Can we just stop with the “Oh those silly helpless horrible fathers!”?

28 Jan

I opened up Facebook this morning to find my cousin annoyed by an article, about how football player Jim Cutler sent his wife an anxious “Please God, when are you coming home?” series of texts.  His wife had been out of town, and texted to him that the plane had landed.  He replied with –

“Need u home asap.”

“All hell has broken loose”

“Jax is in his crib.”

“Cam refuses to eat.”

“I’m about to leave”

 

This is obviously to show how all men are indeed, buffoons, and incapable of handling the smallest of tasks – like minding their own children.  The article even says that he responded to his wife  “in the most stereotypical-man way”

Because no wife has ever sent a desperate text to her husband after a long day with the kids, or met him wild-eyed at the door, thrusting a screaming toddler at him and saying “I’m going out!”.  All hell NEVER breaks out on Mom’s watch.

Cutler’s wife, Kim Cavallari, posted that this series of texts was “pretty hilarious”.  And I do think it’s hilarious, in a “all parents have this moment” way.  God knows, my husband and I have traded texts like “Kill me now?” and “I now understand why animals eat their young” and “Bring liquor home”.  He has come home to find me twitching and will gently say “Hey hon, why don’t you get out for a bit, I’ll feed the children.”  and lovingly shoves me out the door while I mutter something about “little ingrates”.

To say that when one parent has been gone for a while, and the other parent ends up on the edge, is just a man thing – well, it is completely and totally not to the truth.

I know, I have lived it.

See, when the woman’s the stay at home parent, she knows all the ins and outs, which sippy cups are favored, what the routines are, why never to allow the scissors out, or what tasks to let slide.  Because she’s the one there all day, making the routines and choices.  It is, as even Oprah will state, a job.  A really lousy paying job that gets no respect, but a job none-the-less. To then except the non-staying at home all day parent to be able to swoop in and do everything and not have a moment of sheer panic is ridiculous.  It doesn’t make the father a buffoon, it makes the father less experienced with that level of child-wrangling.  And if you’re the type of woman who’s always “Ugh!  He doesn’t do it right!  I can’t let him near X because he manages it all wrong!” – well, then you’re setting yourself up for disaster.  No one wants to do anything that they know someone else is just going to criticize and micromanage from afar.

The first time I left my husband alone with our boys, I came home two days later to “Daddy took us to McDonald’s!” and pizza boxes.  Which made him the Best Parent Ever according to kids.  I was all “Really?” at him.  He said “What, I fed them.”

Eh, true.  He did.   They were being guys.  They ate pizza and had taken apart an engine.  The boys were happy, the house wasn’t on fire, really, it was fine.

The next time I left him alone, it was with three kids, ages 5, 3, and 1, for a week.  He was good on his own for four days.  The fifth day, the kids broke him.  I got this desperate call of “The boys were awful, the girl child poo’ed like you wouldn’t believe – seriously, she’s not that big, how can she make that much poop? – and in dealing with that, I burnt dinner, omg, they’re killing me…”  I didn’t say anything.  “And I know this is just your typical day, but I’m not used to this.”

That isn’t be a wuss, that’s being truthful.  And how many of us women-folk freak out when our husband is sent on a trip, and we have a week alone with our offspring?  Be honest, it’s a lot. And if you’re not used to the daily ins and outs, then yes, it’s going to be hard.  Especially if you throw a toddler into the mix.  We can’t say that being a mom is so very hard, then mock the dads for not being able to instantly step into our caregiver shoes and be all Mary Poppins about it.  Oh sure, there are those guys who are jerks, who really are useless, and they should be slapped with dirty diapers.  But that text sent by Cutler?  Could have been sent by any of us moms, and we know it.

So give the guy a break.  Give your guy a break.  Give yourself a break.  Parenting is just hard, no matter what chromosomes you have.

 

 

 

We can’t ever have a tiny house…

26 Jan

Have you heard about the tiny house movement?  Where you can build a teeny little house and live in 200 square feet?  Many people do this so they can own their own place without the tons of debt.

