I Want A ‘MOM’s Club’ (alternate title: God Help My New PTA)

I took my eldest to Kindergarten today. While the emotions are ravaging my mind and soul tonight, I can’t help but exhale a bit.

He did great. He seems great. Life moves on.

So while the Mom in me grapples with time passing and children growing, the woman in me is rather pissed off.

Expectations are killing me.

As most of you know, I work.

I work like millions of Americans and like millions of other mothers and fathers.

What is making me angry, and what I can’t wrap my head around tonight, is why my parenting expectations are so much higher than my husband’s.

He works, too.

But there are special ‘clubs’ at school for Dads, catering to ‘finding opportunities for father’s to participate’ in school functions. Me? It’s just expected.

So there I was, signing up for a few volunteer positions (because if I didn’t god only knows what doom it would spell for my child or our future at a brand new school) and my husband is afforded the luxury of ‘Dads Club.’

Which, mind you, he nearly skipped signing up for because…you know…he works.

I realize there are larger things at work here like society and culture and biological predispositions…but stay with me.

As a thinking person I realize that regardless of work, I need to be involved in my child’s school. It’s not convenient. I have a million other things to do, but ‘work’ is not an excuse to get out of it.

The only thing that makes this even slightly manageable – I work from home. What about the millions of mothers who leave the house to work daily? Who punch a clock? And is my work diminished because I DO work from home?

You just work from home…you can come sell cookies and help organize the fundraiser.

Why are all these working women expected to participate, while their male counterparts are given a pass? Or a special fucking club, like if they show up they are already 10 steps ahead of any other working father on the planet.

Reminds me of the Dads (of which my husband is one) that actually change diapers and give baths and suck out snot with the bulb thingy. You’d think they had walked on water from all the praise they received for participating in their child’s life.

Every time I think we’ve made progress, I am confronted with the reality of our society expecting everything of  women when it comes to raising children. Nevermind there is another capable adult in the mix.

Oh, that guy? Yes well, he works.

No one thinks anything of raising an eyebrow if I dare text on my blackberry while sitting at a school function, yet those same no ones don’t even glance when the guy in the suit gets a call during Kindergarten RoundUp and he spends 3 minutes whispering into his cell.

Obviously, he’s a guy. In a suit. It MUST be very important.

Me? Oh you know, not much at all. Just feeling like not paying attention to my child’s teacher momentarily to do something as UNimportant as reply to Barack Obama and John McCain’s staff.

It has nothing to do with gender roles or societal norms. It has everything to do with being a parent.

Which is why, at my very first PTA meeting, I just might have to ask for a MOM’s Club. You know, to find those ‘opportunities’ for involvement in my child’s education.

Or maybe I’ll just sign up for the Dad’s Club.

School’s in session.

Two Candidates, One Blogger: A Michigan Homecoming

I don’t know how else to write this, so I’m just going to be blunt.

It can be very depressing to hang out in metro-Detroit.

I’ve been back “home” visiting family for 48 hours now, and the stories of lay-offs and foreclosure and moves out-of-state are overwhelming.

In all honesty, downtown looks terrible. The suburbs are littered with for-sale signs.

My family and friends continue to keep on, keeping on.

At a family gathering on Sunday, the typical occurred.

We ate and the kids ran around.

The adults sitting around the patio talked about what the ‘Big 3′ needs to do, my Aunt got animated discussing how she doesn’t like Senator Obama (she doesn’t ‘trust him’), another Uncle told a racist joke (no one laughed this time), and I very quietly listened.

While I attempted to be stealth and ninja like listening…my blackberry gave out a huge DING DING DING, and all eyes fell on me.

They know what I do at BlogHer, and had been careful choosing their words around me all day.

With a half dozen pairs of eyes on me, I looked down, and read aloud: “Sen Obama to Unveil His ‘New Energy for America‘ Plan in Speech Monday. From Lansing. ”

Everyone got quiet.

We ate desert and talked gradually picked up again.

Cynicism and cautious optimism abound.

“Lansing …from Michigan. Could be risky. Could be brilliant,” said one uncle.

“He should do it here, they need it most here,” said my Mom.

“I don’t care what he says, I just don’t like him,” said an aunt.

So it was with great interest my mother, my aunt, and I watched the Senator speak from Lansing this morning.

