She’s Nine

When my son turned nine two years ago, I remember being incredulous that he was halfway to adulthood at that point. This morning, when my daughter got up early to announce she didn’t want to miss a minute of her ninth birthday, I realized that I have been thinking she’s halfway to adulthood since she could form words.

When she began to crawl, we immediately called her The Bullet because of her relentless speed. She is the same way today, bouncing from room to room, from one activity to another, never still for a moment. She is game for anything and her only two settings are 1,000% or fast asleep. There are impromptu daily choreographed dance performances in our family room. There are nightly bedtime rituals with her 12 Beanie Boos, lining them up and often assigning them roles in her next story. There are self-imposed sous chef duties to ensure her favorite foods make their way to the table. In this respect, she is so many things that I never was – self-assured, open-minded, ready for anything. And I love all of this about her, even if the rest of us can barely keep up.

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Leading up to her ninth birthday, our conversations can best be summarized by a few key, ongoing exchanges:

Can I have a phone? (No)

Can I have my own YouTube channel? (Definitely no)

Can you change the station to Kidz Bop? (ugggggggh, OK, but can we talk about classic rock or my beloved U2 for just a minute?)

Where is my shirt with the flip sequins? (In the laundry, since you wore it just yesterday)

Can I make more slime? (Yes, but only in the basement, and how are we related?)

Can I host a Slime Camp this summer? <sound of audible blinking>

She is all about sparkles, unicorns and rainbows – so many things that keep her a little girl. And then there is the constant pull with technology, as more and more friends have phones and social media accounts – and she has a mother who is in the firm Team No camp for now on those items. There is also the onset of friend drama, which I can’t even believe some days, and I’m sure will only get much worse in the years to come. I hope she is as kind and inclusive in those situations outside of my reach as she seems when she is home with us.

 

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When not pretending to host a You Tube channel, she is always planning. For today, for tomorrow, for summer sleepovers, for dinners we should prepare and slimes she should make, for next year’s first day of school outfit, for December’s Christmas list, for decorating her own bedroom when we (finally) separate her and her older brother, for family vacations she thinks we should take when her younger brother is old enough. It’s like living with some hybrid of a cruise director, project manager and fashion blogger all at once.

 

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She wants to know everything, do everything. She has endless questions but also likes to provide answers. She has *almost* resigned herself to not getting a younger sister (sorry, but no), and sways between relishing and eye-rolling about her destiny as the only female child in this family.

She is simultaneously the easiest child on earth and incredibly challenging, both because of her fierce independence. My wish is to never, ever slow her down, while also providing her with some yield signs along the way. The truth is that, most days, she teaches me far more than she could ever know.

Her heart is boundless and fiercely loyal. I cannot wait to see what she will do in the world, because I’ve known for nine years now that it’s hers for the taking.

Happy birthday to my sweet, sweet girl.

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The Last 5th Birthday

There are two camps of parents: Those who love the baby phase, and those who don’t. I am a card-carrying member of Camp Baby, and always have been.

Oh, but they’re better when they’re older and they can interact.

They are so much easier when they aren’t so small.

Yeah, I know. I’ve heard the finer points of debate. But still. Babies.

NO, I’m not here to say that I’m adding another to our mix. But today my youngest turned five, and although I’m aware he hasn’t been a baby for quite some time, this birthday stings more than a little. I feel like he turned a corner into the Bigger Kids Club with some kind of express pass that happened in the blink of an eye.

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With his newfound almost-tweendom, one of the most interesting things to watch is how this child continues to establish and assert his role in our family. For so long, he was “the baby,” the one who wasn’t big enough or old enough to do everything his siblings did. No more, his every move says. I am here and I’m coming with you.

When his sister wants to go play with the girls down the street? Uh, yeah, he’s coming too. Gone are the days of staying behind and hanging out with Mom. Who cares if they’re making jewelry and crafts? His mission is to bring along his beloved Hot Wheels and convince them to incorporate cars into their crafts in any way imaginable. He is currently experiencing mixed success at best on this front.

His brother and sister are playing a game? Listen, he wants a role in it too. And he’s not going to hear otherwise. So if you were wondering how Minecraft, fairies and Hot Wheels all join forces into an imaginary scenario, look no further than my family room and behold three strong personalities trying to work this out into a cohesive playtime narrative. I think Wes Anderson would be proud.

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Bottom line, according to this kid: I’m in the mix now. I have a voice. I see what I’ve been missing out on, and I want in. Oh, and everything in which I participate much involve at least four and as many as 19 Hot Wheels cars located in my hands, pockets, bed, Mom’s bag, and car seat at all times. Why have you not learned all of their names? Have I taught you people nothing?

Yeah, sorry Lightning McQueen. I didn’t think I’d see the day when you were decidedly replaced by a 50-year old toy franchise, but you can take your racing wheels and find another kid’s house. It’s Hot Wheels City here, and it doesn’t hurt that they’re 1/30th of the cost. Take Mater with you. (OK, you can stay and we’ll just store you somewhere in our basement in perpetuity because I have a soft spot for your entire franchise.)

For a long time, my youngest would not go to bed until we sat in his glider together and I sang him silly songs that I made up for him years ago. Recently, his long limbs have gotten too big for both of us to sit there together comfortably for more than a few minutes. We moved the good-night routine over to his bed, where we chat before he goes to sleep with his stuffed dog under his arm every night. I will hesitantly admit that the glider has reached the end of its useful residency in my house, after eleven years and thousands of hours spent in it with three kids. It is a hideous and bulky piece of furniture, but it has remained a constant, if not final, reminder of the baby era in our family.

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While in his bed chatting last week, I asked him if we can give the glider to another family for their kids. In the past, he has steadfastly resisted and cried about getting rid of it. This time, he shrugged and said, “Sure. I’m not a baby.”

<sob>

<me, not him>

He knows he’s getting big and wants to increasingly do things for himself, but — like many of the youngest kids in the birth order of a family — he also knows when to capitalize on his littleness. Yeah, that was me carrying a 45 pounder in my arms today at elementary school pick-up. Yes, he can come into my bed every morning. And yes, he can usually secure one or twelve additional hugs to stall his bedtime. He is a mush of affection just as my older two are starting to become, shall we say, hesitant about public displays of parental love.

Well played, my boy. Well played.

He is a born conversationalist, which anyone who has spent two minutes with him would know — from closest family members, to strangers in public places. Remember when we were in the same check-out line at Target, never having met before? And now you know the most minute details of our family, complete with an invitation for dinner? That’s because my youngest child was put on this Earth to tell you allllll the things you need to know about him, his family, his toys, the weather and various top of mind grievances — complete with highly exaggerated hand gestures and the inflection of an exasperated 75 year-old.

