Whatta Man

I have been married for almost 18 years, together almost 24. I have what you’d call an unconventional marriage. You see, I am the stereotypical “man” in the relationship. You know how many complain about their lazy, unmotivated, and not involved with the kids partners? Well, that’s not my complaint. My complaint is the opposite. My husband is the best, all those things. My complaint is that I can’t compete.

UT Football game

When the kids were 1 and 3, after a year of unemployment and stay at home dadness, Hubs got a traveling job. It was either travel or nothing, so travel it was. For the next 6 years, he had a nightmare of a job with several companies. Same shit, different company. At the beginning he was home every other weekend, driving from Maryland to Northwest Ohio on Fridays and returning Sunday, an 8 hour drive, 7 if he peed in a jar. (JK, he didn’t, but developed super great bladder strength and a knack for dehydration.) The jobs got marginally better, the best ones giving him weekly airplane trips home. Travel took him everywhere – Texas, Florida, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania. He was all over.

When he was home, he was 100% home. No work, no distractions. Just 100% husband and dad. He played the handyman, the gardener, the heavy lifter, and the best part for the kids and me, the fun dad and doting husband.

Roughly 3 years ago, he finally got a job near home with a normal commute. Dad and hubby was home. After such an absence, he jumped into parenting with both feet. Boy Scout leader and Robotics coach, all in the same season. And life partner duties? House projects – check. Yard work/trash clean up – check. Cooking – check. Cleaning – check.

Robotics First Year
Den Leader of the Year

And so it’s been for 3+ years. Many of my friends complain about their lazy husbands. Mine cooks almost every night. Mine cleans the house and can’t stand clutter. He chauffeurs the kids to their events. He sits and does homework and keeps on top of them.

He does all this on top of bringing home a nice paycheck doing the incredibly stressful work of building and managing low income housing developments for those in need as his day job. He does the work of what some companies pay 5 people to do. When he tells me about his day, I want to crawl under the table and cry from just hearing about the stress of it.

AND THEN, on top of all this, he works out 3x a week if he can escape for a few hours. And ladies and gents, he’s got a rockin’ bod. He’s almost 42 and has defined abs, a super cute butt and arms that made the shirt “Sun’s Out, Guns Out” possible. He will eat protein shakes for dinner while we’re pigging out on macaroni and cheese and hot dogs.

So, in summary, he’s the whole package. Sweet, hardworking, funny, loving. Here’s my problem. I’m none of those things. When we got married at the tender age of 22 and 24, my parents jokingly told HIM that it wasn’t too late to back out. After 22 years of living with me, they knew what he was in for.

My parents are immaculately clean, organized people. All those genes went to my sister. In fact, I think she stole some of the few that may have been set aside for me. I am messy and unorganized. I can’t blame the kids and no time, I always have been. I want to be those things, but then when the time comes to put up or shut up, I usually shut up and binge Netflix or get into a really good book, or hell, take a nap.

You see, I am a depressed, socially anxious introvert. The outside world is overwhelming. Social events, kid functions, school, work, grocery shopping, they all take everything out of me. I relive the slightest interactions for hours afterwards mortified about what I said and did. This makes me hesitant to venture into the big scary world. I have terribly mean brain weasels that tell me I don’t fit in and I’m not good at anything, so why even try? I fight these demons back every day I get out of bed. And I do fight them. Most days I win, some days I don’t.

With all these crazy train thoughts running through my head at full steam, oftentimes, there’s just nothing left at the end of the day. When I cook, it always involves mac n cheese as a side and mostly comes from a bag of frozen something. When I clean, it’s half assed and the bare minimum. And shenanigans in the bedroom? Forget it. There’s just nothing left.

So my man comes to the rescue. All. The. Time. He takes the kids and goes to social functions. He takes them sledding or out to the pool. He comes up with dinner or orders out. He gives me alone time. He cleans up the house and fixes the broken stuff. He mows the lawn and maintains the cars.

Daddy/Daughter Dance
Working in the garage

I guess my point is, when you see him, give him a pat on the back. There’s much more than a hot bod there. He’s one of the most caring, devoted, and loving people around. I hope to one day be worth all that, but until then, know that I am trying my best to deserve what I have been so generously given.

