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Category: transitions

Fruitful Eggs With Cheese

Pregnancy. Flickr CC: Tatiana Vdb

I was training for my military PT test but gaining weight and sweating buckets. My pants stopped fitting. Suddenly: pregnancy.

I went from drinking a bottle of Middle Sister with Ichiban sushi every night to being with child.

The effects came at me with a vengeance. I was becoming sub-human. I was starving, I was full. I was generally angry that this mutant thing taking shape inside of me was absorbing everything—my food, my emotions, my energy, any ability I had to not be burning hot.

I remember running to Subway and scarfing down a turkey and cheese flatbread in my car. I couldn’t make it into the waiting room of my appointment. When I did get inside, however, I felt like I hadn’t eaten in hours.

And then the morning sickness commenced. My husband and I were sitting on the couch one morning eating pancakes that tasted totally normal the night before. I

Forgiveness for the Non-Sporting Child

ball sport child

I don’t care for sports. I never have. During childhood, I spent my time roller skating and riding bikes with kids from the neighborhood. I was active, but it wasn’t the competitive, organized kind of active.

One summer my mother signed me up for soccer. I spent the practices—the TWO that I actually showed up for prior to dropping out—watching the other kids have fun. I participated slowly and grudgingly, wiping sweat from my brow and constantly checking my watch. I jogged along with lethargy, hoping I’d never actually contact the ball.

I vowed my own children would be more active. My husband and I moved to a semi-rural area when our son was young and our daughter was an infant. We were sure the piney woods and coastal landscapes of the area would inspire all sorts of outdoor activity. We were sure our kids would want to hike,

A Promise To My Daughter (Regarding Donald Trump)

photo by: NAGANO TOYOKAZU

Dear Sophia,

Even now, days after the election, I’m struggling with what to tell you about Donald Trump.

We’ve talked about him before. We laughed at him at first; you thought his hair was funny. You thought the way he spoke was annoying and I agreed.

Then he became the Republican nominee and we started to talk about what he was saying. We talked about how he wants to build a wall to separate people. About how he thinks that only people who look and think exactly like him deserve to be treated with respect and equality.

We talked (without going into much detail, because you’re only six) about the things he said about women and the things he had done to them. Even then, I didn’t take him seriously.

I thought I was setting the groundwork for a lesson about how the bad guys, the ones who think and say these kinds of things,

Once Upon a Time at the Department of Public Safety

Driver's License

This is a true story. (Cue the “Law and Order” music: DUN DUN!!!!)

This is my rendition of our trip to the Department of Public Safety.

Or as I commonly call it: Hades.

My daughter finished Driver’s Ed and had been driving with her permit for about a year. We were ready to take the final road test and get her license.

All my friends had given me advice. Somehow, Friend A just “walked on in” to this office and was out in 20 minutes. Friend B arrived very early to the Supercenter and was one of the first ten “walk-ins” so they were in and out quickly.

Apparently, I am Friend C, because I didn’t have this skip-into-the-office-with-a-basket-of-goodies-and-come-out-with-a-shiny-new-driver’s-license-for-my-child experience.

It began on the phone—not talking to anyone, mind you—just listening to ringing, busy signals and a system that tells you to press this and press that and then transfers you to an office in Botswana that

The Working Parent: Finding “Get To” Instead of “Have To”

https://www.flickr.com/photos/hills_alive/6706870821/in/photolist

I’m a parent. But this isn’t work. This is my family. This is what I’m working for.

The Motherhood Tracksuits

Photo: Antoine K (Flickr CC)

My days as a first-time mother were magical, largely due to friends. I was late to motherhood, so I watched their postpartum pitfalls and planned to avoid them accordingly.

I developed a theory that self-preservation, not perfection, was the post-delivery theme. Cornerstone would be avoiding zippers. Hence, four size-large tracksuits constituted my postpartum trousseau.

The brown velour worked for mommy-and-me classes. The slimming black fit most occasions. The gray jersey was for homebound days. My favorite had cropped pants. This unexpected flair made it winter-spring transitional.

