My husband and I have been out of high school for ten years now, and our respective class reunions are fast approaching. I went to pick up tickets to his at the local library tonight. I didn’t go to high school with my husband, but had attended the same middle school (side note: I had a crush on him even then!), so I knew some of the folks in his graduating class. Turns out, one of the folks I knew was manning the ticket table at the library.

Surprisingly, she recognized me. I say surprisingly since I haven’t seen her since middle school and we only knew each other then and weren’t especially close. I’ve always thought that I’m a lot different than I was in high school and before, so it was a bit of a shock to be recognized. In fact, more than a shock, it was bit of an affront to my self-image to be recognized. Who wants to think that they’re recognizable as that same geeky, self-conscious, non-attractive person from high school? You want to go back to reunions as the stunning person who no one can figure out who she is; you want to have “blossomed” into a beauty queen who’s self-confident, accomplished a fair amount, and yet still a humble, likable person.

Now I’m thinking maybe I’ll let those tattooes show – I had figured on keeping ’em covered, but now I’m thinking that I need to do _something_ to show I’m not quite that same person. Hmmm. . . Useless musings. . .

I can hear the squeak, squeak, squeak of the rocking chair. My husband’s rocking our daughter to sleep, and the rocker’s got a squeak. Sitting in the darkened room, sipping on a bottle, tucked into dad’s arm: that’s how she goes to sleep most nights. I know she’s finally dropped off when the chair stops squeaking. She’ll need to take a can of WD-40 to work with her, when she’s old enough to have a desk job. Any chair that squeaks is apt to put her right out.

“Because I said so. . .”. I hated those words as a kid. Such power they had! What was the rebuttal? Of course my mother had the power to say them, and of course I had no power to counter.

This weekend I was in a mother-ish position. My daughter’s only five months old, so I haven’t yet had to use that dreaded phrase on her. But I was out camping with a group of girls from our church, and some of them wanted to go exploring away from our campground. They had a plan – they’d keep a walkie talkie with them and give one to an adult. I wasn’t satisfied – I’m a pessimist at heart when it comes to other folks’ kids in my care, and I’d much rather them not be out wandering without some sort of adult supervision. Walkie talkies just don’t cut it.

So, I said no. And they started to argue, these 12 year old adventurers. I never used the phrase “Because I said so” in its exact form, but I could suddenly understand its usefulness. My reasoning, though it held lots of weight with me, held no weight to a group of girls convinced that a national park held little or no dangers. Me, I think of snakes, bears, twisted ankles, other unfriendly adventurers who’d take advantage of a wandering young lady. They, they think that the risk of those dangers is small and that the walkie talkies would let someone know they were in danger. I’m not going to convince them, and they’re not going to convince me. . . we’re at an impasse. The only way to break it is to pull out the “Because I said so” card.

I hated the phrase as a kid, and can see why these girls would just as equally hate it being applied to them. But, darn, it’s useful!

I’m a software engineer, and a darn good one. I love working with customers, designing systems to meet their needs, and then building systems that exceed what they expected. (“You mean you’ve already thought ahead to what I might need here, and have made it easy/cheaper to add this functionality?” “You mean I shouldn’t expect the beta period to be bug-ridden?” “You’re actually on time/on budget with my project?”)

Lately those talents have had to lie dormant. We had our first child a few months ago, and since I was nursing, it made sense for me to be the one to stay home with our child, rather than my husband staying home. There was pretty much no other reason – we do basically the same thing, could live on either one of our salaries, neither one of us is by nature a child abuser. . .
So, my husband is at work. I’m at home. Now I’m looking for part-time computer software work. You’d think that that’s a unicorn or some other mythic creature. The general reaction has been the same: there’s really no part-time work to be had in software development.

The impact on me has been near total discouragement. I like what I do and don’t enjoy the idea of giving it up. But think of the impact of this phenomenon on women in computing. . . women in software have no real choice but to put their children into day care. Those of us that want to spend at least some of their earliest most formative years with our children need to step away from software development. And need I mention that the four or five years it’ll take my child to get to school is a lifetime in software engineering?? Folks with four or five years experience in an area are considered senior, because that’s usually as long as that particular technology has been around. The technologies that I work with will either not exist or will have evolved into something similar in name only to what’s there now (think VB.NET vs. VB).

Sure, I can keep up in the trade journals, buy the latest geek books, try things out on our home computer, even pick up a degree or a certification or two. But as any employer (or employee, if they’re truthful) will tell you, that just doesn’t measure up to real-world experience. If I’m able to get back in (and that’s a big if), I’ll be at the bottom rung of the expertise ladder again, worth very little to a potential employer, as compared to where I’d be if I’d spent those five years in the field, even on a part-time basis. It’s as if the bottom just dropped out on my career, just about negating everything I’ve done/learned/earned to date. I’ve spoken with other women who’ve gone through this same thing, and the basic conclusion has been that it’s too hard to get back in, and just not worth it to start back at the bottom again, proving yourself all over again.

