Care.com – service review

I recently hired our first babysitter.  I had no idea how to find a babysitter on my own.  In my mind, it had to be more than letting out a big, terrified sigh and hiring the 11-year old next door to watch my baby.

Someone suggested trying care.com and I’m glad they did.  The site makes it easy to find a variety of babysitters who want to hear from you.  It gives you a bio and a calendar of availability for each and then allows you to send a message to a candidate.  The calendar of availability is key to saving me the time and effort of messaging candidates who just aren’t available when I need someone.  It also gave information about the rates each candidate would charge and whether they have certain certifications (e.g., CPR).

The coverage for my town was very good – there were many candidates to choose from.  And there are links to additional information for people new to the babysitting world, like guidelines on when you have to pay taxes on a babysitter’s services, or suggested questions to ask when you interview a babysitter candidate.  Care.com even lets you request a background check.  For real.

Care.com is a paid service, but I can stop paying once I have relationships established.  If something happens, like a babysitter moves away or something, I can sign back up and start again.

Mommy’s Milestone – First Babysitter

This is going to sound preposterous, but Punkie is 10 1/2 months old and we just hired our first babysitter.

We’ve asked family to watch Punkie occasionally, but this is the first time we hired someone to watch the kid.  He seemed to really enjoy it, like a play date.

In contrast to all the talk of baby’s milestones, this is a big milestone for me.  I had some admittedly anxious moments around leaving Punkie with a babysitter, but we interviewed her, I called references, and I submitted the background check request on care.com.  It seems like we picked a good one.

I’m disappointed that the reason I hired the babysitter to watch Punkie is so I can work over the weekend, but it’s good to have someone available.  Maybe we can go to a movie.  Or a restaurant.  Both?  Wow, that would something.

Champion Power Napper?

Punkie is exhaustedPunkie isn’t sleeping enough.  During the week, he just doesn’t sleep much at daycare.  For example, he slept for 20 minutes yesterday and less than 45 the day before.  Sometimes in the evening, before bedtime, he abruptly stops playing and just lays down on the floor (like in this photo).  By the weekend, he is usually completely wiped out and he tends to take marathon naps to catch up.

And he isn’t sleeping all that wonderfully at night.  Some nights, he is excellent – he sleeps straight through to the alarm.  A lot of other nights, though, he wakes up yelling or, if he sleeps through, he wakes up ready to start his day one or two hours before the alarm.  We’re talking before 4AM, people.

The small amount of sleep would be fine if he seemed to be doing okay, but he’s really tired.  The poor guy is tuckered out.

What’s happening is that, during the day at daycare, they don’t have the time or ability to sit with him until he falls asleep.  He seems to need that in order to fall asleep.  On a weekend, if I sit with him for maybe 10 minutes when he’s tired, he’ll fall asleep and stay asleep for an hour or more.  At daycare, he’s now one of the older babies and the staff is spending time with younger babies who just need more attention.  For a while, daycare insisted on swaddling him (an 8 month old baby), even though I told them to stop, probably because of this very issue.

And, to add insult to injury, they called him the champion of the power nap.  Really?  Obviously there is a problem here and it just makes it worse when they make light of it.

Not to take a snarky detour here, but the newer crop of young babies seem to be especially needy.  In fact, at least two of them are screaming every time my husband picks Punkie up or drops him off.  Does the poor kid listen to screaming every day?  This can’t be good for him – it must be very stressful to listen to that continuously all day.  And what kind of impact does that have on him?  I have no idea.

This is really breaking my heart.  Often, I wonder if I should quit my job and stay home with him so he gets what he needs.  The staff at daycare are really nice women who seem very, very fond of Punkie, but they just aren’t his mother.  But, if I stayed home with him, WOULD he get what he needs?  He would lack the social interaction that he really seems to enjoy.

I wonder if this kind of guilt and second guessing is felt by all working moms.