Pre-baby I did not find tracksuits appropriate for anything except, well, track events. But post-delivery, I discarded fashion norms.

I discarded other norms, too. Following wedding etiquette, I allowed a year to acknowledge baby presents. Meals requiring more than two pots were out. I noticed friends who were “productive” during babies’ naps were not fun or rested. Hence, I patterned my sleep schedule exactly to my preemie’s; I’d

Trying on the Coach’s Hat

Photo by Jarl Berg (Flickr CC)

When my wife suggested that we coach an under-four YMCA soccer team; I felt a deep internal groan bellow throughout my being.

I had questions. I uncovered that my wife’s best friend had sent out feelers for coaches. I guess finding a fearless leader for four year olds was a difficult task.

Another piece of this puzzle was that my wife was a shade over three months pregnant with our first child. This was supposed to be a selling point to prepare ourselves for endeavors to follow.

She wanted me to coach a team of wildling children who may or may not be interested in the sport of soccer. I played soccer when I was a young boy, and at some point mentioned this to my attentive wife. Her maternal instinct mixed with the fact that I knew the basic rules of a sport equaled a signed, sealed and delivered proposal.

I will admit

Potty Training Problems

Photo by Jay Ryness (Flickr CC)

When my toddler daughter needs to use the potty, she tells us. So we figured potty training might not be so difficult, since she already knows when she needs to go.

We figured wrong.

I expected accidents, puddles, I was prepared for it all, but potty training is not what I expected. There isn’t pee everywhere. Instead, my husband and I are dealing with a pee-pee standoff. That’s right. Our daughter does not have a problem controlling her bladder; she has a problem controlling her bladder too much.

I found out potty training was not going to go as planned when I was home alone with my daughter. She’d consumed a ton of juice and was happily sitting on her Elmo potty in the living room.

Before I knew what was happening, an hour had gone by and it was time for me to start making lunch. I left the room expecting her to

How David Cassidy Influenced My Children’s Bilingual Education

https://www.flickr.com/photos/robphoto/2604969633/in/photolist

When I was in Junior High I read Tiger Beat (think People Magazine for 12-year-olds) cover to cover, going over the David Cassidy features at least three times before flipping through the rest.

I remember one article, though, about Jodie  Foster. It said she went to a school where they spoke only French. All reading assignments, testing, lunchtime conversation, etc. were in a foreign language.

Having taken a year or so of French—45 minutes every other day—I did not  believe this was possible. I assumed the story was as realistic as my shot at winning the Tiger Beat Dream Date with David Cassidy.

Actually, at 12, I likely thought I had a better chance of a date with David then Jodie did of speaking French all day, every day.

 When our oldest was getting ready for elementary school, I was surprised one of  our options was a Spanish Immersion program. All day,

Mourning Prince… and My Youth

Mourning Prince.. and My Youth

 

Last Sunday evening, around the time I should have been feeding my kids dinner, a sudden urge to poses a Prince T-shirt came over me. Purple Rain had played at the Target Center in Minneapolis, my hometown, to a crowd of 5,000 people mourning Prince. I knew they were selling Prince T-shirts in the parking lot and inside the stadium.

All weekend I’d been thinking about a Prince T-shirt. I had to have a Prince T-shirt and now.

I sent a few texts asking some friends and acquaintances were they thought I could buy a Prince T-shirt in Los Angeles. I wasn’t opposed to driving. The texts started coming in. “Ahhs! The Ultimate Gift Store.” That’s a good one. I called Ahhs!. No Prince T-shirts. “Venice Boardwalk!” Fantastic. Why didn’t I think of that?

It was close to 6:40 pm at this point. I explained to my husband my urgency for a Prince

The Main Attraction – A Twins Story

Multiples-Illuminated-Book-Cover-March-2016

 

During the shock of finding out I was going to be a father of multiples, I didn’t realize that my wife was also giving birth to the hottest attractions for the casual passerby to “ohhh” and “ahhh” at.

