Thursday, December 16, 2010

Affirmative Action

Affirmative Action: an active effort to improve the employment or educational opportunities of members of minority groups and women.
Sounds great, right? Bigot swine aside, who wouldn't want qualified women and blacks, asians, latinos, etc. in the workforce? The problem with affirmative action and the reason I think it is an unfair practice is that it usually overlooks how qualified a person is in favor of their skin color or sex. That is why in Britain they call it "positive discrimination". LOL, this term always makes me laugh, kind of like "reverse racism".

"Positive" discrimination? What does that man? Well, basically, it means that if you have worked your ass off to be at the top of your class and have taken internships to develop skills you think will make you more qualified than the next guy, you'd better hope the next guy is not black or a woman, or you can bet that if the company practices "positive discrimination" AKA "affirmative action", you're screwed!

P.C. Disclaimer: I hate the term African-American. I use "black". If you are offended, you are probably white so I'll ask you, how many black americans do you know that were born in, or have ever lived in Africa? What makes them African-American, then? Ancestry, you say? Well then, shouldn't we all be called African-Americans? Anyway...

Luckily for me, I happen to be a woman of hispanic descent (even though you can't really tell by my skin color) in a field and industry that is overwhelmingly dominated by white males. Chuh-Ching!! I'd love to say that I have such amazing foresight that I predicted this unfair advantage but, the fact is, I love Physics - and Mechanical Engineering was just the most closely related field in which I felt I could actually make some money.

So, I graduated from college with a 3.4 GPA and a 6 month old daughter, and still managed to juggle an internship I felt would make me more qualified than the next guy. And, probably because I was not the next guy, I landed a job with a large corporation that will remain nameless.

On my first day, I realized that I was the ONLY woman in my office building, and in the one next to that, and in the entire department, made up of at least 100 employees. Then, I realized that I was the only hispanic salaried person in the entire factory (1000+ employees)! Hmmmm... I began to wonder if there was not an unlucky white guy with a 4.0 GPA and more experience who did not get the job because he wouldn't have satisfied some affirmative action plan devised to save the company's reputation from being tarnished by insinuations of sexism or racism.

If I am so against affirmative action why, you may wonder, do I not resign on moral grounds?
Why do I stick around and reap it's benefits? Simply stated, I am no fool! Affirmative action did not only (in all likelihood) help me get this job but it also makes it harder for them to fire me and, as a consequence, I get paid a decent salary for working a desk job with more than my share of leniancies. And now that I am visibly pregnant this has only gotten better (worse), to the point that my male co-workers have started to notice and leak their resentment. And, while I never expected to get any special treatment and concede that it is extremely unfair and just plain disgusting, you won't hear me complaining to HR!

Another reason, probably the most important reason, I'm sticking around is that I believe that I am qualified and that I am great at my job. Like many in my graduating class (and perhaps even more so), I worked my ass off! I have memories that will never leave me of trying to breastfeed a screaming newborn while studying for a final at 4 a.m. on two hours of sleep! And, even though I will never know if I am here because my company needed to fill some diversity gap, because they felt I was the most qualified person in their pool, or a little bit of both, knowing that about myself is good enough for me!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thursday, November 11, 2010

"Going Public" and The Nub Theory

Today, I am 16 weeks and 4 days pregnant. A friend of mine recently asked me why I had not "gone public" yet. I assumed she meant why hadn't made a status update or new blog post announcing the good news, but it made me chuckle because I imagined myself on the cover of a tabloid mag sporting suspicious belly bulge with a header that read "Is it a baby bump?". Here is my version:)

I am thrilled to have another child and a sibling for Dahlia. This pregnancy has been almost completely different from the first, so far. For one, I have only gained 5 lbs, which is 7 lbs less than I had gained by week 16 of my first pregnancy. On the downside, I got to see what morning sickness was like with this baby and, some evenings, I am so exhausted after work that I can barely keep my eyes open long enough to put Dahlia to bed! Luckily, in the second trimester (my favorite part of pregnancy) the general malaise is starting to wane, I can feel the baby move occasionally and, soon, I will start looking pregnant instead of just overweight!