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A Liberal’s Lament

When I was growing up, Republicans were the “bad guys.”  My family was staunch Democrats and if you weren’t, you sure shut up about it at family parties.  We had no drunk uncle.  I never felt I personally knew any Republicans.  I naively thought everyone agreed that you should take care of the less fortunate, support your schools and libraries, and be accepting of those that were different than you.  They were the Richard Dreyfuss’s in An American President, they were the corrupt congressman paid off by special interests to get rich, they were the Darth Vaders of the world.  It was very black and white until I hit college and had that one college professor I respected but could not believe the conservativism coming out of his mouth.

It was then I began to realize that everyday, hard working people could be the big, bad Republicans.  Democrats were not always right and Republicans were not always wrong. Everyone had a different story, different perspective, different upbringing upon which they formed their opinions.  Some of my closest friends are and will always be Republicans.  Some are fiscally conservative, some are socially conservative, all have opinions I value and respect, based in some form of ideology that just doesn’t quite align with mine.  We’ve always agreed to disagree on the big stuff and keep our friendships close because we shared the same values: family, friends, kindness and acceptance.

I am, to say the least, shell shocked.  I have been up since 3 a.m. processing the stages of grief.  Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.  I am wavering between the last two currently, occasionally  jumping back to one and two.  The 6th stage doesn’t seem to be listed, which is a constant state of nausea, which doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon.

I’ve known political loss.  My first presidential election was in 2000, which was eerily replayed last night (as HRC is believed at this point to have won the popular vote, just as Gore did in 2000).   I lost again in 2004 – bigly. We lost the house and senate in 95 – no I couldn’t vote yet, but yes, I was already a policy junkie, so I noticed.

I have never ever felt the despair I felt last night as I forced myself to turn off the TV and silence my phone. In 2000,  George W Bush in every Democrats mind “stole” the election via the Supreme Court, but we sucked it up and conceded. I remember my 21 year old brain thinking, “Ah well, you win some you lose some.” I never felt genuine fear for the future or hostility towards me for my viewpoints.  We still had a sane, reasonable person in the White House – I just didn’t happen to agree with 99% of his policies.

I still lived in America, where I was free to voice my opinion as loudly as I wanted.

I remember rolling my eyes at my conservative co-workers who lamented after Obama’s election and re-election that they would be out of a job in a month and the economy would collapse.  I remember thinking, how stupid and naïve, he’s one guy for God’s sake.  If Bush didn’t blow up the world, Obama won’t either.

Now the shoe is on the other foot.  I am the one terrified about tomorrow.  I am worried about my job and my husband’s job.  Because say what you want about W, he was never the arrogant, misogynic, racist demagogue that Trump has painted himself to be in this election.  Sometimes I’ve wondered if he himself was trying to outrageous himself out of being elected.  No one could possibly still be this hateful in the 21st century right?

My hope and prayer is it was all an act, a show.  He is an expert at playing the media and the crowds and this expertise turned our election into a reality show, which America promptly ate up.  He played all of us.  The comedians got their easy late night material.  The 24 hour news cycle got their hourly shocking headlines.  Displaced, abused and unheard white Americans heard exactly what they wanted to hear and he tapped into their most basic instincts and fears and played them.

My hope is that Trump is sitting in his hotel room right now thinking, “Holy shit. What have I done?” and is beginning to realize what an awesome responsibility has just been placed on his shoulders.  People of all walks of life, races, creeds, religions, and genders expect to be heard and represented.  You got what you wanted Republicans – control of it all.  Now show us how great you’re going to make America again.  I for one thought it was pretty great to begin with.

You have my attention, now perform. Prove this liberal wrong.  Please.

 

I am a Dealer

I feel like a dealer. A lot of the characteristics are the same.  I constantly have product on hand. I was approached just yesterday by a repeat user in my parking garage.  I have people who started out with a modest purchase and then escalated into a two, three, four a day addiction.

I’m constantly dealing.  Looking for my next score.  3 p.m. office sugar drop? I’m your gal. Post-soccer match treat yo’ self? I’m there. Office elevator full of women at 5 p.m…I’m right there with my stash.

I made the mistake early in the game of sampling some of my own product.  I say to myself, “Just one.”  OK, maybe another. And another. Hell, it’s been a bad day, I’ll just do the whole thing, but then quit cold turkey tomorrow. Yes, I can do that.  How bad can it be for you anyways?   Soon, I’m up to a box a day habit.  Strung out, hiding in the bathroom, inhaling my own product at mind boggling speed.  The kids’ will never know.  My husband won’t find my stash.  Just a quick hit to take the edge off the day.

