• Life,  Parenting

    February in the dark

    Two weeks ago my husband and I got into a shouting match. Thanks to Fitbit, I know that my resting heart rate has been up ever since. We’re over it by now, but still uneasy. The actual argument (as far as words hurled) was secondary to our underlying pain and frustration, which might be explained in calmer terms like this: I’m tired of having a hole where our kitchen used to be; everything takes 18 extra steps and there’s not a square foot of available space anywhere in this house. Being a parent is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, the demands are relentless, and I’m afraid I’m bad at…

  • Music,  Parenting

    When your reggae-loving husband is a stay-at-home dad

    Corey was trying to explain to me his current domestic rut. “You know that song, ‘Smoke Two Joints’? ‘I smoke two joints in the morning, I smoke two joints at night . . .’” Concerned I wouldn’t recognize the song in spite of the fact that his musical selections have created the soundtrack to our lives for the past 22 years, he added, “It’s on the Mallrats soundtrack.” I smiled. “I know the song.” “‘I smoke two joints before I smoke two joints, and then I smoke two more.’” He paused. “He smokes a lot of joints in that song. Anyway, that’s how I feel about my Groundhog Day existence…

  • Life,  Parenting

    Triage

    I do not have precognitive abilities of any sort. What I have is an awareness of the many things in my life that are undone or have been poorly managed and an ever-present sense of doom because it’s all going to come unraveled some day, isn’t it? I cannot possibly address all the things that cause me to worry in the few hours I have available each day, so as emergencies arise I make choices. Triage. Mostly I live with low-level anxiety that occasionally peaks in the middle of the night, causing me to wake up, heart racing, panicking about something I cannot or will not take care of in…

  • Life,  Parenting

    The Nuclear Bomb of Personal Change

    I turned 40 earlier this month. That same week, NPR ran a story saying studies have shown people don’t anticipate how much they will change in the decade ahead – their opinions, beliefs, personality traits – even when they acknowledge how much they’ve changed in the past. We can’t imagine our future selves as being much different from our present selves. I immediately thought, “Well, it depends on the decade, doesn’t it? I changed much more in the decade from 20-30 than I did from 30-40.” During the decade of my 20s, I lived in 8 different homes and worked at 9 different jobs. I also: Dropped out of college…

  • Parenting

    The best story from our vacation

    We’re driving on I-70 through central Utah, on our way back from a family wedding in Grand Junction, Colorado. Along this route are several scenic view stops, none of which have safety rails or fences. There’s no “nanny state” in Utah – I guess they figure that if you don’t have enough sense to stay away from the edge of a cliff, you deserve to fall off. Our boys are ages 9, 5, and 2. At half of the stops I stay in the car with the 2-year-old because I’d rather miss the view than try to keep our Little Explorer from running away to his death. One of the…

  • Life,  Parenting

    Killer Instinct

    We’re at our son’s indoor soccer game, watching him wander around the court as if in search of flowers to pick. So far it’s been a mediocre game: two teams of 2nd & 3rd grade boys and girls, some running after the ball, others standing around or wandering like our son. Occasionally someone kicks the ball towards a goal. I think each team has scored once, though they don’t post the score, so it’s easy to lose track. Suddenly this kid sweeps towards our team’s goal from the far side of the court. He’s one of the larger kids: not fat, but solidly built; his dark hair is trimmed close…

  • Parenting,  Pregnancy

    Why the baby doesn’t have a name yet

    Our third child, a boy, is due in April. My husband and I do not have a name picked out and likely won’t by the time he arrives. With our two older sons, we brought a list of possible names to the hospital and named each baby the day after he was born. A couple of nights ago we had a long (and initially productive) baby-name discussion. This is how it ended: I said, “I still like Grayson. Or maybe just Gray. Something like—“ “Something Batman-esque?” He asked. “No, I didn’t think of that, but there’s your comic-book connection.” “Something that says, ‘My parents were doomed acrobats?’” “Shut up! Are…

  • Life,  Parenting,  Pregnancy

    The baby’s not in your thighs, Dear.

    I’m seven months pregnant and digging deeper into the storage bin of maternity clothes each week. Today I pulled out “the $12 pants” and thought of this story, written about a week before my second child was born (originally posted on my MySpace blog). Monday, April 16, 2007 My mass and/or girth reached some sort of critical point on Friday and suddenly I could not pull on my maternity pants.  Fearing this might happen, I had purchased a pair of larger pants from the JC Penny catalog earlier in the week.  I wore them on Friday and Saturday.  Happily, they allowed blood flow to my legs while seated (a nice…

  • Music,  Parenting

    I get it, Annie.

    Yesterday I dusted off the Footloose soundtrack. After an ‘80s flashback afternoon, I drove home from work with “Let’s Hear it for the Boy” cranked up and on repeat. The summer I was 11 years old I made up a cheerleading/dance routine to that song on my Dad’s front lawn. I put my older sister’s stereo speakers on the windowsill facing outwards and blasted Denise Williams over and over. (The neighbors recall that summer fondly, I’m sure.) I’ve always known the lyrics, but yesterday I listened to them with an adult’s perspective. When I was 11 I didn’t really get that the song was about a guy who’s so talented…