Thursday, October 17, 2019

Getting Sick Isn't So Bad

I was sick this past week.  Monday the kids were off school and I was dying for part of the day.  My limbs felt like they each weighed a ton.  My body ached.  I had a pounding headache.  Yet, overall, the day wasn't too bad.  If you're wondering why, it's because my kids are 7 -- well, 7 and a half if you ask them.

  • They can play on their own.
  • They can get a glass of water on their own.
  • They can get dressed on their own.
  • They can turn on Netflix on their own.
  • When they are starving and approaching death because they haven't eaten in three whole hours they have even been known to spread some peanut butter on a slice of bread and call it lunch and they do this on their own!
I'm also thinking back to a time when they were maybe a year and a half and I was so sick.  I was on FaceTime with my parents and literally just collapsed onto the floor off camera.  I remember my parents trying to cajole two 18 month old kids into checking on me to make sure I was breathing.  (Just FYI, 18 month old kids don't know how to point an iPad camera on a sick parent who is lying on a floor.)  I could hear them talking to me but couldn't muster up the strength to stand or respond.  Lord knows how the kids survived being home with me that week.  Back then I probably had to just fill a trough with juice, leave out the Costco size box of goldfish crackers, and let Thomas the (Annoying) Train DVD run on repeat for 48 hours straight.  

I don't miss those days.  

My friend just gave birth to twins.  I don't envy her.  Those are some rough years ahead of her.  I love watching my kids grow to be independent...ish.  In a decade or so, when they finally leave the nest, I'm sure I'll long for the days of yore, but right now I'm thrilled that I can get sick and actually rest for an hour without worrying about diapers, bottles or a head getting stuck in the banister. (Well, I can't be too sure about that last one.)

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

My Kids Make Me Eat Better...And Worse

I recently had the experience of being childless and a bachelor again for a few days.  My husband and kids took a little trip and I had three days of being solo.  My husband came back and we had about a week of being wild and carefree again.  However, "wild and carefree" when you are a parent means that you clean the basement while your other half power washes the deck on the weekend.  Yes, it was a pretty pathetic carefree weekend.  When you're in your 40s and you have no time to do the every day life things, crossing off jobs on your "to-do" list becomes a thrill.

The thing I noticed most during this parenthood respite, though, was my eating habits. 

Allow me to explain...

In the first five years of being a parent I gained about 15 pounds.  I blamed my kids.  Well, to be fair, one kid didn't pry my mouth open at midnight while the other threw double stuff Oreos and cheesy nachos into it.  That was completely my own doing.  But staying home for months on end, giving up a career that I loved and dealing with two toddlers was quite stressful.  It made me eat -- a lot.  I was definitely one of those parents who couldn't wait for my kids to nap so I could break out the chocolate and Cheetos. 

When my kids were away, though, I noticed that I didn't want to cook or chop vegetables.  Dinner became a can of Spaghetti-Os or a frozen meal I could nuke if I didn't feel like treating myself with a take-out pizza.  I think, if I didn't have kids, I might never eat a string bean again.  But, because my kids eat string beans, I eat them too.

So the poor food choices children cause when you're up 20 hours a day with a crying infant and the fact that every parent has a secret stash of candy hidden in a box in the cabinets labels "lima beans" are real.  What is also real is that I eat an apple for snack when I really want a Snickers.  It means I buy purple carrots and gooseberries so we can try new produce.  And it means that I actually ate a brussel sprout because Derek made some and I had to prove to my kids that trying new foods are good for you.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

The Kitchen

A little while ago someone asked me if I liked to cook. 

I did...then I had two kids.  I feel like I spend my life in the kitchen.  I'm never NOT there.  

  1. When I get up in the morning the first thing I do is make breakfast for myself and the kids. 
  2. I clean up breakfast.
  3. I finish making their lunches and my lunches.  Even if I have made lunches the night before there's still filling up water bottles, putting lunches in backpacks, etc.
  4. If there's time I load the dishwasher.
  5. When I get home I make a snack for the kids.
  6. The kids unload their backpacks but I put all the Tupperware into the dishwasher.  
  7. I look in their lunch boxes and see, once again, a clean napkin.  Does anyone else wonder how many days a child can go without using the napkin in his/her lunchbox?
  8. I clean up snack.
  9. It's usually about 4:00ish by now.  At about 5:00 or 5:15 I start making dinner.
  10. Dinner is ready at 6:00.  We eat and then I clean up from dinner.
  11. After the kids are in bed I collapse on the couch for an hour or so and about 9:00 or 10:00 p.m. I start making lunches again for the next day.
  12. There are other kitchen chores such as loading and unloading the dishwasher, putting away the groceries, washing the refrigerator shelves, rearranging our always over-stuffed freezer, baking with the kids, sweeping, mopping, washing the counters, cleaning the sink, and the never-ending quest to find the Tupperware lid that goes to the Tupperware that has no lid.
I have a friend with eight children.  I really wonder how she ever leaves the kitchen.

I cannot wait until my kids are teenagers.  I'll be broke from the grocery bills but at least they'll live on microwaveable pizza that they can make themselves.  

Sunday, May 19, 2019

The Change From Compassion to Brutality

A couple of weeks ago Jeff was reading a story.

"Daddy, this is so sad!" he said.

"What?" I asked.

"A hunter shot Babar's mother and now she's dead."

(Note to self: maybe look at some of the books that were written a generation or two ago before leaving them out for the kids to read.)

"I would never shoot an animal," Jeff continued.  "That not a nice thing to do."

