“Care Work and the Power of Women: An Interview with Selma James”

Here’s a great interview with Selma James from Viewpoint Magazine



happy mother’s day yall

hey OPB blog.  i’m waiting for my parents to get here so we can go birdwatching and have a picnic.  cause it’s mother’s day!  shout out to everybody who does mothering work.  here’s 2 things.

1) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=edaxLq7QSxQ

2) and from a message i wrote friday:

“today at work i bought all the groceries, picked up the now-fixed coffee machine from the repair shop at the totally other end of the city, did the semi-therapeutic-parenting-style childcare, did the bungee cording bookcases-for-toys-that-i’ll-assemble-and-reorganize-the-house-on-behalf-of-on-monday onto the top of my car (w bungee cords that i only happened to impulse-buy while target groceryshopping) while 5 yr old boy ran semi-amok with his stuffed animal and ikea carts, y’know, arranged for playing with the neighbor kids and chit chatting with the neighbor mom, bathtime, fucken, all the things…. and THEN managed to feel a tickle of envy when elroy gave his dads cute presents they made at preschool for mother’s day. GROSS! it’s awesome that his preschool teachers made gender neutral mother’s day presents for elroy (all the other kids had 1 muffin in a paper bag with a poem in it, but elroy got 2 to take home with “i love you” instead of “happy mother’s day”). but when is it feminized labor worker day? i want a goddamned muffin. LOL”

and y’know what, actually The Cadet’s mom gave me a donut at the end of my workweek for them.  fuck yeah, i was gonna say, ATR, nannies get muffins…but really, what am i complaining about.  maybe i’m bringing donuts to the playground on monday.

what am i doing, etc.

Oh hey there, OPB blog.  i’m not totally sure what i’m trying to do with this blog here so i stopped writing in it for a while.  i don’t think the internet is in especial need of my kids-say-the-darnedest things type stories, i’m a little skittish about people/parents i work with discovering all the mean  (and brilliantly incisively TRUE!) things i might say about them and their kids, also i’m kind of lazy and got busy with how my collective house fell apart for two months while i was also still doing a lot of work for the landtrust we’re part of and anyway who am i even writing this for, blah blah blah omg so boring are you still awake?

eh.  so.  last time i wrote on here, there was ice.  ice!  now it’s may.  may!  a lot has happened.  y’know those adorable fairybook moppet kids?  i learned some more about their mom and have a long story with a pretty good (for me) narrative arc and a punchline that used to be my The Craziest Thing I’ve Ever Heard On The Playground story, until only a couple days later when i accidentally overheard my nanny friend Colleen’s newly former employer (she had just quit) tell some other rich moms that she and her husband were so upset and felt so betrayed that their nanny quit, it was “like being raped.  i mean, you have someone in your home…”

Yo.  people are CRAZY.  that woman might be especially crazy on account of growing up in a rich white family in apartheid era South Africa.  (is that why she has unreal expectations about childcare workers being her servants who don’t ever need to know how late they’re working until?  i mean i used to just think that it was a case of double doctor Assholes…)  and _I_ might be especially responsible for talking like that with anybody who wanted to gossip about that family’s dad freaking out in front of lots of people at preschool pickup time, shouting at Colleen when he saw her babysitting some other kids a week or two after she stopped working 50 hours/week for them but being paid for 40 hours (“salary” is usually bullshit in nannyland, y’all), stopped putting up with their skepticism and impressively patronizing condescension about her sick days (“do you think you might be…pregnant?”), etc.  Ech.  Colleen fucking rules, fuck those people, good luck to their poor kids.

Soo i don’t know, man.  Spreading rumors is fine but it’s petty.  I’m thinking maybe this blog eventually turns into something bigger, as I start to learn and read and do more childcare worker organizing.  I care a lot about reproductive labor, the low-status, feminized work of taking care and helping others be ready for “productive” labor type work.  Expect me to say more, more eloquently, and/or to start posting links and quotes from some of my favorite articles and books and writers and organizers cough cough Selma James has been on tour in the States for the past month or so cough cough.

Cause it just never ends.  About a month ago, Elroy’s parents were starting to pay me to be their new Household Manager.  Y’know, keep track of which groceries they need, buy shit at Target, assemble their Ikea furniture, reorganize their cabinets.  I said yes!  Hell yeah, pay me $3 more per hour to take your broken coffee machine to the repair shop than you do to raise your kid for you, after all, I gotta use my brain and occasionally a computer for the household management, it’s professional and not like childcare which i naturally do with my body since i’m a woman!

I said no to meal planning– “I will execute your decisions but I don’t want to make them for you.”–for a bunch of reasons.  For one, I have a certificate in holistic nutrition and trying to tell people what’s for dinner is an expensive skill and takes up more of my brain than I wanna give them.  For another, I basically respect these people and I want to keep it that way.  It’s complicated.  I like doing this stuff and I’m good at it and it’s one of the best day jobs I’ve ever had; I also think people should do most of these things for themselves if they’re able-bodied adults.  Another thing- is it homophobic to think that the gay men you work for just want to pay you to do all the wifey and mommy things so they don’t have to?  Y’know.  Emotional labor is weird, and it seems like with the very affluent, it’s often the workers who have to hold the line about what is Too Much.

Case in point, Elroy almost got kicked out of preschool again this week, some combination of his low impulse control and aggression twinned with the general lack of consistent limit setting etc with his parents.  To be fair, Elroy’s the kind of handful that kinda needs some superstar level parenting skills, so we’ve been limping along with yours truly superstar nanny, but I’m also superduper clear that Special Needs Classroom Assistant is Not in my job description nor among my career interests.  Just no no no thanks. Elroy pulled all kinds of appalling terrible bullshit this month, and his parents are finally taking my advice to see therapists and specialists.  It’s a victory…of sorts.

By the way OPB blog, I still also watch my friends’ awesome 8 month old, and I am really excited about becoming friends with this other witchy femmey nanny in the neighborhood who also likes to dress her kiddo in  punkrock outfits that match her own.  Summertime, we’re coming for you.