Another reason I love the second trimester is that it is the time you get to find out your baby's gender if you so choose! Having a little girl at home, I would love to have a boy next but, more than anything, I just want to be able to go shopping and buy something that isn't unisex! I've been so eager to know if I will have a boy or a girl that, at about 11 weeks, I did some online research into early gender detection using ultrasound, more crudely known as "nub theory". It has to do with the "angle of the dangle" of your fetus' genital tubercle, the protrusion that will eventually form into a clitoris or penis, and it is measured in relation to the spine. It is simple really, >30 degrees indicates a boy and anything less is a girl. It has well documented accuracy when done correctly (about 75% at 12 weeks) and is not a wives tale[1].

[1] Determination of gender - 10 and 14 weeks , Z Efrat et al, Journal: Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology 1999; 13:305–30.

Anyway, while the theory itself is simple, convincing your ultrasound tech that you do not just have a case of "I read it on the internet, so it must be true!", is another matter all together.

Nevertheless, at my 12 week appointment, I enthusiastically asked if she knew of the technique and if we could try it. I stressed that it would just be for fun and that I would not take the results too seriously. She did not address my question but instead said dismissively, "Well, I'll take a picture of whatever you want but I don't have the equipment to take those measurements". I asked her to just try to get a good shot of it and that I would measure the angle at home (with that sophisticated piece of equipment known as a protractor).

When she had completed the nuchal translucency measurements and located the nasal bone, I could tell she was about to wrap up, so I reminded her of my request. She sighed heavily and said, "You know, this really isn't accurate at this age. We are talking about a "microscopic" size here." Microscopic? I thought, almost laughing out loud, Not really, but I looked at her pleasantly and respectfully explained the theory again and that I was not trying to measure the size but the angle. "I just need a picture of it.", I smiled. "Ok. So, what is it I'm looking for?", she asked repositioning the ultrasound probe. "The genital tubercle", I repeated for what must have been the fourth time. "You can't see the genitalia this early one.", she said with an air of authority. "ARGH!!", I thought. "I know. The genital tubercle is a protrusion that eventually forms into genitalia. It is the same for male and female fetus' with the exception of the angle."

I am sure that this came out condescending but, at that point, I was ready to return some of what she'd been dishing out. "Do you do ultrasounds?", she asked sardonically. She was letting her insecurity show, so I decided to end it there and left- without a usable nub pic.

Luckily, there are only two more weeks left before I have my anatomical ultrasound and hopefully, if the baby (and the technician) co-operates, I will finally know what color onesies to buy!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Update to Picky Eater

So last night, after making Dahlia one of the four dinners she'll actually eat (Grilled Cheese and Green Beans), I sat down to have my own dinner of which the main course was chicken (I know, we eat a lot of chicken). Dahlia spots me from across the room, walks over to me and hovers over my plate as she often does on the nights we don't get a chance to eat together as a family. "What's that?", she asks, pointing at my chicken. "It's chicken. Do you want some?", I ask through a chuckle, 100% sure she that, after the chicken battle of the previous week, she would run away screaming.

"Want some. Yessss!", she replied. "Yeah right", I thought, and held up a big chunk of breast meat on a fork. To my astonishment and utter disbelief, she opened her mouth wide, chewed, swallowed and asked for more! I yelled across the room to John to come over and repeated the feat...TWICE!!

I fed her nearly all of it and spent the rest of the night trying to wrap my head around it. Two days before, I could have water boarded her and she wouldn't have touched that chicken! Indeed, she demonstrated that she would rather eat nothing at all than take even a single bite. Yet, there she was, eagerly eating chicken off my plate!