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And so, this expressive, opinionated, affectionate and endlessly curious boy turns five today. I can’t pretend that I’m shocked by this milestone, but it feels like a big one as I’m keenly aware of and mournful for the baby years slipping away. Yes, there is so much fun in this phase and yes, life gets easier in many respects without strollers and cribs and gear and whendidilastsleepallnight fogs. Turning that corner is both tough and exciting.

In the meantime, we have Hot Wheels tracks to build and racing times to compare before deciding which cars will advance to the Ultimate Birthday Championship Round. And there will be ice cream and five candles for the child who made our family complete.

Happy birthday to my sweet, sweet boy.

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The Very Best Dog

At some point in my 20s, I became fixated on pugs. I was single, living in Manhattan, and working about a million hours a week. I had no business getting a dog.

But on a spring day in 2003, I went to see a litter of pugs that had just been born. Of the eight dogs who were there, most were shy — except for the one who ran right up and chose me. It was as easy as that. I named him Señor, and a short time later he moved into my cartoonish-ly tiny fourth-floor walk-up. When I think about that day — when my sister and my mother came with me to bring him home — it simultaneously seems like yesterday and a million light years ago.

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Last week, I said good bye to Señor, and it was hard. Really hard. Even though he was 15 with declining health, I still found myself shell shocked that I had to make the decision to let him go.

I write about a lot of trivial and everyday things here. And it only seemed right, to me, to use this space to honor one of the very big things in my life. One of the very best things. So you’ll have to indulge my inner Crazy Pet Lady for today.

It turns out that a very spoiled dog requires some adjustment to sharing his spotlight. About a year after Señor arrived, I decided to move in with my then-boyfriend (now husband — we look like babies in this photo!), and the dog had to get used to not just some new city digs that consisted of more than one total room, but also another human in his space.

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And, eventually, another.

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And another.

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And another.

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You know those photos and videos on the Internet of dogs who love their new human siblings so much that it goes viral while melting millions of hearts? Yeah, that didn’t happen with us.

Señor never loved having a baby in the house, but he begrudgingly tolerated the adjustment of sharing his turf with a growing family. Not once, but three times. We always joked that he loved me a little less with each new baby I brought home, and my husband increasingly became his favorite person. This dog would never have, in a million years, shown an ounce of aggression, but I swear he would’ve loved the ability to roll his eyes and flip me off at times. I respected his inner curmudgeon.

When our family ultimately outgrew our Manhattan apartment and our suburbanization was complete in 2010, I always got the sense that Señor, like me, still tended to prefer the city, despite gaining more room in the burbs to co-exist inside together, and a yard to claim as his own outdoor domain. In the city he had been a fixture in our neighborhood — at the local wine shop, the doggie day care place, his little piece of Central Park. In the suburbs, sure, there was wide open space for him. But there were also the indignities of canine Halloween costumes. He had a little something to say about it here.

We allowed him to retire from holiday costuming after this family-themed swan song a few years ago. I think we can all agree that he earned it.

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He excelled at relaxation. Perhaps I was always drawn to pugs because of their like-minded affinity for laziness and weight gain. He was a stalker of food and a snorer extraordinaire. He loved hedgehog toys, neck massages, treats of all flavors, high fives and sleeping — on our shoes, in spare boxes, in the sunshine, in the coat closet. Or in any bag, anywhere.

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Any bag.

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Really — no bag left behind.

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Even though he hadn’t been particularly active recently, our house without him now has a stillness and quiet that it didn’t have before. Even with three kids here and all of their noise and activity. I don’t feel the motion of the dog under my feet when I’m making food in the kitchen — where he always was, at the ready, waiting for the inevitable scrap. I don’t hear him with the one ear I keep open overnight, when he used to shuffle around at all hours going to and from his water bowl. I don’t hear him pacing the family room while I watch TV in the evenings, waiting for him to find a comfortable napping place and beginning to snore. I don’t see him sleeping on the pile of shoes by our front door when I come and go during the day. It’s just different.

I lived with him longer than I lived with my husband. He was here for every day of my kids’ lives. I look at the photos and I see the different phases of my adult life — single, engaged, married, motherhood times three — and there he was, a fixture of what I’ve defined as family over the last 15 years.

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If you have a pet, you understand. You know that the love for a pet is so deep and so fierce — and the hardest part of that love is that their lives are always too short. When he sharply declined on Mother’s Day, it was fitting that my mom and my sister were both here — the same two people who helped me bring him home to that tiny apartment a virtual lifetime ago.

 

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And so, before I said goodbye, I thanked him for choosing me all those years ago. I was so lucky to call him mine.

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Eleven

I’m here tonight to accept my award for Best Slacker in a Blogging Role. I’d like to start by thanking space and time for conspiring against me to write at even minimal intervals at this point. It really takes special forces to make me stop doing one of the few things I’m okay-ish at. I’d also like to give a shout out to laziness, daily chaos and the black hole of laundry for allowing me to achieve this distinction. Really, I couldn’t have done it without you. Also, huge thanks to my short-term memory for briefly forgetting my own blog’s password; without you and your sidekicks, anxiety and panic, this truly wouldn’t be possible.

Who am I wearing? Oh, my leggings are by Gap, circa 2015.

Now that we’ve dispensed of the formalities, let’s discuss what finally brought me back here. My oldest child went ahead and turned eleven on me today. Eleven.

It’s only appropriate that, as I spend the day reflecting back on his birth, I am bombarded with media images of Duchess Kate presenting her newest addition to the world. The similarities between us, after all, are striking — the class, confidence, fashion, fresh hair and make up upon exiting the hospital. If. Only. I’ll refrain from adding yet another meme on this subject to the Internet, but I’ll just say that my seven-hours-post-partum style could be best described as Don’t Tell Me How Many Stitches I Have meets I Plan to Shower Sometime Before This Child’s First Birthday.

But somehow I pulled it all together, eventually, and raised a small human. The first time I wrote a birthday entry here for him was when he turned four, in my early blogging days. I made him a stegosaurus cake that resembled an armadillo doubling as a cautionary tale for diabetes. He schooled me on its anatomical inaccuracies, rocked his pre-school party and handed out Thomas-themed favors. It was the best I could do — I hadn’t yet been ruined by the domestic pressure cooker and fault-identifier known as Pinterest. Those were simpler baking and party planning times.

