Thursday, March 25, 2010

Lice Happens, and you can hire a nitpicker when it does

A few weeks ago my friend M.J. Eckert emailed our book group to announce that she would be quitting her job at a private school (walking away from discounted tuition for her child) to become a full-time nit-picker. Yup, nit-picker, as in lice!

"I love ridding the world of head lice," wrote M.J., a registered nurse who has spent years as both a school and summer camp nurse. "It involves all the things I love about being a nurse: technical stuff (yes, there is an art to nit-picking), helping people through a stressful time, educating, hand-holding. I know this is the right move."

M.J.'s crusade against hair critters started a couple of years ago, when she and her neighbor, Nancy Fields, started a side business they named Lice Happens. (Their motto: Lice Happens: No Shame. No Blame.) Due to their passion, lively personalities and professionalism, M.J. and Nancy's business caught the attention of The Washington Post. As a result of that article (and perhaps the great picture that ran with it—take a look) and other media coverage, the women began spending most of their nights and weekends driving around the D.C. metro area on lice calls.

If lice ever make their way into your life, it's worth visiting the website for Lice Happens. Even if you don't live in the company's service area, M.J. and Nancy—and their expanding
team of nit-pickers—are happy to share their wisdom and know-how. Although they do sell pesticide-free products you can order for home delivery, the women stress that the key to delousing is a "meticulous combing" in which every strand is checked and, if necessary, picked of nits. M.J. (who is pictured above, wearing her super cool nit-nabbing specs) did send me four microscopically enlarged images of lice to use for this post. I selected the only one I could stand to look at.

May lice never grace your head, or the head or heads of your young, but if they do, don't despair. Lice Happens, and help is available.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Stay-at-Home Moms say Thanks for "The Stay-at-Home Survival Guide"

I wasn't paid much to write The Stay-at-Home Survival Guide. In fact, the money I earned was poured right back into marketing the book. (Although The Guide wasn't self-published, small publishers don't put a lot of effort or funds into promoting their titles.) My profits from the book have been personal. I'm still amazed by having actually written a book and I'm so appreciative of the many readers who written to me with their praise and thanks. It's corny to say, but it really is payment enough to know that the book is helping women. I hope that stay-at-home moms who happens upon this blog will be encouraged, and perhaps comforted, by the following notes.

(To protect the privacy of the women who emailed me I'm not posting their full names or identifying details.)

From Beth: I just finished your book and wanted to say thank you, thank you, thank you.... I struggle with just about every topic mentioned in your book. I have read too many books to count to try to help me sort out my feelings of loneliness, boredom (even though there's always something to do), wanting to be by myself, and guilt as to why I even have these feelings in the first place (good mom syndrome).... Your book is THE ONLY BOOK I have read that actually helped, that actually made sense. So many books make jokes about the work/lives of stay-at-home moms and brush off seriously considering and validating many of the emotional struggles stay-at-home moms have. Other books focus solely on using religion or God as a main source to help you through. I needed something in between and your book did just that.... My working mom friends have no idea what I'm talking about (why I complain, so I usually don't), and while some of my stay-at-home friends have some similar struggles, not all those you mentioned.... Your book was/is amazing and I will highly recommend it to any other stay-at-home moms I know who are having struggles. I so appreciate your honesty and sincerity—I almost felt as though you were sitting in my living room chatting with me as a friend! 

From Aimee: I just ordered your book from This morning I was scrolling around the Mamazina website and saw your interview from last year. I almost cried reading your words. I so relate.... I, too, can describe those initial weeks and even months [after leaving my career to be a stay-at-home mom] as pure bliss.... But after a few months, productivity turned to monotony, and the loss of my identity became stifling. Yet, I have never stopped smiling and saying, "Great!" when people ask, "How is it to be HOME?" Any other response would signal failure... It's been a difficult year, full of rewards and challenges, just like any other job.

From Jill: I found The Stay-at-Home Survival Guide one night when, after a particularly long week, I Googled "mind numbing stay-at-home mom" .... I feel so much better knowing that many other mothers are going through the same trials and tribulations. It's usually hard to get moms to be honest. Most just say what a blessing it is, but many don't say it's so hard sometimes, and you don't enjoy everyday, and that's OK!!! I've felt everything you talked about in your book and identified with so many (like the lady whose degrees mock her or the lady who feels like she's in the movie Groundhog Day as she lives the same day over and over). I've felt the same as almost every mom in your book and I can't tell you how happy I am with your honesty on each subject. What a great book!


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