I still can't explain it. Pushing a child to eat a food is supposed to put them off of it... right? I spent at least two hours last week with a plate of chicken in one hand and a tub of ice cream in the other saying "If you eat your chicken, you can have some ice cream" or " Come on, just take one little bite" or "Mmmm... chicken is so yummy". By the end of it, I was sure I had put her off chicken forever. Oh well. I think I will give up on understanding this one and just be happy it is one more food we can all share together.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Picky Eater

My daughter is a picky eater. In fact, I could list the only meals/ foods she will eat all too quickly: PB&J, Pasta w/ red sauce, Pizza, Grilled Cheese, Deli Turkey, ground beef, Green Beans (only if finely pureed), wild rice, Goldfish (of course) and, luckily, most fruits. Reading this back, it really isn't that bad. I've spoken to other moms of toddlers whose kids didn't have half as varied a repertoire.

Still, it is frustrating because she never used to be afraid to try new foods. We used to go out for dim sum on weekends and she would sit quietly in her high chair, eagerly awaiting the next new dish to sample. It wasn't until she was about 17 months old that she suddenly started to turn her lip at old favorites and aggressively reject anything new.

I am sure some of my readers are wondering what the big deal is. Just feed her what she likes, they might say. Well, I do. I can't starve her... or can I? More on this later. So, why do I care? I just want her to get the most out of food. We've been fortunate that the meals she does enjoy contain enough of what she needs nutritionally to keep her healthy. However, for John (my husband) and I, food is not just fuel. We enjoy it. Luckily for me, he enjoys cooking and, if I may say so myself, is damn good at it! Me, I just enjoy eating good food (which makes us very well suited to one another!). This is not to say that we both don't occasionally eat fast food that taste mostly like salt and recycled oil (Gasp! Terrible for you, I know.). But still, we want to expose our children to a variety of cuisines -to teach them about flavor and texture and how to talk about food. To me, learning how to describe what you are tasting in more detail than, "It's good" is just part of being well rounded.

I should admit that it is not only concern for my child's nutrition and for the development of her palate that makes me want to break her of her picky eating. Simply stated, John and I want to have three kids. But this does not mean we want to cook three separate meals three times a day!

As I type, I recognize that I am expecting too much of my toddler. Many two year olds are picky eaters. It is interesting to note that, historically, children across the globe were most often weaned at this age. I have read that picky eating may have evolved as a way to keep kids from accidentally poisoning themselves as they transitioned to a diet of solid foods. This would also explain why kids are more sensitive to bitterness in foods than adults (bitterness is often a sign of toxicity).

So, what do I plan to do with my picky eater? Well, like many concerned parents, I recently asked my pediatrician. She said, " Just don't offer her anything else. Serve her what you'd like her to eat and if she refuses it, take it away and bring it back the next time she asks for food." I should have remembered that this was the same woman who pressured me to use the Ferber method before I felt Dahlia was ready for it but, instead, I decided to give it a shot. For the entire day that followed, John offered her nothing but braised chicken. When I got home from work around 5, poor Dahlia was a wreck. I'd never seen her so miserable, irritable and desperate. It didn't take more than 15 minutes before we ordered a Pizza.

This experience just reinforced what I've always known. If every cell in your body is telling you something you are doing with your child is wrong, then it probably is. Starving her for a day just lowered her blood sugar and probably just made her feel nauseous and fatigued. Maybe in a year or two, she will be ready to play this kind of "hardball". Or, most likely, she will just outgrow this phase and I will have my little adventurous eater back. In any case, if it comes down to starving my child or making grilled cheeses every night for years, grilled cheeses win.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Not So Terrible Two's

We have all seen it and felt both sorry and embarrassed for the mom with her hands full of shopping bags trying to drag a screaming toddler to their feet in the middle of a crowded store. My sympathies to you if you have been this poor woman because, on top of it all, you often have several people gawking at you as they would a car wreck or a street fight.

Dahlia pulled a more toned down version of this once, at J.C. Penney. She wanted to run free through the store and, having no concept of "stranger danger" or the likelihood of running face-first into a clothing rack, who wouldn't? To her, it must have seemed needlessly unjust to be restrained to hold hands and walk at a grown-ups pace. Still, when she let her knees buckle and quietly refused to stand, I found myself in that awful situation: hands full, uncooperative child and a dozen or so prying eyes watching the sweat start to trickle down my face. In the end, I lied and told her that there was ice cream waiting for her in the car (wrong, I know, but it worked just long enough for me to pay for my stuff and high tail it out of there!). Needless to say, that was the last time I braved the mall without a stroller!