Yes, folks.  I am a Cookie Mom.  I have that yearly temptation  of sweet goodness boxed and stacked shoulder high in my garage. Samoas, Thin Mints, Trefoils, Tagalongs.  I’ve got them all.  Timed perfectly at the end of February each year – just about the time our New Year’s resolutions are fading fast and a tiny cookie doesn’t seem so bad.  Lent promises are quickly broken as soon as my daughter and I walk through that door.   We are wheelers and dealers with our cute slogans and uniforms.  You never had a chance.  Even Leo can’t resist.

We are coming.  Soon we will hit your street with our wagon full of temptation.  Innocently peddling our wares.  There goes the neighborhood.

Sorry everyone, but a girl has to pay for camp somehow.  It’s hard times we live in these days.   Girls gotta eat.  Don’t hate the playa, hate the game.

OK, this is getting out of hand.  I better leave it be.  But really, I still have a ton left. It does do really great things for the girls. Buy a box would ya?  Help a mother out?  Building strong leaders and diabetes, one box at a time.  That’s me.  I’m a freakin saint for what I do.

Love,

Jen

IMG_2072

PS – I hope to be back more often bitches!  🙂

 

 

An Introvert’s Mother’s Day

As I believe I’ve mentioned, Mother’s Day to me is a big deal. I don’t give a hoot about Valentine’s Day, Sweetest Day, or any other Hallmark holiday. Mother’s Day, however, I am dead serious in its execution.

Why? Because as an introvert, I need my alone time. Time to regroup. Time to let my thoughts sort themselves out in the quiet moments of boredom. Guess what NEVER happens during parenthood?  All of those things.

Now I am a lucky woman because I have a husband who understands me. Understands my need for alone time. I usually get a chunk of time, if we have it, to myself each weekend. Problem is, with kids comes obligations, responsibilities, and birthday parties, oh my God, the birthday parties. Not to mention baseball practice, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and dance practice.

So what I ask of Mother’s Day is simple: No responsibility.  No one to need me.  I know, one day I’ll miss it, but now in the throes of life with youngish kids, STFU.

Parenting is tough for an introvert. We crave alone time. We like our routine, our schedules and control of our daily lives. Again, none of these things happen when you have children. We like the quiet. We hate meeting new people. We hate new, unfamiliar situations.  Parenting makes you experience these things all the time. And I have two people looking up at me to show them the way. Show them how to navigate social situations. Guess what I don’t do well?  All those things!

When placed in new situations, I am an awkward, stumbley mess and am usually overwhelmed by my surroundings. Add two kids to that unease who say and do whatever they feel like and I can no longer hide along the wall where I’m most comfortable. I have to jump into the fray, figure out the lay of the land, and do so dam quick, so I can assure my kids that contrary to my inner self’s musings, people are good.  You should want to interact with people, make friends, be a productive member of society. Not, like me, dread the sound of the doorbell. All of this is exhausting to an introvert.

Fortunately and unfortunately, my son is my mini me. He’s fine without people. He’s social and likes people, but given a choice, he’d be reading. Ha! No, I’m kidding, he’d be playing a video game. It’s me who’d rather be reading. When the two of us are together, it’s awesome. We each take a chair and experience togetherness doing our own thing in the same room. Relax, I push when needed, but I also understand my introvert kid doesn’t need to be on the go all the time.

Dog       005

Now my daughter craves interaction. She’s an extrovert to the fullest. While I wouldn’t classify her father as an extrovert, I’d say they are similar. G needs people, loves them and wants to spend time with them every single second. Her dad, while not needing people as much, still enjoys entertaining and spontaneous get togethers. I would rather hide in my room or binge watch Grey’s Anatomy. This is why we are a good match. He makes me come out of my shell just often enough so that I don’t become the hermit cat lady and my family and friends still know what my face looks like and that I can be in fact a very sociable nice person. If he didn’t push, I’d be Martin Mull on that episode of the Golden Girls. (For non-fanatics and those under 22, Dorothy friends a man who hasn’t been out of his apartment in 20 years because he was agoraphobic.)

I feel like I’m getting off track. Basically, I take this one day each year to unleash my full introvert potential. I am like the fun aunt to my kids. I love them, laugh with them, and do the fun stuff, but when the hard responsible part comes up,  for today only, I get to hand them to their dad no questions asked. I get to go back to my book, or my mid-Mother’s Day nap. One day a year, there’s no mom guilt for how I’ve failed them. No feeling lazy for not wanting to pick dandelions with them. Every whine, every request, every need is answered with, “Go get your dad.” And it’s awesome.