Maybe this is a problem with this particular daycare, but I suspect it’s like this everywhere.  The state mandates one staff member for every 4 babies, so the daycares in our area all staff 1:4.  We’d have to hire a nanny to have a smaller ratio.  When we originally set up child care for Punkie, I opted for a daycare because of the lower cost and because I was concerned about one person being alone with Punkie all day without any supervision – a nanny can be wonderful, but another nanny can abuse, neglect, or injure your child.

My husband and I recently toured another daycare that was highly recommended by one of my husband’s colleagues.  I think we’re going to switch when an opening is available at the new place.  It’s so unclear, though, if that’s the right decision.  First, there’s the potential of upsetting Punkie with an abrupt change in his day-to-day routine, baby friends, and teachers.  Second, the grass might not be greener – it’s possible that this daycare has the same issues or, heaven forbid, worse issues.    I just don’t know.

This is What I’m Talking About

No sooner did I hit “Publish” on my last blog, “Is Egg Freezing the Key to Gender Equality,” in which I talked about what it will take to make women equal participants in the work force, did I come across this gem:

http://abovethelaw.com/2014/10/judge-refuses-to-postpone-hearing-because-maternity-leave-isnt-a-good-enough-excuse/

This is what I’m talking about.  I have heard so many of these stories in the context of the legal profession.  I have lived a few of them myself.  Until now, my favorite was from my first job out of law school with a BIGLAW firm – a colleague of mine was a litigator and she was required to wear a skirt of a very specific length (it couldn’t be too long – yes, you read that correctly) when she appeared before one particular judge in town.  During that time, I can say without exception that every single time I saw a woman leave the office at night (yes, NIGHT) to pick up her children or decline to work a Saturday because of a family commitment, her dedication to the firm and to her career was questioned.  Similarly, when a male attorney declined to work a Saturday due to a family commitment, he was considered to be “a great guy.”

In this story on Above The Law, a female sole practitioner had the NERVE to try to take six weeks of maternity leave.  As a sole practitioner, she didn’t have partners to cover her court appearance so she filed a motion for continuance in an immigration case.  Many immigration cases take YEARS to work through the courts, so asking for a six week postponement (less in this case) is not a lot of time.  And her clients and opposing counsel were all cool with it.  Don’t get me started on how six weeks is a completely inadequate maternity leave, but, nevertheless, that’s all she was looking for.

The judge sat on her motion for some time and then denied it one week before the hearing (after the kid was born).  Apparently, in his opinion, having a child is not “good cause” to postpone a hearing.  Like she had asked to postpone because she had a hair appointment that day.

Having no choice but to appear in court on short notice, she appeared in court with the baby.  She was new in town and didn’t have family nearby, her husband was out of town, and a day care center will not accept a child younger than 6 weeks of age.  Of course they won’t, because only a complete and total asshat expects the mother to go back to work that soon after having a baby.

THEN, in open court, the judge humiliated this lawyer by questioning her parenting skills . . . because she appeared in court as required by the same judge.

So, let me draw some conclusions about this judge’s perspective: (1) a competent lawyer cannot accept clients while pregnant, (2) a competent lawyer cannot take maternity leave without withdrawing from the practice of law entirely, and (3) when a judge, knowing an attorney just had a baby, compels a lawyer to appear and she is forced to appear with a baby in tow, it’s the attorney’s fault.  Interesting.

How it is that a profession who, above all others, ought to know better, is so often on the “HEY I’M A STUPID JERK” side of this issue?

This story makes me so angry.

On the bright side, I am pleased to see that this lawyer filed a complaint against this judge.  I hope they require this idiot judge to at least pretend he’s a better person in the future.

On the very bright side, this lawyer can now go work for Facebook and they’ll reimburse her for the cost of getting her eggs frozen . . . so she won’t have to inconvenience anyone with pregnancies until she’s older.

Is Egg Freezing the Key to Gender Equality?

I saw an article this week that talked about how Facebook and Apple are offering a new benefit to their employees through health insurer Aenta.  They will cover the cost of a woman electing to freeze her eggs so presumably she can have children via IVF later in life.

