Category Archives: fatherhood

This is How I Roll: Some Parents Need to Grow Up


Look, I’m not going to sugar coat this: I’m grossed out by people who think it’s funny to have kids and then bitch about them, or habitually talk about needing booze, or a line, or a joint or a valium or whatever to get through the day.

It’s all over the Internet. Apparently it’s what sells. “No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.”- Henry Mencken. I prefer to not engage with the “foolish consistencies [which] are the hobgoblins of little minds.” -Emerson. I guess I will never hit it big. That’s OK, drunk people can’t read very well.

What those people need is a few moments alone and several deep breaths. That’s all. Oh, and likely therapy, which they are probably avoiding.

Ask anyone who knows me or who has interacted with me, and they will tell you, I’ve got a sense of humor, I am resilient, I can roll with punches. But just not this one. Not about parents who get their drink/joint/whatever on to cope with their holes, fears, inadequacy issues, mommy issues, daddy issues, shitty childhoods or whatever that are being activated by triggers that parenthood presents. I’m not talking anxiety, we all have that. I’m talking deep, real, soul-wrenching stuff. Oh, and regarding those who habitually make jokes about it? Grow up.


So, here’s the deal: I grew up with crap like that happening to me. I can’t tell you how many times I heard, “You drive me to drink” as a kid. It’s sick as hell. Those days, and my decisions to talk about them are prickly. It’s partly my story to tell, in terms of how it affected me, but I can tell you this: if you need a drink, or think it’s funny to crack wise about being a mom or a dad who needs *needs* NEEDS something to “get through your day” I have a proposal for you: get fixed.

No, not with a shrink, that’s later, but tie your tubes, clip the lines, get your act together before you victimize your kids with your so-called, “I was just kidding” banter and jokes and Facebook groups and blog titles, and all that stuff. Because what you do to your kids, in the end, when they’re like me: 45 and wondering where the hell you were all their life, it’s not gonna be so funny then. You will be “Granny needs a drink” then. And that’s even sicker.

This is real. Kids are not saints, they are micro versions of me and you, and they have memories, and they have feelings and they have access to the Internet. If you find yourself turned off by their behavior, I have a suggestion: look around and look in the mirror. They learn from us, peers, teachers, siblings, but mostly from us, their parents, who appear godlike in their eyes. They believe everything we say, they don’t understand sarcasm until they’re about 15, despite our insistence that they get it beforehand. We are their go-to resource, unless we are half in the bag, spending the night at the office, on a little yellow pill, or pulling a toke.

But I’m just joking. Right? Because we all are. We’re all just trying to loosen up, have a little fun, don’t be such a stiff, Mol…

This isn’t our second shot at being in the cool group in high school or being popular with the pretty people. If you (like just about everyone) have some weird torch you’re holding for the glory days of your youth and you’re pinning your hopes on your kid to Make It this time… Wake up and smell the music. It’s pathetic. Get your act together and behave.

Maybe if you’re lucky, when you’re old and decrepit they will just feel sorry for you. Maybe if when they’re in a state where you will need them, when they have to take care of you, they will do the right, honorable and human thing: respect you and help you age and eventually die well. Or maybe they’ll get drunk and make jokes about it. You know, because it’s all in good fun, right?, crapping on the concept of being there for people who need our help. Or maybe they won’t resent the hell out of you for putting yourself first all. the. time. Or maybe they will do their best, numbly go through the motions, but be unable to give back what wasn’t given to them.

As a parent, I’m all for cutting loose and having fun, but not as a brand, not as an identity, and certainly not as a thematic function for who I am. Life’s hard enough sober and single. Marriage adds a whole new dimension. And then kids?! Innocent people who are legitimately needy and completely dependent on us for everything until they aren’t anymore?! Holy cow… I can’t imagine life drunk and with kids. And I certainly can’t imagine it being clever or glib or witty to make jokes about needing a mind-numbing substance to get through the day.

I can’t stand that stuff, it makes my blood boil. I have moments, trust me, of when I wish I could run away, or of when I wish I could be more resilient, more aloof, but no… This is life. When you get it on and make a baby, it’s not only all about you anymore. It’s about doing your best, everyday showing up mentally and physically and doing two very simple things on paper, but hard as hell to practice at times: love them with all your might and protect them. Love and protect. That’s all.

Therapy is cheap compared to how our glibness affects our children.

I’m dealing with my own set of challenges: I’m the PB&J in my family sandwich. My parents are getting reeeeally old and my kids are almost all teenagers. I will need every ounce of presence and sanity to navigate these waters. I could do the easy thing, do what my parents did: get drunk and avoid my responsibilities, but that’s not who I am.

If I’ve pissed you off, it’s okay. We aren’t right for each other. Just being real.

Thank you.

Dear Things 1, 2 & 3: Don’t Tell the Neighbors, but Your Father Lives


Today, we hit a new low in our family and it’s only Tuesday. The children (all three boys) have systematically and in their birth order elected to replace their father’s incidental existence with their own respective surrogates.

Last Sunday, Thing 1 who will turn 14 shortly, asked a neighbor if he could join the neighbor at work next week for “Take a (Your – emphasis my husband) Child to Work” day.  He didn’t ask his own Dad if he could go to his work because a) he already did that last year, and b) he knows he doesn’t want to do what his Dad does. 

this is Thing 1 tinkering on his birthday wish last Sunday.

