Friday, January 18, 2008

My stressful week

So we are having travertine (fancy word for limestone) installed in our living room and hallways. The installer shows up yesterday at 1:30, moves everything out of the living room into our other public spaces, rips up the carpet, and runs into linoleum tile held glued down with black glue.

By 3:30 they're out of there, telling me "you've got to get this tested for asbestos, and remediated if it is, before I can come back."

Have I mentioned my in-laws are expected in for the weekend?

After "the runaround" (installer to flooring contracting company to home depot to the city to the state's unusable website to Google) I finally find a nice gentleman who tells me that taking it to a lab in town and getting it tested is my most cost effective option, and even gives me the name of the lab. Luckily, said lab is just up the street and offers 24 hour turnaround for twice the price (only $60). Ben drops off the samples this morning.

This afternoon I get a call from Home Depot saying I have additional charges for a lost day -- $200! I blow my top to the person on the phone -- "my house is unlivable, he only showed up at 1:30, I'm not going to pay that." She does the good customer service thing and says "I'm going to have to talk to my dispatcher." After some time to reanalyze, I call Home Depot back and talk to the dispatcher, rationally and calmly explaining why I am not going to pay for a lost day. He's nice, and tells me to call and tell him if it is asbestos, and says if it isn't he'll suck up the $200.

I get email about an hour ago from the lab. After deciphering the report, it looks like I have asbestos. In both the tile and the glue. Sigh. I call back the nice remediation gentleman and told him I thought I had asbestos. He said "there would be a line like 2-5% chrysotile". The report says "10% chrysotile". Doh! He's showing up tomorrow to give us an estimate (his over the phone quote was $2/square foot, which the Home Depot dispatcher said was an extremely good price, so even if the glue is a surprise I think we'll probably go with him, since he seems both nice and cheap).

I've successfully delegated weekend planning to Ben, so I don't know quite what we're going to do there. I think I have enough to deal with at the moment, thank you very much.

Miss J, however, is taking it all in stride. If she was freaked out about having an empty living room I'm not sure I'd be handling this as well as I am.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Ayelet Waldman on Mothering

I love Ayelet Waldman (most famously known as "the wife of Michael Chabon (who loves him more than she loves their children she stays home to take care of)", but also a great writer in her on right (see her Mommy Track Mysteries for some fun reading that also validates how hard parenting actually is)

She's got a great opinion piece in the New Yorker about why we love to hate Brittany Spears (she makes us feel better about ourselves as mothers).

When I polled an unscientific sampling of my friends and family on the topic, they had no trouble defining what it meant to be a Good Father. A Good Father shows up. In the delivery room, at dinnertime (when he can), to school recitals and ball games (whenever it’s reasonably possible). He’s a good provider who is not above changing a diaper or wearing a BabyBj√∂rn. This definition seems to accommodate, without contradiction, both an older, sentimentalized Father Knows Best version of a dad and our post–Free to Be You and Me assumptions.

A good mother, on the other hand:

“She remembers to serve fruit at breakfast, is always cheerful and never yells, manages not to project her own neuroses onto her children, volunteers in the community, remembers to make playdates, her children’s clothes fit, and she does art projects with them and enjoys their games. And she is never too tired for sex.”

or more accurately:
“She’s everything that I’m not.”

Her polling sample was composed of women of approximately the same age (mid-thirties to early forties) and the same level of education (which can be described, succinctly, as “more than they use”).

We respond to this impossibly high standard of mothers by villifying bad mothers, or embracing badness ourselves (I'm a "slacker mom" or "bad mom.") Waldman asks:

Is there really no other way to be a mother in contemporary American society than to be locked into the cultural zero-sum game of I’m Okay, You Suck? We possess, after all, a perfectly adequate model, one that operates smoothly, almost imperceptibly, without engendering vitriol or causing much pain: the Good Father. There are no “daddy wars,” and while Alec Baldwin and Michael Jackson have both served their time in the Bad Father stocks, it is rare for a father to feel that his own identity is implicated in or validated by their offenses. Self-flagellation is not the crux of the paternal experience.