The launch of Womenomics and parenting

May 31, 2009 11:51pm

Katty and I are excited, and extremely nervous. Our book, Womenomics, launches Tuesday, and it's our maiden voyage. You can check out more about the tour at

In the frantic lead-up, my 7 year old son really got me on Friday.  As we've been preparing for our book launch for the last few weeks, my hard-fought balance at home has been–challenged–to say the least.  Hugo's been putting up with my suddenly, extremely long hours staring at a computer screen, hiding in my office. And my somewhat distracted nature as I race him from school to someplace–trying to remember where we are going as I answer emails at every stop. (Not driving!) He even gladly came along with me after his last day of school party to tape an interview with my co-author for the BBC. But then, after I'd parked, and was trying to answer one more message, and talk on the phone at the same time, I realized he'd been asking me the same question 3 times, just as his patience ended. "Mom," he shouted. "Why are you always staring at that screen? Why are you typing into it and looking at it instead of listening to me? I have to ask you the same thing three times!  And you know they turn your brain to mush." Zing.  My own words about computers and screens back at me.  And I felt exposed and humiliated.  He was right.  I lost my cool a bit as he mocked the way I talk on the phone–think Charlie Brown annoying parent background noise–but then I prostrated myself before him and told him he was right. And that I was sorry. And then he gamely followed me in to tape my interview.

It's been a struggle, but as I detail in the book, I've made a huge point of trying to keep the blackberry elsewhere when I'm with my kids. There's just nothing good about that sort of multi-tasking. It makes me tense, and it clearly frustrates them. We spend a lot of time in Womenomics, among other things, outlining how to save yourself time at work–so that you can have real time at home. Not that sort of rushed frenetic time, where everything seems to be constantly spinning. 

But my foray back into the dark side these past few weeks made me look with special interest at a Lisa Belkin column in the NY times about slow parenting. There's a new book out on this subject–it's really less about frantic, over-worked moms calming down and putting blackberries aside, than it is about the end of helicopter parenting, or over-parenting. As a classic over-parenter, (except when I'm not, when I don't have time and I'm a complete under-parenter) I'm concerned. First–I'd been thrilled with research I'd been seeing over the years that the way we parent today seems to be producing not only better-adjusted kids, but kids who really like their parents. Since I don't think I'll be able to force my son to abide by the notarized document I tricked him into signing, saying he'd still come hang out with me throughout his 20s and 30s and 40s–or until he produces grandchildren, I thought getting the parenting right could give me some sort of guarantee.

Now what do I think? What does everyone reading this think? Where do you stand on helicopter versus free-range parenting? Should I obsess less (not clear i can pull that off) and ignore more? Hang and play dominoes for days on end? I already let him walk to the library by himself (3 blocks away–no sidewalks–my husband hates it.) Is that relaxed and confidence building–or just nuts?

Oh–speaking of the library–the best thing about our book project so far? When my son opened the box of hard covers that arrived the other day, he was so awed by the finished product (they're writing books now in his 1st grade class) that he grabbed one and as he ran out the door he told me he was taking it to our library, to give it to them first. Can anything top that?


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