Posts Tagged ‘ blogging ’

The Unspoken Sadness of Working from Home

Friday, January 24th, 2014

Joe DeProspero has two sons, a wife, and is complimentary birth control for anyone who sits near him in a restaurant. His writing has been described as “outrageous,” “painfully real,” and “downright humiliating.” He talks about the highs and unsettling lows of parenthood while always being entertaining and engaging in the process. Author of the dark comedy fiction novel “The Boy in the Wrinkled Shirt,” Joe is working on releasing a parenting humor book. He currently lives in New Jersey and can be emailed at jdeprospero@gmail.com or followed on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.

When I was about 9-years-old, I saw an incredibly moving David Copperfield skit that revolved around a sideways-hat-wearing child glumly pounding a baseball into his mitt while his father dutifully pecks away at his typewriter, too busy with work to play with his son. It was devastating to watch. Being honest, the first minute of the skit made me cry as a child in the 1980s, and it still makes me cry as a full-grown man. And it’s for the same reason in both cases—there are few things sadder than a parent ignoring their child. The only difference is that now I can understand the father’s point of view…sort of.

This isn’t to say there aren’t parents out there who wrongfully ignore their children for other ventures, but with the ease of mobile access in the year 2014, we’re often faced with a difficult question:

Can I work remotely from home without feeling like an awful, neglectful parent?

Of course, I’m talking about when your children are in the house with you and tugging your arm away from your laptop and toward their painting easel. In my current situation, on days like this past Wednesday in the Northeast (when school was closed), my wife’s parents watch my sons. So, under one roof, we have my in-laws, two sons, and then both my wife and I trying to work remotely. It’s nobody’s fault, but it’s always a zoo (taking a conference call from a frigid garage has had to happen) and I end up feeling exactly like the workaholic dude in the Copperfield skit. The only difference being that I really, really want to interact with my kids, while the actor in the magic show simply seems to have no interest in it.

I’m willing to admit that, while given the option by my manager earlier this week to work from home due to heavy snow in my area, I passed on the option. It doesn’t feel in any way good to do that, but it would feel even worse to have my giddy 2-year-old jumping on my lap, only to soon be removed because I have an email to answer. My younger son is simply too little to comprehend that I need to do my job to support him, so he instead ends up being dragged away kicking and screaming, as his pathetic cries fade into the distance behind a closed door.  It sucks tremendously and opting to scrape the ice off my windshield and drive 25 miles to work inevitably wins. It feels like I’m running away. But it’s a necessary escape.

What’s frustrating is that the fossils of what used to be the joys of working from home still surround me— pajama-wearing, conference calls on the can, infrequent (or really frequent) catching up on DVR. Working from home sans kids is a cozy haven of goodness and relaxation, if not an unrelenting temptation to do anything but work. But once you’re a parent, it’s not as simple as “there’s a foot of snow on the ground, boot up the laptop and forward your voicemail.” It’s much more complicated than that.

While I deeply respect stay-at-home moms and dads, the one hurdle they never have to clear is getting their children to understand that, even though their careers may point their parents in a different direction for eight or so hours a day, it’s a necessary evil to earn the very money that they, themselves, live off. The good news is that, while my 4-year-old son isn’t completely thrilled with my wife and I working, he at least is starting to understand why we do it.

“Daddy, you have to go to work today, right?” he’ll start. “Is it so you can buy toys for us?” he’ll then ask with a modest grin. He’s still disappointed, but he “gets it,” as much as any 4-year-old can.

So, we’ve done our best to somehow associate us working with our kids benefiting from it (toys, for instance). And I like to think it’s paying off. Still, though, unless it’s hailing thumbtacks and hot irons outside, I’ll be taking my laptop into the office and forgoing the inevitable guilt trip from hell.

How about you?

Please join the conversation by adding a comment below or tweeting me @JoeDeProspero with the hashtag #WFHblues.

Thinking about quitting your job to stay at home full time? Click here for a handy worksheet to see if you can make it on one income.

Work-Life Balance in America
Work-Life Balance in America
Work-Life Balance in America

* Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com

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Dear Judgmental Lady in Church…

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

Joe DeProspero has two sons, a wife, and is complimentary birth control for anyone who sits near him in a restaurant. His writing has been described as “outrageous,” “painfully real,” and “downright humiliating.” He talks about the highs and unsettling lows of parenthood while always being entertaining and engaging in the process. Author of the dark comedy fiction novel “The Boy in the Wrinkled Shirt” Joe is working on releasing a parenting humor book. He currently lives in New Jersey and can be emailed at jdeprospero@gmail.com or followed on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.

Dear God, please send patience to the ugly woman behind me.

The room we’re in is clearly labeled “The Cry Room.” There is a rather thorough description of the room’s purpose posted on the wall. The very first bullet within that description reads as follows:

  • This room is for the *exclusive use of families with small children

* In case you weren’t sure, exclusive loosely translates to “not available to everyone.”