Just think of all those women who’ve gone down that same greased chute. And then wonder why there are so few women in IT. Maybe we got in and then got dumped out. Or maybe we’re advising our daughters/friends to choose careers more conducive to concentrating on your child for a while.

Folks keep telling me that these years go so fast, that I should savor my child’s development while I can, and focus again on my career once my child goes to school. Wonderful advice for some fields – but a seeming near death knell for a software development career.

There are lots of places on the web based around the idea of images. Sites that seek to impress you with flashy graphics and effects, or images that draw you in, enticing you to spend time or money. This site won’t attempt to accomplish that through images – as you can see, my ability to make beautiful websites is, shall we say, less than impressive. Hopefully, two things will occur. One, this lil’ piece of the web will be interesting to someone (at least me), regardless of its lack of visual attraction. Two, I’ll in some way absorb some creative karma and evolve this area into a visually beautiful venue. (“Visually beautiful venue”? What a load of horse manure!) In the meantime, this’ll serve as an outlet for the ideas and thoughts that are languishing for lack of expression. None are guaranteed to have any value to anyone but me. And looking back at them, I’ll probably decide a fair number of ’em didn’t have any value, period. Feel free to comment, influence my postings, just generally interact. The web’s good for more things than buying stuff, catching up on news, and other less interactive (and often less socially redeeming) things.

There are lots of places on the web based around the idea of images. Sites that seek to impress you with flashy graphics and effects, or images that draw you in, enticing you to spend time or money. This site won’t attempt to accomplish that through images – as you can see, my ability to make beautiful websites is, shall we say, less than impressive. Hopefully, two things will occur. One, this lil’ piece of the web will be interesting to someone (at least me), regardless of its lack of visual attraction. Two, I’ll in some way absorb some creative karma and evolve this area into a visually beautiful venue. (“Visually beautiful venue”? What a load of horse manure!) In the meantime, this’ll serve as an outlet for the ideas and thoughts that are languishing for lack of expression. None are guaranteed to have any value to anyone but me. And looking back at them, I’ll probably decide a fair number of ’em didn’t have any value, period. Feel free to comment, influence my postings, just generally interact. The web’s good for more things than buying stuff, catching up on news, and other less interactive (and often less socially redeeming) things.

There are lots of places on the web based around the idea of images. Sites that seek to impress you with flashy graphics and effects, or images that draw you in, enticing you to spend time or money. This site won’t attempt to accomplish that through images – as you can see, my ability to make beautiful websites is, shall we say, less than impressive. Hopefully, two things will occur. One, this lil’ piece of the web will be interesting to someone (at least me), regardless of its lack of visual attraction. Two, I’ll in some way absorb some creative karma and evolve this area into a visually beautiful venue. (“Visually beautiful venue”? What a load of horse manure!) In the meantime, this’ll serve as an outlet for the ideas and thoughts that are languishing for lack of expression. None are guaranteed to have any value to anyone but me. And looking back at them, I’ll probably decide a fair number of ’em didn’t have any value, period. Feel free to comment, influence my postings, just generally interact. The web’s good for more things than buying stuff, catching up on news, and other less interactive (and often less socially redeeming) things.

There are lots of places on the web based around the idea of images. Sites that seek to impress you with flashy graphics and effects, or images that draw you in, enticing you to spend time or money. This site won’t attempt to accomplish that through images – as you can see, my ability to make beautiful websites is, shall we say, less than impressive. Hopefully, two things will occur. One, this lil’ piece of the web will be interesting to someone (at least me), regardless of its lack of visual attraction. Two, I’ll in some way absorb some creative karma and evolve this area into a visually beautiful venue. (“Visually beautiful venue”? What a load of horse manure!) In the meantime, this’ll serve as an outlet for the ideas and thoughts that are languishing for lack of expression. None are guaranteed to have any value to anyone but me. And looking back at them, I’ll probably decide a fair number of ’em didn’t have any value, period. Feel free to comment, influence my postings, just generally interact. The web’s good for more things than buying stuff, catching up on news, and other less interactive (and often less socially redeeming) things.

There are lots of places on the web based around the idea of images. Sites that seek to impress you with flashy graphics and effects, or images that draw you in, enticing you to spend time or money. This site won’t attempt to accomplish that through images – as you can see, my ability to make beautiful websites is, shall we say, less than impressive. Hopefully, two things will occur. One, this lil’ piece of the web will be interesting to someone (at least me), regardless of its lack of visual attraction. Two, I’ll in some way absorb some creative karma and evolve this area into a visually beautiful venue. (“Visually beautiful venue”? What a load of horse manure!) In the meantime, this’ll serve as an outlet for the ideas and thoughts that are languishing for lack of expression. None are guaranteed to have any value to anyone but me. And looking back at them, I’ll probably decide a fair number of ’em didn’t have any value, period. Feel free to comment, influence my postings, just generally interact. The web’s good for more things than buying stuff, catching up on news, and other less interactive (and often less socially redeeming) things.