Aside from this nearly isolated incident, the terrible two's have treated us quite well (so far). In fact, this stage is one of my favorites. Dahlia learns things so quickly, now. She can identify basic colors and shapes, count to seven and sing the alphabet song! She is an absolute chatterbox and very polite for a toddler, habitually saying "please", "thank you" and even "excuse me"! Best of all, she gets so much more out of her experiences. Cute example: ever since we visited the Atlanta Aquarium (which is a must-see for anyone in the area), she has been obsessed with sharks! She'll ask to see pictures of them anytime one of us is on the computer and pretends to be one when she takes a bath. She'll say "Arrrr! I'm a scary shark!" (We've tried to tell her that sharks don't roar but in her mind they still do).

I can easily go on forever but the point is that, everyday, Dahlia reveals more about what kind of person she'll grow up to be -her thoughts, what she dreams and imagines, what she enjoys and what she fears. I am now getting to know her in an entirely different way and, while I am eager to see what she will be like at 3 and at 5, I can wait because the terrible two's are amazing and not terrible at all!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Random Complaints

1. There are these "pro-life" billboards by the side of the road that I take to work everyday. They read "Pregnant? Your baby's heart is already beating." and depict a blond woman with way too much make-up on holding up a positive pregnancy test with a scared look on her face. Why the lies? Using deception to promote an agenda is counterproductive. When people realize that you justify your position with misinformation, they will assume that that was the only way it could be justified, which leaves you and your claims with no credibility at all. This is along the lines of the ads that show a 16-week, fully formed, fetus and read "My heart is beating 18 days after conception". While the latter ad is much more accurate, why not show what it really looks like 18 days after conception? Well here you go...

I know it's strange but, personally, I can't help but remember being pregnant with Dahlia and feel a bit warm and fuzzy when I look at this. Still, it wouldn't do much in the way of guilting a woman into to keeping an unwanted pregnancy. Even so, it is truth. And the decision to abort or carry a pregnancy to term should be based on nothing less.

2. Why doesn't my 2 year old take me seriously when I tell her not to do something? Yet, all my husband has to do is raise his voice and she cries like the world is coming to an end! I am always consistent. When I threaten to punish her, I always follow through. I never negotiate with her. My husband rarely disciplines her at all! I think kids are naturally more intimidated by men than women- but that doesn't make it any easier!

3. Why is this religious zealot pastor from the sticks world famous now? For threatening to burn the Koran?! Come on, REALLY? If this was a bible or an American flag he was threatening to burn, you wouldn't hear a second word about it. Everyone is so afraid to offend the Muslims for fear that extremist will retaliate, that you have political and religious leaders from all around the world pleading with this nobody not to exercise his freedom of expression! Terrorists are like Freddy Krueger or the Boogeyman in that they thrive off of people's fear. It makes them stronger. Take that fear away, show some courage, and you strip them of their power. Anyway, lesson learned. If you want to be famous overnight, just threaten to burn the Koran!

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Science of Parenting

In the past, I have been accused of being rigid or inflexible. I am a scientist, a physicist and engineer by training but also at heart, and, like most science-minded people, it is in my nature to seek out truth and objectivity. So, I was very pleased to find an extremely interesting and helpful new website about parenting. It covers all aspects of child development and care (i.e. breastfeeding, sleep training, social skills, etc.) but, for every claim it makes, it sites a study supporting it. And, while I have not reviewed every study for credibility, this site is miles away from Baby with its political agendas being pushed under the guise of real science. The site is:

You will often hear moms say things like "There is no right or wrong way to parent, it's about whatever works for you and your family." I strongly disagree. There are definitely wrong ways to parent. And, thanks to the plethora of anthropological, neurological and psychological studies that this website has brought together, the "thinking parent" now has a credible guide to help them make the best decisions for their child. While I don't claim that I have always made the right decisions for Dahlia, I was pleased to find that most of the parenting behaviors sited in these studies as being best for kids, were things that come naturally to me and to most parents.