My mind flashed an image of our disgusting president's son next to his kill.  It made me wonder what he was like as a child.  I can't imagine any five year old rooting for a hunter to shoot and kill an animal in a book.  It made me wonder what changes that sweet, innocent, compassionate child and allows him or her to grow up wanting to put a bullet into an animal's head.  Or worse. 

Kids in school and online are teased, bullied, beaten up, etc.  I hope that I have done everything in my power to make my children be the ones who don't tease, bully or beat up others.  When I look at the world today - brutal dictators around the world, ethnic cleansing, anti-Semitic and racist graffiti - I hope my children are the ones who help eradicate that kind of behavior and work towards a more peaceful and accepting world.  I'm trying my best and, from what I have seen, they will exceed my expectations. 

Friday, April 26, 2019

Licking the Beaters

Last week my kids had a play date at the same time.  Before you get all jealous that I got the house to myself for a couple hours please understand that the play date was at my house.  Somehow it wound up that I was going to have four 7-year-old kids running around my home at once.  I wasn't really sure how that was going to pan out.  I also had things that I had to do in life.  Most importantly, I had to bake a dessert for a dinner I was going to do with some friends.  We all know that dessert is the most important meal of the day.

The two friends came at about the same time. After that, I didn't see my kids for about an hour until they all got hungry for a snack.  Each child was occupied with their respective friend.  The house was unusually quiet.  So I got my baking done.  I made a pan of brookies: half brownies half cookies.  

And the best part of the about the play date?  I got to lick the beaters!

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Boogers On The Wall

I lived in Illinois for about two decades.  I arrived when I was 18 to start college and so my whole adult life - college, my 20s, dating, coming out, doing theater work, getting an interpreting degree, becoming an interpreter, doing my first film, adopting pets, meeting Derek, matching with a surrogate, having babies, etc. - all happened in Illinois.  I had friends there who had been through it all with me -- all of my triumphs and failures, successes and setbacks.  Moving to Boston was hard.  Very hard.  No...I take that back.  Moving was extremely hard.  I lost so much of my great life that I had built.  I don't regret it, it was just hard...wait...I mean extremely hard.

Last night I had two friends over with their kids.  While the kids played and watched a movie the two parents and Derek and I sat in the kitchen laughing, eating, and swapping war stories. 

Friend #1: I can't wait until the obsession with poop is done.
Me: Yeah, we hear a lot about poop and butts.
Friend #2: I guess that's boys.  Our problem at my house is boogers on the wall.
Friend #1: Yes! 
Me: I always ask if they need a tissue and they always say --
All: No!
Friend #1: Or they just eat it.
Me: I'm glad my kids aren't the only ones who do that.
Friend #1: Nope.  And the pee all over the bathroom -- ugh!  Boys are gross.
Me: We thought our toilet tank was leaking for a few days because every time we'd go into the bathroom the whole tank was wet.  The tank!  Not the toilet seat or the floor, but the tank!
Friend #2: I have a girl and we have pee everywhere too!

Boogers on the wall is still making me laugh 24 hours later. 

Moving, as I said, was tough.  Losing my Chicago friends was tough.  But I'm now in a community with friends who make me laugh and support me as I go through this roller coaster ride of parenthood.  I have neighbors who will take care of my cats when I'm away and I take care of their pets.  I picked up a neighbor's kid from school when a mom couldn't get off work early enough.  I had friends take Jeff overnight when Aaron needed to go to the hospital.  Derek and I watched a kid overnight to give a mom a break when her husband was away for a week.  Friends let me put them down as an emergency contact on camp forms.  We talk about the struggles our kids are going through, share babysitter resources, and celebrate birthdays together.  I'm realizing that my community and my relationships are growing. 

I hope to be in this community until my kids graduate high school.  Life could throw a curve ball and maybe we'll leave earlier than expected, but I'd love to keep these people in my life and have them become lifelong friends.  They're good people who support my family and me.  I'm making good memories and I have a feeling that years from now, when we are crying as our kids leave the nest and head to college, if I remind these parents that we will no longer have to deal with boogers on the wall we'll all have a good laugh together through our tears. 

Monday, December 17, 2018


I remember when I adopted my first cat I was amazed at how different she was from my childhood cat.  I thought "a cat is a cat is a cat" but that's totally not true.  I have now owned four cats (thanks to my two merging with Derek's two) and each one was completely different. 

Children, of course, surprise you with their personalities too.  Whatever notions parents have about who their children will be usually get blown out of the water.  Yesterday that happened to me.

My family went to play mini-golf and after we were done we stayed to play some arcade games.  Jeff found "Deal Or No Deal" and wanted to play it.  You know, it's the game where you pick a suitcase and open cases to win cash (or in this case tickets) and the amount you're offered goes up or down depending on if you open suitcases with large or small numbers. 

Well, Jeff, my logical, mathematical, always-thinking-two-steps-ahead, save-your-money kid never took the deal.  Even when the odds were stacked against him he opened cases to the very end.  He wound up winning 3 tickets for one game and 8 for another.

Aaron decided to play too.  You know, Aaron, my emotional, sensitive, blow-his-money-on-toys-and-candy-one-day-after-getting-it, dreaming of rainbows kid, took the deal right away.  He was excited to get 88 or 92 tickets even when he had several cases left with large amounts. 

Totally not what I expected from either of them.

But hey, that's parenthood.  When you think your stoic, conservative child will play it safe, he winds up risking it all and doesn't cry when it doesn't pan out in his favor.  And when your fickle, impulsive child takes plays he might just take the safe route because he understands that leaving with something good can be better than losing it all. 

I'm pretty proud of both of them.  Who knew a video game could help me see a side of them I never knew.