The Silent Partner

The beginning of the interview...
The beginning of the interview…

A chat with Mama K, as instigated by Mama C.


What is your favorite food of LB’s to steal? Don’t say none because I see you sneak tastes every now and again.

Her mango kale pouch.


What’s one thing you miss about life pre-child?

Going to the grocery store whenever I want. Just running in to grab something that should take five minutes now takes ½ hour.


How come it takes you ½ hour?

Finding a parking space close enough to the cart corral in the parking lot, getting her bag ready getting her in and out of the car seat, put her in the cart, changing and/or feeding her in the store…


Words of advice for new parents or parents to be?

Patience will come, even when you think you have none and you are at your wit’s end… you will find the patience you need.


Things you think you are doing right?

Giving her enough attention. I don’t believe I’m smothering her and letting her cry it out, but I also think that she knows she is cared for and is loved.


What are you going to do differently upon Round 2 (if that happens)?

Not worry the first night in the hospital that I don’t know what I’m doing or worry about what I got myself into.


If you had an extra couple of hours per day what would you do during that time?

Check and respond to email. That’s just not the first thing on my mind anymore.


Do you think people give allowance for that fact?

I hope so, I don’t know if everybody does, but I certainly hope they do.


Grossest baby experience thus far?

Projectile vomit as I’m watching it happen… onto me. Twice.


If you could raise our baby during any other time in history, when would you choose and why?

The 19th century, during the Industrial Revolution so things are changing, before both world wars, lots of exploration, advances in medicine.


What about if you had to raise her someplace else (present day)?

Sweden sticks in my head, but any of the Nordic countries. I feel like the governments care for their people and fewer people, more resources. All in all happy.


How do you feel about the babysitter feeding her Girl Scout cookies?

Well considering I’m not getting mad at daycare for feeding her what they are feeding her… I just want her to get exposed to a variety of foods so that she doesn’t binge on anything like when we go out or when she’s at a friend’s house. As long as she gets good stuff when she’s at home.


What do you think she’ll think of each of us?

She’s going to think you’re the fun one. I’m the stick in the mud. I think she will know we love her very much and that she sees two responsible people who had a kid because they wanted one and don’t see her as a burden.


You have to say something nice about yourself.

I think I am rather patient with her.


Now say something nice about daycare.

They really like her. And I feel like she’s treated with care and kindness and everyone lights up when they see her: kids, teachers…


What do you think LB’s favorite toy is (at the moment)?

She seems to like the jingly toy or pretty much any blanket that you put in front of her.


Guesses on her first word?

Cheese. Or dog, she really likes the dogs.


El fin. Baby fell over.



The ‘Big’ Deal

Tom Hanks’ now classic movie came out when I was in the second grade and instantly became one of my favorite films, even though I wasn’t going to see it for three more years, thanks to my parent’s cautious censorship. (That’s another blog day.)

Back when I saw it, I was mesmerized by the creepy Zoltar machine, covetous of the giant, light-up piano, and yes, even a little (a lot?) embarrassed when Elizabeth Perkins unbuttoned her shirt.


But there was one thing I didn’t notice or wasn’t really phased by as a fifth grader: Josh Baskin/Tom Hanks’ mom, whose son was suddenly whisked away with no explanation and no date of certain return.  25 years later, I saw this story through her eyes and it changed everything.

When she pulled a knife on the man who she thought took her son (who was really her son all grown up)?  That went from “geez, Lady, calm down” to “hmmm, that totally makes sense.”

When he sang a Barbra Streisand song as proof that her son was still alive and well?  I cried with her lamentations.

And the moment he decided to give up a really great adult life with a fancy executive job, girlfriend and Manhattan apartment with a dang trampoline in it?  I finally sided with him, who decided to revert to his kid-shape.  Why?  Because his mother’s heartbreak would be quelled at last.  Because he would get to do life the way it was meant to be done.  Because if I missed Lucie’s growing years, I would be devastated.

This suit looked much better when I was a 30-year old guy.
This suit looked much better when I was a 30-year old dude.

Brie Larson just won an Oscar for playing an abductee.  I know that fans of the film are as much, if not more interested in talking about the effects of PTSD than the issue of kidnapping, but I can assure you as a parent that my greatest fears for Lucie are in order from greatest to least: kidnapping, getting hit by a car, getting addicted to drugs, and general death in her sleep.  I just asked Mama K and her list includes not having anything in common with Lucie, that she won’t be interested in sports, that she will be shy, and that Lucie will be reckless.  I’ll give you one guess as to who is Doomsday prepping for the big Pacific NW Quake and who is enrolling LB in baby gymnastics.

No, Big did not morph into a horror film for me, but I was very surprised how much one little, 30-pound aspiring Mary Lou Retton could change the way I see that world.  Even a world I thought I had already memorized verbatim from a very young age.  Shimmy shimmy cocoa pop, anyone?

The Math

Some time ago my company decided that paying a certain class of employees once was not enough.  In addition to the main paycheck, they decided to issue a twice monthly paycheck that probably traces back to some whiner saying they are entitled a base wage, too.  Well, today one of my 2x checks was ZERO.  Here’s how that happened:

SS Tax: 1.3%

Medicare Tax: 0.3%

Workers Comp Tax: 0.1%

Medical Insurance (3 ppl): 18.6%

Dental Insurance (2 ppl): 1.5%

Vision Insurance (2 ppl): 1.2%

Dependent Care FSA ($5,000/year to reimburse childcare costs): 21.1%

Health Care FSA (reimbursement account for health costs): 10.6%

Parking (every other paycheck): 25.4%

401(k): 10%

Roth 401(k): 5%

Charity Donation: 4.9%

At $2.00 per hour more than our state minimum wage, and not even paying federal or state taxes, I received a net pay of: goose egg.  That’s $23,664 per year that I will never get to use for clothing, housing, food, gas, heat, electricity or water.

How, oh how, does the average working family do it when they don’t get a bigger “main check” and this is their living wage?  Do they weigh the price of parking against the extra two hours of commute time a slightly cheaper bus or train would add?  How do single moms support a family and save for retirement?  Even if I took out the extras like FSA and 401(k) savings, the government would pipe up and start taking their share as taxes.

To be clear: I have not taken a stance on minimum wage or college debt or anything else that our friends in Washington are battling over these days.  I’m just doing the math.

And there you have it.  Food for thought, if you can afford it.