From the bottom of my heart
I sat at my desk late one Friday. When I picked up the phone, I didn't expect incoming artillery.
"How do you do it?" she said after we finished our business. "How can you be at work this late and still balance the needs of your children?"
Direct hit-straight to the heart.
I fired back, trying to sound calm and not appear wounded. "It's the dance every parent does: How do we balance our work, our responsibilities and still feel we have given our children enough time?"
Restating the question with more words always sounds authoritative.
OK, somewhat authoritative, more defensive.
I hung up the phone, trying not to slam down the receiver. I picked it up again and redialed.
I decided to move from defense to offense. But if you ask my son, I moved directly to offensive.
"Yeah, quick, put one of the boys on the phone," I said to my husband. "Hey my honey-bunny-boodle pie, how's Mommy's sweetie-peetie? What you are doing now?"
"I'm reading. Mom, what's wrong? You sound funny."
"Nothing boo-bear, I just want you to know Mom is thinking of her dear little cutie-putie-pie."
"This is scary, Mom. Here's Dad."
"What did you say to him? Are you all right?"
I yelled, "Don't say it! I know I'm a lousy mother!"
"Calm down, nobody said that. Are you OK?"
"I'm fine. I gotta go." I stood in the middle of the room and took a very deep breath. I have met the enemy and, so often, she looks like me, acts like me and wants to make me feel as guilty as she does.
I know why. We're all stressed-out parents, juggling too much. And this lady in misery, wanted company.
It happens all too often because parenting is uncharted territory for each of us. It is scary.
Parenting a child is the hardest job we will ever do. And too often, we feel totally and utterly alone.
But you are not alone. In fact, we are all in this together. We believe that at Chicago Parent.
It's part of the basic philosophy of the magazine: Being a parent is not easy. We need quick and thorough information and we are all in this together.
It's been almost a year and a half since I took over as editor, Cindy Richards as associate editor and Sandi Pedersen as calendar and online editor. In that time, we've tried to bring you a magazine that is a one-stop shopping source for parents.
We think of ourselves as a monthly news magazine, because parenting issues are barely covered elsewhere. We hope to help you keep track of some of the meaty issues-politics, initiatives and legislation that affect you and your family.
But we also know you are omnivores-not just carnivores. And yes, I know, some of us are vegetarians-my older son is now a vegan, but that's another story.
Therefore, we take seriously our stories on nutrition, health, music and entertainment. Each issue, we hope you will find stories about babies, toddlers, preschoolers, grade schoolers and the tweenagers, ages 10 to 12, as well as the beginning teen years.
We know your time is tight, so our stories are shorter. We've increased the number of one-pagers. But we know that on bigger issues, you need all the details, so we try not to scrimp on those.
So, how are we doing? Every two years, we ask you that through a national survey research firm. We also try to find out about you, our readers, and what you want in the magazine.
First, a big thank-you to the 481 readers who took about 27 minutes of their busy lives to fill out the survey on our Web site.
Second, for those of you who, like me, don't understand statistics, 481 out of about 250,000 readers might not sound great. But it is-if you consider that when pollsters try to find out which way 100 million households will vote in the presidential election, they ask 800 to 1,600. So says John Marling, president of Pulse Research Inc, which conducted the survey.
And it was gratifying to see that, at the risk of sounding a bit like actress Sally Field on Oscar night, you like us, you really like us. And we love you.
OK, granted only those who really like us would fill out a survey for 27 minutes and we did offer a bribe-or a prize. But I'd prefer to think our results come from dedicated readers who want to spend time helping us-people whose opinions we value.
And the survey says, you are: Mostly women-85 percent. But more men than I though read us, as well. You are between the ages of 25 and 44 and half of you work outside the home for at least 30 hours each week. A quarter of you have part-time outside the home jobs or are students, while another quarter are working, but without a paycheck, as stay-at-home parents.
You like to read-and not just Chicago Parent. Most read at least one daily and one Sunday newspaper. Nearly half of you like Chicago Parent so much, you pass it to one or two others. And for the majority, we are your No. 1 source for parenting news.
I loved hearing that a large percentage of you like our writing, our features and our coverage of issues. (You really do like us.)
But having indulged in a love fest, let me tell you, I don't mind hearing the bad either. I promise not to fall apart. Tell us what you don't like, what we did wrong and what you want more of.
E-mail is quick and I respond. Send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After all, we are all in this together.