As the Senator discussed his very detailed New Energy for America plan, touted by Climate Progress as “…easily the best energy plan ever put forward by a nominee of either party…” republicans were emailing me to let me know they were handing out tire gauges to mock Obama’s reminders that keeping your tires properly inflated saves gas.

They were mocking a gas saving tip while sending this to my inbox:

“Today, I’m asking for your help in putting Senator Obama’s “tire gauge” energy policy to the test. With an immediate donation of $25 or more, we will send you an “Obama Energy Plan” tire pressure gauge. Will simply inflating your tires reduce the financial burden of high gas prices on your wallet?

It’s clear Senator Obama has no plan to address the energy challenges we face as a nation. He has said no to offshore drilling, no to expanding domestic drilling and no to nuclear energy. He has no plan to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”- Rick Davis Campaign Manager, John McCain 2008.

I read this aloud to my Mom.

She threw her hands in the air, entirely disgusted. She was watching Senator Obama give detailed information, point-by-point, on a plan that not just reduces our dependence on foreign oil but rids of us reliance on Middle East oil on 10 years.

“Why do they do that?”

My Mom asked, still shaking her head over the McCain Campaign email.

For the record NASCAR and the US Department of Energy agree with Senator Obama on the whole tire gauge thing, and the GOP is trying to make a joke of this:

Sugar writes, “Oh gosh I know the Ozoids are writhing even as I write this! lmao I tell you, the McCain camp is making this fun for me again because it is such a joy to see an opponent who doesn’t have the constraints that Hillary did, giving it to Obama raw. Hillary couldn’t ream him like she should have because of that party unity bullshit, but the McCain camp doesn’t have anything to lose…but the election…and they are going all out to ensure that they don’t. I’m loving it. “

But if they’d like to know how their “joke” played with Michigan voters….jokes on them. I’ve got several here either not getting it or disgusted with the gimmick.

They don’t want campaign gimmicks. They want jobs.

The tit-for-tat over who misspoke where over what isn’t playing well with this crowd. Not unless those jokes can pay their mortgage.

Meanwhile, my Aunt (undecided who she is supporting) is listening closer than I thought she would.

I can tell.

My Mom let’s out a ‘WOW’ at Obama saying his plan will create five million new green jobs. My Aunt raised an eyebrow and says “well that’s good.”

TankWoman writes, “I switched to CNN, and was pleasantly surprised by Obama’s plan. Okay, I take that back, I was more than pleasantly surprised, I was excited and inspired by the ideas that Obama spoke about this morning in the birthplace of the auto industry. And though I know that this speech was tailor made for Michigan, and designed to strengthen his poll numbers, I believe that this energy plan is the only way forward for our nation, and that if Obama is serious and dedicated to these issues, we may have a solution not only to climate change, but to the ailing economy.

The things that we need to do to stall the oncoming danger of climate change, are the very things that Obama outlined in his speech. We must invest heavily in alternative energy, if we don’t come up with the capital to take the risk out of these start-up industries, they will fail. We need investment tax credits for solar energy, and wind power, without them, there are major solar projects that will move to Europe, and the wind farms will not get built here, but move to Germany. Our auto industry is near bankruptcy, Ford and GM have reported the lowest sales in nearly 30 years.”

She’s right.

I’m here.

I’m seeing the factories empty and the friends and family members collecting unemployment. It’s been happening for a long time now, and there needs to be a real solution in bringing back not just this state’s economy, but the nation’s.

Tomorrow Senator McCain comes to town to tour a Nuclear Plant. Fermi 2, to be exact.

The same plant I see every time I visit my hometown. I’ll be watching and listening closely to compare the Senator from Arizona’s ideas to the Senator from Illinois.

And after spending the day with my family excited about Obama’s ambitious plan to provide real solutions to the people of Michigan-

Senator McCain had better show up with more than a tire gauge.

Cross posted at blogher.com

Of Cares and Cars

Dock

I’m in my hometown near Detroit.

The boats are on the water, kids are in bathing suits at every lake, and my family is near.

With a Ford in the driveway here, and a Chysler parked in front of my California home, there is nothing I’d like to see more than this city and state revived.

Energy policies, economic incentives. They don’t seem to matter much when you’re helping your sure-of-foot 5-year old down his first wobbly, Michigan dock.

I miss this town. I’m still proud of this town.

