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Gross Domestic Product – What if you got paid to raise your children?

The idea to write a play about motherhood came to me when I was writing my last play, Flipside and nursing my second child. Actually, it had been gestating since the day I was nursing my first child and complaining to my HartBeat Co-Artistic Director Greg Tate that the intersecting struggles of child care, career and being broke were making motherhood feel impossible.

To this my wise friend said, “Well that’s what’s behind the movement for counting childrearing as part of the Gross Domestic Product. Think about how much easier this would all be if raising children was valued for what it is – producing human capital, which is two thirds of any nation’s capital.” Hmmm… that was something to think about.

But I didn’t really think about it again until that second kid came along and I was consumed with the feeling that life could spin out of control at the drop of a pacifier. What would it look like if motherhood was valued monetarily in the US? How different would my life be? How different would all of our lives be?

Thanks to NYC Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, Pregnant Woman is Back at Work

Floralba, a pregnant retail worker in the Bronx, was sent home on unpaid leave because she needed to temporarily avoid heavy lifting in order to prevent having another miscarriage. Last week, A Better Balance used the new law we championed, the NYC Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, to get Floralba back at work, with backpay, and to convince her employer to update it’s policies in compliance with the law! This week, she has been pricing and hanging clothes instead of hauling heavy piles of clothes as she was required to do in the past. Thanks to this powerful new law, Floralba did not have to choose between her paycheck and a healthy pregnancy. 

Has “Breast is Best” Jumped the Shark?

I’m a working mother of two small children, and I’ve breastfed them both. In fact, I’m currently somewhere in the middle of breastfeeding my second child, who has cut some teeth recently and knows how to use them, so we’ll see how much longer this continues.

And it’s been interesting, being alive and mothering and breastfeeding during a time of historically high intrusion into women’s nutrition relationships with their babies. I’m not a breastfeeding crusader. I’ve found the whole situation to be exhausting and crazy and difficult. I am already sad about how fast my baby seems to be growing up, but I look forward to the day when I am not the source of her nutrition. I’m just kind of middle-of-the-road on this whole thing.

But I care about how our culture treats women, and there is one specific dynamic that I’ve been tracking, and been bothered by, in that way where you can’t put your finger on what bothers you. You turn it over and over in your mind, until one day in the shower it hits you.

So here it is:

Feminism and Motherhood Are Not Incompatible.

This post originally appeared on my blog, LadydeeLG.

I am appalled at the criticism that Michelle Obama has received lately: Talk of the First Lady “leaning out” and being a “Real-Feminist Nightmare.” Why? Because Mrs. Obama isn’t acting on “policy” as much as certain feminists want her to? Because she called herself “Mom-in-Chief” and said that would be her most important job?

Let’s Stop Doing the CHA CHA CHA

Why do women themselves say that women “Can’t Have it All?” We say it because, as one mother told me, the phrase resonates as being “Shockingly, earthshakingly true.” We use you “Can’t Have it All” because it reflects a reality, our frustration with the impossible goal of trying to be both June Cleaver and Modern Career Woman at the same time.

But we have to stop using that phrase, because the CHA-CHA-CHA mantra is an outdated code for telling a woman she can’t have what men have traditionally had—namely, a challenging, time-consuming, financially rewarding job and a well-cared-for family. Well-cared for, that is, by someone else: his wife.

Expecting a Baby, Not A Law-Off: ERA Report Shows Accommodating Pregnant Workers A Win-Win

By Noreen Farrell, Executive Director of Equal Rights Advocates

Two stories. Two radically different endings. Maria and Angie work for different employers in different states.  Both were thrilled when they became pregnant. They were confident that they could continue to perform their jobs during their pregnancies. Like many pregnant women, Maria and Angie eventually sought minor accommodations for pregnancy-related restrictions. Maria was given a stool and worked late into pregnancy.  Angie was refused occasional lifting assistance and was forced from work just a few months into her pregnancy.

The reason?  The law.  Maria lives in California, a state which requires employers to provide pregnant workers reasonable accommodations.  Angie lives in Mississippi, a state which does not.  Unfortunately, federal law does not require the reasonable accommodation of pregnant workers in all circumstances.

Will there ever be a truce in the Mommy Wars?

Last Thursday an online tempest erupted when Hilary Rosen went on CNN to explain that she didn’t think Ann Romney was a worthy voice for America’s women because she “has actually never worked a day in her life.” The kerfluffle might seem familiar. Twenty years ago, Hillary Clinton came under fire for a remark she made during her husband’s presidential campaign, which many interpreted as dismissive of stay-at-home mothers.

“I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas, but what I decided to do was to fulfill my profession which I entered before my husband was in public life,” Clinton said – in 1992.

So why are mommy wars such a perennial?

The Best Job in the World

Why ease in to 2012 when we can take a flying leap directly into the epicenter of the maternal conflict?

Nursing Mom Speaks Out Against LSAC Policy

By Ashley

On October 1, 2011, I sat on the bathroom floor of the LSAT test center pumping milk for my 5 month old son. I felt dirty, embarrassed, stressed, and alone. Things no one should feel as they are in the midst of taking one of the most important exams of their life. An exam that is key to gaining entry into a profession that fights for and defends the rights of all individuals to compete on an even playing field so they can live up to their full potential.

A few months before signing up to take the LSAT, I called the organization that administers the LSAT, the Law Schools Admissions Council, and asked if I could get an additional 15 minutes added to the break time provided, and be given a private place to pump breast milk. LSAC denied my application because breastfeeding is not considered a “disability.”

Workplace Culture Wins Every Time

Last week reading a few new articles on worklife fit, brought to mind a mantra I have about organizational change.

In the battle between well-intentioned policies and the unwritten rules of any workplace, unwritten rules win every time.

From the Sloan Center on Aging and Work came this Fact of the Week, Few Employers Provide Training on Workplace Flexibility. Specifically only 21% of employers train managers, and only 17% train workers.

In the Wall Street Journal, Penalized for Balancing Work and Family highlighted a new study showing once again that even in companies that offer worklife fit programs and policies, employees don’t feel comfortable using them. Why? The workplace culture – the unwritten rules – discourage it.

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