For example, while it is hard to believe, there are actually women out there who purposely deprive their children (even babies under a year) of affection! Most of them do this not because the child did something wrong, but because they think it will make them independent or because they believe their infant is trying to manipulate them. This is just DUMB. But, put more eloquently ...

"By definition, securely-attached kids are not overly clingy or helpless. They are the kids who feel confident to explore the world on their own. They can do this because they trust that their parents will be there for them" (Mercer 2006).

So, as may seem obvious and intuitive to most of us, routinely ignoring a child's desperate pleas to be held or cuddled will not only fail to make them more independent, it will create an individual without the sense of emotional security necessary to ever achieve independence. Because the need for attachment and affection is innate in humans, a parent will never be successful in conditioning a child to not want this. By repeatedly ignoring them, they will only ensure that the child spends the rest of its life looking for what they chose not to give.

This is just one of the topics covered in this amazing website. I would recommend it, not only to parents but to anyone wanting to learn more about child development and human nature.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Seven Deadly Sins

I am not a religious woman. However, I feel that a few of the seven deadly sins are, to this day, an accurate depiction of the worst in humanity. That which is destructive to the "spirit" and, in some cases, to society as a whole. I have listed them, in order of severity, according to Dante's Divine Comedy and Wikipedia:

Lust: "Unlawful sexual desire, such as desiring sex with a person outside marriage."

Interesting that this was #1 in Dante's time. Taking this definition of lust, it would surely rank at the bottom if it makes the list at all which, in my book, it does not. Society has a lot more to worry about than horny teenagers.

Gluttony: "Wasting of food, either through eating too much food, drink or drugs, misplaced desire for food for its taste, or not giving food to the needy."

Guilty. Overeating is indeed a problem for me, as it is for many Americans. The prevalence of obesity in the U.S. is proof of this. Most restaurants in this country offer portions too large for people to actually consume. Still, many people sit there and stuff themselves to the point of nausea in an attempt to clear their plates. There have been multiple studies that confirm this phenomenon. They have shown that the amount of food that people will eat is proportional to how much they are served. It is no wonder why, throughout history, the idea of beauty has been tied to sacrifice. When food was scarce and having to work outside in full sun was the norm, a beautiful woman was one that was rotund and pale. Now that most of us work indoors and have more than enough food to eat, beauty is thin and tan.

So, are taxes on sugary junk foods the answer to our country's obesity "crisis"? Not likely. For one, people will not trade in their Twinkies for carrot sticks just because they have to pay a little more for them. But much more importantly, it is blatant assault on personal freedom to punish people for what they consume. Being fat and unhealthy is a personal choice that one should be allowed to make without government intervention. If the State is given the right to decide and enforce rules as to what foods are best for us, then we have opened up our bodies to their governance and, consequently, relinquished sole ownership. If we are not free to decide what goes on within the confines of our bodies, then freedom means nothing at all.

Greed: "Greed is when somebody wants more things than the person needs or can use."

There is a fine line in the minds of most people between "greed" and "ambition". Wanting more than you need, well ... who doesn't? All we need to survive is food and shelter. So almost all people would be greedy if you take that definition. I think it is important to want more. Wanting more is what keeps civilization going. If people were satisfied with just the bare essentials, there would be no invention and no technological growth. We would all live in caves or, less dramatically, we would all be dirt poor and happy to stay that way. If there are people out there who really want to stay poor, I have nothing against it. I just don't know anyone that does.

So who is to say how much is enough? Who should decide when you have accumulated enough wealth? I think the answer is obvious - YOU should! If you have reached a point in life where you are exactly where you want to be and have as much as you ever want to have, then you are part of a fortunate minority. But to chastise others for wanting more, is to claim authority over them and the right to decide the limits of their success. On the other hand, gaining wealth at the expense of another person's right to work to achieve their own is criminal. This is how I define true greed. The greedy person willfully deprives others to fulfill their own love of excess. They don't need it, they simply want it -even if they have to take it from someone who does needs it and is willing to work for it.