These seem like reasonable responses to a reasonable query. So I was satisfied. Dad was not satisfied. He was a little disappointed that his son didn’t ask him about it and that he had to learn about the shift in fatherhood from the neighbor (who also has a freakin’ awesome super-black Corvette G6) in a “hiya neighbor buddy, how’s it goin?” sort of way. T1 and our neighbor will be flying driving the Corvette on the “Take Your Neighbor’s Son To Work” day next week. The neighbor is actually a super-decent fella; married, a dad of his own two sons, and a recently retired marine who honorably served our country overseas in more than a couple conflicts. Now he works at an engineering firm where they ride around on moon rovers and get paid to blow up stuff, so T1 should have a good time. Frankly, I think my husband wants to go instead of T1. 

I’ve known the man for almost 22 years, and have been married to him almost 18 years and I gotta tell ya: I don’t know what the what he does. But if I have a kid who knows he doesn’t want to do that, and I do have that kid, it’s hard to argue.

Next …
Also on Sunday, Thing 2 (11) and his father canvassed the county in what we call Dad’s “Old Man Car” (OMC) — the chameleon of all large import vanilla-seeming sedans in that it’s got a crazy responsive 287hp engine with tiptronic and comfortably seats five plus a year’s supply of Geritol — in search of a Lego Avengers Superhero set to no avail. They must’ve hit all the big box stores, except apparently the one where it was.  

this is Thing 2, last Saturday (day before the quest) under an umbrella
with a sprinkler spraying inside it.

The build-up — from the set’s retail debut (last Tuesday), to the pandering and scheming and relentless verbal waterboarding to acquire the set: “whatcanidomomtogettheset?canidosomechorestogettheset? momdidyouknowthesetcameouttoday? canicalldadatworktotalkabouttheset? isawthesetonlineit’savailableattargettoysRuswalmart…” to the frenzied moment he was ready to catapult himself like a fighter pilot ejecting from a fiery cockpit into the cavernous back seat of the OMC, to the utterly sad lower-lip sucking in and blowing out tear-streaming grief upon return from the unsuccessful quest to the three huge stores to purchase the set — has taken a toll on my ability to form sentences and know my own name. Dribble cup please. 

Resolution to the sadness came in the form of another neighbor who witnessed T2’s weepy return from his traumatic travails to acquire the set. She text messaged me this morning about her intent to purchase a set for her own son. After various exchanges on the matter, I came home from coffee with a fabulous friend I haven’t seen in months to a bag on the front stoop.  It wasn’t for me.  It was for T2. It was the Lego set that our neighbor bought for him because she picked it up today in 10 minutes flat.  Upon T2’s discovery of the set in a bright yellow plastic bag emblazoned with the Red Lego Logo (say that three times fast), Thing 1 looked at me with an accusatorial glare and shouted above T2’s glee-fueled shriek-squeals and said, “What the what, Mom? Why does he get a gift when my birthday is coming up?!”  

I am officially a jerk.

And not five minutes ago, Thing 3 (8) asked me to call our neighbor’s son, 16, whom he considers a professional skateboarder for lessons to skateboard.  When I optimistically and, clearly naïvely, suggested that he call to ask his father who was quite the mop-topped skate rat in his day for said instructions, he said, “OK.” 

This is how that conversation went down: 

T3: Hi Dad, uh, I want skateboard lessons. Do you think I could have Malachai teach me?

Dad: Skateboard, huh? Cool! I could teach you. 

T3: Yeah. Uh, you could teach me on the days Malachai can’t. 

Dad: I could teach you too, tonight even. I mean I know how to skateboard…

T3: Well, I was thinking on the days that Malachai is at crew, you could teach me. 

Dad: Uh, oh. OK. I guess, sure. But you know, we want to take the training wheels off your bike. So before you do the skateboard you — 

T3: Yeah. Dad: uh, that’s not a skateboard.        

Dad: (laughing) You’re right bud. It’s not. It’s a bike. Can I talk to mom? 

I pick up the phone, take it off speaker and we start laughing about the irony of the week, which of course inspired me to write this post. 

Kids say the darnedest things…

Dad just stepped in, while I was composing this post and he asked me to mention to you all that he scored a goal last night during his “Old Man” soccer team’s game that started at 9:30. They play on turf. The lights are on when they play. This way, they can see the ball. Many men (my husband has the best legs) run around in shorts under the lights on a turf field to kick a ball into a net.  Yay! Actually, he loooooves soccer. He’s coached our kids’ soccer teams (stops when they hit teenagerdom) and he’s so glad he still gets to play with some top-notch men. Even if they are mostly neighbors. 

I think in some ways, Dad feels a little bummed he’s not able to spend more time with the team; he does have to go to his job to do whatever he does and make the bucks that pay for the very computer I’m tapping on and we value his awesomeness.  He’s a terrific father, the most mellow man my mercurial spirit could ever hope to nab, and an absolute peach of a guy. He knows how to play piano but doesn’t play as much as I’d like (naow I saound layhke my mather), he sings lullabies to the children at bedtime, he wakes Thing 1 and fixes breakfast for him before the sun is up, he leaves work to meet at the hospital at the drop of a hat, he loves his parents, he’s got a bunch of sibs, he buys the boys trash cereals because they crave them, he loves and supports me . . . he cooks when it’s his night to make according to the menu (like tonight: chicken pot pie! yum!) and we are so so so SO lucky to have him. So what if his job is boring to the kids, he can’t find a Lego set to save his life and he isn’t considered a first consult for skateboard lessons? He’s our dude.

Of all the team, T3 hears him the most tonight, because before I post, this most serendipitous and providential event was happening just outside my office window: 

God, thank you for that moment. I love it when you scheme with life to remind me of what it’s all about.  Blogging is great an’ all, but well, life is what happens when you’re away from the keyboard huh? 

And after uploading: the rear tire just flattened! That bike’s been through three Things and now the skateboard lessons commence just as his work BlackBerry chimes in its tone we collectively call “Coldplay!” We love you, Dad of Things 3.

thank you.