Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The feminist stay at home mom

I am a feminist.

I am also a stay at home mom.

There are many reasons I stay home, but they really don't matter. They are my reasons, just as every mom (or dad) has their own reasons to work or to stay at home.

For some reason, being a stay at home mom seems to offend some circles of feminists. There seems to be this misconception that just because you are a feminist you should absolutely not make a traditional choice.

And that's hogwash.

Here's the thing: feminism is supposed to open up opportunities. For women and for men.

With feminism, we are no longer expected to just be housewives while men are the breadwinners. But feminism doesn't mean we can't choose to stay home.

Being a fulltime parent is a lot of work. Unpaid work, but work nonetheless. Lack of pay doesn't make it any less valuable. There are people who get paid to take care of kids.

Just as many people move from job to job or career to career, some of us leave piad jobs behind for a bit, but this is just another step on our paths. For some women, the Mom is the career they want. For others, we cherish this time but also know we will move on to another opportunity (a paying job) when the time comes.

Can I be a feminist and a stay at home mom? Yes!

I choose this life. It isn't forced on me. It certainly isn't "because of the patriarchy".

If I were the one at work and my husband had joined the ranks of the stay at home dads, those same feminists who look down on us stay at home moms would cheer loudly, proclaiming some measure of equality... while forgetting that equality means both men and women can make that choice.

So, for all the stay at home parents, men and women, yes, I am a feminist and I hope you are too.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The bus alarm

"It's time to put your shoes on, buddy."

"Did the bus alarm ring?"

"Yep. It's time for school."


That's how easy our school mornings are.

Born of frustration trying to convince a five year old that he had to put his shoes on right now so as not to miss the school bus, the bus alarm is one of my best ideas.

Way back when we had some trouble getting the boys to go to bed at night, we started setting the timer on the stove. When it beeped, they knew it was time to put pajamas on and get in bed. It worked for a couple of reasons: 1) it was a very clear signal that they could listen for, 2) it was impartial - we weren't the bad guys saying go to bed, it was just bedtime, and 3) it was very consistent - rather like Pavlov's dogs. Now that they are trained to go to bed at bedtime, we no longer need the timer.

"Do you like the bus alarm?"



"It helps me know when school is coming."

When Wil dawdled, trying to play for a few more minutes in the morning, we decided to implement the bus alarm. I have an alarm set on my phone for 10 minutes before the bus comes. We settled on 10 minutes because it gives plenty of time to get shoes and coats on plus grab any last minute items (like library books) that we may have forgotten to collect beforehand.

We tend to get to the bus stop a few minutes before it's due, but that has served us well the few times the bus has been early. Usually it runs late or right on time. The relaxed walk to the stop and time waiting for the bus help put Wil in a school frame of mind.

"Mommy, is today a school day?"

"Yes it is. You need to get dressed as soon as you're done with breakfast."

"I want to play."

"You can play after you get dressed."

"Until the bus alarm."

"Yes, until the bus alarm."

It has helped me too. I don't have to constantly watch the clock. I even set an alarm for myself in the afternoon to remind me when to go to the bus stop. (Yes, our driver won't let the kids off the bus if a parent isn't there. That's another issue.) Removing the pressure and stress from our mornings has helped immensely.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Reactionary security measures

A letter came home from preschool today.

"Due to recent events in the news it has become necessary to implement the following guidelines to the building security of [redacted]. All outside doors to the church building will be locked during the week days. 
"The fellowship hall door will be unlocked [during specified hours]. If you come to the preschool once the doors are locked you will need to enter upstairs under the carport. You can ring the door bell and someone will let you in. Please let them know that you are a preschool parent. 
"We hope this doesn't cause any inconvenience but feel this is the best for the safety and security of the children and our staff."

I don't like it. I don't like these reactionary pronouncements. Is going to the upstairs door too much of an inconvenience? No.

What I don't like is that this is all because someone shot his way into an elementary school and killed a bunch of people and now everyone is panicking.

Should the building doors be locked during the day? Maybe. I really doubt there is a reason they need to be, but I also lock my front door during the day.

Should the front doors be locked during the day because something terrible but EXTREMELY RARE happened several states away? No.

If you want to have a conversation about general security, ok. Bring it on. But don't blame Sandy Hook. Because I have one thing to say to that:

He shot his way in past the locked doors and buzzer system.

Will these new security procedures mean anything to someone who really wants to get in? Nope.

Can someone get inside even if the doors are locked? Yep. All they have to do is ring the bell and say they are a preschool parent. Will office staff know who all the parents are? Nope. The preschool records are maintained by the preschool, not the church office.

This won't really effect me unless I have to pick up a sick kid, but I hate that places feel they need to adopt these measures because "something like that could happen here". I hate that people will actually feel more secure with this even though their kids were already safe.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Too much online 'security'

I am so tired of having to remember dozens of passwords that fit different criteria. Just because my password has a combination of letters, numbers, and other characters doesn't mean it is secure. Just ask xkcd about that. It might actually make it less secure since I now have to remember some random string, which means I need to write it down. Well, I guess it's only insecure if someone breaks into our house and finds it.

Actually, I like passphrases. But few places allow them. (Go IU, with your insistance on passphrases! and kudos to Facebook for allowing them!)

So now I've had to write down my password. Worse? I have to remember what the username for every website is. Because some use my email address (ah, but which one?). Some want a separate username. And those usernames need to be unique, which means that sometimes my preferred (read: rememberable) one is already in use by someone else. So I have to make up something else. Uh oh. You know where this is going, don't you? Yep, have to write those down too.

Why am I blogging about something that many, many people have blogged about, griped about, ranted about before? Because I just got off the phone after having to create a new account, with a new username and password.

Here's how my morning went:

Pull up website to pay bill. Oh yeah, they changed websites. That's ok, it redirects. No warning that I need to re-set-up my account. It looks like it should take the username and password I used last month. No problem.

A few minutes later.....

Crap. It didn't like that. Did I type the wrong one? (Check. Nope, that should be the correct username and password.) Try again. Great, now I'm locked out for entering my password wrong too many times.

I get an email. "Password disabled. Go to [redacted] and click on Username/Password Help."

I follow the link. Nope, password help doesn't help me. It just gives me an error.

I call the handy 800-number.

"I'm sorry, but that account is set up under the joint owner. He'll have to call to reset it. Or I can set up your online account access."

"But it's a joint account."

"Yes, but online access is not allowed to be joint. You have to have your own online account access."

"Fine. Set up my account. I won't remember a new username (since I can't use the one already tied to the other online access account). But set it up so I can pay the bill."

Now, I understand that some people have multiple accounts at an institution and might want to limit access to certain ones. They might not want to share online account access. I'm all for having the ability to have separate online access. But that should be MY choice, not the institutions. We have 1 joint account that now has 2 online accounts to access it.

And I still have to write down my username and password so I can remember them. Yep, not very secure, is it?