January 30, 2013

Pride with a little bit of prejudice


I have been able to spend a lot of one-on-one time with you the last few weeks. Between your daycare provider going on vacation, you being sick, me leaving my job, there’s been a lot of opportunity for us to bond even more. This is making me feel so incredibly good because I never did take a paternity leave with you like I did with your brother and sister. Circumstances made it difficult and I regret not taking that time. But now I have the time and it’s been an incredible experience to not only get to know you but have the opportunity to feel like I’m contributing to your development.

I have been playing with you a lot these past few weeks and it is amazing to me how quickly you absorb information. It hasn’t been all that long since we’ve begun reading nightly bedtime stories but you can now help me finish the rhymes on your favorite book, “I know a Rhino.” At first I thought it was coincidence that you were making sounds that were similar to the words but now I know that it’s deliberate. You know the rhyme and you say it with me, which is pretty damn cool.

You also know the names to the facial features as we get dressed after a bath, you lie on the changing table and point to my hair and say “hair” in your cute 19-month voice. You point to my eyes, nose, ears and teeth and repeat these as well. And then, as I blow raspberries on your freshly-washed belly, you laugh and point and say, “Belly!”

And finally, you love to sing. If you have heard a tune a few times, you will sing along to it, reciting lyrics only you know but it’s clearly in the tune of the song you’re either listening to or just heard. Today, we had a good time singing “The more we get together” as I readied you for your nap. After we had stopped singing together and I gathered you to put you in your crib, you continued your own little solo. Your smile as you sang lit up the room.

You are growing up so fast and learning words at a dizzying pace. You have an outgoing personality and a smile and laugh that is intoxicating. You give kisses and raspberries and hugs. You wave and say “bye-bye” emphatically and, if the person is really special, even blow kisses.

I love the little girl that you have become, sweet one. And I’m equally glad that I’m here to see it.


January 23, 2013

Unemployment – A week in review.

Day 1: I wake up on this Friday morning with the usual sense of urgency, only to realize that there is nothing usual to not having to get ready for work. I shower anyway, which seems more out of routine than necessity. GirlyGirl, who won’t be back in daycare until Monday, doesn’t seem to mind me skipping a shower now and then. I throw on some clothes, make the kids breakfast and walk Swee’Pea and TheMonk to the bus stop as I’ve done almost every day since kindergarten. None of the moms seem to notice my unshaven, unshowered appearance and I don’t know if I should be thankful or not. Maybe personal hygiene is overrated.

As GirlyGirl and I return to the house after the twins are sent packing, I sit down and contemplate what to do next. GirlyGirl, sensing my funk perhaps, heads to the pantry and returns with a bag of Doritos. She looks at me and says, “chip” – which clearly translates into, “Look, you know you can’t drink while it’s just you and me but let’s hit this bag of Doritos like it hurt you.” What the heck. We break into the bag. It’s 9:00 a.m.

The rest of the day I do laundry.

Day 2: Sporting a slight Dorito-induced hangover, I wake up with a sense of purpose and declare that the day will not get the best of me. I make the kids breakfast before taking them to spend the day with their mother. It is then that I realize that I have time to myself. This is not a good thing. Before I know it, I’m cleaning the house like CPS was on the way. Clutter is being tossed, floors are being mopped, that pile under the coffee table that’s been hiding for years meets its demise. I didn’t stop. I couldn’t stop. Everywhere I turned there was something to clean. Even the cats realized what was up and disappeared before they made the list.

At some point I couldn’t remember what day it was. OH MY GOD! IT’S ONLY BEEN TWO DAYS AND I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT DAY IT IS?!! My life is now clearly devoid of meaning.

Before picking up the kids, I head to the grocery store to pick up food for the week. I nearly break down in tears when I catch myself doing the unthinkable. I actually considered buying non-rBGH-free milk. OH MY GOD! WHAT HAS BECOME OF ME?! HAS MY LIFE STOOPED TO BUYING POISONED MILK FOR MY KIDS?!!! I compromise and buy organic whole milk for GirlyGirl and the poisoned milk for Swee’Pea and TheMonk. Yes, it has come to this. I have my favorite. Sue me.

I throw in a load or two of laundry.

Day 3: TheMonk wakes up with a fever. This is okay because I had talked myself into being super dad and taking everyone to the park to feed wildlife and possibly snacking on McDonald’s french fries. Instead, we hunker up at home and, hello, NFL playoffs on TV? Don’t mind if I do!

Somewhere between the first and second quarter of the Niners-Falcon’s game, I remember that the kids have a science project due this week. In fact, it is due on Tuesday and, as I learned yesterday, today is Sunday. So we break out the pennies and glass and water for a water displacement experiment and a magnet and various things metal and non-metal and get all scientific. We take photos of the experiment. By the time we are done, the Niners are on their way to the Super Bowl. Now, the kids are decorating their display boards in preparation of presenting their experiment. They finish right about the time Tom Brady is pouting while wearing a beanie on the sideline.

I do a couple of loads of laundry.

