I’m reading more biographies as I get older and often find myself nodding along at more than one passage. Not often at the genius parts or the reason the biography was written, but at the glimpses of the ordinary parts. People, polymath, prodigy, or sage, are vastly more alike than different.
This becomes especially clear about parenting.
I came across this passage from a book on Queen Victoria from her personal secretary: ““It was easier to go back to [her work] than children having tantrums,” she said. “She always had the excuse of the red boxes.’’
Well, then. She found it easier to be the head of state for the largest empire in the world than to be a parent!
I found that reassuring during this stressful and hectic pre-holiday time. It’s hard, for everyone, but it’s worth it.
Allison’s close contact status disrupted a few birthday celebrations, her own and her friends. She was upset. A reasonable reaction from an excitable 8 year old but also an opportunity, not for flash cards, I couldn’t find a way to work those in, but for my Dad rhetoric.
The pandemic has taken so much but also provided a few less obvious things to be thankful for. Thanks for giving me hundreds of consecutive days at home with the kids. Thanks for helping me slow down. Thanks for helping me structure my day around the things that matter most.
Every situation has two handles. You can decide to grab onto frustration or appreciation. You can pick up the handle of resentment or gratitude. You can look at the obstacle or get a little closer and see the opportunity.
Today is my ninth Father’s Day. That is plenty long enough for habits and routines to become well worn. That is at least a thousand diapers. A thousand daycare pickups. A thousand water bottles filled. A thousand pieces of plain pasta cooked. A thousand soapy tubs emptied. As any parent knows these routines are critical for survival. These routines get us through the day with children on the bus, lunches packed, clothes laundered and bedtime stories read. They help us order our world.
It is impossible to see and feel all of those things for the first time, every time. If every experience brought that rush of the first experience, a single day would overwhelm and exhaust even the hardiest parent. If each day were full of firsts, my legs would crumple and my chest would heave with effort before noon.
Habits and routine are every parent’s secret weapon. I fear they are also dangerous. Habits can quickly make the extraordinary seem ordinary. If you’re not careful, you find yourself looking at the world through a dull, gray gauze.A whisper of brown hair is Ally. Flecks of aquamarine eyes is Cecilia. But did I see them? Really see them? Routine is an insatiable thing. It will consume the familiar and make the everyday seem mundane. They can blind you to the insane miracle of your children. Of being a father.
Of course, miracle is not the first word that comes to mind when I hear little feet going down the stairs at 5:45. Insane on the other hand…..time to be a Dad. Continue Reading
Allison, as the second born, leads a different life to that of Cecilia. No matter what we do as parents, much of her life revolves around Cecilia. Allison has gotten used to tagging along to Ce’s schedule and activities. Unlike Cecilia, who often likes to defend her position as first-born and remind us that she already knows how the world operates, Allison is easier going and her flexibility is a key piece of her personality.
This flexibility has made Ally more resilient than Ce, I just hope it hasn’t taught her to expect a little less out of life. It was with this in mind that I was happy to see Allison grab the mic and demand the spotlight during her birthday week. Rather than let her big sister lead, she had clear ideas about what she wanted and how she wanted it done.
Sure, she became a bit of a birthday terrorist by the end, but she had also freed herself from the second child handcuffs. At least for a week. Continue Reading
There is this coat. Cecilia wants it. She wants it bad. For the first time, she won’t be put off with vague assertions of waiting until Christmas or her birthday. She needs it. If she doesn’t get it a small piece of her soul will be lost and no matter how long she lives or how much happiness she might find, her life will never be complete. That kind of coat.
Maybe this is more of a girl thing. I don’t remember ever wanting anything to tears. If I did covet anything it was probably an expansion floppy disk for SimCity or an omnibus edition of the complete works of Arthur C. Clarke or something equally and deeply dorky. Nothing worth crying over. Maybe time or self-preservation has dulled my memory.
This started on Wednesday with a brief mention of girls wearing these reversible coats at school, but it built to a crescendo by Friday afternoon and threatened to spiral out of control. Alone with the girls, I hit the panic button and called Michelle at work. She was able to use her Mom superpowers, or maybe her own memories of that bedazzled jean jacket she wanted, and talk Cecilia off the ledge. Continue Reading
What was supposed to be a very busy day merely turned into a busy day. I had planned to drive into the city to pick up a desk and chair off craigslist, but we had it sniped away from us at the last minute. The perils of used furniture shopping. The quest to fill out the living room continues.
The upside was that not having to drive to Cambridge opened up the morning a bit and suddenly squeezing in a trainer ride wasn’t going to be such a logistical feat. Plus, there was another birthday party. It appears we are in peak birthday season for Allison. This is her third in 2 weeks. Here’s what the rest of the day looked like… Continue Reading