Susan J. Demas: Paul Ryan wants his family time –– but many Americans aren't so lucky

"I cannot and will not give up my family time." – U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., in laying out his conditions for being the next speaker of the house

Paul Ryan may soon be second in line to the presidency. The congressman is seen as a rare, unifying figure between the GOP's bitterly divided establishment and tea party factions.

But Ryan, 45, threw out a curveball, declaring that time with his wife and three young children was a non-negotiable condition to taking the House speakership.

Working parents everywhere cheered. For one thing, it was nice to have a prominent dad talking about family time being a priority — because "having it all" isn't just an issue for moms.

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Susan J. Demas: The message dress codes send to girls –– and boys

My 12-year-old daughter plays on a co-ed soccer team, which means she routinely defends against boys a half-foot taller than her.

That's actually her favorite part, as she catches them off-guard with her speed and aggression.

But she got a rude awakening when she wore her soccer shorts in gym class last year, because she was informed they were too "distracting" for the boys. My daughter, being a shrinking violet, shot back that that was sexist. But as a straight-A student, she acquiesced, lest she be slapped with a "B" -- or worse.

There's nothing unusual about her school's policy -- which is the problem. I will say that other schools seem far more zealous in enforcing dress codes, like an Ann Arbor middle school that recently inspired a protest by 80 students.

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Susan J. Demas: What's the ideal time to have kids? Sadly, there isn't one in America

Photo by Susan J. Demas

Photo by Susan J. Demas

"25 years and 252 days - the perfect age to have a baby" is the (London) Telegraph's headline about a 2012 survey.

Coincidentally, that was almost my exact age when I had my first child, which was (unbelievably to me) almost 13 years ago.

A 2013 Gallup poll confirmed that having your first kid by 25 is ideal for American women, although more educated respondents were likelier to say waiting until you're 26 or older is better.

But if you'd like to know the truth, there really is no ideal time to have kids in America. Now that Mother's Day is over, and our once-a-year bouquets are starting to wilt, let's get real.

We're one of only three countries with no maternity leave law, something Hillary Clinton just vowed to change. Many Americans don't qualify for unpaid leave. Paid sick leave isn't required. Childcare costs are out of control. And if you stay home with your kids, your career will probably never recover.

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Susan J. Demas: GM CEO Mary Barra fields a question never asked of men

This week, I wrote a newsletter and two columns, posted breaking news, edited stories for future editions, paid my business' bills, crafted and answered several hundred emails, processed new subscriptions and consulted with my attorneys.

And I did this all while being a mom at the same time.

That job involved giving several dozen hugs, cleaning up scrapes resulting from a bike fall, going to two baseball games, hiking with the family, organizing playdates and making more meals than I can count.

I'm not asking for any special kudos. This is similar to what millions of working moms do each and every day, like Mary Barra (who's far more successful than me).

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Susan J. Demas: #YesAllWomen: How everyday sexism poisons us all

When I was 7, I gripped my beautiful mother's hand, squirming as catcalls followed her all the way down a Chicago street.

Three years later, I was playing in our front yard when a car full of teenage boys stopped, telling me how pretty I was, asking if I had an older sister.

Throughout my childhood, my father's clients would call the house, telling me I was so polite I should be a secretary, a fine aspiration for a girl who wrote novellas and got all A's.

By the time I was 15, those men would ogle me. A couple drunkenly propositioned me. Everywhere I walked, from the halls of my high school to my job at the local library, I felt like a piece of meat.

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