Having my first born start kindergarten next week is bringing out all of the ugly in me. I’m so conflicted and resistant and upset, not because I’m going to miss her or that I don’t think she’s ready, it’s because I am being forced to confront some truths about myself. I am a firm believer in public schools and I have no qualms about seceding my everyday influence to a teacher that I haven’t yet met (ok, maybe not ‘no qualms,’ but very little qualms). Many of my friends and family work in public schools and that is precisely the reason I am not concerned with the kind of people she will have as role models. And it’s because of this fact that I, and my husband, believe that schooling is the most successful when parents and teachers are a united front. No undermining one another. Keep the child’s best interest at heart. Get through the school year with dignity and grace. But, I am having cold feet about such a big commitment. The way I see it, when she gets on the bus, we are committing to 13 years of backing up teachers’ rules, a school calendar, curriculum, and all that goes with it, whether we agree or not. Granted, most of the time we will align, but there will be times when we won’t. I feel like this is when parenting will get even harder. Ugh. This transition is a tough pill to swallow after being home with her for 5 years and making all of the decisions on her behalf. But now, we’re on someone else’s radar, and schedule. Gone are the days of impromptu day trips or moving on from an activity at our own pace. Gone are the days of hand picking who she will take classes with and with whom she spends most of her time. I know, that’s what weekends and summers are for, but it’s absolutely not the same. The overall time that she is out of the house will just barely be less than when she is in the house. I’m happy for her because she will have experiences and learning opportunities that she doesn’t get at home, but I will miss that freedom to do as we please and to answer to no one.

I know she is ready for kindergarten and she will love every minute of it. There are so many positives and things to look forward to her in her school year, but I am just not there yet. I am crying over the mere mention of the word. Next Tuesday, she’ll be shepherded into a well-run machine with little more than a card around her neck stating her name and homeroom. She’ll have some hard lessons right up front. As will I. We’ll learn that what is best for her personally, may not be the best for the whole class, or the school, or the district. It’s a great thing to learn, to change one’s perspective, and to see oneself in relation to others, but there is definitely a part of me that mourns for her loss of individuality. At home, she is the center of my universe. At school, she will share that center with 19 other children, and several hundred more. I see the importance of this life lesson, and I am excited to see her grow among her peers, but I am just not ready to accept that she’ll be lost in the sea of children sitting in the lunchroom or bobbing on the playground. I seek comfort in knowing that she loves being around people and this will not impact her in the least, but for me, this transition is huge.

I am not ready for this. And worse still, I can’t slow down the clock. I’ve been told to wear sunglasses at the bus stop, so she can’t see that I’m crying, but I already know I’m going to ugly cry, and there aren’t sunglasses big enough to hide that.

We just finished breakfast. The kids were doing their usual picking of their food, distracting each other from eating, while the baby was whining to get out of the high chair. He got up to clear his plate, about to run out for the workday ahead, and made his way around the table to give each of us a goodbye kiss. I saw a post on Facebook about it being my Sister-in-law’s birthday and I had a minor fit about what day of the month it was, and did we forget our anniversary. We have a chuckle about it every year. We usually don’t remember the day or year we were married. This year he was on it, he said it was this Sunday and it’ll be ten years. Really, I asked? Time is speeding up and I cannot fathom what life will be ten years from now. He said, yup, simple math, it was 2006. He also said I should get him some flowers and I quipped that he better get me some, too. And then he suggested we pick some from the garden. It’s moments like these that make me realize how much I am madly in love with him.

This is going to be a love story, so I completely understand if you don’t feel like reading further, but it’s not a mushy fairy tale, it’s a story of two weirdos who found each other and decided to make a go of it.

We started dating in high school. Usually when I tell people that, I hear a nasally, drawn-out Awwwwwww. But, nope, there’s nothing cute about that. High school is awkward and ugly and volatile. If you still have relationships with people from high school that means you can look past a lot of pimples, insecurities, and awkward moments. We met on a marching band trip to Orlando. He played tuba; I was in color guard. He knew my older brother (who by the way, had a nickname of Fart) before he knew me, and I’m still baffled as to why he didn’t run fast in the other direction. Well, I think I know now what our initial attraction was. He craved adventure, I craved stability. And over these 18 years together we’ve grown so close it’s a coin toss who brings more adventure and who brings more stability.