Sloth: "Laziness; idleness and wastefulness of time that a person has."

This is one of my personal pet peeves. Not only is sloth revolting to me, it is also infuriating. The lazy person, via their action (or inaction), asserts that they should be exempt from pulling their own weight. I see sloth as a form of entitlement. In almost every social structure, physical work is a necessity and a precursor to co-operation. The lazy person is essentially saying that they are entitled to rest while you work and they benefit from your efforts without contributing their own.

Wrath: "Inappropriate (not right) feelings of hatred, revenge or even denial, as well as punitive desires outside of justice."

Guilty. When I feel like someone has seriously wronged me, I want revenge. The problem with this is that wrath and justice need not go together. While I'd like to think that I would only take an eye for an eye, people often forget that this biblical phrase was originally conceived to inspire mercy. It is in humanity's nature (with a few exceptions, I'm sure) to seek retribution that matches the degree of misery that they have had to endure. Since events affect people differently, this will not always amount to punishment matching misdeed.

Envy: "Hating other people for what they have. Dante wrote that envy is "Love of one's own good perverted to a desire to deprive other men of theirs""

Dante said it beautifully. I cannot compete but I will start by saying that, by definition, jealousy and envy are different. Jealousy is a normal, and often healthy, human emotion. Envy is something else entirely. Courtesy of Merriam Webster:

Jealous: intolerant of rivalry or unfaithfulness

Envy: painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another joined with a desire to possess the same advantage

So "envy" implies pain or resentment on the part of the person feeling it. Most people have looked at someone else and thought "I wish I had a car like that" or "I wish my body looked like hers!". I think the difference is in what happens next. For example, the jealous man, after seeing a guy with a more expensive car, may say to himself "That's a nice ride. He must make a lot more money than I do. I need to get a better job!". But he will harbor no ill will and soon go on with his day, oftentimes with new determination to better himself. The envious man, however, will be consumed by thoughts of worthlessness and by anger.. He will feel true hatred toward the guy with the nice ride and toward himself. The envious man will experience prolonged suffering at his own hands.

Envy seems to make people see things through a skewed lens of injustice. If the life of someone they know is going well, they will find erroneous reasons why that person doesn't deserve it, or why their happiness won't last. Envy is a damning emotion. It deprives the people who suffer from it of ever achieving lasting happiness. This is simply because their happiness and sense of self worth is measured in the misery of those around them and in the failures of the people they call "friends".

Pride: "A desire to be important or attractive to others or excessive love of self (holding self out of proper position toward God or fellows; Dante's definition was "love of self perverted to hatred and contempt for one's neighbor")".

Originally, the seven deadly sins were eight "evil thoughts" from the mind of the 4th century monk, Evagrius Ponticus. The main differences are that envy was excluded and there were three additional vices, "acedia", "despair" and something called "vainglory".

Vainglory (Latin, vanagloria) is unjustified boasting. Pope Gregory viewed it as a form of pride, so he combined the two in his 590 A.D. revised version of the list. I have to disagree with Pope Gregory here.

If you take the definition of pride given above, then the prideful man would view his own life and pursuits as objectively more important than that of his neighbor's. And, while I believe that self-preservation, self-interest and self-love (and interest, love and preservation of one's own family) are the most important human drives, they should never come at the expense of someone who has done you no harm.

By contrast, vainglory makes no mention of actually believing that you are better than anyone else. It involves unjustified bragging. A person could fit that description in a number of ways. They may be prideful or their boasting may be a defense mechanism to cover their insecurities. They may simply be delusional. My point is that the above definition of pride (which is not what I would normally associate with the word) is much more nefarious than that of vainglory and the two should have never been joined.