You are not, nor are you the parent of, a small child. The main reason I know this is because there’s n0 chance someone has had sex with you in the past five years. But also, the male sitting next to you with the beard, uncombed hair, and sweat pants (who I assume is your college-aged son) is definitely old enough to sit in the main section of the church. He hasn’t needed the refuge of this room in quite a number of years. But I do. My family does. Which is why I’m put off by the frequent dirty looks I get from you when my small children whisper a little too loudly or hop out of their seat for the 18th time. I know how annoying it can be when someone else’s children misbehave and their parents do nothing to stop it. But I am doing something. For starters, I’m bringing them to the one room in church where they’re supposed to be. I’m constantly telling them to lower their voices and to stay in their seats. I’m bringing noiseless toys to keep them entertained. And yes, even though the sign says it isn’t allowed, I’m bringing small snacks to keep them as satiated and quiet as possible. Because the person who wrote those rules has clearly never met a child, nor do they understand the absurdity of expecting one to remain quiet for 60 straight minutes without being bribed steadily with food.

What you’ve probably lost sight of over the years is how difficult it can be to take children out in public. There are plenty of Sundays when I practically beg my wife to leave me home with my younger son while she takes our older son to church. It’s a constant struggle and one that is only made more difficult when you know the people around you are angry and unsympathetic. I now dread coming to church, because I have to deal with your eyes boring a hole in the back of my head, your relentless sighs that I hear exponentially louder than any prayer for the sick.

I know I shouldn’t let you get to me. But I do. Ever since I became a father, I’ve been fearful of being perceived as a disruption to those around me. What I need to accept is that, no matter how hard I try, my children are going to ultimately disrupt something…or someone. I simply have to do my best to teach them how to control themselves, and put them in situations where they can practice those skills. Naturally, since they’re, ya know, children, there will be plenty of bumps in the road. And I have to expect that. Unfortunately, I also need to expect that others around me (you, for instance) won’t be tolerant of this process, but instead turn their noses up and scoff at us.

All I ask of you is one thing. Remember. Remember the frustrations you endured as a new parent, the sleepless nights and how your patience was stretched to its limits on a daily basis by the now pretty manageable teenager sitting beside you.

I’m trying my best here. Just like you did, I imagine. So I suggest you either walk the 10 extra feet it takes to get to the main section of the church, or get used to being surrounded by me and my occasionally disruptive kids. Because much like that hairy mole on your neck, we aren’t going anywhere. And your teenage son wearing what is essentially pajamas to church is much more scoff-worthy than anything a child could ever do.

Do you ever find yourself in public with eyes on you because of something your child did? Did it lead to a confrontation? I want to hear about it! Add a comment below.

 Check out the Best Tantrum Tricks you’ve never heard before. Then, take our quiz and find out what your parenting style is.

* Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com

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Do Blogs/Blogging Make New Moms Happier?

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

When Fia was born, the internet saved me. Now, it’s killing me. Lately I have been writing about how I decided to unplug and what I discovered in unplugging. In short, my mind isn’t constantly racing and I  feel more in-the-moment with my babies.

It was a different story with Fia.  The web was my connection to the world. I would spend hours giving and getting advice from moms. I’d scour blogs and read everything from sleep training to reflux. I’d write about my own mental health. I’ve often said it wasn’t my husband or my therapist who pulled me through those early months. It was other moms. Many of whom I never met in person.

So it’s no surprise a recent study says that new moms who are in the blogosphere feel more connected, less alone, less stressed, even less depressed.

“That potentially is going to spill out into other aspects of their well being, including their marital relationship with their partner, the ways that they’re feeling about their parenting stress, and eventually into their levels of depression,” says Brandon T. McDaniel, graduate student in human development and family studies, Penn State.

He and his colleagues at Brigham Young University surveyed 157 new mothers who had babies under 18 months. They asked about their use of media, both in terms of blogging and social media like Facebook. The social media aspect didn’t have much impact. But writing and reading blogs did. I think therein lies the difference.

When you are texting and checking your phone all day for emails, your mind spins. You feel less-connected to just about everything. It becomes an addiction. When you’re blogging or reading blogs you feel more a part of something. I’m not tooting my own horn here. For me, the phone is my addiction, the blog is my salvation.

I think the author of the study explained it well. He pointed out several potential benefits for new mothers who blog:

  1. It gives moms a way to connect with family and friends who live far away.
  2. It gives moms a creative outlet. They can showcase their hobbies and accomplishments, especially the stay-at-home moms.
Both of these make sense to me. We moms often struggle with feeling under-appreciated. I know my blog gives me a sense of self that I may have lost otherwise.
 
In the study, the moms reported spending about three hours per day on the computer and using the Internet. That was only behind sleep at seven hours a day and caring for their babies at nine hours a day.
 