When I think of our anniversary, I think of the day we started dating. Two teenagers at a greasy, local diner, smiling incessantly at each other. When I think of the day we got married, I start to chuckle. And not that blushing bride, happiest day of my life kind of chuckle, I’m chuckling because it was weird, and funny, and it felt like we were gaming the system. A chuckle in a dark sense of sense humor. I’ll explain. We eloped in San Francisco and then spent a few days hiking in Yosemite. We hiked a lot during that time of our lives. Nature was our stability and serenity, and the city was our adventure. We had already been together eight years and neither of us wanted to get married. Like, ever. We were perfectly happy with the way things were. Our feeling was, and still is, that our relationship is just that, ours. It is a commitment to one another, and doesn’t need the blessing of family, the government, or religion. I’m also not a fan of the history of marriage and the idea of brides as personal property, but I won’t delve into that. I am trying to keep it light for the sake of the story. So then why did we get married? At the time, I was working a retail job and he was working for Corporate America. We got married because I needed health insurance. Plain and simple. Nothing romantic about it. He didn’t get down on one knee, although that would have been funny. I can imagine him saying, would you be my co-dependent on my health insurance policy? Hahahaha. I told you we were weird. So since we really didn’t want to have a legally binding document declaring that we were a couple, we decided the only way to go along with the process was to make it our own. We picked San Francisco because they were the leader in marriage equality laws and their Mayor was issuing licenses to same-sex couples back in 2004. Even though we didn’t value government recognition of marriage, it felt appropriate to get married in a city where everyone was equal. I always chuckle about our marriage license because, first of all, there is a spelling error on it, which basically means it’s not legit, and secondly there is a picture of me holding it up with a funny face. No, I will not show it to anyone. We got married at City Hall by a woman who looked exactly like Dr. Ruth. It must have been her. There was another couple before us, they had family members there, were all dressed up, the bride was noticeably pregnant, and it was pretty clearly a shotgun wedding. We were dressed in normal clothing, I had khakis on, no rings exchanged, I don’t even remember a kiss. It was perfectly nonchalant. We were trying very hard not to start laughing and to take the process seriously, mostly for this other couple’s sake. I do very clearly remember a group from Japan who were touring City Hall that morning. We were very prominently in a bunch of their pictures. Yup, there are photographs of us out there, but you’d have to track down this group to see them. Right afterwards, we went to an Indian restaurant for breakfast and then found an awesome bookstore to spend the rest of the day. I have no regrets and I’d do it all over again a million times over.

So, you see, the actual date of our marriage doesn’t register in our minds as being significant. In fact, that day is but a blip on our radar. It is a reflection of us, in that it was quirky and fun, and that we made it our own, albeit not in the traditional sense. When June 12 rolls around every year, I think of an awesome vacation we took together, biking over the Golden Gate bridge, amazingly delicious sourdough bread, the shear beauty of our National Parks (complete with a woman asking if there is a store at the top of the waterfall), Dr. Ruth reading our nuptials, and I think that as crazy as all of this all sounds, I found someone to share this amazing journey with and he’s just as crazy. Cheers to finding someone who is YOUR KIND of crazy.

Last week when I read about the comments to female Bernie Sanders supporters by Gloria Steinem and Madeleine Albright to fall in line behind Hillary Clinton, I was surprised that their message was one of judgment and derision. I always thought that feminists tend to raise women up, not tear them down. Right? I initially shrugged both of them off as bitter and out of touch. I read an article today about Adele’s Vogue cover photo, prominently displaying a tattoo of her son’s name, and how she touts motherhood in ways that other famous women have not been able to get away with. I believe the author of that article suggested that perhaps she is not a feminist if her family has higher priority than her art. Really? So, naturally this got me thinking. Am I a feminist? Can someone like me be a housewife and a feminist? This is not a new question. I have struggled with this personally over the past 5 years, as have many others. I have always considered myself to be a feminist, I believe in equal opportunities for women, and yet I gave up my career to stay home and raise my children. When I first decided to stay home, I was deeply conflicted about living on someone else’s merits. I always considered myself to be an equal partner, but once I gave up my earning power, I felt inferior in my relationship. I put that pressure on myself, this was not coming from my husband. Feminism is about achieving equal status as men in work, in politics, and in life. Feminism is deeply rooted in the notion that procreation is not the end-all for women. I understand what the movement was rejecting, but now that I somewhat embody those rejections, I have to say that I don’t think I am a feminist.  And I’m ok with that. However, I still believe in the basis of feminist principles and I’ve modified them according to my situation.  I don’t know if there is a word for this yet, I’m sure it’s somewhere in the post-feminist movement, but there has to be a place for women like me, women who elect to put others first and are equally contributing to society. I really do wonder if the movement is dead. It’s fascinating to me, that at a time when biologically I am the most feminine that I have ever been in my entire life, having given birth, that I feel the least feminist. Is that really the intention behind this movement? I guess I always saw feminism as advocating for myself, and making elbow room for my career, and not being willing to compromise. I never extended those principles into motherhood. Is it even possible? These days,  I have taken on a more holistic and conciliatory approach to my life and family in that everyone plays a unique role, and yes, sometimes it is gender normative, yet we are all equal and appreciated. I still advocate for myself, but the difference now is that my career is not in the public sphere. I know, a big feminist no-no.