Please don’t get me wrong. I love my kids. I even love the responsibility and the hard parts. It makes me a better person. It makes life worth living. It brings fullness to my life. But today, just today, I get to see the greener grass on the other side.  Just for 24 hours.  And you know, it’s actually too quiet in here…

That's better.

              That’s better.

Bringing Home Baby

Baby!

Baby!

So after eons of waiting, my best friend finally brought home her baby last week.  And after a crazy nightmare adoption story that happened just shy of Thanksgiving, this Christmas surprise came as a fast, but very welcome, surprise present.

Yes, my friends, with just about 3 days’ notice, my BFF and her husband had to get ready to bring home baby.  My other BFF and I both got slightly joyous, but panicky calls from deep within a Babies R Us, where we assured her, yes, everyone freaks out in Babies R Us, and no you don’t need half the shit in there, but you do however want ALL THE THINGS.

Since we 3 are separated by a few hundred miles give or take, we all couldn’t quite jump in the car to come say hello to Baby C.  Plus, it was 10 days until Christmas, and for the thousandth year in a row I’d run out of sick/vaca time, plus everyone in my house was sick in various forms, so needless to say, the trip has been postponed until January, when BAM! vaca time resets and the bugs will be eradicated from my home and family (hopefully).

I can assure you we are anxiously awaiting the time to jump in the car and come smell all the baby goodness.  And to help.  Yes, to help.  Because let’s face it, no new parent wants you to hold their baby, they want you to cook, clean and organize, and maybe just maybe, let you take a slight snooze.

So, since I am this close to coming, but not quite there yet, I wanted to send a few words of wisdom along to my friend via the interwebs.  This means she can roll her eyes in the privacy of her own home and I can get a few reminiscent chuckles out of the rest of you 10s of readers.

1st – Stare at your baby.  Stare away.  Watch him sleep, watch him look at you or the shiny lights, or the ghost over your shoulder (you know they can see them).  They are fascinating.  You know what’s not fascinating?  What won’t grow up and leave you for another person who is waaay smarter/funnier/prettier than you?  Your dishes.   Those babies will be there until the day you decide to eat dinner strapped into your wheelchair.  Your baby, however, will grow.  Will grow so fast it will make your head spin.  Watch him. Eat his toes.  Smell his head.  Nuzzle his neck.  Because it goes fast.

2nd.  This leads me to my next point.  Sleep.  Ha!  Sleep.  She said sleep.  Whatever.  This is the one thing that seems like it will never be normal again.  This phase too will go by, but not quite as fast as the first part I described.  In fact, 3 hours straight of uninterrupted sleep is a FREAKIN MIRACLE at this stage of the game.  Not only are you waking to cries and feedings and poopings, but you have convinced yourself that if you don’t watch him every second, he will forget to breathe.  This fear is pounded into you everywhere you turn as a new mom, and a valid one, but let’s face it, you’ve done all you can to keep him safe.  Your unblinking worried stare won’t keep him alive.  But maybe your mother’s or your husband’s stare can take over for a few hours so you can get a few moments of sanity back.  Back to dreamland, where Vin Diesel rescues you and changes his own pants.  Just for a bit.

3rd.  Your baby won’t remember shit in this stage in the game.  Yes, snuggling and kangaroo time are imperative, but let’s be honest.  If you accidentally pinch him while putting him into his car seat, he won’t need therapy later.  If you have no idea what you’re doing during bathtime, he won’t remember your bumbling attempt.  He won’t know you didn’t have the most current Baby Einstein (do they still do that?) collection or that you watched the Daily Show while feeding him.  He won’t remember a thing.  Ease up on yourself a little.

4th.  Take help when offered.  Seriously.  Be the bitch here.  People come into your house, hand them a Swiffer.  Don’t just stand there, vacuum!  You come without a dish to freeze?  Go make me dinner!  Yes, be thrilled they are here to share in your joy, but for the love take full advantage of the slave labor.  Because, all these people, mothers included, will go away very very soon.  And if you don’t have 6 months of stockpiled frozen dishes, you’ll starve.

