Tag Archives: parenting

The right things

1F11A1B5-75F8-4D43-8056-96FC5FB61650-23130-00000FC14214CF59The schedule my boys’ dad and I share is probably unique, but it’s been working for all of us for more than 5 years. There’s a good bit of back and forth for the guys, with them generally spending no more than two consecutive nights in either house but, since our two houses are literally around the block from one another, things are pretty low stress. I’m thankful for that because I’ve seen other divorces that most definitely are not as amicable.

Marriages are about two people, while families are about all involved. When a marriage no longer works, it is the responsibility of the adults to navigate the family to a new place that serves everyone. While my marriage may not have lasted our commitment to our children, if anything, got stronger. I know that I work harder than ever to foster the relationship between my sons and their dad* because I would never want them to think their father is anything but a great dad. Because he is.

As a parent, I know how fast the years with my children at home have gone by and it no longer is unimaginable that they will be moving out, and on in their lives, in the next couple of years. Had my former husband and I not been able to negotiate the end of our marriage with our children’s best interests in mind, the years since the divorce would have undoubtedly been very different.

Last night I had an extra night at home with the guys since their dad had some plans for the evening and I wasn’t needed at the restaurant. I didn’t have a dinner plan in place, so we all did something different – a leftover half calzone, a rare visit to McDonald’s for takeout and an impressive and spontaneous shrimp and pasta dish prepared by one of my gourmet wannabee kids. Everyone was happy.

There was something about this third night that made me feel indulgent, even a little lazy. The wind outside was fierce and I wasn’t even a little tempted to take a run. The vacuuming had been done, the laundry was underway and I had uncovered a surprisingly tasty bottle of rioja in the basement. We settled on the couch with a movie. It was a mellow night, glowing with normalcy. We had all the right things.

*What I mean is, I always speak positively of him and share memories and stories from when we were married. I want our children to be comfortable with their place in our family.

Leave a comment

Filed under Boys, family, love, marriage, moms, musings, Observations, relationships, Uncategorized

Breaking (bad) boys

Is it just my kids who seem to break the most random household stuff? I’m not talking about the odd dish or glass, I’m talking about entire hanging racks of stemware, furniture and Sheetrock walls. I mean, how do they do it?

The most recent thing to be destroyed in my home is a wall upstairs in an area of the house I think of as the BoyZone. The claim, from my youngest son, is that he was just leaning on the wall and next thing you knew there was a 18″ x 24″ hole! Isn’t that one of the oddest things you’ve ever heard? Seriously – how the hell does that even happen?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I remember breaking things around the house when I was a kid – I put my hand through a window once and have the scar from my stitches to prove it. But, let’s remember, it was glass. Glass breaks really easily. Holes in the walls, though? That takes some effort.

Over the years, there have been some epic examples of breakage around my house. There was that time when my middle son decided to leap from the back of the sofa to the 6 ft tall wine rack, pre-parcore, by the way. The result of this escapade was multiple bottles of wine smashed and ultimately dripping from our second floor flat down the wall and into the first floor apartment. Talk about pouring someone a drink…

This, of course, is the same child who once carried a large branch into the kitchen which then got caught up in the ceiling fan and took down the hanging glass rack, shattering glasses everywhere.

There have been electronics broken as soon as they were removed from their protective packages and eyeglasses destroyed in the most mysterious of circumstances. I can’t count the times I’ve freaked out when I discovered yet another thing inexplicably destroyed. When I look around my house, I see the cracked window, the wall with a hole and some big furniture that still serves its purpose, but has definitely seen better days. What I feel, though, is that I’m home. On the best days, the boys are, too.

4 Comments

Filed under Boys, family, house, musings, Uncategorized

Face wash (is not a) game

img_0800After much experimentation with my constantly changing skin (Is it dry? Sensitive? Aging? All of the above?), I’ve gathered together a collection of facial cleansers that feel like they’re working out ok for me. It’s a mix of creams and lotions,* many of which come from Origins, but there’s some Philosophy and Bliss thrown in, too. (As I wrote that sentence I had to laugh at what a sucker I am for a well named cosmetics line! Who wouldn’t want to be associated with origins, philosophy and bliss?!) The various washes and scrubs vary in price, but I think they’re a decent value just because you really only need a small amount to wash your face and they seem to last quite awhile. Unless, someone else is getting into your face wash, that is.

My middle son has been taking my Origins face wash from my bathroom in recent weeks and it has turned into a mini war. The first time it happened, I was puzzled. Where could it possibly be? The second time, I was annoyed. Really? Again? The third time I was absolutely pissed. How did this kid get to be so damn entitled? You see, if he had asked me if he could have the damn face wash, I would have said yes. I’ve got a back up Bliss I could have happily (blissfully?) used and everything would be fine. But, no, he chose to repeatedly force me out of the shower to retrieve an alternate product mid-shower which is really beyond annoying.