I am fascinated by it all.  I can spend too much time looking at tiny houses on Pinterest.  I love the creativity put into so many of them, how they can take recycled items and turn it into a tiny home.

But the tiny house is not an option for me.

Right now, it’s because I live with that small herd of teens.  Sometimes, our 2000 square feet seems tiny.  But even when the teens flee the nest, I can’t have a tiny house.

Why?

Maura.

We will always need a home for three.  That’s the future we’re planning.  We can’t have a tiny place because they’re all mostly one bedroom, and a sleeping loft at that.  The idea of Maura on a ladder gives me palpitations.  Forget the fact that Maura would have to bring all her stuff with her, her beloved dolls that are her playmates.  Really, a tiny house wouldn’t be enough for just Maura and her dolls.

What I realized though, in a conversation with friends, is that the tiny house movement isn’t for a lot in the disabled community.  It was suggested to friends, and one said “Well, we can’t live in one…” and I knew why.  They aren’t disabled friendly.  They aren’t for those who have motor planning issues, or limited mobility, or need aides to get around.  Forget those sleeping lofts.  If you have days where it’s hard to get out of bed, there’s no way you’re making it down a ladder.

But I still love the idea of a cottagey place, and started looking at small home designs.  Okay, I can’t do tiny, but maybe we could do small?  Except again, Maura.  And the fact we live with her means that I spend so much time hiding stuff from her.  I have visions of having a room of my own, where I can have all my sewing stuff out and ready to use, my paints easily reachable and ready to use, where I can put my files of paper items, works in progress, and not come home to find her scribbling over pages of my writing, having to fight with her over “No, that’s MY notebook!”  “No, you can’t take my pens!”

Yes, a door with a lock…which means more than a little two bedroom with an open living area.

Even then, I think of all the ideas I have for a Maura-friendly home, one where things are more accessible, and a salon-style hair washing sink somewhere either in the bathroom or the utility room.  Which means a bigger bathroom, or bigger utility room – as opposed to a closet with a stackable washer/dryer unit.

And suddenly, even my small house dreams seems a bit unattainable.

Now it’s “Maybe I could have a smallish house, then a studio as well, that room with a lock.”  Yes, because the solution to my small house problem…is two houses?

The good news is, at this rate, I won’t have to worry about downsizing my book collection.  Or my fabulous farmhouse table that can extend to seat ten.  And I have at least five more years to worry about these issues, since I still have a house full of teens.

Ten steps to cleaning Maura’s room

24 Jan

Today I vowed to put back together Maura’s room, into some semblance of organization.  Once a month, we go in there and organize all the things back to their spots.  And every time, by the end of it, I need therapy.

There’s ten basic steps to cleaning Maura’s room.  They go like this –

Step One – Stare into the room and feel all hope leave your body.  Contemplate walking away and dealing with it on another day.

Step Two – Find your resolve, and start chucking things into piles – clothes, dolls, books, shoes, random items that don’t belong in there, piles of paper…

Step Three – Realizing yet again that your child is a combination of a squirrel, a pack rat, and a magpie.  Wonder over the amount of torn paper in the room.

Step Four – Maura enters, ooo’s over the newly discovered floor space and immediately starts removing items from piles. You then shoo her out.

Step Five – Contemplate gasoline and a match, or at least maybe getting rid of a few things without her noticing.

Step Six – Maura enters again, just after you’ve finally put all the books back in order, and proceeds to take all the books off the shelf.  Shoo her from the room again, more loudly.

Step Seven – Realize that True Organization can never happen while the girl is underfoot.  Contemplate drinking.  Start shoving things into bins to be sorted out later.

Step Eight – Maura enters the room yet again, now plucking treasure out of the trash pile.  Cry a little.

Step Nine – Realize that you can’t truly clean the joint until the girl is back in school, where you can get rid of all the things while she’s not looking.

Step Ten – Abandon all hope, take dirty clothes to laundry room, hide in there with a glass of wine while listening to the joyful sounds of Maura tearing apart her now clean-ish room.

Her room never looks like this.  That's why I took a picture, to remember it by.

Her room never looks like this. That’s why I took a picture, to remember it by.

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