Wow, I have very mixed feelings about this.  On the one hand, I appreciate an employer who recognizes that some of their employees are struggling with life/work balance issues and they’re attempting (at not insignificant expense) to help them with it. And maybe this is some kind of genuine, albeit ham-handed, attempt by a male-dominated industry to recruit women.

Some women will benefit from this very much.  They really will.  And this is a good thing.

However, I read an article that speculated whether this move will create gender equality in the workplace.  Lets not get carried away here.  It isn’t the condition of a woman’s eggs that creates an environment where she makes less money than a man doing the same work.  It’s a whole lot more than that.

I can’t help but think that paying for women in the workforce to freeze their eggs is just avoiding what is really needed to help women balance families and careers.  We need affordable, quality child care in this country.  We need paid maternity leave guaranteed by law.  We need decisions around a woman’s health (including birth control) to be solely between her and her doctor.  And, of course, we need equal pay for equal work.

A lot of loyal employees at Apple and Facebook are going to freeze their eggs, dust themselves off, and go back to work.  But when are they going to find the perfect time to get pregnant and pop that kid out?

As someone who personally delayed having children, I don’t know if it’s easier now, at this later stage in life, than it would have been when I was younger.  I may make a little bit more money now, but I still pay an arm and a leg for child care and I still took an unpaid maternity leave that was just too short.  But now I am older and have less energy at the end of a long day.  And I’m still trying to figure out how to get it all done at work and at home, just like a younger me would have had to do.

Also, not to get too dark here, but am I the only one who wonders what message these companies are sending to young women entering their workforces?  To me, it seems like the message is that these women will need to delay having families in order to be successful at those companies.

In any case, I do very much support whatever a company wants to do to allow its employees to make their own decisions about when to have a family.  I just don’t think we should read too much into this egg-freezing-as-an-employer-benefit trend.

Lawyer Mom Has Skills

Many people from all walks of life are good mothers – “free to be you and me” and all that. But I think being a lawyer has, to some degree, given me a head-start on motherhood.

I long suspected being a mom wasn’t the romantic dreamscape that so many women describe. I don’t know why women do that to themselves and others – the truth is that motherhood can also be exhausting and stressful. I don’t know anything worthwhile that isn’t imperfect and difficult sometimes, so I’m not surprised.

But I think there are some skills that help a mom work through the less dreamy parts of the job and being a lawyer has given me some of those.

My thoughts on this:

  1. BS Detector – My profession has taught me, among other things, that even my own client will lie to me. I don’t take it personally, but I have worked over the years to hone my BS detecting skills. Punkie had a “great day” at day care 5 days in a row? Uh huh – I call bullshit. Nobody has a great day every day. Your kid walked by five months of age? Interesting tale, but I call bullshit, unless he’s Clark Kent. Is your kid Clark Kent? I didn’t think so. I can’t wait until Punkie starts talking because I think I’ll enjoy a worthy BS adversary.
  1. Advocacy – I haven’t had to advocate all that much for Punkie yet, but I’m going to be a gladiator for that toothless, melon-headed little angel. I’m suiting up right now for an anticipated issue around which classroom Punkie’s day care will move him to when he begins walking, which I expect to be soon. I threw the first volley over the wall today and am waiting to see what the response will be. If the response is not what I need to hear, then the game is on.
  1. Drudgery – Being a mom isn’t all smiles and adventure. A lot of the tasks around taking care of Punkie are drudgery. But drudgery doesn’t stop me. I’ve negotiated every single provision of a 211 page contract. I’ve reviewed vast quantities of documents for 18 hours at a stretch – I’m talking conference rooms full of banker boxes, each stuffed with paper (yes, I’m banker-box-discovery-old). I studied for and passed two bar exams – I studied for the second exam at night after full days/evenings of work. I took trusts and estates and federal tax law courses in law school – that’s boring WITH MATH. If you think moving all of the next-size-up clothing into a closet or picking the same toy up off the floor 1,324 times in are row are boring, well, I can do those things all day.
  1. Deadlines – My life revolves around a to-do list and a schedule that is revised and refreshed many times each day. Everything I do has a deadline and nothing motivates me like a solid deadline. The kid needs a meal, or larger shoes, or to go to the doctor – these are all tasks with deadlines. I can schedule the hell out of those things like a champion. On the calendar, Punkie’s things are green and they’re all marked “high priority.” Check. Check. Check.
  1. Sleep Deprivation – I have trained with the best when it comes to sleep deprivation. My sleep deprivation training is akin to a chef training with someone who has 3 Michelin stars, or a football player who has trained with a Heisman Trophy winner, or a race car driver who learned everything he knows from Mario Andretti. Sure, I admit to a few dark moments when Punkie was a newborn, but I feel strongly that those fleeting moments were caused by a C-section and Oxycodone. Take this week for example. Punkie woke me up almost every night this week and, each time, he was unwilling to go back to sleep (I think he’s about to have a tooth break through). But I get up and go to work and keep going and then I get up the next night and take care of Punkie.  I’ll do this as long as it takes – if I need more coffee, I’ll get coffee. If I eventually go insane, so be it. It won’t stop me from crushing it again tomorrow.