I am happy to be home.

I’ve Heard Enough Singing from the NetRoots

I’m the first to admit I am hard-headed.

and the readers laugh

I make a decision on something, and I get passionate about it. As if I’m leading a cult, I whip a frenzy of followers into getting passionate too and we march into battle.

Then somewhere along the lines, usually while marching, I realize I am probably being a wee bit extreme about the whole thing and maybe, just maybe, there is a more sensible way to approach this whole ‘battle.’ Which may or may not have really been a battle in the first place.

I’d like to think the difference between myself, and (for example) the community over at Daily Kos, is somewhere along the lines I catch myself and adjust.

I calm down.

I think.

I listen.

I do this, usually, while continuing to stand up for what I believe, adjusting my fight, and making sure I do all of the above in a manner that won’t SCREW my candidate.

I was willing to give my passionate friends over at Kos a hat tip and nod after the FISA uproar. I was willing to let the NetRoots be fringe, or bleeding edge-as the kid’s say.

Then they went and banned my friend Lee Stranahan.

Daily Kos. Banning.

No, no…really.

The liberal, ‘censorship sucks, we hate those who won’t listen to our point of view’ blog of the NetRoots, Daily Kos.

Now I’m convinced they are extremists who are no better than the Neo-Con, censoring, fundies.

Can I just remind you, oh holier than thou NetRoots…the Democratic candidate is a man who brings everyone to the table. He hears everyone out. He strives to make everyone work together- regardless of extremism.

I may not LIKE or support the idea of offshore drilling, but I do understand that we can’t just shut out one point of view. I may not LIKE the compromise on FISA, but I sure as hell understand that we need to take small steps in order to take giant ones. I may not LIKE that a liberal blogger is talking about the alleged Edwards affair, but I sure as HELL need to listen and be AWARE.

You can keep sticking your fingers in your ears and singing lalalalalalalalalalalalala. It’s one of my own favorite go-to moves. But trust me, in the end I catch myself. Because I just spent 8 years with an administration that sang a lot and didn’t listen. With a nation of conservatives hell bent on refusing to hear why I didn’t want prayer in my schools and why I wanted to control my own reproduction.

They didn’t want to listen. And once in power, they felt they didn’t have to listen.

Flash forward to 2008 and the power of the blogosphere.

You may not want to listen. Hell, I don’t want to listen.

But you have to listen.

Hold candidates accountable, reasonably march into battle….

…just take your fingers out of your damn ears and make room at the table for everyone.

*editor’s note: Lee Stranahan is tonight’s guest on Sunday Inquisition. Let’s hear it right from him….

Erin Kotecki Vest is usually over at Queen of Spain Blog causing trouble. Or behaving. Depending.

Spoiled, Not Stupid

BlogHer ’08 squees have faded and hundreds of powerful women bloggers are now back home with their families.

Companies are furiously entering new email addresses into their databases and I am going through the three totebags filled with everything from gift cards for photo prints to thumb drives to toys for my children.

I’m used to it.

I’m not impressed.

I’m spoiled by the big stuff. The video game sytems and the hottest electronics. The humidfiers and the loaner hybrid SUV’s.

I’m spoiled.

But while I revel in my swag, I fully realize these ‘gifts’ are bribes.

I’m not stupid.

The assumption that I am, pisses me off.

Just like any business, some people will act professionally and some will not.

Just like any friendship, some people will latch on to a person to use them and some will not.

I’m not stupid.

There is an assumption floating around the internet that we silly mommybloggers have no idea how to handle all this ‘fame’ and ‘fortune.’

We are taking free stuff and not being transparent when we write about it. We’re taking free stuff and thumbing our noses at any offering that isn’t the best and most expensive.

I’m not stupid.

I’m wondering if the tech bloggers were all called spoiled when they started getting the new notebooks via UPS. I’m wondering if the fashion writers were called spoiled when new designers sent over their spring lines. I’m wondering if any publishing site, anywhere, at anytime, for any reason was called ‘spoiled’ when they were sent the ‘newest’ or the ‘latest’ or the ‘most recent innovation.’

I’m not stupid.

It might make some of these larger names or sites or companies uncomfortable that this Mom of two in her PJ’s, drinking her morning coffee, conducts the business of blogging from her laptop while the rest of the industry toils.

I’m not stupid.