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Fast forward seven years. This weekend, I’m taking a group of boys to see the new Avengers movie and then to grab some food, which I expect they’ll consume in metric tons while telling fart jokes and comparing YouTubers. Happily, Pinterest has no place in the life of an eleven year-old boy’s party.

And these boys — his closest friends over the last few years — will finish elementary school with him in June.

I was in pretty firm denial about this, until I sat through parent orientation for middle school one night last week. It was all very informative and well-presented, even in the mystifying absence of paper bags for hyperventilation. I mean, middle school? What fresh hell is this going to bring? (Working on my optimism).

It’s hard to believe that this child will leave behind the place where he has attended school since 2013. Hard for me, anyway. I can admit that familiarity is my jam, and that I’m not remotely great when it comes to accepting major changes. Instead, I totally excel at worrying disproportionately about things over which I have no control, so fearing this whole upcoming transition is firmly in my wheelhouse. I’ve been training for years to do this.

It will be fiiiiiiiiiine. This is my mantra.

(It’s the only one I’ve got and so I’m sticking with it.)

I should note here that my son is completely and authentically non-mantra fine with all of it. Mostly because he knows there will be an actual cafeteria in middle school (see ya, packed lunches). And because he has grown tired of the non-fiction section of his current school library.

Yes, my Historian in Residence is still at it. While WWII remains his favorite period, there has been some broad diversification lately. What would breakfast be without a tutorial on the Roman Empire’s testudo battle formation? And a simple Spring Break meal in EPCOT’s Mexico pavilion wouldn’t be complete without shaming one’s parents for not knowing the difference between and Aztec and Mayan temple.

{Mr. Ruyzam, I know you never thought I’d say this, but I’m so deeply sorry for not paying attention in AP History in 1988. I can see now that I was wrong and that maybe truancy should not have, in fact, served as my greatest achievement of junior year. Had I known I would raise a budding historian and spend time researching which battle re-enactments we can attend this summer, I would have worked harder. A little. Ok, I probably would’ve at least attended class.}

Where books and facts are my son’s everything, he is navigating a world in which sports reign supreme as the social currency of boys his age. While his peers play in about 3,384 travel leagues, he’s happy wielding a sabre at fencing lessons or playing his tuba (although it nearly outweighs him — perhaps a more athletic pursuit than we all realized). He wants to talk about the news and understand the world around him. His imagination is vast, and his curiosity deep. What opportunities all of these traits will present to him remains to be seen, but he has confidence in what he knows and what holds his interest — which is more than I could say about myself at his age.

As with everything, he will be the first of my kids to show me what this next stage of parenting entails. We’ll cut our teeth on it together and he will both benefit and suffer from my inevitable mistakes, some of which I’m sure will be the butt of ongoing jokes for years of family dinners to come. It will be his journey and his experiences that shape what comes next. Even though he is becoming more independent in so many ways, he is still young enough to need us in a million more.

When he was born, I set up an email address for him in his name (I did the same for all three kids — and none of them know about it yet). A few times a year, I forward family photos with notes from me. And I always send an electronic copy of the newspaper on his birthday. It felt like this curated time capsule for the last decade, and soon I have to think about handing it over to him. It always seemed so far away to think it would be his to open, use and shape with his own notes and interests and contacts and identity, but like everything when it comes to our kids — it snuck right up on me.

And so, eleven is here. For him, eleven is more sneakers than fashion. More indoors than outdoors. More funny than exasperated. More evening than morning. More questions than answers.

And equal amounts of push and pull. As it should be.

This child is unique and compassionate. Strong willed and confident. A puzzle and a delight. And a distinct privilege to call mine and to show me the way. As always, he teaches me more than he can possibly imagine.

Happy birthday to my sweet, sweet boy.

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The Year of Yes, We Loved You So

Let me just dust off the tumbleweeds here for a minute and prepare my monitor for the shock of some actual words being typed on my blog. It has been a while.

So, I’m up against my annual oh-hey-look-it’s-November-and-suddenly-I’m-way-behind-on-holiday-prep realization. My 412 mental browser windows opened simultaneously, like they can only for the person who is in charge of making all of the Christmas magic happen. And as I started thinking about the hell that is holiday cards, my photos reminded me that I never sat down here to write about and memorialize this past year.

Because, once in a blue moon, the universe throws you an unusual gift that deserves some attention.

My husband recently went back to work after being out for a full year. We ended up calling it The Year of Yes — not by design, but as a name that sort of evolved over the course of our time together.

I am married to one of the most low-key, even-keeled souls in the world. Which is good, because I am the opposite, and there can’t be two of me in a union without the inevitable occurrence of spontaneous mental combustion. We knew after he turned down a job transfer to Denver that he’d be laid off when the acquisition of his company was complete. This didn’t bother him. In his mind, he had been working for close to 30 years and the temporary time off was a welcome change.

He basically wanted three things out of this situation: family time, some travel and some golf.

I also wanted three things out of this situation: some long overdue home organization projects completed, an extra set of hands with the kids, and maybe a trip to remember.

So we had some basic overlap, which was a good starting point.

I’ve mentioned before that we are not really “must have things” people. Yeah, sure, I like new stuff sometimes but we would always choose travel and experiences first. This is why you should never ask me for style tips or what car to buy, other than a minivan that requires a FEMA-level cleaning. I can plan a vacation for you, but I have no clue what bag I should be carrying or what shoes to wear when I get there.

And so began the “hey, why not, let’s take a few trips” mentality. Because, as I reminded a 50 year-old man with three young kids, he’s never going to have this kind of time off again (#collegesavings #retirementmoney).

And so, there were lots of long weekend getaways. Local-ish ski trips. A visit to my dad in Arizona, where we brought the biggest drought relief to the desert in years. It wasn’t unusual to find me in the elementary school office on a Thursday around lunch time, with the administrative assistant addressing me by name and correctly assuming that I was there to sign my kids out yet again. Yep. Second and fourth grade is not going to send us off of a learning cliff. See you Monday, the car is packed.

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When spring break planning came along, we wanted to do something different since we didn’t have to plan around any work schedules and, hey, what’s a few more missed days of elementary school at that point in the year? (Yes, they managed to stay within state laws and complete their grades.) We entrusted our kids’ new-ish traveling chops, packed an entire rollerboard full of gluten-fee food for the Celiac Crew, and put ourselves on an 11-hour flight.

