Naming Twin A and Twin B, Too Soon

The day after my twins were born, my mom handed me the birth certificates the nurse had brought in earlier. I had put them aside, too consumed with the status of my tiny preemies, a few floors down from me in the neonatal intensive care unit, their tiny bodies engulfed in tubes, where they would stay for two months. “They cannot be Parker A and Parker B forever,” my mom said to me now, referring to the nomenclature doctors use for twins in utero and in the NICU. Those little beings in the incubators did not seem real to me at that moment, but she was, obviously, right.

I realized I had no second name, first or middle. In fact, I had no middle name for the first twin. All I had was Natalie. Continue reading

It’s Our Dad

I have many role models, some famous, some not. Most of them are women. Especially after I became a mother, I looked to mothers with different kinds of jobs and different kinds of philosophies as examples as I figured out my own path.  But, if I had to choose one role model, there is no doubt it would be my father.

His work ethic is enviable; his modesty even more so.  He doesn’t need public praise or external validation.  In fact, he wouldn’t like it if I told him I was writing this essay.  He never talked about working hard to us, his six kids, but he did not have to.  We all knew.  We knew that the comfortable life we had was in suburban Long Island because of that hard work.  My father lived the American dream, or North American dream — he is Canadian, after all.  He climbed the socioeconomic ladder though his hard work in a way that is lamentably rare today. Continue reading

More Mom Breadwinners Challenge Our Notions of the Traditional Family

It’s not easy to diffuse the impact of long-held stereotypes, especially when biology is involved.

It looks like my situation  — I’m a working mom and my husband is a diapering dad — is becoming more common. And according to the Pew Center’s recent numbers, the radical change in society in the past 50 years looks like this — women are now the sole or primary breadwinners in four out of ten households up from 11% in 1960. The study also found that family income is actually higher when the mother is the breadwinner.

A change like this one does not come easily — it alters people’s fundamental notions of family structure, and may not be a perfect fit with the human biological reality. I’d argue a mom can make the money and have thriving kids and a thriving marriage — uterus, breasts, estrogen and all — as long as we don’t pretend those biological differences don’t exist.

The Pew report came out a few days after the release of hedge fund billionaire Paul Tudor Jones‘ statements to a group of business school students about the unsuitability of mothers as global macro traders, an intense profession. He said, “As soon as that baby’s lips touched that girl’s bosom, forget it” and motioned to his chest, arguing that becoming a mother made women lose focus. His remarks were immediately criticized, especially by those of us who think we were focused pretty well after having babies. Continue reading

How I Do It

[Note: The following is my contribution to the “How I Do It” series at the New York Times’ Motherlode.  I thought the series provided a unique way to really see parenthood in action – there is no better way to answer the question “How do you do it?” than really laying it out, warts and all!]
Motherlode asked parents, from members of Congress to retail clerks, to share “how they do it” on one typical day.

Rebecca Hughes Parker is the editor in chief of The FCPA Report, a legal publication about anticorruption issues. Previously, she spent eight years as a litigator at a large law firm, a job she took while pregnant with her twin girls. She lives in Manhattan with her husband and three daughters, 8-year-old twins and a 2-year-old. Her husband is the primary caregiver for the children. They have never had a nanny or a housekeeper.

Manhattan, Tuesday, May 14
5:20 a.m. My husband comes in from the truncated overnight shift he did at the local television station –  he freelances as a news writer for the morning show there and does a shift once every two weeks or so. Today he worked midnight to 5 a.m. He takes the dog out.

5:40 I peel myself off the bed and go into the room that my three girls — 8-year-old twins and a 2-year-old — share. I nudge Alex, one of the twins. “Are you sure you want to go?” I say, hoping she will say she wants to cancel ice skating and we can go back to bed. “I want to go,” she says. I tiptoe out of the room, thankful that for once the 2-year-old, Charlotte, does not wake up. The other twin, Natalie, sleeps like a log. Continue reading