In the spirit of the season, and against my own sense of right and wrong, I went to Macy’s Christmas Eve eve and picked up a couple of things, including a face wash for the metrosexual boy-man I’m raising. I wrapped it up and placed it in his stocking in the hopes that this situation would now be resolved. The day after Christmas, I stepped into the shower and reached for my face wash and…it was gone, but this time so was the apricot scrub. Unbelievable.

After my shower, I went into my son’s room and retrieved his stocking with the still wrapped tube of face wash. He’s going to have to get his own. That sh*t is mine.

*Can we agree to call them potions? It just sounds so much more magical. Maybe I should create a product line called Potions?..

Leave a comment

Filed under aging, Boys, Christmas, family, holidays

Being a bad mom

Last month, my youngest son and I watched the movie Bad Moms together. Maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned that to you that since I told Quinn to deny seeing the movie if his father anyone asked. There were scenes that I really thought were funny, but I squirmed and covered Quinn’s ears and eyes at more than a couple of moments. I can’t deal with vulgarities, especially when I’m sitting on the couch with my kid, and thought the movie would have been better without all of the crudeness. Just an opinion.

The reality is that Quinn lives Bad Mom. For instance: I have a hard time remembering when his birthday is. Seriously, until recently, when a friend suggested a technique to help me remember, I couldn’t recall if he was born on the 5th or the 9th of February, 2005. Obviously I was there, but it just refuses to come easily to me. Kind of like that delivery.

There are times when I completely lose my patience with my children and I’ve been known to use language that I’m not proud of including in my Mommy vocabulary.  Prior to actually becoming a parent, during that time when I was reading everything I could get my hands on about parenting, I never imagined a day would come when I would look at one of my offspring and silently say “asshole.”  Where was that chapter in What to Expect When You’re Expecting?

One of the things that I’ve said with even more frequency is the phrase “figure it out.” This has been my standard response for years to whining, sibling disagreements and excessive complaint about problems that are not on par with global warming and immigration. In these circumstances, Tim Gunn is my spirit animal – “Make it work,” boys!

Dinner can be a real challenge around my house – deciding on a menu and then executing it can be a struggle, even if I’m only on the hook 4 nights a week. Confession: my children eat ramen, boxed macaroni and cheese and breakfast for dinner regularly.  Soup and a sandwich was good enough for me as a kid and canned tomato soup, accompanied by a grilled cheese, never hurt anyone. There’s always fruit and yogurt available.

As my children grow older, I’ve made a point of showing them my flaws – my sometimes bad memory, lack of patience, hands off parenting (what’s the opposite of helicopter parenting?), and half-assed meal planning. I’ve shared my struggles with managing responsibilities, finding balance and family and other relationship challenges.  They know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I am not perfect.  How can I ever expect them to share their own missteps if I am unwilling to do the same?

As one of the characters in Bad Moms said, “…the worst part about being a mom, though, is you don’t know whether or not you’re doing a good job until they’re fully grown.”  I’m going to take comfort in the fact that despite my shortcomings as a mom, my youngest son* seems to be doing ok.  Quinn sings and jokes and makes me smile every day. If the right music comes on, he doesn’t hesitate to dance, solo or arm and arm with me.  He teases me about forgetting his February 9th birthday, occasionally displays salty language of his own, works to resolve issues independently and has no signs of malnourishment. I think I’ll just go on with my bad self.

*They’re all ok, I think! This post is most directly about Quinn, though.

 

2 Comments

Filed under Boys, Movies

My home is not broken

image: sandylomedia.files.wordpress.com

image: sandylomedia.files.wordpress.com

I attended a meeting recently and was struck to hear a colleague describe a student’s home as being “broken.” Of course, my reaction is personal and I’m probably just being hypersensitive, but it really bothered me, particularly since it was offered as an explanation for all of a particular child’s academic, social and personal issues. I mean, the end of a marriage can certainly be construed as a failure belonging to a husband and wife, but to present it as the ultimate reason a child fails to thrive, just doesn’t seem fair to me. What do you think?

To me, a “broken” home is one lacking in warmth, love and affection. Fortunately, that’s not my children’s experience. A “broken” home is a place where the parental relationship has eroded, or failed to grow, to a degree that the adults in the household are actively unhappy. I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen a number of those types of houses, homes where a couple remains together “for the children” or due to financial reasons or for health insurance or other benefits. Is an intact, but painfully unsatisfying home life really considered to be a superior setting for raising children than two separate residences led by adults who are emotionally and personally fulfilled? I don’t think so.