How to Get Away With Murder, A Review

I’ve watched the entire Gilmore Girls series and no longer have a go-to show to watch while I’m nursing.  I saw the previews for How to Get Away With Murder and thought I’d watch to see if I liked it.  Who knows, maybe it’ll be my new show, I thought to myself.

Um . . . is this show for real?  There are probably no fewer than A MILLION people alive today who have attended law school for some period of time.  My suggestion to the show creators is to FIND ONE and have them explain how absurdly terrible this show is.

Don’t get me wrong – I am no TV snob.  I love some great shows and I love plenty of, shall we say . . . low-brow shows (which Real Housewives of [insert geography] franchise have I NOT watched?).  I also enjoy lawyer shows.  Sure, the court house scenes are cheesy, they never follow the rules of civil procedure, and I would personally never hire any of the TV lawyers who I watch on TV, but I have the ability to suspend my disbelief and enjoy a show for what it is. Until I saw this show.

The first episode of How to Get Away With Murder starts with a cluelessly happy young man riding his bike to his very first day of law school at some ivy-covered law school building.  As he walks down the lecture hall stairs, the camera pans over to some asshat in a suit (that’s not the unbelievable part) who says with gusto, something like “I just finished an internship with a Supreme Court Justice.”  Really? That’s just not possible.  As the guy walks around the entire room, the comments from the other students get more and more stupid as he walks.

Not to spoil more weird dialogue for you, but later on, toward the end of the episode, the main character tells the cluelessly happy guy (who’s still clueless but no longer happy by that point, which is, admittedly, the most realistic part of the show), that everything in his life depends on whether he, a law student with what seems like one week of law school under his belt, decides to intern for this law professor’s firm.  He can sit in a corporate office “…drafting contracts and hitting on chubby paralegals before finally putting a gun in [his] mouth…,” or he can join her.  Apparently, there’s no other way on Earth he can avoid working in-house for a corporation, and that’s objectively a bad thing [insert sarcasm].

W…T…F.  This might be the perspective of a BIGLAW partner or two out there, but this is supposed to be a law school professor.

I’ll bet the writers of the show did little hand slaps and fist bumps after they wrote this, but UUUGGGHHH, it’s so terrible.  These writers have a really warped view of the legal profession – maybe they were beaten with law books as children.

Also, as an aside –  hiring interns begs some touchy legal issues these days.  I hope for her sake that she pays these students.

And don’t get me started on how a woman who purports to be a law professor can toss away an entire curriculum of criminal law and force her students (who have been in law school for literally less than one day and who know no criminal law, because she didn’t teach them anything) to work on a live criminal case currently being handled by her firm. She seems proud of the fact that she intends to teach the students ZERO criminal law.  What is this law school?  Certainly, it’s not an accredited school.  I want to yell “get your tuition back before it’s too late, fools!,” but I know the actors they dressed up as preppy tools won’t listen.