 

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They slept not one minute between the three of them, but we landed in Hawaii and all was forgiven — mainly because you can’t be annoyed about anything when you’re thousands of miles away from New Jersey, holding a giant coconut filled with booze while a board shorts-wearing Mickey Mouse walks by. To break up the sensation of being trapped forever in an airborne capsule with kids, we stopped in California on the way back for a few days, and finished up what was the trip of a lifetime.  We made this last point very clear, very frequently, as in: “Kids, there won’t be another trip like this. Enjoy it — hit the buffet hard and often, as well as every water slide in sight. Mom and Dad will leave no cocktail behind.”

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When the school year was drawing to a close, so came the realization that the Year of Yes would end in a few short months. Without the constraints of educational requirements and common core math problems, summer beckoned and we put a few more road trips under our belts. And in a swan song move for which I take full responsibility, we even managed to ditch the kids for a week and fulfill one of my bucket list items of seeing my favorite four people (U2) in Dublin.**

**Please note that I am not a stalker by the standard legal definition. This trip probably warranted its own post but I’m not willing to show my crazy quite that much.

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So, there was travel. Lots of travel. And would you believe me if I said that wasn’t even the thing I was most grateful for all year? It’s true. Because, more importantly, there was also a household where two parents were home at all times, and this was really the amazing part. Nobody had to be schlepped unwillingly to a sibling’s activity (I’m looking at you, child #3 — you of the spirited refusal in voice and body). I outsourced all math homework to my engineering-brained spouse. Dinner and laundry and cleaning were shared tasks. I was not driven to the point of insanity by 6pm every night. Divide and conquer — what a glorious way to live.

The kids loved having their father at home, having him drive carpools or take them to school. They weren’t waiting around every night to see if he’d make it home from work before they went to bed. It was wonderful for them.

And I had a daytime date. It turns out that, when it comes to everyday conversation, I really prefer my husband over almost anyone else in the world. That should probably go without saying, but a lot of people would roll their eyes at me and say, “I would lose it if my husband was home every day. Aren’t you dyyyying for him to just go back to work already?”

Honestly, I wasn’t.

I liked hanging out with him in intervals that weren’t driven by schedules or kids’ commitments. Full sentences, even paragraphs, were spoken on an uninterrupted basis. Yes, of course there were times I needed him to get out of my space or stop messing with the well-oiled domestic machine I’ve cultivated over the years, but that wasn’t very often. We’d go out for coffee or lunch sometimes, maybe run an errand, and spent a lot of time together following the insane political news coverage of the last year. I can’t remember if it was him or me who threw the first shoe at the TV during a Sean Spicer press briefing, but it was good to have someone here who shared my outrage. (Yeah, yeah, I’m trying not to be too political here — stay with me — I’m moving along.)

Were there downsides to this whole arrangement? Sure. My weekly grocery bill saw about a 30% increase by having the biggest food consumer home 24/7. And with that came a slow but steady uptick in junk food around my house. Did you know that my husband singlehandedly keeps Entenmann’s in business? It’s true. I have the pantry to prove it. And if you were wondering what post-college adult enjoys buying Ring Dings or Drake’s Cakes, he’s 5’10” and lives right here. Don’t get me started on the abject injustice of his caloric intake with zero weight gain consequences; it is a long-standing pain point for me. To have him here, flaunting his glazed donut for breakfast while I had my usual spartan meal on my way to Pure Barre, was really a drag.

Also, you know those to-do list items you’ve had for your house that neverrrr get done? The ones that have been written down for a decade of rainy days? Let me tell you something super-depressing: We have them on our list and, after a full year of my husband being home, they did not get done. Nope. So, I have basically made my peace with the fact that they must be deleted because there is simply no chance in hell they will ever happen now. Goodbye, visions of a cleaned out attic and purged basement. Apparently, it’s just not fucking feasible in this lifetime.

Now and then, I’d have mini panic attacks over the course of the year about not-so-minor things like income and employment. My husband was calm and cool, working on it, knowing he’d land something. He was giving himself a year and, true to form for the way he is lucky about everything in life (ahem), along came a job just as the year off was coming to an end. You can’t make this shit up.

(Also, I do not share the good luck unicorn thing he has going — so, yes, I’ll join you for a moment of vomiting in solidarity.)

And just like that, the Year of Yes was over.

And. It. Flew. By.

The week before he went back to work, I was having anxiety over the transition back to reality. Who was going to deal with all of these kids, all of the time? Was the math homework, now a year more advanced, just going to get itself done? It all had to revert to the old way. But, back to real life we went.

It was like ripping off a Band Aid. I looked around the first day he was gone and realized I’d have to launch my shoe at Sarah Sanders’ press briefing all by myself. I had a long chat with the now four year-old about not throwing down while attending ballet/Girl Scouts/gymnastics/fencing/football for his siblings. I watched my kids cry as their dad left early in the morning and said he’d be back in about 12 hours. I took myself out for coffee and made peace with the to-do items that will never, ever see the light of day.

And we all bounced back just fine. Because, why the hell not? We were lucky to have what we did, and it was amazing while it lasted. And, frankly, it was time for the Entenmann’s stash to go.

Maybe I’ll just tackle the basement and attic on my own this year.

 

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She’s Eight

When my daughter presented me with a wish list for her birthday, my first reaction was to be taken aback. Way aback.

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Some things jumped right out at me.

  • A pool — with hot tub. What?
  • A fairy godmother. Um.
  • Not being GF (gluten free). Ouch, my heart.
  • A cat. I don’t even understand this — it has never once come up before. Plus, we are dog people.
  • A SISTER. Oh, sweetie. We need to talk.

My mouth hung open a little and I wondered if I had raised a completely entitled child who expected wildly unrealistic things. I didn’t react outwardly at first, and then I read it again, slowly.

Nestled in between these crazy asks were nail polish, fidgets and a new Ariel night gown (hers has been worn to pieces). Now we’re talking. OH, and there it was — an iPod Touch. It was then that I understood the strategy at play. She has been asking for an iPod Touch for a year and my answer has been in the firmly negative camp. I know plenty of girls her age have one (believe me, their names are presented to me, in list form, accompanied by the colors of their respective devices, on an almost-daily basis; if the child could present it to me in PowerPoint, she would). And I’m not judging. But for us, it’s a no, for now.

And so she went and lodged this request in between a bunch of insane items to normalize it. Or maybe I was giving her too much credit — so I asked her, “Um, where would we put a pool — with hot tub — in our small yard, exactly?”

Her toothless grin expanded across her face, as if pleased with herself, as she shrugged and said, “What about the iPod Touch? It fits anywhere.”

Welcome to The Year of Eight.

