Archive for the ‘mommies and money’ Category

Lessons From My Daughter’s First Job — A Dream, A Dollar and A Dog

June 27, 2007

Daughter wants a dog
Our daughter really wants a dog. We, her parents, however, do not want to take on this responsibility at this point in our lives. Life is chaotic enough already. However, this does not mean we can’t find creative ways to foster and support our daughter’s interest in and love of animals.

We recently found a great opportunity to do just that. Our neighbors have a dog that doesn’t get taken out on walks very often. So, I asked the couple if we could start walking their dog for them. My girl and I each have a leash and we take the pooch on a walk. It’s a toss up as to who is happier — the dog or my daughter. The dog experiences a smorgasborg of smells and my daughter gets to bond with the animal and pretend for 30-45 minutes that she has her own dog. It’s very sweet.

Dogwalker for hire
Our friends recently approached me to ask me if they could offer my daughter a regular job and pay her $1 every time she walks their dog (about 1x a week). Before I agreed I talked it over with my husband. I wasn’t sure if this was something that our daughter should be getting paid to do. But then I realized that it could offer her some good lessons in learning responsibility and also a sense of pride about doing a job and getting paid for her work (I’m also a big on teaching girls the importance of being paid for their work. This is something I feel that women need to stress to their daughters.)

So, after talking to my husband we agreed it was a great idea. When we mentioned the job offer to our daughter she was beaming. The first thing our girl told her friends the next day at school was “I have a job.” My daughter’s teacher told her she wished she could walk her dog.

Dog poop and responsibility – a lesson learned
Later when my daughter was thinking about her future glory days as a dog walker she said “When I grow up I’m going to be a dog walker and I’m going to hire someone to pick up the poop.”

At this point I told my daughter “Well, you could do that but then you would have to split the money you’ve made with that person. If you pick up the poop yourself you can keep all of the money.”

She thought about that for a moment and I think she realized that it’s worth dealing with a little poop to get the whole dollar.

We haven’t taken the dog out for a walk yet now that she’s his official walker but once we do I’m going to encourage her to learn how to clean up after the dog. Up until this point I’ve been her pooper scooper. But now that she’s getting paid for this work she needs to do the whole job. If she’s not up to that then yours truly will be pocketing 50 cents per walk.

Perhaps other readers think this is too rigid? Or that I should help my daughter out by cleaning up the poop. I for one don’t think there’s any lesson offered to my daughter if I do the job for her.

One of my coworkers told me “well, it’s good for her to understand that sometimes you have to get a little dirty to get a job done.” I also think she’s up to doing the whole job and that she will enjoy reaping all of the rewards.

Others thoughts?

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National Debt — Boomer Legacy?

June 21, 2007

Recently in my listening this track has struck me as being somehow related to the frugalist mindset.

Papa’s faith is people
Mama she believes in cleaning
Papa’s faith is in people
Mama she’s always cleaning
Papa brought home the sugar
Mama taught me the deeper meaning

Thoughts about this?

Since I’m not a baby boomer, I won’t list the artist, but you can check out her extraordinary fan website here. It includes tons of cool stuff like all the alternate guitar tunings for her songs, full lyrics, art, etc. As fan sites go it is stunningly competent, thorough, and useful.

Speaking of boomers — Ken Wilber (shudder?) has an interesting book called Boomeritis. One of the premises is that boomers eat their young. Highly pertinent regarding parenting we’ve observed. The book itself might be okay if it was the first of his you’ve read, but otherwise is mind-numbingly repetitive. Still, the guy obviously knows a lot and has lots of interesting ideas. Beware of New Age sentiments. To be fair, he is as critical of New Age marketing as the next skeptic.

If you’re in a reading type of mood, have bent toward social commentary, I highly recommend this book by Christopher Lasch, The Culture of Narcissism. A lot of it relates directly to spending habits, consumerism, current trends in helicopter parenting (eternal hovering). I just did a search on this site. I am dumbfounded that I’ve not mentioned this before. Dumbfounded.