When did I make this switch? I’m really not sure. When I first became a mother, it was a jarring transition: physically, emotionally, and in my marriage. Up until that point, my husband and I shared the load, and I had every intention of continuing that equality into our growing family. Something changed though. Carrying a baby in the womb and giving birth is a completely female experience, there is no equivalent for men.  That experience was my first clue that the balance of power shifts sometimes and it’s not something to fear, but rather embrace. It is not and cannot always be equal. And that’s ok. If anything, having a baby was the first time, that as a woman, I felt superior to men. Yup, superior. That is a pretty awesome feeling.

So where does this leave me? I’m not sure. I feel women should have equal say and equal compensation and equal rights, but also that we should be open to different interpretations of what it is to be a strong woman. I don’t feel like I am a subordinate for making the choice to put my family first. In fact, I feel the opposite. I find empowerment in bringing happiness, love, and order to my household. While I am home, I have also helped other working women by caring for their children, and I feel that I am helping them achieve their highest potential. I’ve elected to take on these roles because I thoroughly enjoy them, not because I was told that I should enjoy them. What would Madeleine or Gloria say about that?!

Read this.

The author touches on many topics like pandering and invisibility and white privilege and motherhood, but to me, her take on sexism so clearly articulated what I had experienced in my short time blogging, that even as someone who is keen on it’s presence, I needed to be reminded that it was there.

When I started blogging earlier this year, I decided that I would write about topics that are important to me, as my creative outlet, and to keep my writing skills fresh. I guess I never thought much more into it, about who my audience is and how it will be received. Early on, I would ask my husband to edit them, because I was self-conscious of my grammar. On at least one occassion, he would offer an opinion or praise and sometimes I would go back and edit based on his feedback. But, I quickly didn’t like going down that road, so the next few times I needed editing help, I would ask him just to check grammar and keep his opinions to himself. Ha! (He didnt take any offense to this and is incredibly supportive of me). What I was doing, without realizing it, is what I was trained to do my whole life, was getting permission/approval/praise/whatever you want to call it from someone other than myself, because as a woman, I don’t/shouldn’t have total control over my body, mind, or spirit. Needless to say, I won’t be doing that anymore because 1)I want to be true to myself and 2) I want to see what it feels like to write like a man. Well, sort of. That’s my goal. I still heavily censor myself because of my own insecurities about offending people, but I’m working on it.

Now, I don’t consider myself a writer, because I didn’t study it in college, but I do enjoy it very much. While most of the feedback from my blog has been positive, I did have 2 digs: that I complain too much (not even sure this person read my blog) and that it’s just another mommy blog, which is offensive to me because we don’t call men’s blogs ‘daddy blogs.’ Care to guess their genders? Men. But I digress. Don’t get me wrong, I get feedback positive and negative on individual posts, almost exclusively by women. My point is that I think I was subjected to criticism of the overall integrity of my blog by men, because I wasn’t pandering to a male audience. My posts are either not interesting or irrelevant to them, so the only response they had was to ‘put me in my place.’ I hadn’t made the connection at the time, but reading this article solidified it for me.

So naturally, I am going to keep writing what I want, when I want. And from now on, I’ll be more aware when my gender intersects with my writing. Thanks, Claire Vaye Watkins, I enjoyed your piece.