There are times when you become distinctly aware that your child has grown significantly — and a look about them changes in some way or another. We’re currently in one of those phases when my husband and I see this in our daughter, with her limbs dangling longer in her bed seemingly every night. I can start to see how the more grown-up version of her might look and sound, and it’s really something. By something, I mean amazing and perhaps slightly terrifying because I didn’t sign up for things to move this quickly.

She has had quite a year, growing into her own friendships and hobbies, with a more solid sense of self-awareness.

A constant cartwheeler. Rainbow chaser. Itinerary planner. Social butterfly.

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Dancer. Athlete. Pretender. Friend. Big sister. Little sister.

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There is so much of her that is not me. She is fearless, confident, game for anything. This was always one of my biggest wishes for her — to be strong and adventurous where I am not. I see checklists of caution and she sees green lights and fun.

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She sees everyone as a friend and enjoys being an extroverted social butterfly. I think maybe I was once like this, but it is surely a far cry from my far more introverted adult self. Who can come over? When? What can we plan? What songs will we sing? What dances will we create? How can we costume our act?  It is like living in a community theater with a rotating cast of guest artists.

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(Tactic #889393736 in asking for an iPod touch)

 

But, she cannot escape all of my DNA, for better or worse.

I’ll take responsibility for her propensity to be impatient and restless. That’s on me. A rule follower? Guilty (which balances out her adventurous trait nicely). Relentlessly willful? Ahem. But, I also passed on a little something to see the angle in situations, to read people quickly and accurately. It has always served me well, and I know it will do the same for her.

And, come on — let’s get to the really important stuff, like my Mint Chip Forever gene, as well as the ability to extend a birthday as long as possible. Because big life lessons can come in many forms.

I’ve written in the past about how having only one daughter is amazing and hard and fraught with all kinds of feelings. I get just this one chance to be the mom of a girl and do it right, as much as I can. At eight years old, my daughter is halfway to sixteen, even though most days that math doesn’t seem fair. Her will and drive are going to keep me on my toes forever, as I try to balance how much to hold on versus when to let her fly. I can already tell you that she will go on to teach me way more in my life than I could have imagined.

I’ve mentioned before that these birthday posts I write about my kids are for me. Most of the other pieces I write and share are more for everyone else, but these — loaded with photos and details that maybe nobody wants to endure about a kid they don’t know — are for my collective emotional time capsule, to indelibly capture the mementos of their childhood in my mind.

And there are so many. I wish I could remember them all before they change again.

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Happy birthday to my sweet, sweet girl.

(Oh, and nice try, but still no iPod Touch. Or pool. Or sister.)

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The Last Fourth Birthday

I have long held the belief that the concept of the terrible twos is a complete and total scam that serves to brace us for the insanity that follows: THREE.

Three has been a tough year around here and, last night, we said farewell to it for the last time. Today, my youngest is four. And, look, I don’t have any delusions of grandeur that ushering in the age of four will flip a switch and deliver us a consistently flexible and mellow child. But I like four, even if it means he is less of a baby (let’s pretend that’s not true).

This year saw him change in endless ways, from making friendships of his own to chatting up any stranger at all, in any location. If you were on the receiving end of such an exchange — perhaps in Target, the grocery store or just strolling by our front yard on a leisurely walk — I’m pretty sure you received the entire history of our family, and maybe my Social Security number as well. Sorry about that. But it’s nice to see that his initial speech delay seems to be a distant memory.

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In other four year-old news, I hate to admit that it seems Thomas and the Island of Sodor may be on their way out around here, after a solid ten-year run and seemingly endless dollars spent on their expanding merchandise inventory and horrible movies. I’ll miss you Percy and Gordon, and I hope you’ll listen to me when I say it’s time to rise up in a magnificent rebellion to fire Sir Topham Hatt once and for all. His management style is outdated and brash, at best. Direct him to collect his railway pension and be on his fucking way already. And don’t let anyone tell you you’re not useful engines.

Where Thomas may be fading away, my resident birthday boy will NOT be pushing Lightning McQueen out the door anytime soon. In fact, he pretty much thinks the upcoming Cars 3 film was made specifically for his birthday, and I may move into a white room with padded walls soon if we have to watch the trailer on YouTube one more time. I also want to go on the record as saying that the laws of stalking a fictitious character are pretty ambiguous, so I think my son has dodged any legal trouble. For now.

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This child has also taught us that, when you have siblings who are six and four years older than you, you pick up a lot of things that maybe your parents weren’t anticipating. Ever eager to be in the mix with the older kids, it’s amazing to me how he can adapt to their interests and, uh, verbal choices. I’m starting to think his only friends in life will be others who are the youngest in their families as well.

 

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In between his frenetic quest to keep up and grow up, I still hear plenty of “I just want Mommy,” or “I need you to pick me up.” He still lets me sit in the glider with him most nights and sing songs while his head rests in the same crook of my neck. And, many times, when we are alone in his chair with just a night light and sound machine on, there is something I think about.

I think about when I sat in a high-risk obstetrician’s office in 2013, because I was beyond advanced maternal age, pregnant at 40 (yes, on purpose). And in that position, you expect to hear a lot about the increased risks of delivering a child in what some people acted like was an outright geriatric state.

“Unfortunately, we are looking at one in twelve,” the doctor said to me.

I blinked a few times, as if my eyes would adjust my hearing.

“One in 12,000, you mean? Or one in 1,200?”

“One in twelve,” he repeated. “Those are the odds of this child having significant chromosomal abnormalities based on our testing.”

For my oldest child, six years earlier, those odds had been 1 in 36,000. Now, I was looking at one in twelve. One in twelve. One in twelve. One in twelve. It was all I could hear.

When I became pregnant with my third child at 40, I was all in for all of the pre-natal testing that I could get my hands on. Not because the results would change our decision to proceed with a pregnancy, but because I wanted every avenue possible to minimize potential medical surprises in the delivery room. If my child was going to be born with a chromosomal abnormality — be it Down Syndrome or another — I wanted to know in advance and prepare — mentally, financially and otherwise.

A nurse appeared with some tissues, and a genetic counselor also found her way in to sit down with us. I didn’t know genetic counselors existed and this stranger was assigned to talk me off of a ledge.

“For more serious abnormalities — ones that typically result in death upon or shortly after delivery — those odds are one in 36 for your child.”

I could not breathe.

I imagined a line of twelve children lined up. Or 36 children. One would be dealt a life-changing diagnosis. Would it be mine? Would my child be the one? It was unfathomable.