In fact, when in public, the only people who don’t seem to acknowledge our existence are the other families with twins. Surprise, right?

Maybe after wading through countless people asking, “Twins?” we don’t have the energy to jump in the air and shout “Twin life!” while hitting a mid-air high five. No, usually our eyes stay averted, gifting each other with a moment of tranquility that is quickly interrupted by the next couple seeing twins for what must be the first time, ever.

My kids are more interesting to look at than exotic aquatic life.

It wasn’t just the stingrays that day. The penguins lost too. As did the beluga whale. And the seals. Even the

Lessons I’ve Learned from Parenthood

Parenting Lessons

Who said being a parent is easy? No one, but then no one tells you it’s NOT easy either. Until after you’ve given birth. Then advice finds you quicker than you can say “Cesarean Section.”

Other parents forget to tell you their knowledge comes from the trial-and-error of raising their own offspring. In the early days I continued under the false impression that bringing up a child would be a doddle. Several years later, I’m here to report a few of the Lessons I’ve Learned from Parenthood:

 
Lesson One: The first five years are the best (excluding the sleepless nights). I’ve never felt more pride than when my bundle of joy smiled his first smile, took his first steps and said his first word that I had been longing to hear… “Dad, Dad, Dad.”

Still, there are things that make you smile, like fishing the car keys out of the trash bin or saving

How Reading to My Kids Changed Our Relationship

Reading to children

 

I love spending quality time with my kids, but the hectic pace of life gets in the way. From their school activities to my work, it’s rare that we get to do more than just pass each other on the way to our respective engagements.

But I’ve discovered one thing that lets me to carve out time with my children, and it doesn’t take (much) time or money: Reading a book together.

Reading a bedtime story every night has actually changed my relationship with my kids.

When my wife and I were first starting out, money was tight. I was in graduate school full time and also working full time when our oldest son was just three years old. I knew the time I was putting into school and my job would create a better life for him, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was missing out on some

Holding On

https://www.flickr.com/photos/roland/254481373/in/photolist-ouhrT-4Rpopg-8ZYcxi-K3z4v-vWViM-bXxdXm-Uysq-hS8jb1-5Gn9AU-obv8q6-8c2Qne-rmArRs-fYGk5-7WsDG8-ek2mes-724ARX-5zM9LZ-5DPXgo-7enmvo-oom1Mf-8mjUSf-c2v1jN-qihZr3-usryf-4uaqGB-rgqZXk-aLPLs-qAzFpp-5MW23a-7X4KRw-9bpCS-2fqC2-oDHG1r-81Fk59-fmehmd-op6vdo-7CeDhn-9fgYLg-3Mzwp-6GjMfQ-k3iA6-9aDaa-MxynM-29g2A-cPvNh-2Yx2Jo-aUkFSH-aK6aEX-jGgBW-8eWrt2

He’s too old to need this. He shouldn’t need to be cuddled and huddled to sleep. But I do it. I shouldn’t need it either. But we’re simpatico this way.

Like him, I too am refusing some transitions now that I know there’ll likely be no return, no future facsimile, no one ever who will need me this way again. It’s really hard early on, but it’s also so simple. The hours are neverending but the repeated need–once the electricity is on, the fridge is stocked, the house is clean and warm, the bum is wiped, powdered and covered–is just love. Hugs and kisses and cuddles. It’s all I need really. Its what he gives me in exchange for everything I can provide him.

I’m getting the better end of the deal. It’s not even that close.

He was sleep trained before. At least this part. The “going to bed” part of the

Confessions of a Gender-Neutral Mom

photo by Mariet Copic

 

Early in my first pregnancy, we decided against finding out the sex of our baby. “One of the few surprises in life,” people told me. There was more to it than that, though.

I didn’t want my unborn baby to be gendered before birth, to be born into a room decorated according to stereotypes or dressed in a wardrobe of pinks or blues. For as long as possible, I wanted this baby to remain a baby— a miracle, and nothing more.

My newborn clothes were browns, creams and yellows. From the very beginning, I set out to raise children who are not defined by gender, who could see opportunities for themselves across a broad spectrum of interests.