5th.  You don’t have to have it figured out by the end of Month 1.  Set your bar lower.  Lower.  No, lower.  Keeping you and baby alive is a good goal.  Occasionally look at your husband to make sure he’s breathing, but other than that, he’s on his own.  I was a bit behind the curve.  It took me a whole freakin year to feel semi-normal again.  This was because my bar was set too high, and my baby boy was in a holy terror of colicky, you took me out too early, state of hysteria.  I wish I’d stepped back and breathed a bit more back then.  And just loved him.  Well when he was good, and then invested in a good set of earplugs the other 23 hours of the day.

Ok, that’s a good start.  Congrats my friend.   After a very long time, I am so excited to welcome you to the club with open arms. This is the best unpaid job you’ll ever have.  Laugh often.  Cry when you need to.  And call us anytime.  I promise not to one up you with my own tails of woe.  I will listen…and probably make inappropriate jokes, but hey that’s why you keep me around right?

Love,

Jen

Friends Who've All Gotten a Full Nights Sleep.  (Old photo)

Friends Who’ve All Gotten a Full Nights Sleep. (Old photo)

12 Gifts of Christmas

On the 1st day of Christmas, 2014* gave to me:

*read twenty fourteen

1 giant cold

2 hospital visits

3 blankets deep

4 pounds of beans

5 minutes to wrap

6 holiday parties

7 layers of dip

8 kids to buy for

9 boxes of wine

10 bed bath coupons

11 trips to the store

12 hours of Mariah Carey

Merry Christmas all! They Nyquil is winni…..zzzz

Reasons My Son’s Not Eating

Some of us are blessed.  Their kids are adventurous.  They will eat all types of foods.  All types of textures.  For some lucky parents, this food can even touch other food. 

Nope.

                     Nope.

We are not blessed in this way.  This is our burden.  Our 8 year old son is a total pain in the ass when it comes to food.  Unless of course, it’s ice cream, then he’s good, but anything else, there are a set of rules that change almost daily.

Therefore, we give you:  THE REASONS OUR SON IS NOT EATING:

1. The pizza has sat out for longer than 5 minutes.

2. The macaroni and cheese is NOT Kraft. Homemade?  Big macaroni noodles?  No go.  Kraft M&C must also not sit on the stove longer than 5 minutes.

3. The noodles are too wide.

4. The noodles are a different color.

5. The noodles are mixed with something.  Anything, even broccoli, which he actually likes.

6. The carrots are mixed with peas.

7. The pizza has bubbles on it.

8. The bread has nuts in it.

9. There’s parsley on it.

10. The grilled cheese has a tiny brown “burn” spot.  (Not really, just browner at that place than he’d like)

11. The jello has fruit in it.

12. It has gravy on it.  Clearly, not my kid.

13. It has any sauce or seasoning on it.

14. It’s breaded with something other than nugget.

15. It touched the ranch.  Which he’s using to dip, but it touched before he’s dipped it.

16. Too much cinnamon on the applesauce.

17.  The carrots have crinkles.

18. It’s leftovers. Of anything. Pizza included.

19. It’s hot dogs. Of any sort.

20. It’s tacos.  Food touching all over the place. And lettuce, don’t forget lettuce. Ick.

21. It’s not the right meatball.

22. The noodles are too wide.

23. The potatoes are mashed.

These are just off the top of my head.  And there are rules on top of that. And if you do find something he likes that is remotely healthy, for the love of God, don’t over serve it.  No more than once every other week.

Now, on the list of Go foods are a few foolproof items, none of which are healthy.

Rolls

PB&J

Ice cream

Candy

Dessert, anything natch.

Every time.

Every time.

And that’s about it.

One might read this and think, “Hell, if that were my kid, I’d make him eat what I give him.”  You, my dear, DO NOT have this kid, because I can guarantee you no parent of a fellow picky eater follows this rule.  We get firm and we choose these food battles fairly often, and sometimes, we do the worst, meanest, most horrible thing a parent can do:  we withhold dessert. For the most part, we desperately try to put something on the table they might just eat a few bites of, but our hopes are dangerously low on the best of days.  We scour the internet, church and family cookbooks, and foolishly click on all the articles about “picky eaters,” but we are always disappointed, because I don’t know anyone whose picky eater will eat “Baked Polenta Fries,” cause mine sure as hell won’t.

Not gonna work bud.

Not gonna work bud.

But we keep on the fighting the good fight.  We pin the hell out of Pinterest.  But, most days, it’s PB&J or nuggets, with the hope that one day, one day soon, they’ll look up and say, “How about Mexican/Italian/Indian food?”

Until then, stay strong picky parents!

Cause he's cute, that's why.

Cause he’s cute, that’s why.