I like to gamble. Recreationally, that is. I don’t sit home and bet on fights or on the weather. But show me a roulette table and I can spend a few hours hanging out with a little cash, idly trying to defy the worst odds in the house while waiting for my beloved favorite numbers to come up. I never really minded the terrible odds of the little spinning ball in the wheel because I never have had that much riding on its outcome.

Real life odds are another matter entirely. And, when staring you in the eye, they can consume you. And I beat myself up endlessly, convinced I had been selfish to push my luck and have a third child at 40, when I already had a perfectly healthy boy and girl. Maybe it doesn’t sound sensible, but fear breeds all kinds of crazy.

I waited two agonizing days to get definitive results back, during which time I mentally role played both possible outcomes in my head millions of times. I was not prepared for the third outcome, which was an extremely apologetic OB on the phone saying the sample they got was not sufficient and we needed to come back in and REPEAT THE TEST. So it had to be re-done, and we had to re-wait for two additional agonizing days. And when I got the call that the test was negative for any abnormality, I was so light-headed that I only realized in that moment just how much I had been bracing myself for life-changing news. The doctors still felt there may be a reason for the initial flags, and so there were other areas to test — cardiac, more genetic possibilities, and others — one by one, like hurdles that were individually cleared well into my sixth month of pregnancy. When there were no tests left to do and no answers about what caused the initial scary results, my OB said it was “very likely” an inaccuracy, but there was still a 10% chance something else we couldn’t test for would present itself after delivery.

But when he arrived, evicted by induction, just like my other two stubborn children, he was perfect. And to be clear, I didn’t need for him to be perfect. I don’t doubt for a minute that children born with some of these conditions I feared live very rich, long and wonderful lives. But the fear of the unknown can be a beast. And I make it a point to remember those times as often as I can when I hold this sweet child in his chair at bedtime.

And now he’s four.

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I am admittedly bad at being present, feeling grateful and recognizing all of the good around me. I have a mind that reels around its to-do list and a pretty cynical view of things. But those days of testing, of waiting for results, of preparing for an unknown outcome stay with me.

My youngest isn’t really a baby anymore, but he must know by now that I’ll probably refer to him as one forever. I challenge you to find him without a car in his hand or a pretend story coming out of his mouth, gesturing wildly as if he’s a jaded man in his 70s, wise beyond his years, mumbling “Unbelievable” when things don’t go his way. He wants so much to be big and know what his siblings know, but he’ll crawl into my bed in the morning and insist without words on a full-body hug in his footie pajamas, hoping it will be a pancake day.

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The threes weren’t always easy, and yet sometimes they were the sweetest thing in the world. I can’t wait to see what four looks like on this child.

Happy birthday to my sweet, sweet baby.

 

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The Peony Days

I do not plant or garden anything. It’s not in my wheelhouse to grow and cultivate life from the ground to bloomed fruition. I’ll admit, in the last few years, right around this time, I sometimes feel regret for not having tried to harvest a modest vegetable garden where my daughter and I could go outside with a nice little basket and pick a pepper or tomato to add to a dinner recipe. But, alas, I am not only weeks-to-months late with this semi-serious urge each year, but also unrealistic in thinking I could set up some sort of rabbit and deer-proof fortress when my outdoorsy-ness level is around a firmly consistent zero.

I digress. There is, after all, one effortless blooming phenomenon that occurs on my property every year. The beautiful peony bush in my front yard. I can take no credit for it but I love to admire its gorgeous colors each May. The downside is that the peony days are few. They have an avocado-like quality of wait-wait-wait-wait-wait-no-you’re-too-late. Seemingly overnight, they go from nearly bloomed to gigantic and, inevitably, knocked to the ground by a May rain storm before I’ve had a chance to cut them.

The peony days represent a distinct time of year for me. It’s the soggy season of unpredictable May weather. When I don’t know how many layers to wear and am usually wrong in my estimate. When I realize that my kids have outgrown most of their summer clothes and I am behind, again, in sizing up for them. When I am entrenched in what we call birthday season here, as I prepare my kids’ parties and cakes. When I stop and think, more than usual, about my friend Jen as the anniversary of her passing nears. When I start to mentally pivot from being entrenched in the school year to seeing  its end on the horizon. When I allow myself to begin anticipating summer vacation while also dreading that my kids will soon be another grade older.

The peony days are a small and sort of magical window of perennial change — an unmarked mini-holiday on my calendar that remains formally unrecognized but still distinct.

And every year, of course, other things happen that make the peony days different from one year to the next.

This year, the peony days brought both their usual grind and their unfathomable changes. As these giant blooms grew larger and heavier before fully opening and my three year-old’s spring jacket was too short for his arms, I found myself driving in my car without music on the radio. For the first time in my life, I listened to news stations in the only place that I had previously considered a safe haven from current events. Because in these peony days, we somehow live in a country where the headlines change and escalate at a breathlessly incessant pace and point to unimaginable events in our own government. Most of us walk around and go about our lives — the PTO obligations, the groceries, the bills — and suppress in our small talk the growing division we are all feeling. It’s an acquired skill that, for me, is both necessary and terrifying.

These peony days also found me on the phone with my sister living in Manchester, shortly after her adopted city was attacked last week — just four days after she moved out of the building across the street from the arena. My anxiety for her and her friends and neighbors was both shared and palpable. The age we live in dictates that we tell the residents of these cities in such an aftermath to simultaneously be careful and live their lives. We say this, they echo it, and we are awash with gratitude and grief.

This year’s peony days brought strange, life-affirming kismet literally to my front door after a recent morning walk, when an elderly couple stopped by out of the blue to say the gentleman had grown up in our home. My husband and I were standing right in front of the peony bush when Don and Mary turned up on their drive from Florida to Connecticut in the hopes of catching a quick photo of his old home. We invited him inside and I grinned more sincerely and effortlessly than I had in ages as I listened to him reminisce about how he loved this house in the 1940s. When he turned down my farewell handshake in my front yard, and insisted on a hug instead, the peonies were very close to fully bloomed. When his lovely letter arrived a week later to thank us, it was closely followed — days later — by a letter from another man who had lived in the house just after Don. Truly amazing, if not begging for a Lifetime mini-series. (The details, including the actual letters and photos, are all here.)

As I saw the forecast last week for heavy rain, I worried about the peony days ending with their usual fall to the ground. I made a mental note to extend these days, to remember to cut the flowers and bring them inside. My neighbor told me that more would bloom where I cut them. I had no idea I could orchestrate more peony days into my calendar.