Day 4: It’s Monday but the kids are all at home because Martin Luther King Jr. decided to do all of this heroic stuff and now I must suffer for it. TheMonk is still fighting the fever so we cannot go anywhere. I spend most of the day trying desperately to keep the house looking clean. The words, “OH MY GOD! WE LIVE LIKE PIGS!” may have escaped from my mouth.

At this point, I have clarity on why I liked working so much – it keeps me sane from my kids. I decide I should probably be looking for a job and fire up the internet to propel me to employment.

The jobs are not inspiring.

I head out for a bit. Andrea helps the kids finish their science project. When I return, she informs me that the science project is not due until NEXT Tuesday. My bad.

I do a load of laundry.

Day 5: It’s Tuesday. I think. The twins are ushered off to school with a nutritious lunch made lovingly the night before. But before I can taste freedom, I make the mistake of taking GirlyGirl’s temperature. Dammit. It looks like another day with GirlyGirl. And we’re out of Doritos.

I find more things to de-clutter and clean. The downstairs bathroom gets hosed down and the exercise equipment that’s been sitting in a corner of the den for years gets moved to the garage. I move my IKEA book case that I brought back from my office into the playroom and use it for toy storage. This cleaning and organizing is like a sickness. I can’t stop.

I do another load of laundry.

Day 6: It’s Wednesday. Almost one week from when I left my job and I finally have a day to myself. Up until now, this unemployment thing has looked decidedly similar to parenting – albeit with a cleaner house.

With all of this free time I go to Starbucks in the morning, lunch with a friend at mid-day and hanging out at Panera in the afternoon.

Once I am at home I plan on applying for a job or two.

Oh, and doing a load of laundry.

January 17, 2013


I resigned from my job today. I signed a piece of paper through tear-blurred eyes that said I no longer wanted to be the Executive Director at my Y.

It was a tough moment in a series of tough moments these past six months. So many thoughts swirled through my head while my hand scribbled the words, “Effective today…” I thought of my kids and my ex-wife and how they depended on me to be there for them. I thought of all the joy my job has brought me and how much I loved what I do. I thought of how much I loved building that Y and giving the community something special. But it is time to move on.

And as I say the things I need to say to myself to keep going, things like, “when one door closes, another opens” or “the best is yet to come,” I feel better but it just barely masks the feeling that I don’t know if I’ve ever felt in my lifetime… failure.

The kids cried tonight when I told them I was leaving the Y. They cried for the camp counselors they love and what the Y has meant to them over the years. I cried too. I told them that it’s okay to be sad but that things will be okay.

And they will be. Fortunately, I have some time to figure things out. The uncertainty that lies ahead is certainly scary and daunting but I look forward to new challenges and a new opportunity to be the leader I want to be. Sometimes, a fresh start is what’s needed.

And I will hold my head high and be the role model my kids need me to be. They need to see that in challenging times, good things happen. I am determined to show them that this is true.

But it does seem I’ll have to enroll them in camp in the spring. Good thing the Y gives financial assistance.

January 4, 2013

No. Or, Yes.


It’s your favorite response to a question. Even questions that one would normally say “Yes” to. “Do you want a cookie?” I ask. “No.” You reply.

This is my favorite part of your ever expanding vocabulary. You recognize speech patterns and identify that questions are being asked of you. You just aren’t sure how to answer them.

Although, now that I think about it, your confusion of the word “no” is probably not your fault. Like your brother and sister, your mother and I have tried hard to avoid using the word no with you. It has been our experience that this will greatly diminish your use of the word when you get into the terrible two stage. Perhaps, through our infrequent use of the word, you have become confused by its true meaning.

In fact, it seems that you really think that No means Yes. Or maybe you think that No is a word that has a good chance at being correct for any question that is asked of you. Either way, it’s pretty darn cute.

I also love that you have different ways of saying the word. Sometimes, it comes out in a very short, staccato-sounding “No!” – as if you are certain that is the right way to answer the question. Other times you say it in a sing-song “No-oooo” with the last part of the word dropping an octave or two that almost signals resignation or sadness at responding to the question. And other times still, you say it while shaking your head and looking at me saying, “Nooo” without any variation of tone at all.

Yes, you know the word. But, no, you don’t really know the word.

Do you?

January 2, 2013

Miss Independent

You only look back when I call your name.

And even then, as I call out to you to stay close, you look back at me and laugh… and then run faster in the other direction, your little 18-month-legs churning furiously beneath you.

It has become a game to you. Run away from Daddy. And while I chase you down, whether it be on a sidewalk, a field at the park or in our own house, you laugh deliriously at the thought of running away from Daddy.

I always scoop you up and plant kisses on your soft, chubby cheeks and admonish you for running away from me. But deep down, I like it. I like that you have a sense of independence that gives you the confidence to wander freely on your own. You explore and relish the opportunity to break out on your own and I can’t help but hope that this trait continues into your adulthood.

Your brother and sister were never like this. I have many memories of one or both clinging tightly to my legs in new situations or even recurring situations like daycare or camp while crying and begging me not to leave them. But not you.

No, you seem to embrace your independence. You seem to embrace the chance to strike out on your own. And I hope you know that while I will always be here to cheer you on as you explore your freedom that I’ll always be ready to pull you back to safety and give you kisses and playfully admonish you for running away.

But secretly loving it.



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