I’ve spent 3 years now wondering why you didn’t take me seriously. Annoyed you refused to acknowledge the revolution occurring. Pissed off I had to jump up and down screaming to have you notice me. Then, while being called spoiled, I realize something;

We do it better. We do it easier. We do it on our terms.

You are jealous.

I’m not stupid.

Hate. Criticize. Do whatever makes you feel better. I’m going to conduct the business of mommyblogging. The best of my community will continue to rise, the less transparent will fall. The typical cycle of any new medium will play itself out from rockstar, front page headlines to being replaced with the next best thing.

I’m not stupid.

And while it all plays out, my spoiled self will have paid some bills, met some amazing people, engaged in some unreal opportunities, all while you called me spoiled in my oversaturated market.

I’m not stupid.

I will also continue to do what I do, WHY I do it- for this hobby that became a business, but was always about my friends, my life, and my community.

I’m not stupid.

Spoiled…but not stupid.

Once again, I am amazed

I’m at BlogHer ’08 in San Francisco.

But I wanted to quickly introduce you to BlogHer’s newest blogger.


Michelle Obama
.

Click. Read.

Welcome.

Barack Obama is 100% Pro-Choice. Period.

PunditMom is considering NOT voting, Cynematic has warning bells blazing, Gloria Feldt is closing her wallet, and AnnRose is recounting her days at a hospital specializing in late abortion.

This is too big.

This has too many women wondering.

I am not comfortable wondering, and I have no intention of wondering my way to November.

I’m taking action.

I talked with Pam Sutherland today, President and CEO of the Illinois Planned Parenthood Council.

We each had one thing on our minds and we both understood it’s importance. There was no small talk. There was no chit-chat.

This conversation was arranged knowing what was at stake. She knew what she needed to say, and I knew what I hoped to hear.

And now I get to tell you.


Pam Sutherland does NOT have ONE doubt in her mind that Senator Barack Obama is anything but 100% pro-choice.

And she should know.

“I have worked with Barack Obama for 12 years. And in that 12 years he has never voted wrong on any (women’s reproductive) issue. It’s just that simple.”

It’s just that simple.

I happened to be talking to Pam as I watched Senator John McCain seemingly writhe in pain when asked his position on forcing health insurance companies to cover birth control.

Then we have Senator Obama, speaking DIRECTLY to BlogHer on the issue

Did you catch the difference there? McCain entirely uncomfy on YouTube, Obama talking TO US.

I also talked with the Obama campaign, hoping to clarify the Senator’s remarks that had pro-choice women wringing their hands.

The official statement?

“Senator Obama has always fought for a woman’s right to choose and has consistently opposed efforts to pass measures lacking a health exception. Senator Obama also recognizes that some people view these health exceptions not as exceptions, but as a way around these restrictions. Senator Obama believes that while “mental distress” should not be covered by a health exception, there will be cases where carrying to term a pregnancy may seriously damage a woman’s mental health and those cases should be covered. He believes that we can craft well-defined health exceptions – as pro-choice legislators have tried in Congress and in state legislatures – that address those concerns and fully protect women’s health.”- Shannon Gilson

That didn’t clear things up for me. I continued my call with Pam and really tried to get to the heart of this.

Point blank I asked her, “Pam, do you worry at all about what he said, his remarks, are you worried?”

“No, Erin. I don’t worry at all…He’s made it perfectly clear he supports the tenets of Roe…and I have a 12-year experience with someone who is 100% Pro-Choice.”

For good measure-

Senator John McCain has received a 0% pro-choice rating from Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Senator Obama received a 100% pro-choice vote rating from Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Not 75%. Not 99%.

100%

Can I also point out McCain co-sponsored and voted for the Federal Abortion Ban? Yea, he did.

Want something even scarier?


Senator McCain voted against legislation that established criminal and civil penalties for those who use threats and violence to keep women from gaining access to reproductive health facilities.

The record by both candidates goes on and on and on. It’s not even a contest.

Liza at Culture Kitchen even has a graphic demonstrating the difference.

If Planned Parenthood and NARAL are confident in Senator Obama, why aren’t you?

Pam Sutherland isn’t worried, and I’m not either.

Cross Posted at BlogHer.com

Who Wants One?

Tell me your laptop isn’t just screaming for one of these babies

#suckit the laptop sticker