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And then I forgot — but my husband didn’t. He heard me issue myself an out-loud reminder to cut the peonies and, when he noticed at 11:30pm one night that the pounding rain was coming momentarily, he went outside with a flashlight and a scissor, in his pajamas, and cut the most gorgeous bunch for our kitchen counter.

And when the rain was over and some of the remaining blooms were still upright, he cut those too and gave them to my neighbors. Another neighbor cut a few more for her floral business. And still a few more are standing, despite the rain. And the new blooms from where we cut them look like they’ll be coming up in a bit.

I’ve never made a secret of being bad with change and transitions. Maybe I wasn’t giving the peony days their due. Some of their moments this year have been made of the stuff I like to cling to — like kids on the cusp of summer vacation and the sweet unexpected visit from Don and Mary — and others that blare from the news on my radio and TV and social media channels just beg for the blooms to hit the ground so we can start over next year see what that season brings to us.

But the blooms are still standing, even after more rain. And so I’ll take this year’s extended peony days and remember next May that cutting those flowers was just as important to me as admiring them outside.

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2016 Exit Strategy

“What does this song mean? My whole life, I don’t know what this song means. I mean, ‘Should old acquaintance be forgot?’ Does that mean that we should forget old acquaintances, or does it mean if we happened to forget them, we should remember them, which is not possible because we already forgot?” — When Harry Met Sally

And if that’s not the least confusing thing that happened this year for you, then congratulations.

Holy shit, 2016. You need to go. My name is Kim, and I’ll be your escort to the damn door. You’ve had your fun and now it’s over — please proceed to the nearest exit.

Listen. I’m not one of those people who likes to wish things away. Generally, I like time to slow down and leave its proper mark of remembrance, because often times — especially when I look at my kids — I find it going by way too fast. But the marks left by this year feel more like gut punches and side kicks to the head.

Does anyone else feel like the world has lost its damn mind? Seriously. Lost. Its. Mind.

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I am a news junkie and I think it’s affecting my state of mind to merely read a newspaper (yeah, the old school print ones) or just browse the headlines on my computer. Forget the comments on social media — I mean, we should all have meds just to read those. Aleppo. ISIS. Disasters. War. Human rights violations. It’s so, so much to take in.

How lucky am I to live right here?

Lucky, indeed. With caveats. Because, even here, without bombs and terror and war, things are very, very shifty. There is no denying a deep divide in this country right now. A big Us Versus Them mentality on both sides of the political equation, and it’s getting to be very precarious. The way in which people speak to each other is not civilized disagreement anymore — it’s a venomous hatred of the other side’s beliefs, and it’s not like anything I can recall happening before. This divide is wide and deep and more than a little scary, I think. While it may have been brewing of years, 2016 took us in a very new direction.

And the stuff in between that will be memorialized in the year-end news — the pop culture icons we lost (I can’t even), the movies we paid to see, the words we added to the dictionary, the books we read and the shows we watched. They are all marks of how 2016 played out in its most innocent form. Would these be the things someone would find in a time capsule about this year? Or will the exhausting headlines of how we all started treating each other be the hallmark of what we leave behind?

Yes, we have our health and our home and our family and all of the things we need. Way more than what we need, and I am beyond grateful. Sure, I could bitch about 2016 having my husband lose his job, or two kids getting Celiac, watching a close friend and a family member both fight cancer, or crazy relatives who dig in their heels for the sake of being jackasses — but what’s the point? That’s run of the mill stuff of life. The stuff you take on the chin and incorporate into your days and move on. I have no airstrikes over my head and no military in the streets and no hate crimes at my door step.

It sounds dramatic, I know. I’ve been reading too much news.

I could unplug — and maybe I should — but what good does it do to bury our heads in the sand? To not stand up when civility is fainting all around us. To look away because it’s easier. I don’t think my brain can re-wire itself to un-see and un-read what this year has brought. Sometimes I wish it could.

I’m so sorry, did you think this was going to be a sweet little nostalgic post about this year’s milestones and next year’s resolutions? Actually, so did I. Whoops. But when I conjured up this year in my head, all of this flew out instead.

And there were those sweet, sweet moments, for sure. The insanity of my kids and who they are, who they’re becoming, consumes my days and is the gratifying/maddening/hilarious/frustrating bold print of my time. Their new interests and ideas and mishaps punctuate all that we do in my house, as they should. Their laughter and arguing and sass and bad knock-knock jokes are the soundtracks of our lives. And the hideous world events, the collapse of whatever else has fallen this year, are all there in italics and footnotes to shape what I do for them and how to guide them. Their story is the most important one, but it is inextricably woven, even remotely, with the headlines they are often too young to read.

I hate odd numbered years and, more specifically, prime numbered years. They feel unsettling and like bad luck to me. But hey, if a perfectly even year like 2016 can make this much of a fucking mess, then I think I’m going to have to just look 2017 square in the eye and deal.

And by deal, I do mean not bury my head. Not watch the fainting of civility. Not look away.

The real trick is not getting too consumed. Because I could spend all day enraged and exasperated over every headline, but there are board games to play and holidays to celebrate and growth charts to update. Cupcakes to bake (gluten free, of course). Homework to check. Lives to plan. Curveballs to duck. This is where I’m most needed — both feet firmly planted at home, with a constant, diligent eye on the outside world.

And lest you think I’ll spend tonight rocking in a corner while mumbling about the end of days, don’t worry. There will be a house full of friends with champagne and laughs and none of this gloomy talk. I may be a little serious these days, but I know perfectly well how to be the person who doesn’t kill a party. And party tonight, we will — to celebrate the high points of the year and wish for better days ahead for everyone. I hope that your glasses are raised and full tonight as well, and spent with those who make you happy for all of the good. Because there is still so much of it.

Will we work it all of this out in 2017? Nope. I think we all know it’s going to get worse before it gets better. But I do think the better comes from you and me and all of us who don’t bury our heads. All of us who know the next chapters can be better than the current one.

In the meantime, 2016, don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

 

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The Oddities of Gratitude

Health. Family. General well-being. Caffeine. Like most, I am thankful for many things, which seem to be amplified during the holiday season. One thing for which I didn’t expect to feel gratitude was the loss of my husband’s job.

We sort of knew this was going to happen. His company was bought and, invariably in those situations, there are many job casualties. This deal was in the works for quite a while before it was finalized, and so we had some time to mentally prepare. And when we turned down the opportunity to move to Denver for him to work for the new company, it was just a matter of time before the inevitable phone call came that showed him to the door.