What did you take away from the article?

I started a post last week over Labor Day weekend, but never got around to finishing it. I read this article today on NPR and said to myself, ok, ok, I’ve got to pick this back up.

Any Masha and the Bear fans? It’s fabulous. I love the episode when Bear teaches her to play piano and she says something along the lines of, “I never knew how much music was missing from my life”. As I was painting my daughter’s room over Labor Day weekend, I couldn’t help but repeat those words over and over in my head. I was rocking out and dancing and it seriously brought me back to my childless days of music, concerts, weddings and parties. I miss those days. I can clearly remember moments in my life and what songs I listened to at the time. Some of my favorite memories with my husband are centered around music. I can’t believe we used to go to concerts on weeknights and still get up for work the next day. That is a foreign concept in my world right now. On more than one occasion, we’d wind up in a really bizarre venue with a not-so-great band and we just rolled with it and had a good time. Imagine this: we used to throw awesome parties with dishes we slaved over for hours or days, like our homemade pizzas and tamales, and we meticulously perfected our playlist to go along. And then there were weddings. We danced embarrassingly bad at many of our friends’ and families’ weddings. Sorry that everyone had to see that, but we had such a good time, especially at the wedding playing all 90’s music. I felt so old and so young at the same time.

All of this talk makes me realize that I haven’t listened to any new music in years. Kids music doesn’t count, except for Father Goose. That is pretty good music. Anyway, this situation is not good. I want my kids to see how music moves people. I want them to create memories around music and not just know all the words to whatever soundtrack Disney is churning out. I want them to feel confident to sing and dance however they please to whatever strikes their fancy. I have decided I am not going to play kids music anymore when they want an impromptu dance party. My husband decided this from the get-go, but I thought it would be good for them to learn easy nursery rhymes, so we could sing together. I was also trying to avoid obscenities or inappropriate topics for my toddler, but easy music is boring and it doesn’t challenge you. I need to get back in the game. Anyone else feel this way? Anyone have advice on how to find the time to seek out new music and incorporate it into family life?

We NEED to stop shaming mothers who are not able to breastfeed. This morning I gave my 7 week old son his last bottle of breast milk. I’m not happy that I have had to switch to formula, but it is the right decision for me and my family. I successfully breastfed 2 children until they were each 13 months. I would consider myself a pro and yet my third child was having great difficulty. I consulted a pediatrician and lactation consultant and I pumped religiously for five weeks while I tried to work through the issues. I cried a lot. I felt shameful. I was so focused on figuring it out and pumping that I lost sight of the main goal of breastfeeding, which is to give the baby nourishment. It shouldn’t have been about me and my ego. Had my son been born last century, he may not have made it. Failure to thrive.

I met with a friend today and she confided that she, too, is having difficulty breastfeeding, trying the same things as me and she, too, felt shame in not being able to give her child the best nourishment. We talked about this article that we both read last week.

http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/08/11/429392544/im-an-obstetrician-and-i-failed-at-breastfeeding

Initially when I saw the article, I screamed ‘YES! She gets it!’ and I wanted to write a blog post about it, but then I thought that it isn’t really anybody’s business how I nourish my baby. But the next day I went in for my six week post partum appointment, and there I was staring at a poster on the wall that brought all of my feelings and insecurities right back. It said breastfeeding is instinct, it is natural, it is easy, it is beneficial to both mom and baby, it is Best. Yes, I believe it is best, but it is also unrealistic for some women. Seeing my friend today made me realize that many of us carry this shame and even guilt and it needs to stop. The last thing anyone needs, while they are hormonal and sleep deprived with a hungry baby, is judgment from others that what they’re feeding their child is inadequate. I don’t feel shame anymore. My baby is growing and thriving and I have two hours each day of my life back, now that I am not pumping. So, to all the Moms out there who struggled to give your child the Best, but had to settle for the bottle, I salute you, don’t beat yourself up about it, you are a great Mom in my book.

I’d like to introduce a new segment of my blog called Let Me Speak. First and foremost the purpose of this segment is to give you a chance to express your voice, which on any given day might be suppressed because children and work and life can be so consuming that you forget you once had one.

