feelings…"). And our baby is on the far side of being colicky.

Thank God almighty.

Although I can barely hold a candle to their experiences, I can better imagine what it's been like for mommies for generations and the new breed of Mr. Bay Area Mom.


  1. The economic slump is taking it's toll on a lot of people. My business has slowed quite a bit because buyers from the stores/boutiques just aren't buying as much. So then you have to decide, is it smart to pay SO much to have a booth at THIS or THAT show and not make the money back - ugh.

    You are so right though ... the daily struggles of "I feel like a failure" and "why am I working so hard and not making any money" are tough on the brain. My husband is SO patient and supporting and when I am beating myself up, he's the first one to say, "I'm proud of you - I have faith in you".

    Being a parent always has the easy and not so easy times. The not so easy times are there as a baseline to remind you of how GOOD the good times are :-D

  2. Amen, sister. You said it. Thank goodness for loving and supportive spouses.