Furthermore, this professor spent the year or more while this trial was pending apparently NOT preparing and then, the day before the trial begins, asked a bunch of kids to come up with legal arguments.  That’s malpractice.  When she reveals her strategy finally, it is basically that she’s going to make the witnesses look bad.  She praises the student who slept with someone to get information and the student who illegally obtained an email that would no doubt be inadmissible in a real court.  She really ought to just stick to the text book.

I’ll leave you with this one last gripe (lucky you?) – I was startled to see the actress who played Paris Geller in Gilmore Girls now plays a lawyer who works for the professor’s firm in How to Get Away With Murder.  Since my Gilmore Girls reboot plan (https://thelawyergetsakid.com/2014/09/24/gilmore-girls-2-0-a-modest-proposal/) involves the Paris Geller character to a large degree, I am dismayed to realize that this stupid show will make my dreams impossible.

Gilmore Girls 2.0, a Modest Proposal

During my maternity leave, I noticed one day while I was nursing that the Gilmore Girls (“GG”) was in reruns on the ABC Family channel.  They were playing the pilot episode and I loved it.

After that, I would turn GG on each day while I nursed.  When I went back to work, I set the DVR to record it each day so I could watch it while I nursed in the evening.

Well, over nine months later, I just watched the last episode of GG.  What a great show!  I liked it so much, I really think they need to reboot it, kind of like Netflix did with Arrested Development.  Although, GG won’t work the way Arrested Development was redone.  You can’t isolate one main character from the GG each into their own episodes – it would need to be a fully integrated, complete show.

So here’s my modest proposal for a brand new Gilmore Girls show – GG 2.0, if you will:

  • First thing is first – you need Amy Sherman-Palladino and Lauren Graham. You can’t reboot GG without both of them.  We’ll have to get Parenthood cancelled (how hard could that be, really?).  And I don’t know what Ms. Sherman-Palladino is up to, but we would need to tank that as well.
  • Think Gilmore Girls meets Auntie Mame. Lorelei raises her grandson in Stars Hollow with Luke, her now-husband. Rory had such a satisfying farewell in the last episode that it was like a touching goodbye to that character.  At the end, Rory told her mom, Lorelei, that Lorelei gave her everything she needed.  Sorry, Rory, but it only makes sense to reboot with your offspring.  In the opening scene, Lorelei is presented with her grandson, to whom she is now suddenly legal guardian because Rory and her husband, also a reporter, tragically died in a car accident on their way home from accepting the Pulitzer Prize.
  • I propose this grandchild be a boy.  We had the Lorelei and daughter experience in GG 1.0 and we also had April, who is basically the Scrappy-Doo or Cousin Oliver of GG.  We don’t need another adorable, smart young girl character.  Make him more fast talker than stereotypically smart – think a mix between Jess and Logan.  Lets go with the spunky, fast-talking boy option.
  • Lorelei’s best friend, Sookie, is not a regular character in GG 2.0 because Melissa McCarthy is so famous now – I’m sure she wouldn’t agree to be a full-time regular on the show.  I say Sookie is away, maybe in California, opening another Dragon Fly Inn, like a franchise.  We can see her from time to time when Melissa McCarthy has a break between movies.  Maybe we give her a show on the Food Network or make her an Iron Chef, just for laughs.
  • Lorelei’s new best friend is . . . yes, Paris Geller.  Paris married Doyle and the two of them are of course now rich and powerful after Paris, let’s say, invented a new medical device to cure some funny but embarrassing ailment like, I don’t know, maybe Athlete’s Foot.  We can work on this.  In any case, Paris has moved to Stars Hollow to raise her kid, who she wants to have the same idealic upbringing of her good friend, Rory.  Lets put her right next door to Lorelei in Babbette’s old house because I’m sure Sally Strothers is going to be too busy for the Netflix-produced reboot.  We can have Paris be a new lecturing professor at Chilton so she overlaps with Lorelei’s grandson.  Plus, since she has not mellowed at all, Paris dealing with students will be funny to watch.
  • Chilton brings me to Emily and Richard.  We need them back, paying for Chilton again.  Friday night dinners are a must.  And their great-grandson gets into Chilton because of his family and charm and, unlike his mother, not because of his brain power.
  • Lane and Zack need to be there.  I say Lane and Zack are now music teachers in town and they have the twins, AND they’re still playing with Gil and Brian.  If Miss Patty can’t return for whatever reason, put Lane and Zack’s music school in her studio and continue to have the town meetings there.  Lane will be Rory’s son’s Lorelei Gilmore (reference to the Lane’s baby shower episode).
    • This is very important – both or maybe just one of Lane’s kids need to rebel.  They/he hate music and they/he love bible study.  They hide things in the floor boards and rebel whenever they can.
    • Throw in Mrs. Kim too because she’s awesome.  In fact, if the actress who plays Miss Patty wants to come back, put Lane and Zack’s music school somewhere in Mrs. Kim’s antique store.  Mrs. Kim can conspire against Lane with Lane’s kids.
  • The town needs to be a character in the reboot, like it was in the original.
    • Town meetings are a must-have.
    • Michel is a must-have, in every episode.  Give him 5 dogs because it would be fun.
    • Kirk is a must-have.  Add in Taylor, Gypsie, Liz, Miss Patty . . .  heck, all the town folk. Even the troubadour.