I will give you a topical issue to consider and invite your comments in a safe, friendly environment. Here’s my thinking: I’m home all day, every day and I like to read the news. I challenge myself to think about the different angles and more often than not, I have opinions about what I am reading that I would like to express to someone (not my 4 year old). But here’s the catch, I don’t want to create a forum where conversations spiral into negativity, there are plenty of other avenues for that. On my blog, I want everyone to feel safe to express their opinion, to see what others are saying and to leave the conversation open-ended for further thought. Be respectful of others! If you just want to read along and keep your thoughts to yourself, that works too, the point is to get you thinking!

Here’s my first topic: Systemic Racism.

It’s been on my mind and it’s been in the news. I can’t help but feel guilty that I am a participant, whether I want to be or not. I have benefitted and continue to benefit from a society that oppresses a huge subset of people for no logical reason. The system is rigged to benefit white people like me. The worst part is that it is so ingrained in our culture that many people dispute its existence. Like many other allies, I scratch my head and think ‘what can I do about it? What can any of us do about it?’

I came across two articles today that address this very thing.

The first is Hillary Clinton’s recorded discussion with Black Lives Matter activists in New Hampshire last week. An activist asked presidential candidate Clinton what she could do about systemic racism and her response was, “I don’t believe you change hearts, I believe you change laws, you change allocation of resources, you change the way systems operate.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/20/us/politics/hillary-clinton-takes-on-civil-rights-generation-gap.html?_r=0

Do you believe this is effective? Can public policies eliminate racism? I don’t see that happening. I think we’ve come to point where we want to hold somebody accountable for our collective sin and we look to our politicians/legislators to solve this for us. It’s more comfortable to point fingers than to look at how each of us are contributing to the oppression of others.

The second article I read, which also happens to be the New York Times, is an interview with Cornell West.

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/08/19/cornel-west-the-fire-of-a-new-generation/?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=opinion-c-col-right-region&region=opinion-c-col-right-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-right-region

He talks about his involvement in the Ferguson protests and the motivation he sees in the new generation of black protesters. His feeling is that it is up to individuals to make a systemic change. “Don’t just talk about forces for good, be a force. So it’s an ontological state. So, in the end, all we have is who we are. If you end up being cowardly, then you end up losing the best of your world, or your society, or your community, or yourself. If you’re courageous, you protect, try and preserve the best of it. Now, you might preserve the best, and still not be good enough to triumph over evil. Hey, that’s the way it is. You did the best you could do. T.S. Eliot says, ‘For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.’ T.S. Eliot was a right-wing brother who was full of wisdom. All you can do is to try; keep on pushing. That’s all you can do.” When asked, “When it comes to race in America in 2015, what is to be done?” His response is, “Well, the first thing, of course, is you’ve got to shatter denial, avoidance and evasion.” He goes on to criticize the President and on and on about a politicians role in addressing racism, but he even acknowledges that there have only been 2 presidents ever who pushed for progressive reforms.

So is it our elected officials’ responsibility to take the helm to address racism or is it up to individuals? Obviously, it is a deep-rooted problem and needs to be addressed on many, many levels, but my personal opinion is that each of us is accountable for its persistence. We hold politicians to high standards in guiding us through difficult issues such as this, but really they are just a reflection of ourselves. What are your thoughts?

This past weekend my father stayed at my house while he was in town visiting. For those who know me well, this is an odd scenario, because I sadly didn’t have a relationship with my dad for the better part of my twenties. I don’t know if it was a byproduct of being a kid of divorced parents who witnessed ugly exchanges between adults or plain old immaturity, but I dismissed him from my life and judged him very harshly, and now I see that it was unfair of me to do that.

At some point, probably around the time I was ready to start my own family, I decided that I wanted to let go of the baggage/drama and set a good example for my children so they could have a relationship with their grandfather. If I had to pinpoint what about our relationship I was hung up on, it was that I had unrealistic expectations of what our relationship should be like, particularly as an adult. As a child, you are essentially dependent on your parents for everything: food, safety, shelter, emotional stability, etc. Everything. As a teen, you are less and less dependent on them, but they still have a huge amount of influence in your life. Up until this point, you have little input into the relationship, you see them as belonging to you, and you have little accountability for your actions. You can kick and scream and act like the child you are and your parents excuse most of it because of your age. Once you are living on your own, you have to calibrate to a new normal of being independent, which includes being responsible for your actions and words, recognizing your place in the world and reflecting back on how you got there, and defining this new relationship with your parents as equals. It took me quite some time to get there.