In conclusion, the "seven deadly sins" not only sound wickedly cool, they also describe the drive behind some of man's most horrible deeds. You need not be religious to agree.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Parental Duty

I always knew I wanted children. I always knew I wanted a career, as well. What I never knew was just how much internal conflict would exist between these two roles. Before Dahlia was born, I thought that perhaps many women used their children as excuses to sit on their asses all day. Having been a stay at home mom for the first 18 months of my child's life, I now know that I did everything except sit on my ass. In fact, I do a lot more sitting on my ass now, as an Engineer, than I ever did as a Homemaker. And while I still think that some moms use their children as excuses not to jump into the workforce, I am willing to bet that their fears are of anything BUT hard work.

Many of the fears I experienced before starting my career were around the welfare of my child in the care of someone else. In fact, Dahlia was over a year old before I let anyone other than her Grandmother watch her. I would describe my apprehension about leaving my child in the care of someone else as a paranoid panic. In my mind, anyone could be a pedophile or a sadist. How could I leave her alone with anyone, if I would never really know what happened while I was gone? I still recognize that anyone can be a sicko. To deny that would be to deny the reality of the news we hear everyday. But now, I drop my precious offspring off with people I barely know everyday -at a place called daycare.

I did a lot of research before choosing a daycare. I called local police departments to make sure that no incidents had been filed around a particular facility and I spoke to each and every person that worked there and found out what their plans for the future were (which, to me, translates to how much they have to loose). I made sure they were all CPR certified and on and on until I am sure they all wanted to strangle me but their reactions didn't matter to me. I did all my questioning in the most polite and non-intrusive way possible. Besides, it is my parental duty to ensure my child's safety within the confines of what my family can afford.

Still, 5 months of daycare later (late last week to be exact), I notice a large but hard-to-see bump on Dahlia's head, near the hairline. Having had no incident report from the daycare, I worried. I worried because I am almost certain that it didn't happen at home and the daycare workers claim to have no idea how she got it. So one of two things are probable: 1. It happened and no one noticed or 2. They noticed and didn't report it. I really don't know what is worse but both would be equally as infuriating, albeit not as sinister. Then comes that familiar guilt. "Because I choose to work and make money, I expose my baby to neglect" and "I will never know how that bump got there." and " What if someone hit her?" and "What if next time it is worse?", etc.. So, yesterday, Dahlia and I are headed to the potty (a new endeavor worthy of its own post) and she refuses to sit on it and starts yelling "No! No potty! Dahlia fall down!" That's odd, I thought at the time. She has never fallen off of the toilet at home. Then I remembered the mysterious bump and arrived at my current conclusion (which I accept is based on several assumptions): my child, at some point, fell off of the potty at daycare and it went unnoticed or was not reported.

Now, I consider two choices: pull her out of this daycare based on a whole lot of assumptions and force her to leave her little friends and teachers and an environment that she has grown to love and crave. Or, swallow my suspicions and assume that there was no ill intent and that it was either just a momentary (and isolated) lapse in supervision or, less likely, that it did happen at home and that she simply did not cry.

No matter what, I am left with that sinking feeling of guilt. Am I not fulfilling my duty as a parent by failing to protect her from injury, from seemingly constant illness associated with the petri dish that is daycare? The fact is that no one would care for Dahlia like my husband and I do. It would be delusional to claim that she wouldn't be better taken care of at home. However, at the same time, she would not be as socialized (if at all) and would not learn as much in the process of becoming socialized. Our family would not be as financially stable and my child's future nowhere near as bright. Would I not be failing at my parental duties then?

All in all, nothing can change that I MISS being with her. I think about it everyday. "What is she doing right now?", "What will she eat today?", "Is she happy?". I have chosen to deprive myself of that knowledge in the short-term but, hopefully, she will be all the better for it in the long run.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Differences between Men and Women

