Monday, November 27, 2006


I'm worried that I may be falling into the trap that I had hoped to avoid when we came out here this summer. Namely, letting myself be seduced into non-kid work projects. When I would tell folks that I was taking a year off from being a reporter, their immediate reaction would be, "Oh, are going to do some freelancing?" This made me bristle, because the implication seemed to be that staying at home with two kids wouldn't be enough to occupy me, or be a worthy enough endeavor.

Given the way things went this summer, I'm glad that I avoided career-related work. As some of you know, I was a finalist for a journalism fellowship. And while I was disappointed not to get it, I can't imagine life out here if Jen and I had both been in school full-time together. The transition was tough enough the kids, especially with Liam missing his friends, and us missing out community. But if the kids had been stuck in a new place AND been in full-time school/daycare this fall, I think it would have been a truly miserable experience for them, and for us.

In general, I've been trying to focus my energy on being present, and calm with the kiddies. And really trying to celebrate this incredible time I've been given with them. It is a time and opportunity I may never have again, as frustrating as it can be sometimes. And it's made me realize that as involved as I tried to be back in Oakland, working outside the house full-time meant that I missed so many great moments in their lives. This is my chance to do things like working in day care coop with Kalian, learning how to keep the house running, getting dinner on the table, keeping the floors picked up.

But the mind is never still. In my quiet moments, I've found myself contemplating the various directions my career could take when I resume it, whenever I resume it. For now, I've been writing a column once a week for the San Jose Mercury News about Silicon Valley insiders selling stock. I've started keeping track of the columns here.

Beyond that, there's an idea for a business-related blog that I've been mulling over. And the Nieman conference inspired me to focus on writing. There are the ever-present book idea floating around. And now, I've improbably volunteered to write a grant for The Chronicle, the college newspaper where I had worked at Duke University. The latter is manageable, I hope, and something that has been stuck in my mind ever since I attended a Chronicle alumni event in Durham, N.C. in mid-October. An idea struck me, that I haven't been able to shake, and so I've jumped right in. With the Chronicle possibly building a new home, the question is: What should a newsroom built for the next 50 years of journalism look like? It's a great opportunity for Duke and The Chronicle, and hopefully the funding will work out.

The problem is that these become the things that are foremost in my mind, rather than the kids. That if I'm obsessed about writing a blog posting, or grant, or book proposal, and I become attached to things like needing Kalian to nap at a certain time, or Liam to do something in a particular way so I can get "work" done, then I'm just creating more tension and stress for them.

And I don't really need to be reminded how much they need my attention right now. I spent an hour today answering questions from yet another caseworker who wanted to take a history of Liam's developmental issues. All stuff we've answered a hundred times, but everyone insists on doing their own history. She was part of the new team at Cambridge schools who are reassessing Liam's therapy needs. We have a formal meeting with that group next week, on the same day Liam is seeing a stuttering expert for an evaluation. He's also got a vision screening, hearing check, and a neurology exam all coming up in December. With all that coming down the pike at him, he certainly doesn't need me adding my stress over "work" stuff to his life.

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