Let’s stop equating ended marriages with homes that fail to provide a nurturing and healthy environment for raising children. They’re not the same thing.

1 Comment

Filed under Boys, family, marriage, Rant, relationships

The pasta that made Matt Baumgartner a dad

image

All grilled up and ready to go.

Summer at my house is a very different beast this year. A big part of it, of course, is Lark + Lily and the related demands of owning a business. But, there’s more. My two teenaged sons, perhaps in an attempt to make up for lost time, are each working two jobs. With our combined three schedules, family time has become increasingly rare and I’m trying to adjust to catching mere glimpses of my boys as they fulfill their responsibilities. It’s definitely different.

Yesterday evening, as I was preparing dinner, I asked my oldest son to text his brother to let him know that family dinner was at 5:00 and that he would be disinherited if he failed to join us. In response, middle son asked what was on the menu.* Upon being apprised of my dinner plan (pasta with grilled vegetables and sausage), he decided that he would prefer to eat with his friends at Bombers. I jokingly told him to change his name now that he was no longer in our family. Not one to miss a trick, he introduced himself as Griffin Bomber. Congratulations, Matt! It’s a boy!

image

Ingredients: 1 medium summer squash, 1 medium zucchini, 10-12 oz sliced mushrooms, 1 Vidalia or other sweet onion, 8-10 Italian sausages (hot, sweet or combination), fresh basil or spinach, Pellegrino Italian seasoning, 8oz cooked al dente pasta – reserve 1/2-3/4 c pasta cooking water.

Slice squash and zucchini lengthwise into 1/4″ pieces. Season with salt, olive oil and Pellegrino seasoning. Slice onion into 1/4″ rounds. Grill vegetables (other than mushrooms and spinach) along with sausages over medium heat. Sauté mushrooms in a combination of butter and olive oil until soft. When sausage are at a temperature to be handled, slice into 1″ rounds. Place sausage and all vegetables, including any remaining liquid from the mushroom pan, in a large bowl with pasta, spinach and/or basil, and reserved pasta cooking water and toss. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve with grated cheese. Super delicious, seasonal and way easier than parenting.

*This is the kind of bs one faces when they expose their children to the world of restaurants from a young age.

2 Comments

Filed under Boys, Dinner, Eating, family, Food, Lark Street, Recipes, Summer, Uncategorized

Greenwood Lake abbreviated

Before I say another word – a note, know this: I love where I grew up. Greenwood Lake provided me with a foundation – friends, experiences and memories that will reside within me until the day I die. Even after nearly 30 years in Albany, Greenwood Lake is my heart’s home. What follows isn’t a criticism of a place or a population, it’s a lament.

imageWhenever I tell someone where I grew up, I nearly always have to repeat it. Sometimes more than once. Greenwood Lake, N.Y., often abbreviated as GWL, is a small village in Orange County. Despite its proximity to NYC and Bergen County, N.J. and Westchester, GWL is a modest village with a mixture of blue-collar and professional residents. There are folks who have lived there for generations, marrying and merging families into a stew of blended characteristics and histories that would be impossible to separate without an elder spokesperson, a piece of paper and pencil. There’s a comfort in that.

Recently, I became aware of a couple of losses that had been suffered. A young man and a middle-aged man, who had been cut down as a young man, were both laid to rest this month. Even from my safe distance of nearly 100 miles and 3 decades, I was rocked by these deaths. A tidal wave of sorrow hit me and I was swamped by the memories of all the other premature deaths of GWL residents I have witnessed over the years. There have just been too damn many.

I don’t know what it is that makes these deaths seem so perversely frequent. Is it simply that the names are so familiar? Do tragedies occur in my hometown more than in other places? Does everyone need more than a single hand to count the number of wakes and funerals for peers which they attended prior to finishing high school? Jesus, I hope not.

Through the years, there have been far too many car accidents interspersed with horrible illnesses, unshakable addictions and previously unimaginable suicides. There are parents I know who have buried 2 of their 3 children, families who have suffered in ways I don’t ever want to suffer and it makes sad and scared and a bit angry, too. Why do these deaths continue to happen? When will the lessons of risk and danger and speed and mortality finally be learned?

An elected representative of my hometown district told me last week that Greenwood Lake, along with Port Jervis, has the highest incidence of heroin abuse in the county. It doesn’t seem like the abbreviation of the lives of Greenwood Lakers is going to end anytime soon.  I only wish my sorrow about this situation could be equally short lived.

1 Comment

Filed under aging, friends, girlhood, musings, Observations, Uncategorized