This has long been one of my favorite topics of conversation. I was listening to public radio and this Neuropsychiatrist by the name of Louann Brizendine was on the show discussing the differences between the male and female brains. I was on my lunch break and caught the show after it had begun but what I did hear really caught my interest, so I thought I'd share. She made a few really interesting comments:
  • It's been shown that when a woman is pregnant, she secretes pheromones that fundamentally alter the neurochemistry of her mate (assuming he is around long enough to receive them). Some effects of these pheromones are to decrease his testosterone (making him less prone to violence), increase his prolactin, transmit the symptoms of pregnancy (called couvade or sympathetic pregnancy) and make the auditory centers in his brain react to the sound of a crying infant more efficiently. That means a man can actually hear a baby crying from a longer distance in his wife's last trimester compared to before she got pregnant! This is extremely interesting because it seems like nature prepares a man for fatherhood through the mother. Her neurochemistry is the source of much of his paternal instinct, as well as the sole source of her own! I've always noticed how most little girls pretend to be mommies when they play with their dolls and how this innate parental instinct, which manifests through play, seemed completely absent in boys. Now, I've actually heard the science behind it!
  • There is such a thing as a "monogamy gene". One type of prairie dog is monogamous, while another very similar type is not. They found that the only real difference between the two animals is that this one gene is longer in one than in the other. I can't remember if it was the longer gene or the shorter gene that belonged to the monogamous prairie dog but when they were switched, the promiscuous prairie dog suddenly turned monogamous and the monogamous one started to take on multiple mates! They found the same gene in primates, as well as humans! So, while the research is still very new, this suggests that whether or not you can really trust your mate is actually a matter of genetics.
  • Men are more given to solving problems than understanding emotion (big suprise, right? lol). Many times a woman will approach her husband with a problem she is having and he will jump right into trying to solve the problem. This offends many women because, in general, we want to know that he understands how we feel (or can at least acknowledge our emotions) before we get advice on how to solve our problem. Brizendine explained how the areas of the male brain responsible for recognizing emotion do not activate for as long as those of a woman do when hearing someone talk about a problem they are having. Instead, this region is almost bypassed in men and, instead, neural activity is diverted to the areas that handle problem solving. So, I guess the take-home for me was that perhaps I should be more understanding of my husband in these situations. It is not that he doesn't care about how I feel. On the contrary, his reaction is a sign of just how much he does care.

I know ... I'm a big nerd. However, if anyone is a as interested in this stuff as I am, here is the link to her website:

and directly to the broadcast I refer to:

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

From City to Town

I was born in a large American city. When I was about six months old, my parents packed me into their Oldsmobile station wagon and set off for Broadway, N.C. (Never heard of it? I'm not surprised). Broadway can be traversed from one end to another in about 20 minutes and its population is now just over 1000 people. After a few months of living there, my parents decided that it was time to move on and we arrived in Miami, FL by car a few days later.

Growing up in a "big" city definitely had it's ups and downs. Overall, however, I feel lucky that my parents decided to leave the sticks. Many of the small towns I've traveled to and seen in movies and T.V. are filled with natural beauty and and a sense of community you'd be hard pressed to find anywhere in Miami. What I enjoy about large metropolitan areas, however, is that you have this confluence of people from all around the world and all walks of life, as well as a variety of venues and meeting places for them to come together and bring their diverse experiences to the same table. This exchange is a prime breeding ground for ideas and invention and, ultimately, progress. This is why I hope to one day return to a city and allow my children to reap the benefits of city life.

When it came time for college, my then boyfriend and I decided to pursue a future together and, after researching various universities, we settled on the college town we have called home for the last 7 years. Many college towns (ours included) are strange in that they are like hybrids of small towns and large cities. You have the natural beauty ( and on a more sour note, much of the racism and close-mindedness) of small American rural communities and at the same time, spread amongst it all, that intellectually charged environment I so enjoy. This makes it a decent (while not ideal) place to have and raise a family, which is what we did when we married and welcomed our first child, Dahlia, into the world in 2008.

Motherhood has changed everything. Whether in the boondocks or metropolis, Dahlia makes life indescribably joyous and as long as I am with her, I will always feel at home.

Dahlia at 6 weeks

Dahlia at 4 months

Dahlia at 6 months, S. Beach, Miami, FL.

Dahlia at 9 months

Dahlia at 1 year.