I think about the generations of moms before us. On the one hand, their lives seemed simpler. They weren’t checking iphones and texting all the time. What did they do with those extra three hours? I often wonder if they were more focused and present? Or if they were more stressed and depressed? We know by Betty Friedan’s, The Feminine Mystique that many were questioning their purpose in life. Housewives were admitting their unhappiness and realizing motherhood wasn’t always enough. It still isn’t for many of us. In that regard, I think we are lucky to have all the technology at our fingertips. We can connect and feel connected. For many stay at home moms, blogging has even turned into a career.
 
How you manage it is the key.
 
There’s a fine line between fulfilling your life and dominating your life; between oversharenting and not sharing enough.  Should you be writing about your kids or spending time with them? I guess it comes down to finding your own personal balance. I know I’ve been working hard to find mine.
 
As for why social media like Facebook did little for the moms? Here’s what I think: Social media, for all its good, is a time-suck. I know it doesn’t leave me feeling content. Blogging, on the other hand, is writing. When I get to sit down and use my creative energy to put something organic out there, I feel purposeful and accomplished. Plus, if it helps others, I actually feel useful. Writing inspires me. It keeps my brain functioning in a way that diapers and breast pumps don’t.
 
But how do you embrace social media, disconnect from the internet/Blackberry, blog about motherhood, and not feel hypocritical?

I have said before that I’m going for quality over quantity. Set limits for your online time/your kid time/your wife time and stick to them. Put the phone away after a certain time of day. It takes discipline, but I think in this day and age, it’s the only way we can straddle all our worlds without losing sight of the most important one: our kids.

 

Image: Blog Pic via Shutterstock

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Introducing Me and Fi (pronounced “Fee”)

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

Mama and Baby on Beach

I was so adamant about not having children, I debated getting my tubes tied at 30. My mother begged me not to. (Obviously I listened.) Still, it is with great irony that I find myself an “official” mommy blogger.

Pre-Fia, I’d cross the street to avoid the little Petri dishes. Diapers? Disgusting. Playgrounds? I’d rather have the plague.

My neighborhood didn’t help matters. I live in Park Slope, Brooklyn–perhaps the biggest breeder neighborhood in New York City. A place where wee little inmates run the asylum. We’re featured in articles and blogs—one equates Park Slope to a battle zone between “the ballers” and “the breeders”.  For those without children, you can’t overstate the annoyances: strollers on every inch of the sidewalk, oblivious parents who bombard quiet coffee shops with their babies, intimate restaurants that quickly become cacophonies of chaos when toddlers are unleashed.

No, my husband and I certainly didn’t move here six years ago to procreate. The reason we moved here is it sits right on beautiful Prospect Park and we’re runners (or were before we had Fi and P90X).

But then, through various events, we changed our minds. We decided to give up birth control and “see” what happened. At 39, I figured my ovaries were toast anyway. Off to Mexico we went where tequila poured free, and boom, Ms Fi was on her way.

Throughout my pregnancy I spent many a therapy session worrying that I’d love my cat Wayne Sanchez more than my daughter. Thank god nature does its job well. Wayne still gets spooned every night, but it’s Fia who rocks my world. And the fact that I love—not loathe—babies is nothing short of a miracle.

So now I’ve been given this platform on Parents to basically write whatever I want about my life with Fi. A golden ticket covered with baby barf.

I hope to bring an honest perspective to my blog that’s not indulgent, irritating or precious. I hope I don’t bore you. And that you’ll come back and visit. Lots.

I find it a privilege to be a parent and an honor to write about it. And thank god. Because if I hated it, or loved my cat more than my daughter, then I’d probably be in the loony bin. And who wants to write from there?

FOR A YEAR, I BLOGGED IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE SHOW I WAS HOSTING, CALLED MY FIRST BABY. HERE ARE MY PAST BLOGS THAT SPAN MY FIRST YEAR WITH FI.

What it Means to be a MOM–the feelings of early motherhood

The Fog Will ClearHow early motherhood does get easier

Baby’s Not-So-Cute-Milestone: Diaper Rash–a traumatic event, followed by another involving a red bum and a lot of cornstarch

Living in the Moment--how having a baby gives you a chance to indulge. And play. Especially if you’re a Type-A person.

Not A Vacation--did  I really say in the previous post that having a baby allows you to indulge? Play? Feel like you’re on vacation? Was I on drugs?

Have Baby, Will Travel--tricks for traveling with baby/helpful advice and tips

Navigating the Minefield of Milestones–the good and bad of baby milestones

Travel Fiasco–My Scattered Self–a shit show, for lack of a better word, at LaGuardia. I must be losing it.

Picky Eaters–great advice from my pediatrician for picky eaters and avoiding the terrible two’s

Fia Turns One--the emotional journey leading up to your baby’s first birthday

What Travel Does For Me…and Fi–my first babyless vacation. And why I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Return From My Baby-less Vacation–I find out things weren’t so smooth while I was away. But I don’t feel guilty.


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