Author: Melanie Dunn

“And Now for Something Completely Different”: Working Moms In the Age of Online Entrepreneurship

Big, big changes are happening in the Dunn household this spring. It’s best not to dump those details here, but the essential points are: (1) I’m going to be severely limited in my ability to work with my special education law clients this year, but (2) there’s a burgeoning business opportunity I will be able to harness this summer if I play my cards right. As you might have guessed from the title of this post, the key is to shift my time and energy away from in-person interactions to online communication. But just as importantly, I need to move away from work that requires active case management, and toward projects that are more short-term, focused on products rather than service delivery, and involve more automation and routine than the unwieldy world of special education law and advocacy. That’s right.  In 2017, I’ll be ramping up my fashion resale hobby into a real business, while scaling back on lawyering. The circumstances that heralded this change are not new ones. Parents in the post-industrial age, and mothers in particular, have consistently struggled to delineate and refine their roles and responsibilities as the needs of their families evolve throughout the various stages of childhood/parenthood. That’s why we have entire blogs like this one, which over time have transmogrified vague musings like “having it all” and “work-life balance” into the familiar, endless bleating we now hear...

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The Most Stressful Time of the Year!

  I realize this will sound flippant, but people who wrap up all their Christmas planning weeks before December 25 really must not have a whole lot of stress in their lives.  Christmas is a disruption in my life.  It just adds chaos to my already chaotic existence.  I walk around dreading it, and at the same time I become wistful when I realize it’s over before I had a chance to enjoy it. We stopped doing gifts for the adults on my side of the family, thank the lord.  I am such a bad gift-giver except when I feel especially inspired.  As for myself, the best gifts I have ever received have been the ones I picked out on my own.  I don’t like the stress of opening something and pretending to love it, honestly. I like giving to others, but I prefer to give my time or money, or both.  I like to create things, but I can’t think of anything I’ve made that is especially gift-worthy.  I want to teach my kids to adopt this spirit of giving as well – but it’s really hard to do when we celebrate secular Christmas and the kids get showered with toys by both sides of the family every year. I have been so overwhelmed with stuff at work lately.  One minute I’m on top of my list of...

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How to Prevent Your Child From Picking Up Negative Behaviors

One of our cats is diabetic, and I found myself in the vet’s waiting room late one afternoon with my two uniformed children, freshly retrieved from their magnet preschool/early elementary school. Their blue and khaki outfits informed the woman sitting across from us of the district they attend. She knew because it turns out she works at another school in that district. “How do you like it?” she asked.  Unsure of whether the question was addressed to me or to my children, I told her we liked it and asked my girls to tell her about school. “How are...

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I Started Looking at Photos of Dead Victorian Children Online. Here’s What Happened Next.

It’s never too early in the season to start talking about creepy Halloween-oriented stuff, amirite?  I can’t say why, but I’ve always been intrigued by the more macabre aspects of life and artistic renderings of such, of which there are many.  I know I’m not the only weirdo who gets a slight thrill from being reminded of my own mortality and the mystery surrounding death.  After all, goth culture had to come from somewhere. Apparently it was common during the Victorian era for families to photograph deceased family members, often posing the deceased alongside the rest of the (living) family.  I remember how freaked out I was when I first learned of this practice.  And honestly, the idea still makes my skin crawl.  Oh yeah — just because I’m fascinated by the macabre doesn’t mean I’m not terrified by it!  I don’t hang out in graveyards and collect animal skeletons; not that I judge you if you’re into that.  But my curiosity gets the better of me.  It’s like not wanting to see a scary movie because you know you will need to sleep with the lights on for a week straight — but then giving in and just going to see it, because you can’t stop thinking about it and you just need to see what happens.  That’s the best analogy I can think of to describe my morbid...

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“Being a Mother” Versus “The Practice of Mothering”

  As I descended the staircase of my office building yesterday, a thought popped into my head about the work I do.  I’m usually inclined to say “I’m a lawyer” when someone asks me what I do for a living, where I work, what I do for work, etc.  I let that three-word descriptor marinate in my gut for a minute, and it did not feel good.  It felt slimy, like a genteel expression of “I’m a sleazy profiteer who peddles fantasies of justice! So what do you do?” The irony of feeling this way about “being a lawyer” is that I actually love the work I do, in terms of the subject matter and the people I serve.  I help parents get special education programming and services for their children.  That should make me feel great—and thankfully, it usually does, or else I wouldn’t have lasted long in this profession.  But my preference would be to do this for free, just because it’s a good thing to do for parents and children in need.  If I had a passive income source or became independently wealthy, I would just volunteer my time as a special education lawyer.  There are lots of problems inherent in working as a lawyer, and those are the aspects of the work that make me feel more like a well trained pitbull than a human...

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