Monthly Archives: February 2010

Notes on a Blog-worthy Conversation

I was chatting on the phone with my friend Jo. We met through work years ago. We’re both mothers of three kids who are all still young enough to be our free-of-charge taxi “fares” on a daily basis. We’re both freelance business writers. After a little catching up and some work-related chat, we starting talking about how we can step back from work whenever we need to and focus on home, the kids, and even (occasionally) our own sanity.

“When we’re old,” Jo said, “we’re definitely not going reminisce about our jobs – we’re going to remember our families, the fun we had with our kids, the great vacations together.” What clarity! (It does help that she’s British, so everything she says sounds clearer and more intelligent).

We professional/working moms who do the “juggling” so often look at our careers, or what’s left of them after giving birth and working in jobs allow us to be mothers, and wonder what could have been.

How often have I thought about how much further I could have gone had I been able to work until 11 at night, had I been available to travel, had I not taken days off for doctors appointments, school trips and school holidays that aren’t public holidays? How often have I been torn between finishing an assignment on time and rushing off to take the kids to dancing/ karate/tennis/roller hockey/ceramics/friends, baking a cake for tomorrow’s bake sale, rushing off to buy a text book that’s need for…tomorrow? Too many times.

So the conversation with Jo presented me with a “Eureka!” moment. Amidst thoughts of friends, who put having kids on hold so they could build their brilliant careers and are now wondering why in their early 40s they have missed the family boat, we came to a very clear conclusion: What we do is worth it.

Do we think we’re managing? Does anyone? Not really. But the fact that our children see us enough during the course of an average week to be blasé about our presence is a way bigger achievement than a corner office and a six figure salary. The fact that we can keep our brains from turning to mush while also ensuring that our children know that they won’t be handed excuses for why we’re not available for class trips, homework help and baking cookies may not quite equal finding a solution for world hunger, but it does mean that our families are priority Number 1, and you can’t put a price tag on that.

Thanks, Jo, for putting life into the right focus.

(You can read Jo’s blog – http://jofrankel.spaces.live.com)

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Wishing an Earthquake on Africa

At the height of the news flurry about the earthquake in Haiti, my neighbor showed up at my door. She was visibly depressed. She lamented about the horrific pictures that were coming out of the devastated area, about the growing number of earthquake victims.

Then I asked her a question: Are you also upset about what’s going on in Africa?

She looked at me with a blank stare. So I enlightened her. Thousands of people are maimed, raped, killed and forced out of their homes in countries in Africa on a daily basis as a result of civil and tribal wars. The fact that the Western media chooses to focus its cameras and column inches away from that God-forsaken continent is part of its successful mission to set the agendas of the media consuming public around the globe. It’s too far away from the US to be noteworthy; there are no oil fields in Congo or Rwanda. So who cares if tribal violence has resulted in millions of deaths over the past decades?

With that, I made her even more depressed. But that’s OK. I am appalled by the death and destruction that has been visited on Haiti, and I am shocked when I read about how that country was so poverty-stricken to start with, and now has been left even worse off than anyone could have imagined. Still, we jump to donate via telethons and website pop-ups the minute the mainstream news media tell us what’s “really” important. We conveniently forget that there are also other areas of the world that experience daily horrors that don’t find their way onto the screens on CNN or onto the pages of YouTube.

So I was heartened to read Nicholas D. Kristof’s op-ed piece “Orphaned, Raped and Ignored” in The New York Times, reported from Congo. He so rightly points out that Congo’s civil war has claimed 30 times as many lives as were lost in the Haitian earthquake, and that as odd as it sounds, maybe a massive natural disaster would turn the world’s focus onto this untenable situation. It’s sad to think that this is what it takes to get some attention, but if wishing an earthquake on Africa is what it takes to get the world to throw some focus on those horrors, then why not?

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