As I drove to work yesterday, I remembered one more way I deal with stress- the "what am I so worried about?" game. I was running late. Petunia had slept in, and woke up showing signs that she might be getting sick (and indeed she was- day care called after nap to tell us she had a fever). She seemed cranky, but didn't register a fever. She eventually asked for the "ice bunny"- a little plastic ice cube wrapped in a bunny that we use when the kids hurt themselves. She took the ice bunny and put it on top of her head. So we guessed she had a headache and gave her some tylenol. She perked up not long after, but the damage to my morning routine was done. I left the house 10 minutes late.
To make matters worse, I had told my team that I'd bring them donuts, since we had been pushing hard all week to get a demo ready for today. And the car needed gas.
As I headed down the hill toward the freeway, I was feeling the stress that comes from running late, but then I asked myself what I was so worried about? Did it really matter if I was 30 minutes late today? The answer was no. I had no meetings until 9:00- and I was on track to get to work by 8:30. No one would care if I was late.
(Even on days when I do have an early meeting, it would not usually matter all that much if I was late, as long as I don't make a habit of it.)
I use this trick a lot. It works really well when combined with a certain amount of financial security- if what I am so worried about is that I might get fired, well, so what? I'd be OK if I was.
And this last thought reminds me of one of the things that puzzles me the most about the narrative about mothers in high powered careers- we forget the impact of money. I can buy my way out of a lot of work-life balance conundrums, from things as minor as not worrying about buying lunch if I don't have time to make it to things as major as deciding that we can just pay for an after school Spanish class if that is what we want for our daughter. Heck, if push came to shove, we could easily just pay for private school.
There are many, many mothers who do not have that luxury, and yet are working just as hard as I am. Why don't we as a society worry more about how hard it is to combine motherhood with working two or three minimum wage jobs to make ends meet? THAT seems like a big problem to me, worthy of the societal hand-wringing that we instead apply to wondering about whether women like Sheryl Sandberg and Hillary Clinton can truly be "good mothers". (Chelsea Clinton seems to have turned out pretty well....)
Which brings me (finally!) to my first link: Scalzi had a wonderful rant up yesterday about rich people whining rather cluelessly. As he points out in his rant, people like me and my husband (who aren't even in the 1%!) may have problems, but money really shouldn't be one of them. I would extend that to add that we should also be aware of how much our money makes things easier for us.
While we're on the subject of the privileges money buys, here's an interesting article from Slate about homeschooling/unschooling, which argues that taking this route usually requires a certain amount of money. Note that I said "interesting" and not "100% correct'- but I do agree that money probably makes choosing those options a lot easier. And I was struck by the fact that someone in the article is quoted as saying she doesn't want strangers raising her kids, a refrain that will be familiar to people who use day care. It is disheartening to see it applied to school age kids, too.
I also came across another excellent, albeit older, Scalzi post, about when he first realized that homophobia was wrong. I particularly liked this quote:
"there’s a difference between the fact that the universe is inherently
unfair on a cosmic level, and the fact that life is unfair because
people are actively making it so."
On a completely different subject: I really liked this post by Laura Vanderkam about getting out of a rut. I particularly like her story at the end about how she got a book deal for her book 168 Hours: I think she is right that a lot of what we perceive as "luck" in people who succeed in pursuits like writing is actually persistence, and a willingness to try a lot of things.
On another completely different subject: I found this beautiful post about having an empty nest via @AskMoxie's twitter feed. She has a follow up that will probably make most parents chuckle and wince in equal parts.
Happy Weekend, everyone! Petunia seems to be on the mend already, and Pumpkin seems to have dodged this cold (she looked like she was getting sick last night, but is fine this morning), so I'm optimistic about ours.