What are your thoughts on the reboot?

Zombie

I suppose this is the obligatory “I’m exhausted” mommy blog post.  Well I am.  Punkie has a virus, we believe, from day care . . . again.  This one gives him a high fever and some nasal congestion.  The fever keeps coming back and I’ve been waking up at night to give Punkie some medication to keep the temp down.  And now I’m exhausted. I’m basically a lawyerly zombie today.

Boromire meme redactedOne does not simply walk into Mordor . . . I mean, the nursery, and give medication.  You need to cajole and beg the baby to go back to sleep afterward.  This is the crux of the issue here.  Last night, he took his medication and then decided he didn’t want to be alone in his crib.  Every time I laid him down, he kicked and yelled and cried.  If I picked him up, he was asleep in one minute . . . until I laid him down, in which case he was immediately awake again.  Eventually, I brought him to bed with us and he fell asleep, but not until we had lost two hours of sleep.

Can I remind you that I’m 40 and losing two hours of sleep slays me?  Or, maybe it “undeads” me, and I’ve been undead since Friday.  When I was in my 20’s, I could stay up all night and still function.  Now, in my 40’s, all I can say is BRAINS.

Maul Mommy

redacted punkie game

The kid’s new favorite game is what I affectionately refer to as “Maul Mommy.”  When we play this game, Punkie laughs and laughs and laughs and my heart swells.  But it sure isn’t pretty and it’s occasionally kind of gross.

First, I lay down on the floor on my back.  The first time I did this, it was because my back hurt from hauling a(n adorable) baby with a giant head all over the house.  But Punkie is an opportunist and he pounced.

Then, Punkie laughs and screeches and crawls over to me.  He pulls himself up onto his knees and wipes his face all over my clean shirt, laughing all the while.  He then moves up towards my head and grabs my nose with a ninja grip, sometimes using his finger nails to dig in.  After that, it’s a free-for-all.  I have a baby laying across my face, laughing and kicking, and putting his open mouth on my ear (wet willy, anyone), over my nose, and on my mouth.  He pulls my hair and pokes his fingers into my eyes.  I’ve never heard anyone laugh that much.

That’s not the gross part.  You ask, how could that not be the gross part?  Actually, that part is fun because he enjoys it so much and it tickles and he’s a funny little guy.  The gross part is that I think he basically french kissed me during last night’s game of Maul Mommy.  I’m sure he has no idea what that means or why one might object to it, but it happened.  I hope Child Protective Services doesn’t take him away.