My dad (depression-era generation) driving in parking lot: “Okay, here we go.”
“What?”
“Look at this, crikey. It’s a very interesting phenomenon. The me-generation in action. Look at them.”
The couple in front of us are wandering through the parking lot in front of traffic, seemingly oblivious to their holding it up.
“It’s a fascinating phenomenon. Other people simply don’t exist!”

My dad is, as he likes to put it, “a trained social scientist.” So he does have a frame of reference in his observations. Not sure I’ve connected all the dots here. One thought is that when the baby boomers are gone, it’s possible that the cycle of debt slavery at the personal and national levels, if it hasn’t collapsed already, will begin to subside.

Another thought is that with the boomer parenting in evidence, living without limits and incurring debts as ways of being in the world are actually going to get worse. Bummer. Must think good thoughts!

Mommies and Money

June 9, 2007

Apparently Marketplace Money from American Public Media recently mentioned a book on the air called The Feminine Mistake, by Leslie Bennetts. I’m going to go put a hold on this library book immediately.

I just looked it up on Amazon.com and not surprisingly a lot of women have very strong and opposing opinions about the book.

I don’t think that my work in the office has more meaning than my work as a mother. In fact, I get more emotional meaning from my family and my family is a higher priority to me than my job. However, I also know that my work as a mother is not something I can be compensated for financially. This is a fact. It is also a fact that I get well compensated for my work in the office.

While I sometimes fantasize about not having to balance work and family and being that mother who has a perfect house and home cooked meals and baking cookies, etc…When I’m honest with myself I know that is a fantasy because of

  1. the reality of our financial situation
  2. the importance I attach to earning money for my work (in part from watching my mother not do this. no horror stories… but i saw the impact on her self esteem for not being rewarded financially for her hard work)
    and
  3. there is no perfect mother with the perfect house or perfect children

Life is a series of compromises and learning to share the three ring circus that is family life with a spouse is the only way I know of trying to reach a balance. For me being only at home would offer one less thing to balance but wouldn’t provide any greater overall balance in my life.One of the reviewers on Amazon.com wrote a great review. I hope that someday my daughter is as proud of me as this woman is of her Mom.

What struck me the most about the book is what the women who step out of the workforce for several years found out–kids grow up and leave the nest! It seems as though stepping out of the workforce for 10-15-20 years is not the brightest idea, and Bennetts outlines the blatant sexism and ageism that occurs when these women try to return to the workforce.

Before and after my parent’s divorce in which my Dad walked out on our family, my mom worked full time in a fulfilling career and did great things, helping our community immensely because she worked in social services. She was also an excellent money manager and was able to retire when she was 55. In the meantime, many of her friends have suffered through divorce and the death of a spouse, and have had a very difficult time because they were not prepared financially.

I am SO proud of my mom. Yes, there were times when I wanted her to stay at home (or pick me up from school every day or bake cookies, etc.) but I also learned how to be self-reliant earlier on and take more risks in life. When I was in HS, everyone loved my mom not because she made the cutesy cookies, but because she was so interesting and worldly and fun. My friends were intrigued that she managed a staff of 80, sitting on the national board, traveling and making a difference in the lives of many of the under-served.

However, several of my friends in HS had SAHMs, and they turned out just fine, if the marriages lasted or another disaster did not befall the family. So I can see how SAHM-hood works for some families.

One thing I wish that Bennetts would have focused more attention on is the fact that we need to bring men into this conversation. I expect that any man I marry will be just as apt to help around the house, pick up the kids from daycare, manage the crises Bennetts outlines like sickness, high fever, etc. and generally bear his part of the load for managing the household. The idea that women are the only ones capable of ‘opting-out’ or taking time off is antiquated, even if it’s the norm. Let’s start discussing the idea that men should roll up their sleeves too. For example, Bennetts mentions several times in the book about how so-and-so working mother managed to put a nice dinner on the table every night. Why can’t a man do the same thing?