It surprised me when I realized my own bias. I’m now determined to correct it.

Our first child was a boy, and as soon as he was born, the “It’s a Boy!” cards arrived in the mail,

Aftershocks

red heart on the palms of a woman

“I can’t believe what you went through,” my friend said, welling up with tears after reading an essay about the molar pregnancy* I had ten years ago.

Ten years ago, I couldn’t believe it either. All I wanted was a baby, but I got cancer instead. When that clusterfuck of a pregnancy–my first one–robbed me of everything I believed to be real and good and safe and normal, the earth tore open and swallowed me whole.

Still, her sympathy caught me off guard. Even though my molar pregnancy is a topic that often comes up in my writing, it doesn’t elicit the tremors of misery that it once did. The experience undoubtedly shaped the person and mother I’ve thankfully become–in good ways (perspective) and in bad (anxiety)–but it’s no longer a wound that throbs. It’s a memory of an awful thing that knocked me down, but also of one that taught me

Le(t)go

Phot by: Pascal

It’s been a while since I stabbed my foot on an overpriced plastic building block.

They used to litter the hall and creep between the sofa cushions. It was as if they were summoned from thin air. No matter how many drawers and containers we had, they couldn’t handle the deluge. After a warning I would vacuum them up, small boys running in front of me to rescue the very best ones.

Once they had been returned to the bins, they inevitably sunk to the bottom which led to furious digging, blocks flying, kids whining. And there were creations. Some clearly vehicles, others… not quite identifiable. There were orderly patterns and haphazard towers. Each windowsill held a new version of imagination come to life in plastic. Until it held the next one.

We moved across the country a year ago and the boys carefully collected each block from under the rugs and the

First Day of School, Here So Fast

First Day of School

It was finally here, that moment I had been counting down to all summer long: The first day of school. At the end of May it seemed so far away, but mid-August came quickly.

My daughter was bouncing off of the walls as she talked ninety-to-nothing about school. I almost shushed her so she could eat her breakfast, but I knew Kindergarten was already going to be a big adjustment for her.

She was going to have to sit still and be quiet. I didn’t know if my spunky five year old could do that, so I decided to let her jabber through breakfast.

I pulled the heavy door open to the elementary school, and hurried my daughter inside. The familiar smell of the school filled my nostrils, the mugginess surrounded me, and my mind wandered back twenty years ago to my first day at this very school.

Twenty years ago, I was scared,

The Plain White Binder (and Other Back to School Dilemmas)

photo by: William Warby

I love office supply stores. When I had my first child, five years ago, part of me was giddy at the thought that I now had a tiny, child-sized excuse to shop for “back to school” every fall.

Except… apparently people don’t go shopping for back-to-school supplies anymore.

What you do instead–at least at my daughter’s school–is sign up for a service that delivers a prepacked kit to your kid’s classroom on the first day of school.

Unfortunately, the deadline to sign up for this nifty service was in June. June. When not even I—the biggest office supply nerd of them all—was thinking about school supplies.

So I slunk down to Staples, riddled with guilt and shame, but determined that my daughter should not suffer for my inability to plan ahead. I had a list of everything in the damned kit and a plan to buy her the exact items she would have gotten

First-Time-at-Sleepover-Camp Blues

photo by: Preston Ciere

While a good portion of the country is already gearing up for “back to school”—I hear there are some that get started in mid-August—we are still in the throes of summer over here, with a good month and change to go.

And this summer, I’m dealing with something I’ve never had to face before.

My son is at sleepover camp, and I am bereft.

It certainly wasn’t my idea to send him. I was hoping he wouldn’t even know there WAS such a thing as sleepover camp, and if that failed I was hoping he’d think it sounded awful.

It sounds pretty awful to me: Cabins and mosquito nets, bugs everywhere, a dirty, cold lake, no family around, no phones or computers, lots of group activities… I’m sure I’ve had nightmares like that. I may have had one last night. But to an eleven-year-old boy, everything but the no computer and no phone part