And so, in early October, my husband commuted to his office in midtown Manhattan for the last time and turned in his laptop and company ID badge. He stopped buying a monthly train pass and sent the last of his suits to the dry cleaner.

After working for 30 years, he was out of a job for the first time.

And he is, in a word, thrilled.

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My husband is a very, very prudent guy. He plans, analyzes and takes methodical thinking to some serious next levels. He isn’t reckless or even impulsive. And so I thought this situation, although not a total surprise, would make him hyper-focused on job-hunting and generally angsty about what comes next.

Nope. Not yet, anyway.

What the practical side of him has produced instead is a very clear awareness of what he has been given: time he has never had, to use for things that he normally can’t do.

Those things are wide in range, both time-consuming and simple. Seeing the kids off to school. Sitting at our kitchen table to have a cup of coffee instead of running for the train. Repairing the garage. Golfing. Taking me out to an occasional lunch.

Like so many people who work hard every day, his job meant that we didn’t see him much during the week. Between the commute to the city and his workload, he was usually gone for about 12 hours each day. It meant a quick goodbye to the kids before school in the morning and little to no time to see them before they went to sleep at night. The fact that he is here now to drive them to school or pick them up or bring them to any of their activities and see them in action is thrilling for them.

At first, his presence in the morning was odd. It felt like something was off. Our AM routine here is a well-oiled machine that is one minor timing error away from becoming a shit show. There is simply no room for dawdling. We are running late before we are even awake. And so, when my husband rolled down into the kitchen on the first morning of his home-everyday tenure as we were in the midst of the madness, it was more than he bargained for. While it was clear that he wanted to help, it was like watching someone mistakenly walk into a rave and then try to back away slowly — while I ran laps around him, in a sweat, to make it out the door with the kids and the backpacks. For a man who has managed massive corporate projects and teams of people across multiple time zones, the before-school F5 tornado was a pinnacle of insanity he hadn’t yet mastered.

In the weeks that have followed, he has since learned the best approach in the morning is 1) keep your head down 2) find a place to be helpful 3) do not speak with me until the second cup of coffee has reached its halfway consumption mark and 4) accrue massive bonus points for making the lunches that I swore I’d do last night but didn’t because I fell asleep on the couch.

We are all finding our way in this brave new world.

In all seriousness, this notion of having another set of hands during the day is remarkable. And because I’m keenly aware that this arrangement will not be permanent, I need to maximize my returns. As such, I have outsourced some of my most painful domestic tasks to him.

  • Goodbye, math homework assistance.
  • Sayonara, school lunch prep.
  • Tally-ho, car pools (at least some of them, anyway — divide and conquer!).

And do you know what has been really life-changing? I don’t have to schlep my three year-old to any of his siblings’ activities. None. If you, at any point in time ever had a three year-old — or have just been in the presence of one — you know that there is no bigger dream-crusher than a small yet headstrong child who was unwillingly woken up from his nap and brought somewhere he doesn’t want to go. No more, my friends. No more. People see me at school pick-up — all hands-free, completing full sentences and possibly even carrying a hot beverage — and I am probably unrecognizable without bending over a stroller to negotiate with a writhing child while picking up the trains he has thrown along the sidewalk. Was that how things used to be? How uncivilized. I just can’t recall.

Beyond the daily domestic grind, do you have that to-do list for items in your house that need attention? Not things like buying groceries or folding laundry. I’m talking about the long-term tasks that nobody ever has time to tackle and you swear that this weekend, this month, this spring break, this year you’ll get to them. But, alas, no.

My husband and I took that list/scroll and agreed on the things that the gift of time would allow him to tackle. You know how people on TV want a new Lexus with a bow for Christmas? I just want the fucking hell hole that is our spare room to be organized enough not to disgust me before 2016 ends. He is an organizational master and I can’t wait for him to MacGyver the shit out of that room.

Longer term, we are thinking about some travel on the horizon. It seems counter-intuitive to book vacations now, but my husband is a big proponent of making the most of his time off. He knows that he’ll never have this again — the extreme flexibility to go places and take trips, big and small, near and far. We have always been alike in making travel a priority instead of spending on other things like expensive clothes or cars. I mean, my yoga pants are sort of on point, I guess, but that’s about it. My husband drives a 2003 car with almost 200,000 miles on it and I am rocking the minivan. But we’ve both always agreed that travel was important to us. So, while we have him home, we are going to try to get as much of that done as possible within the confines of the school calendar. We shall see — you know what they say about the best laid plans.

To be clear, there are some downsides to this entire new full-time-husband-at-home arrangement, in case I made all of this sound like kumbaya, coffee and rainbows. It’s not. As much as I love having another set of hands at home (he shot down the manny reference, and even balked at Domestic Intern, but whatever), I’ll be honest and say that it does take some getting used to. I kind of like my alone time — is that bad? Also, not to be petty, but the amount of junk food sitting around this house has skyrocketed to completely unacceptable levels. Why, I had no idea that Ring Dings came in holiday packaging. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the curious emergence of my husband’s affection for retail. Remember the first time you went to Target without any kids in tow and had a decent chunk of time on your hands to just browse? Yeah, he’s just getting around to that. It’s a whole new world for him and his red cart. #cantstopwontstop

There is also a slightly alarming Clark Griswold side of him that was previously unknown to me. With the holidays upon us, he has used his newfound time to significantly up his exterior seasonal decorating game. He always hangs some lights on the house at this time of year, but we like to keep it simple. Or, apparently, we don’t. Apparently, when someone doesn’t have to go to work, he likes to go to Walgreens every single day and pick up yet another box of lights to hang on anything that will stand still. If you don’t know where I live, I am pretty sure you can now see my house from space. And — bonus — nothing helps your unemployment status more than a soaring electricity bill.

And, while I’m actually sitting here writing for once, I’ll say that I’m mentally residing in this very weird, limbo state. I’m happy he’s home. I’m worried he’s not working. I want him to enjoy his time off. I worry that I don’t know how long it will be. I am confident he will find a job. I worry where that job might be. I want us to make the most of this opportunity. I don’t want to be broke.

{I’m a worrier.}

It’s a bit of a see-saw. I mean, I can’t speak for everyone, but it seems like a long-term income is generally a good thing.

But I know that, once the holidays are over, the job search will kick into high gear. What will happen next is anyone’s guess. And so, even in the uncertainty of this situation that we can’t control, my worry is actually second to my gratitude. I am thankful for this time — a time I know we’ll look back on at some point with nostalgia. Holiday Ring Dings, excessive lights and all.

 

 

 

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