Writer, Editor, Parent...

The Mommy Track

Posted: July 13th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Editorial | Tags: , | 4 Comments »

In the States, in corporate life, there’s something called “The Mommy Track.” That’s the opposite of the fast track. The fast track is where you work weekends and insane hours every day for insanely high pay, make junior vice president by age 25, and by 36 you own shares in the company and are a partner, at least. You drive a great car, wear great clothes and possess enough pairs of shoes to stock your own modest DSW.

The Mommy Track is the opposite. It’s the track where you leave work at 3.30 pm on the dot every day so you get time to take the kids to football practice, ballet, piano, or whatever after school niceness they get up to. In my case, it’s pan, choir, track & field, SEA lessons, youth group, astronomy. You don’t work weekends, ever. That’s when you get to do laundry, house cleaning, go to the park or the zoo or cinema or wherever takes the children’s fancy. You don’t spend much money on your car, personal grooming, stylish clothes or the killer heels you saw in the mall. Instead, most of your income goes to paying for all the lessons, tutors, football tugs, guitar strings, children’s limes and parties, new jeans, glasses, etc etc ad infinitum.

If you’re lucky, like I have been, you get to work part-time, or even work from home.

I’m on the Mommy Track but good.

Being on the Mommy Track has its benefits. You get to actually see your children and play a meaningful role in their development. When they come home with good marks, you feel personally responsible for it, because it was you who took them up in spelling the night before they aced that test. You can shop for good food and actually cook it, and sit with your children to have a meal together on evenings. When I worked at a real, full-time job (this was years ago), my children saw me about two hours a day, and only one day on the weekend. Now they’re probably sick of me. I spend all day Saturday driving them around and on a good weekend I cook for three hours, producing the lavish Sunday Lunch which Rito Allen & Dolsie Ollivierre used to make every Sunday when I was a child. (Minus the custard pie and soursop drink, sorry!)

On the rare occasion I have something like a full-time job (as I have for the past few weeks, teaching two three-hour English classes a day, Monday-Thursday), I feel it in my bones. Narcoleptic that I am, I come home exhausted and sleep for three hours before I can even think about doing anything else. Cook? Ha. Chinese, roti and pizza are on speed dial on my phone. Laundry piles up tall as me, and there are strange looking dust bunnies under the couch. (I fear there will one day be an uprising–The Revenge of the Dust Bunnies…Coming Soon to an Apartment Near You!!!)

With any luck, I can soon return to the Mommy Track. The money sucks but if you measure life by your take home pay, you are poorer than you know.


The people and them place

Posted: July 9th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Editorial | Tags: , , | 5 Comments »

My daughter Miss Thing is trying to go to the US to study for a baccalaureate at the UWC College in New Mexico. It’s an incredible opportunity: she would get to meet students from all over the world, undertake a rigorous academic programme, hike, ski, do community service and all kinds of other good stuff. The goals of the UWC are to increase sustainability and world peace by teaching young people from diverse parts of the world to think of the world as one world, with one goal–making that one world a better place.

Miss Thing was one of only six T&T students who were chosen by the local committee of the UWC to attend these colleges worldwide. Other students got to go to Wales, Costa Rica, Canada, Hong Kong… Same curriculum but different local experiences. In Hong Kong you make field trips to Tibet, for example; in New Mexico, you go to Mexico. Some of the places, including the US one, came with a partial scholarship.

The only teeny, tiny flaw in this grand plan is that you still need a US visa to attend the US college. And your getting a US visa is contingent on the mood of the interviewer at the Embassy when you get to his window. I’m not a big fan of the US, and my love of the Embassy in POS … Let’s not go there. Needless to say, this has not been a fun experience. Hopefully on our next attempt we bring all the documentary evidence they require to know that 1) we’ll pay our part and 2) she’ll come back to Trinidad & Tobago when she’s through. The interviewer did not even glance at the letter from UWC-TT saying they were paying part of the cost. All he wanted to know was that my bank balance (no other financial statement would do, just a BANK statement) showed that I had enough cash to cover the fees.

This experience once again reminds me why people have the relationship they do with the US and with US Embassies worldwide. Why can’t the officers there treat the citizens of the countries–in which those officers are guests–with humanity, dignity and respect? Lest you think I’m alone in my grouse, check out this video.