Having an adult relationship with your parents is just as much your responsibility as it is theirs. Yes, it’s true, there will be a point in your life when you don’t *need* your parents anymore, and you can set out on a 10 year experiment to prove that to yourself, like I did, but it’s a waste of time. What I learned and I hope my children learn too, is that when it gets hard to navigate those waters, you can’t give up. On the other side of that transition is when you learn to see your parents as the world sees them, in all their glory and imperfections. And it is beautiful. Being your parent is just one aspect of their being. They are so much more than that. It’s a magical discovery of life that nobody ever told me about. I hope my children get to experience that as well. I want them to see me as I am to the world, who just happens to be their parent. I very much look forward to that.

As I was walking by the baby’s nursery on my way to putting my soon-to-be-middle child down for his nap, I realized how different this pregnancy has been compared to the others. I am 33 weeks along and the nursery is mid-renovation, nothing has been washed (clothes, bedding, etc), and I have yet to buy one new item for this child. Not a one. My former, 1st pregnancy self, would be horrified. Yet, I am not the least bit worried. It feels kind of nice actually to not stress about being “ready.” I thought it might be a fun exercise to write up my list of worries in each of the pregnancies.

During my first pregnancy, I worried about (in no particular order):
Having the best baby gear
Having the nursery ready one month in advance
Sending timely thank you notes for each baby shower gift
Reading all there is to know about pregnancy, parenting, and infants
Getting hurt or eating something that would jeopardize the pregnancy
Am I going to make it to the hospital on time
Are they going to make me have a cesarean section
Will I have a safe delivery
Will my baby have a secure latch during breastfeeding
Will my dogs accept the new baby

During my second pregnancy, I worried about (again, in no order):
My first child’s reaction to the baby
Will the children have compatible personalities
Who will watch my first born while I am in the hospital
If I will be able to get a hold of my husband at work (he had no cell reception) to take me to the hospital
When will I sleep
Will I have enough love, time and energy for both children
How will I handle both children in public when the baby starts walking
Getting through another year of bickering with my husband about who does what chore
Is my freezer plenty stocked

During my third and final pregnancy, my only worry is:
Will I ever leave the house

haha. My have I changed. Or maybe I just don’t have the time to worry that I used to have. Either way, it makes life a lot less stressful.

I’d love to hear from others. Have you had a similar experience?

My husband’s company just announced a generous maternity/paternity leave policy and I couldn’t be happier with the news. While I think everyone understands the need for a mother to be home with the baby: bonding, recovering from childbirth, nursing, childcare; to some people it is less obvious why a father should have a leave policy, too. (I’m just speaking in terms of a heterosexual couple here, same sex couples have their own leave policy/childcare challenges.)

During the first few weeks after giving birth, my husband did everything I usually do plus his own responsibilities: taking care of older children, taking care of me, preparing meals, cleaning, dishes, laundry, grocery shopping, running errands, managing the household (visitors, bills, doctor appointments, pets, lawn care), filling in for me while I napped, etc, etc, etc. Did I forget to mention he had to hold down a job on top of all of this? I’m not even mentioning the lack of sleep. Let’s just say there is no time for sleep.

In the 17 years my husband and I have been together, I can honestly say that the most stressed out and ragged I have ever seen him was in the first year of both of our children being born. He would say the same about me. Those years were coincidentally low points of our relationship, there just wasn’t enough in the tank to take care of each other’s needs. Normally our priorities are: our relationship, then kids, and then work. During the first year of their births, it was: kids, then work, and then us. Not good for any relationship. At this point with baby 3 on the way, we have a mutual understanding that we just need to get through the first year and then reprioritize. The new paternity leave policy doesn’t change the order of priorities, but it will give both of us more time to focus on our relationship and make that first year a little more bearable. It will make him a better employee because he will be less stressed at home. He’ll also be more alert at work and mentally stable. And he will not be as distracted or feel guilty about not being present in the baby’s life as much as he would like to be. Win, win. Hopefully that is the company’s reasoning for extending the policy. It is a tremendous gift to have more time to be together as a family. I sincerely hope this is the start of a new workplace trend for everyone.